This coin was made to celebrate the history of the 451 Air Expeditionary Wing by the unit which is currently deployed. They wanted to leave a legacy of the wing so the wing decided to have this very special limited edition special coin made in just 451 numbered pieces for their last deployment. The Wing also just celebrated its 4th Anniversary. In order to honor the heritage of the 451st they decided to make this coin in the shape of one of the B-24 Liberators tail fins. The front side features the same paint scheme that the aircraft had when they started training in Algeria, and then the back side pays tribute to the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing in it’s current deployed form.
Now let’s look at a little bit of the history of the 451st.
The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing traces its roots back to the 451st Bombardment Group (Heavy) which was activated as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment unit assigned to II Bomber Command for training on May 1, 1943. The unit initially deployed to Southern Italy in January 1944 and entered combat in January 1944, assigned to Fifteenth Air Force. After air echelon training in Algeria for several weeks before joining the remainder of the group in Italy, the group engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.
The 451st Bombardment Group was the only 15th Army Airforce group to earn 3 Distinguished Unit Citations while assigned to the 15th AAF (another group also earned three DUCs, however one was earned with the 8th AAF)
The total tonnage dropped by the 451st was not the highest in the 15th AAF, however the 451st Bomb Group achieved the highest overall bombing score in the 15th AAF.
The 451st Bomb Group was the only group in the entire European Theater to achieve an non-disrupted perfect mission.
Personal decorations are listed as:
1 Distinguished Service Cross
9 Legions of Merits
25 Silver Stars
320 Distinguished Flying Crosses
1 British Flying Medal
280 Purple Hears
over 6,300 Air Medals
52 Soldier Medals
Over 100 Bronze stars
The 451st Bomb Group was one of the most highly decorated groups in the 15th Army Air Force.
The 451st Bomb Group was also one of the most battered. In 216 missions 135 B-24s were lost.
During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command 451st Strategic Missile Wing was the first fully operational HGM-25A Titan I ICBM wing in 1962.
In modern time the 451st Air Expeditionary Group was activated in 2002 as part of the Global War on Terrorism, conducting operations from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The group was responsible for air control of the southern region of Afghanistan, launch and recovery operations for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, the employment of combat search and rescue forces throughout the entire country and ground security and defense of the airfield. Included in the group are safety, logistics, communications, civil engineer. Due to the growth in size and requirements of the USAF mission at Kandahar, the 451 AEG was enlarged to a wing-level organization, re-designated as the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing and activated as such July 2, 2009.
Elements of the 451st AEW include, 451st Expeditionary Operations Group , 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Group, 451st Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 651st Air Expeditionary Group as well as some other elements.
Phoenix Challenge Coins was honored to have the opportunity to work with these proud warriors whom used an amazing tradition such as a challenge coin to pay homage to all the wings warriors, past and present.