The Ninth Air Force was unofficially born on 28th June 1942. General Brereton brought a dozen B-17’s with him from India. The U.S. Army Middle East Air Force was finally re-designated the Ninth Air Force on November 12, 1942 with General Brereton in command.
After success in North Africa, the Ninth took on an even more essential mission, the invasion of Sicily and the boot mainland of Italy. In October 1943, the plan called for relocation of the Ninth Air Force to England preparatory to the “D” Day Invasion. By “D” Day, June 6, 1944, the Ninth had become the largest tactical Air Force ever assembled under one command, 250,000 people with 3,500 airplanes in 1,500 units. The carnage inflicted on the German retreat out of the “Bulge” by the Ninth A.F. during January 1945 was something participants will never forget.
On May 7, 1945 the war with Germany ended for the Ninth. On December 2, 1945 the Ninth Air Force was inactivated while headquarters were still in Germany.
On March 28, 1946, the Ninth Air Force was reactivated at Biggs field, Texas. The Ninth’s role in the Korea era was one of a huge tactical training air force. Whole units were trained in the States and sent overseas to reinforce or replace existing combat veterans.
In September 1954, the Ninth Air Force Headquarters was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, where it remains today. Called again to the country’s combat colors, the Ninth played a major role as far as they were allowed – in prosecuting air warfare in Vietnam. Again, for eight years, 1965 to 1973, the force furnished highly trained units to the fighting front.
For the balance of the 70’s and most of the 80’s, the Ninth Air Force’s efforts were directed to rebuilding the attrition of the Vietnam mission and assimilating a new generation of high tech weapons. New jet fighters and “smart” bombs, with performance unheard of ten years before, were incorporated smoothly into the arsenal.
The critical test, of course, came in operation “Desert Shield and Storm,” when Ninth Air Force units answered the call.