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Third Air Force

The Third Air Force was activiated on April 9, 1941 with headquarters at Tampa, Florida when the Southeast Air District was redesignated. The Third was responsible for the air defense of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina (exept that part assigned to the First Air Force), South Carolina and Tennessee. During the early years of WWII, the Third was responsible for the defense of the gulf coast and was also ready to lend support to the First Air Force should the Eastern United States be in danger of an enemy attack. From late December 1941 until mid-August of 1942, the Third flew over 1,000 anti-submarine patrol sorties over the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The Third eventually emerged with the primary mission of training units, crews and individuals for bombardment, fighter and reconnaissance operations in the combat theaters. In the course of WWII, the operations of this Air Force spread far beyond its original territory and were conducted from bases in more than a dozen states. In early 1945, the Third trained a total of 85,377 officers and enlisted men including 29,021 pilots, 3,987 bombadiers, 9,057 navigators, 774 flight engineers, 407 bombadier-navigators, 4,532 radar observers, and a number of gunners and other flight personnel. The HQ for the Third moved to Greenville Army Air Base, Greenville, South Carolina in March of 1946 where it was inactivated on November 1, 1946. The shoulder patch worn by the Third Air Force was approved by the QMG on September 1, 1943. The winged star is symbolic of the Army Air Forces, and the numeral "3" indicates the unit's designation.