Ellsworth AFB Community
34th Bomb Squadron
Known as the Thunderbirds, the 34th Bomb Squadron’s mission is to defeat America’s enemies across the globe at a moment’s notice.
The history of the 34th BS dates to World War I, when the U.S. Army organized the 34th Aero Squadron, June 11, 1917. During an assignment with the 17th Pursuit Group, the squadron became equipped with the P-12 biplane fighter. In 1935 and 1936, the squadron gradually transitioned from the P-12 and P-26 Peashooter to the A-17 and YA-19, which it kept until 1940 when it began flying the B-18 and the B-23 bombers.
On April 18, 1942, 34th BS crews famously flew the B-25 Mitchell from the deck of the USS Hornet with crews from the 37th Bomb Squadron and 432nd Attack Squadron during the Doolittle Raid against Japan. Throughout the war, the 34th BS flew bombing missions in the B-26 Invader overseas and returned to the U.S. in November 1945. The day after its arrival, the squadron was inactivated. The 34th BS went through numerous activations and deactivations over its history. However, it was able to fly interdiction and close-air-support missions in Korea, transitioning to the B-57, the B-66 and then finally the B-52 Stratofortress.
When the unit moved to Ellsworth on April 1, 1994, it began flying the B-1. On April 1, 1997, the squadron moved again, transferring to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the 34th BS was one of the first units to deploy overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On Sept. 19, 2002, the 34th BS moved back to Ellsworth from Mountain Home. As tensions rose
in Iraq, the 34th BS deployed from Jan. 5 to May 15, 2003, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Since 2003, the Thunderbirds have completed numerous deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Starting in 2007, the 34th BS entered a regular deployment schedule with other B-1 units, with one year at home station followed by six months deployed. On average, these deployments resulted in more than 6,000 combat hours and more than 500 combat sorties flown supporting overseas contingency operations. On March 27, 2011, the 34th BS flew the first B-1 combat mission launched from the U.S. to strike overseas targets when it participated in Operation Odyssey Dawn, flying nonstop from Ellsworth to strike targets in Libya. The 34th BS deployed on Aug. 9, 2016, to Andersen Air Base, Guam, for the first B-1 deployment to the Pacific Command area of responsibility in 10 years, to support the Continuous Bomber Presence in the Pacific.