Note: The 46th Reconnaissance Squadron was finally officially recognized for their efforts on September 7, 1996 in a ceremony held in Omaha, Nebraska.
General Michael Kudlacz (CMDR. 55th Strategic Wing) awarded them the "Outstanding Unit Award" at the SAC Reconnaissance Reunion Banquet.
Click here to see a transcript of the presentation that the General made. (PDF format).
(opens in a new window..)
(There is web site currently under construction for the
Brief background of the 46th/72nd Reconnaissance Squadron.
(Taken directly from Ken White's book "World In Peril").
During World War II, the United States reached it's maximum active duty strength of about ten million personnel
, of which 2,400,000 belonged to the Army Air Forces, divided among 243 combat groups flying 80,000 aircraft.
When Germany capitulated on May 8th, 1945, there was considerable speculation about whether or not the majority of our combat units
would then be shifted to the Pacific Theatre. Our military units were brought from Europe to the United States
as fast as possible, with priority given to those units that had been in combat the longest.
On September 2nd, 1945, the war in the Pacific ended, stopping any further preparations to move our
fighting forces from Europe to the Pacific. Demobilization of American forces, which had begun with the
defeat of Germany, had reached it's peak by mid-1946.
By June 1947, Air Force personnel strength was down to 303,000 officers and men, and they could man no more
than 38 combat groups, of which only 11 groups were considered operationally effective.
It was about this time that the USSR, our former ally, was becoming an adversary. At first only a few foresighted military and
political officials voiced their concerns about the growing Soviet threat and the lackluster American response.
Usually, those prudent watchmen were referred to as "saber rattlers" and alarmists by those that did not want to
"awaken the Russian bear" or upset the illusory postwar peace. The Soviets were under no such illusions.
At the end of the war, the United States had 2,132 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, the most formidable heavy bomber
ever produced up until that time, but they were being "mothballed" for long-term storage almost as fast as they were
being returned to the States. The B-29 was a remarkable bomber design, admired by the Soviets more than we realized.
Through our intelligence resources, it was discovered that the Soviets were producing copies of the B-29 in
increasing numbers as the standard long-range heavy bomber of the Soviet Air Forces, which were fully operational
and deployed in strength by 1947. It was clear that the Soviets had a delivery system, but how soon would they have the bomb?
America's response to this emerging threat would determine the fate of the world.
Our nation's first move was to deploy "Project Nanook".
Thus was born the 46th Reconnaissance Squadron. (Later to become the 72nd Reconnaissance Squadron.)