The 96th Bomb Squadron Red Devils is a unit of the United States Air Force 2d Operations Group located at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The 96th is equipped with the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress.
Formed in August 1917, the 96 BS saw combat on the World War I Western Front, in France. It took part in the St. Mihiel offensive and Meuse-Argonne offensive. Later, it served with the Army Air Service and Army Air Corps in the Inter-War period it participated in Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell's 1921 off-shore bombing tests and during World War II fought in the North African and Italian Campaigns. It was a part of Strategic Air Command during the Cold War. Since 1993, the 96th Bomb Squadron has flown the B-52H Stratofortress long-range heavy bomber, which can perform a variety of missions. Today the squadron is engaged in the Global War on Terrorism.
The 96th Aero Squadron was America's first bomb squadron. It was formed at Kelly Field, Texas. Originally consisting of 80 men, largely college graduates or college dropouts, volunteers all, and something of an elite group, since their aeronautical qualifications were the highest in the U.S. Army Air Service. Just before embarking upon its first aerial warfare, the squadron decided upon its insignia, a black triangle outlined by a white strip enclosing the profile of a red devil thumbing his nose at the ground with his left hand. In his right, he held a white bomb. This distinctive emblem was designed by the squadron's talented graphic artist, Harry O. Lawson.
The 96th saw combat as part of the 1st Day Bombardment Group, supporting the French Eighth and U.S. First Army from, 12 June 1918 – 4 November 1918. It operated French-made Breguet 14 planes and was involved in an embarrassing fiasco when the entire squadron landed around Koblenz, Germany by accident, providing all of their planes intact to the Germans. Nonetheless, it was the most heavily engaged and most successful USAS bomber squadron.
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