Ellsworth AFB Community
37th Bomb Squadron
The 37th Bomb Squadron consists of approximately 70 personnel including aviators, intelligence and aviation resource management Airmen. These Airmen enable the Tigers to remain on the leading edge of B-1 employment to support combatant commander objectives worldwide.
The squadron is among the Air Force’s most senior units. It began as the 37th Aero Squadron in June 1917, and served with the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. Here the unit primarily focused on training U.S. pilots to fly front-line pursuit aircraft such as the Avro 504-K, the Sopwith F-1 Camel, the DeHaviland DH-4 and the Nieuport 27.
During World War II, the squadron supported several mission sets to include flying anti-submarine patrols, bombardment raids and psychological operations. For a short time, the squadron served with the 28th Composite Group in 1940 and was later assigned to the 17th Bomb Group. As part of the 17th BG, the 37th BS participated in one of the most famous air raids of World War II, the Doolittle Tokyo Raid in April 1942. Three Tiger crews volunteered for the mission and trained alongside Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle in the B-25 Mitchell bombers that took off from the deck of the USS Hornet to strike targets on mainland Japan. At the conclusion of the Allied Campaign, the 37th BS was one of the rare units to participate in all three theaters of war and attack all three Axis countries, Japan in 1942, Italy in 1943 and Germany in 1944.
After World War II concluded, the squadron deactivated. In 1950, the 37th BS reactivated as a night intruder squadron and transferred to Pusan Air Base, Korea. The 37th BS flew the B-26 Invader on night interdiction missions during the Korean War. The squadron “hunted at night, like tigers” and adopted its current patch, a Bengal tiger.
The 37th BS joined the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, in 1977, flying the B-52 Stratofortress. On Jan. 1, 1987, the squadron transitioned to its current aircraft, the B-1B Lancer more commonly called the Bone.
In December 1998, the Tigers became the first unit to employ the B-1 in combat in support of Operation Desert Fox in Iraq. One year later, Tiger crews combined with the 77th Bomb Squadron, the War Eagles, for Operation Allied Force and flew combat missions in Kosovo and Serbia.
After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the 37th BS again roared into action alongside their sister squadron, the 34th BS, and formed the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. Flying missions to Afghanistan, the squadron executed close-air-support and deliberate strikes in an effort to remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. During this time, the combined squadron flew 5 percent of the strike missions but released nearly 40 percent of the total bomb tonnage or more than 1,730 tons.
In March 2003, crews from the 37th BS joined forces with their sister squadron once more to employ the B-1 in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom whereby numerous combat missions were flown. One mission in particular was moments away from striking key Iraqi government leadership who managed to slip away mere minutes before weapons impact.
From 2007 through early 2016, the 37th BS accomplished regular deployments to the Middle East rotating among three B-1 combat units resulting in a deployment cycle of six months away and one year at home station. On average, the squadron flew more than 5,000 combat hours in approximately 500 combat sorties per deployment. In total, the squadron has deployed 11 times in support of enduring operations in the Middle East.
The Tigers completed their final rotation to the Middle East in January 2016. In six months, the Tigers supported on call close-air-support and deliberate strikes on targets in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. By the time the Tigers closed shop and the last jet lifted off for the long flight home, the squadron, with the support of the 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and the 28th Munitions Squadron, released 5,038 guided munitions accounting for 59 percent of the total tonnage released on Islamic State and Taliban militants. The squadron was instrumental in the liberation of the Iraqi cities of Ramadi, Sinjar and Bayji, and the Syrian city of Hasakah. To date, the Tigers released more ordnance than any other B-1 unit on a single combat deployment.