Third Air Force (USAFE)

In accordance with Chapter 3 of AFI 84-105, commercial reproduction of this emblem is NOT permitted without the permission of the proponent organizational/unit commander.

In accordance with Chapter 3 of AFI 84-105, commercial reproduction of this emblem is NOT permitted without the permission of the proponent organizational/unit commander.


Lineage. Established as Southeast Air District on 19 Oct 1940. Activated on 18 Dec 1940. Redesignated: 3 Air Force on 26 Mar 1941; Third Air Force on 18 Sep 1942. Inactivated on 1 Nov 1946. Activated and organized on 1 May 1951. Inactivated on 1 Nov 2005. Redesignated Third Air Force (Air Forces Europe) on 29 Nov 2006. Activated on 1 Dec 2006. 

Assignments. General Headquarters Air Force (later, Air Force Combat Command), 18 Dec 1940; Eastern Theater of Operations, 24 Dec 1941; Air Force Combat Command (later, Army Air Forces), 5 Jan 1942; Continental Air Forces, 16 Apr 1945; Tactical Air Command, 21 Mar 1946-1 Nov 1946. United States Air Forces in Europe, 1 May 1951-1 Nov 2005. United States Air Forces in Europe, 1 Dec 2006-. 

Major Components. Commands. 1 Ground Air Support (later, I Air Support; I Tactical Air Division; III Tactical Air Division; III Reconnaissance):12 Aug 1942-21 Mar 1946. II Air Support (later, II Tactical Air Division): 25 Jan 1943-25 Oct 1945. 3 Air Force Service (later, 3 Air Force Base): 1 Oct 1941-19 May 1942. 3 Air Support: 1 Sep 1941-16 Mar 1942. 3 Bomber (later, III Bomber): 5 Sep 1941-21 Mar 1946. 3 Interceptor (later, III Interceptor; III Fighter): 17 Jun 1941-21 Mar 1946. III Ground Air Support (later, III Air Support; III Reconnaissance; III Tactical Air): 27 May 1942-24 Oct 1945.
Division: 49 Air: 5 Jun 1952-1 Jul 1956. 

Stations. MacDill Field, FL, 18 Dec 1940; Tampa, FL, 8 Jan 1941; Greenville AAB, 28 Mar 1946-1 Nov 1946. Victoria Park Estate (later, U.S. Air Base, South Ruislip; South Ruislip Air Station), England, 1 May 1951; RAF Mildenhall, England, 15 Apr 1972-1 Nov 2005. Ramstein AB, Germany, 1 Dec 2006-. 

Commanders. Maj Gen Barton K. Yount, 18 Dec 1940; unkn, 19-28 Jul 1941; Maj Gen Lewis H. Brereton, 29 Jul 1941; Maj Gen Walter H. Frank, 14 Oct 1941; Brig Gen Carlyle H. Wash, 25 Jun 1942; unkn, 27-30 Nov 1942; Brig Gen Adlai H. Gilkeson, 1 Dec 1942; Maj Gen St. Clair Streett, 12 Dec 1942; Maj Gen Westside T. Larson, 11 Sep 1943; Brig Gen Edmund C. Lynch, 14 May 1945; Brig Gen Thomas W. Blackburn, 26 May 1945; Lt Gen Lewis H. Brereton, 1 Jul 1945; Maj Gen Elwood R. Quesada, 1 Mar 1946; unkn, 22-27 Mar 1946; Maj Gen Paul L. Williams, 28 Mar-1 Nov 1946. Maj Gen Leon W. Johnson, 3 May 1951; Maj Gen Francis H. Griswold, 6 May 1952; unkn, 21-29 Apr 1954; Maj Gen Roscoe C. Wilson, 30 Apr 1954; Maj Gen Ernest Moore, 16 Jul 1957; Maj Gen John H. Ives, 17 Mar 1961; Maj Gen Romulus W. Puryear, 15 Aug 1962; Maj Gen John S. Hardy, 25 Jun 1964; Maj Gen Clyde Box, 27 Oct 1966; Maj Gen Lawrence S. Lightner, 16 Jul 1968; Maj Gen John H. Bell, 30 Jul 1969; Maj Gen William F. Pitts, 14 Jul 1971; Maj Gen James E. Hill, 12 Jun 1972; Maj Gen Evan W. Rosecrans, 5 Nov 1973; Maj Gen William C. Norris, 1 Aug 1977; Maj Gen Robert W. Bazely, 25 Jun 1980; Maj Gen Walter H. Baxter III, 13 Jul 1981; Maj Gen Carl H. Cathey Jr, 30 Jul 1982; Maj Gen William P. Acker, 10 Jun 1983; Maj Gen Thomas G. McInerney, 26 Jul 1985; Maj Gen William K. James, 26 Sep 1986; Maj Gen Marcus A. Anderson, 27 Jun 1988; Maj Gen Charles D. Link, 15 Jul 1991; Maj Gen James G. Andrus, 28 Jul 1993; Maj Gen Tad J. Oelstrom, 25 Jul 1995; Maj Gen William S. Hinton Jr., 18 Jul 1997; Maj Gen Joseph H. Werhle Jr., 2 Jul 1999; Maj Gen Kenneth W. Hess, 2 Jun 2000; Maj Gen Michael W. Wooley, 7 Jun 2002; Col John E. Watkins, 28 Jun 2004; Maj Gen Michael C. Gould, 15 Jul 2004-1 Nov 2005. Lt Gen Robert D. Bishop Jr, 1 Dec 2006-. 

Operations. One of the original four numbered air forces formed in the United States in 1940, primarily trained units, crews, and individuals for bombardment, fighter, and reconnaissance operations. Also had air defense responsibilities and some units engaged in antisubmarine efforts from Dec 1941-Oct 1942. Following WWII, assigned to Tactical Air Command to serve as a troop carrier organization until Nov 1946. Beginning in May 1951, responsible for U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) bases and units in the United Kingdom; conducted training and operations in support of NATO. From the early 1990s until 2005, Third Air Force served as USAFE's primary humanitarian command element and was involved in several operations in sub-Saharan Africa and the Balkans; also given responsibility in 1996 for all USAFE units north of the Alps and expanded duties in Eastern Europe and Africa. Beginning in Dec 2006, assumed role as warfighting headquarters component for air forces in Europe. 

Service Streamers. World War II American Theater. 

Campaign Streamers. None. 

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers. None. 

Decorations. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 20 Aug 1990-8 Mar 1991; 1 Jul 1995-30 Jun 1997; 1 Apr 1998-31 Mar 2000; 1 Apr 2000-31 Mar 2002; 1 Jun 2002-31 May 2004. 

Lineage, Assignments, Stations, and Honors through 22 Feb 2007. 

Commanders and Operations through 22 Feb 2007. 

Supersedes published information contained in: Maurer Maurer (ed.), Air Force Combat Units of World War II (Washington: USGPO, 1983). 

Emblem. Approved on 1 Sep 1943; revised on 8 Dec 1953 and on 13 May 1996. 

Prepared by William M. Butler .

Reviewed by Daniel L. Haulman.