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95th Reconnaissance Squadron

The 95th Reconnaissance Squadron is one of the oldest flying units in the Air Force. Dating back to World War I, the 95th continues its proud service in Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean that began in 1917.

The unit was activated as the 95th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas, on Aug. 20, 1917, flying the French-built Nieuport 28. After completing training, the 95th departed for France. Having completed combat training over the course of the winter, the 95th Aero Squadron began combat patrol operations on March 8, 1918, and earned honors as the first squadron to fly combat missions during World War I. This lead to the squadron motto at the time, "First to the Front."

During the course of the war, the 95th served in support of the French Sixth and Eight Armies as well as the First Army of the American Expeditionary Force. It was during this time period that the 95th adopted the emblem of the kicking mule on a blue surround to mark their aircraft. The blue surround represented the unit's arena of operations, while the kicking mule symbolized the unit's striking power, "swift and accurate."

Throughout the war, the 95th transitioned to fly the French-built Spad XIII followed by the British-built S.E.5. By the termination of hostilities, the men of the 95th conducted 230 combat patrols and received credit for the destruction of 35 1/3 enemy aircraft and twelve balloons.

The inter-war period saw the unit moved, redesignated and inactivated several times. It was also within this period that the 95th began operating diverse and increasingly larger aircraft like the Thomas-Morse MB-3. Perhaps the most interesting aircraft flown by the 95th during this time period was the Fokker D.VII, Germany's finest fighter aircraft of the war. The 95th went on to fly PW-8, PW-9, P-1 Hawk, P-12, P-26 Peashooter and A-17 aircraft. The squadron became the 95th Pursuit Squadron on March 14, 1921, and the kicking mule motif was officially approved as the unit emblem on March 4, 1924, while the unit was stationed at Selfridge Field, Mich. The 95th became an attack squadron in 1935 and on Oct. 17, 1939, became the 95th Bombardment Squadron. The squadron found itself flying anti-submarine patrols along the US west coast in B-18 Bolos and B-23 Dragon on the eve of World War II, and the unit is credited with sinking the first Japanese submarine off the coast of Oregon.

When the war began, the 95th was training into the higher performance B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. The unit changed aircraft yet again as it prepared to move overseas for combat, this time to the B-26 Marauder. The 95th went to Algeria and entered combat against Rommel's forces in the Tunisian campaign. The crews of the 95th Bombardment Squadron learned to master their aircraft's strengths and weaknesses and employed them with great effect in bombing German supply depots, bridges, roads and troop concentrations. In doing so, the 95th greatly contributed to the allied victory at Kasserine Pass.
After the North Africa campaign, the 95th followed the Allied Forces into Italy basing in Sardinia and Corsica. The 95th moved into France in September 1944 and alternated between bases in France and Austria for the remainder of the war. In addition to operations in Northern Africa and Europe, perhaps the greatest legacy of the 95th from World War II involves the Doolittle Raid in the Pacific, where six of the 16 crews were comprised of members of the 95th Bombardment Squadron. The 95th's wartime total included 601 combat missions in 28 months of operations.

After a short period of inactivation, the 95th was re-activated in 1952 to take part in the Korean War. This time, the 95th went to combat in B-26 Invaders flying light bombardment, interdiction and armed reconnaissance missions. Following the Korean War, the 95th flew B-66 Destroyers in Japan until 1958 when it once again inactivated.

The 95th stood up again on Oct. 1, 1982, as the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron flying the U-2/TR-1 at Royal Air Force Alconbury in the United Kingdom. When operations ceased at RAF Alconbury in 1993, the existing 922nd Reconnaissance Squadron flying RC-135 RIVET JOINT and COMBAT SENT aircraft at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, U.K. was renamed the 95th to retain the more historic unit. The 95th continues to operate from Mildenhall, as well as Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, on the Greek island of Crete.

The Crete detachment, Detachment 1, 95th Reconnaissance Squadron, began as Detachment 3 of the 306th Strategic Wing. The Detachment flew RC-135s out of Hellenikon, Greece, and Ramstein, West Germany, from 1976. With the closure of RC-135 operations at Ramstein, Hellenikon was redesignated the 922nd Strategic Squadron. The 922nd relocated to the Greek island of Crete in 1990. In 1992, further reorganization of European RC-135 operations led to the relocation of the 922d to RAF Mildenhall, U.K. The NSA Souda Bay operation remained in place as Detachment 1, 922nd Reconnaissance Squadron. Further redesignation of the 922nd made the detachment part of the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron.

Today's 95th Reconnaissance Squadron and Detachment 1 belongs to the 55th Wing headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Neb. The squadron continues to support national and theater commanders with near real time intelligence data, including the current mission of supporting Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, the NATO-led enforcement of UN Resolution 1973 to protect civilians in Libya. The 95th remains today as one of the Air Force's oldest and most decorated squadrons still in existence.