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 Home > History > USAF Historical Division's Brief History of the 43rd Bombardment Group, 1940-1952 > Distinguished Unit Citations


For action over Papua
23 July 1942 to 23 January 1943     WD GO 21, 1943
For Action over the Bismarck Sea
on 2, 3, and 4 March 1943     WD GO 76, 1945


The Papuan Forces, United States Army, Southwest Pacific Area, are cited for outstanding performance of duty in action during the period of July 23, 1942, to January 23, 1943. When a bold and aggressive enemy invaded Papua in strength, the combined action of ground and air units of these forces, in association with Allied units, checked the hostile advance, drove the enemy back to the seacoast and in a series of actions against a highly organized defensive zone, utterly destroyed him.Ground combat forces, operating over roadless jungle-covered mountains and swamps, demonstrated their courage and resourcefulness in closing with an enemy who took every advantage of the nearly impassable terrain. Air forces, by repeatedly attacking the enemy ground forces and installations, by destroying his convoys attempting reinforcement and supply, and by transporting ground forces and supplies to areas for which land routes were nonexistent and sea routes slow and hazardous, made possible the success of the ground operations. Service units, operating far forward of their normal positions and at time in advance of ground combat elements, built landing field in the jungle, established and operated supply points, and provided for the hospitalization and evacuation of the wounded and sick. The courage, spirit, and devotion to duty of all elements of the command made possible the complete victory obtained.

WD GO 21, 1943


The 43rd Bombardment Group (H) is cited for outstanding performance of duty in action during the battle of the Bismarck Sea on 2, 3, and 4 March 1943. A large enemy convoy consisting of 22 vessels was sighted carrying reinforcements to the Japanese base at Lae, New Guinea. The B-17's of the 43rd Bombardment Group (H), operating out of Port Moresby, New Guinea, flew a total of 73 sorties in 3 days to help annihilate the entire force. Making their runs in the face of intense antiaircraft fire and fierce fighter interception at altitudes of 5,000 to 8,000 feet, the airplanes of this group dropped 254 1,000-pound bombs and 8 500-pound bombs, a total of 127 tons, on enemy vessels, nearly half the bombs dropped being either direct hits or near misses. In repelling hostile aircraft, often while voluntarily covering medium and light bombardment units, the crew of the 43rd Bombardment Group (H) shot down at least 45 Japanese fighters and probably destroyed at least 16 others. From the time the convoy was first sighted until the last ship was set afire, the group maintained one airplane over the convoy each hour to report the position of the force, the weather, and other pertinent information, even though enemy fighters were in the air at all times. The complete destruction of the entire convoy in this 3-day period was to that date the most decisive single blow at Japanese operations in the Southwest Pacific Area. For the 43rd Bombardment Group's significant part in this victory, recognition must be given not only to the gallantry of the aircrews but also to the tireless efficiency of the ground personnel who accomplished the tremendous task of loading, servicing, and maintaining the B-17's in readiness for each strike. The achievements of the 43rd Bombardment Group (H) in this historic engagement brought new honors to the Army Air Forces and reflect great credit on the entire armed forces of the United States.

WD GO 76, 1945