15th AF The Fifteenth Air Force 15th AF

154th Weather Squadron

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Formed from an Arkansas National Guard unit, it was designated 154th Observation Squadron on 4 Jul 1942; 154th Reconnaissance Squadron (Fighter) on 31 May 1943; 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 13 Nov 1943; and then 154th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) on 12 May 1944. Initially assigned to the 68th Observation Group (motto: Victoria Per Observatiam [Victory Through Observation]) on 1 Sep 1941, it was later assigned to the Twelfth Air Force and finally to the Fifteenth Air Force, 15 Jun 1944.

Most of the squadron sailed from the United States in September 1942 on the HMS Queen Mary, with its first overseas station in Wattisham, England, 4-21 Oct 1942. From there it boarded ship and sailed to be part of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, going ashore on the second day (9 November 1942) of the invasion in Oran, Algeria. Over the next 2 ½ years the squadron would be stationed in St Leu, Tafaraoui, and Blida, Algeria; Oujda, French Morocco; Youks-les-Bains, Algeria; Thelepte, Sbeitla, Le Sers, and Korba, Tunisia; Nouvion and Oran, Algeria; with final station in Bari, Italy (3 Feb 1944 - 1 Jul 1945).

During the period of overseas deployment the 154th operated Douglas A-20 Havocs, Bell P-39 Airacobras, LockheedP-38/F-4 Lightnings, and was the first American unit to operate North American P-51 Mustangs in the European Theatre. A total of 1495 missions and 2522 sorties were flown.

The 154th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was attached to the Fifteenth Air Force for the purpose of flying weather reconnaissance, a duty that had been handled by a P-38 unit called the Fifteenth Air Force Weather Reconnaissance Detachment. Personnel and equipment of both units were subsequently integrated, and the unit was re-designated the 154th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) on 12 May 44. Operations centered on weather reconnaissance, and the 154th instituted the concept of “lead missions,” in which a weather-recon plane preceded Fifteenth Air Force heavy bombers by 50-75 miles to the target and/or on return from the target, sending real time radio weather data to the trailing bombers. The 154th WRS was innovative in the installation and use of the K-24 aerial camera.

The Squadron was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for actions over Rumania, 17, 18, 19 Aug 1944.

For a more detailed history of the 154th, view this account by Francis Kalinowski.

Upon arriving in north africa, the men of the 154th were given the North Africa Brochure containing guidelines for living there.

Capt. Joseph Whitwell, Jr.

Courtesy of Frank Kalinowski

Capt. Joseph Whitwell, Jr., Squadron Commander and his P-39

Unit Citation

Courtesy of Frank Kalinowski

Unit Citation presented to the 154th Weather Squadron on 2 April 1945