|Country United States||Garrison/HQ Kadena Air Base|
|Active 1941-1945; 1954-1969; 1979-Present|
Branch United States Air Force
Type Airborne Command and Control
Part of Pacific Air Forces 5th Air Force 18th Wing 18th Operations Group
The 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron (961 AACS) is part of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. It operates the E-3 Sentry aircraft conducting airborne command and control missions.
Provide airborne command and control, long-range surveillance, detection and identification information for commanders in support of U.S. goals.
World War II
Established in November 1940 as a B-17 Flying Fortress Heavy Bombardment squadron organized at Fort Douglas, Utah; assigned to the GHQ Air Force Northwest Air District at Geiger Field, Washington where the squadron flew training missions and also reconnaissance missions along the Northwest Pacific Coast. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, became first an Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, later converting to a B-24 Liberator Replacement Training Unit (RTU).
B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan
Re-designated on 1 April 1944 as a B-29 Superfortress Very Heavy bombardment squadron. When training was completed moved to North Field Guam in the Mariana Islands of the Central Pacific Area in January 1945 and assigned to XXI Bomber Command, Twentieth Air Force. Its mission was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands and the destruction of its war-making capability.
Flew "shakedown" missions against Japanese targets on Moen Island, Truk, and other points in the Carolines and Marianas. The squadron began combat missions over Japan on 25 February 1945 with a firebombing mission over Northeast Tokyo. The squadron continued to participate in wide area firebombing attack, but the first ten-day blitz resulting in the Army Air Forces running out of incendiary bombs. Until then the squadron flew conventional strategic bombing missions using high explosive bombs.
The squadron continued attacking urban areas with incendiary raids until the end of the war in August 1945, attacking major Japanese cities, causing massive destruction of urbanized areas. Also conducted raids against strategic objectives, bombing aircraft factories, chemical plants, oil refineries, and other targets in Japan. The squadron flew its last combat missions on 14 August when hostilities ended. Afterwards, its B 29s carried relief supplies to Allied prisoner of war camps in Japan and Manchuria
Squadron remained in Western Pacific, although largely demobilized in the fall of 1945. Some aircraft scrapped on Tinian; others flown to storage depots in the United States. Inactivated as part of Army Service forces at the end of 1945.
The 961st flew radar surveillance missions along East Coast of the United States from, 18 December 1954 – 31 December 1969. The squadron assisted with the coverage of salvage operations of downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007, 1 –10 September 1983. It has served as the airborne command and control for the commander, United States Pacific Command and supported US forces counter air interdiction, close air support, search and rescue, reconnaissance, and airlift operations since 1980.
61st Bombardment Squadron
961st Airborne Air Control Squadron