The 345th Bomber Group (BG) was first activated at Columbia Army Air Base, South Carolina, in November 1942 and was christened the “Air Apaches.” As a B-25 bomber group, it was broken into four squadrons: the 498th, known as the “Falcons”; the 499th, “Bats Outa Hell”; the 500th, “Rough Raiders”; and the 501st, the “Black Panthers.” The 345th BG was sent to the Southwest Pacific Theater in 1943 and began flying missions from Port Moresby, New Guinea, and earned the recognition of the first Air Force Combat Group sent to the Pacific in World War II.
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