The 708th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 447th Bombardment Group at Castle Air Force Base, California, where it was inactivated on 16 July 1951.
The squadron was established as a heavy bombardment squadron and participated in combat in the European Theater of World War II. It was reactivated in the reserves in 1947 and served until it was called to active duty in 1951 as a result of the Korean War and its personnel used as fillers for regular USAF units.
The squadron was first activated on 1 May 1943 at Ephrata Army Air Base, Washington as the 708th Bombardment Squadron, one of the squadrons of the 447th Bombardment Group.
The original mission of the squadron was to be an operational training unit. However, by the time the 447th group reached full strength in October it had been identified for overseas deployment and its key personnel were assigned to the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics at Orlando Army Air Base, Florida for advanced tactical training. The cadre trained at Brooksville Army Air Field with the 1st Bombardment Squadron, engaging in simulated attacks against Mobile, Charleston and New Orleans. The squadron then trained at Rapid City Army Air Base, South Dakota with the 17th Bombardment Training Wing. In June 1943 the group moved to Harvard Army Air Field, Nebraska for Phase I training. The squadron's B-17s began to move from the United States to the European theater of operations in November 1943.
The squadron was stationed at RAF Rattlesden, England, from December 1943 to August 1945. It flew its first combat mission on 24 December 1943 against a V-1 missile site near Saint-Omer in Northern France.
From December 1943 to May 1944, the squadron helped prepare for the invasion of the European continent by attacking submarine pens, naval installations, and cities in Germany; missile sites and ports in France; and airfields and marshaling yards in France, Belgium and Germany. The squadron conducted heavy bombardment missions against German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20 to 25 February 1944.
The unit supported the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 by bombing airfields and other targets. On D-Day the squadron bombed the beachhead area using pathfinder aircraft.
The squadron aided in the breakthrough at St. Lo, France, and the effort to take Brest, France, from July to September 1944. It bombed strategic targets from October to December 1944, concentrating on sources of oil production. It assaulted marshalling yards, railroad bridges and communication centers during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. In March 1945 the group bombed an airfield in support of airborne assault across the Rhine. The unit flew its last combat mission on 21 April 1945 against a marshalling yard at Ingolstadt, Germany.
The 708th redeployed to the United States during the summer 1945. The air echelon ferried their aircraft and personnel back to the United States, leaving on 29 and 30 June 1945. The squadron ground echelon, along with the group headquarters and 710th squadron sailed on the SS Joseph T. Robinson on 1 August 1945, from Liverpool. Most personnel were discharged at Camp Myles Standish after arrival at the port of Boston. A small cadre proceeded to Drew Field, Florida and the squadron inactivated on 7 November 1945.
Two years later, on 25 July 1947, the 708th was redesignated the 708th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy. It was activated in the Air Force Reserve on 10 November 1947, at Bergstrom Field Texas, and equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. The squadron was redesignated as the 708th Bombardment Squadron, Medium when the B-29 was classified as a medium bomber and reassigned to Castle Air Force Base, California, where it became a corollary unit of the active duty 93d Bombardment Group, using the aircraft of the 93d as part of Strategic Air Command's reserve forces. The 708th was ordered to active service in May 1951 as a result of the Korean War, with personnel and equipment reassigned to other units. It was inactivated as a "paper unit" on 16 June 1951.Constituted 708th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 6 April 1943
Activated on 1 May 1943
Redesignated 708th Bombardment Squadron
, Heavy on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
Redesignated 708th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 24 October 1947
Activated in the reserve on 10 November 1947
Redesignated 708th Bombardment Squadron
, Medium on 27 June 1949
Ordered to active service on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 16 June 1951
447th Bombardment Group, 1 May 1943 - 7 November 1945
447th Bombardment Group, 10 November 1947 - 16 June 1951
Ephrata Army Air Base, Washington, 1 May 1943
Rapid City Army Air Field, South Dakota, 13 June 1943
Harvard Army Air Field, Nebraska, 1 August 1943 - 11 November 1943
RAF Rattlesden (AAF-126), England, 1 December 1943 - c. 1 August 1945
Drew Field, Florida, 14 August 1945 - 7 November 1945
Bergstrom Field (later Bergstrom Air Force Base), Texas, 10 November 1947
Castle Air Force Base, California, 27 June 1949 - 16 June 1951
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 1943–1945
Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 1947-1951