15th Special Operations Squadron

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15th Special Operations Squadron
15th Special Operations Squadron.png
15th Special Operations Squadron Patch
Active 18 October 1942 – 2 November 1943
1 April 1944 – 15 April 1946
1 August 1947 – 27 June 1949
13 February 1968 – 31 October 1970
1 October 1992 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Special Operations
Part of Air Force Special Operations Command
1st Special Operations Wing
1st Special Operations Group
Garrison/HQ Hurlburt Field
Decorations Streamer PUC Army.PNG DUC
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GUC Streamer.JPG GUC
AFOUA with Valor.jpg AFOUA w/V Device
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SAC Bomb Squadron Emblem

The 15th Special Operations Squadron (15 SOS) is part of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida. It operates MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft in support of special operations.


Global, day and night, adverse weather capability to insert, extract, and resupply special operations forces by low or high altitude airdrop or airland operations.[1]


Established in late 1942 as the 520th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) at Jacksonville Municipal Airport, Florida from the cadre of the former 18th Observation Squadron. Was reassigned from Third Air Force to Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command in November, being redesignated as the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron.

Antisubmarine warfare[edit]

The squadron was one of several hastily converted to dedicated anti-submarine duties in direct response to the German U-boat threat in the Atlantic and Caribbean regions during 1942 and 1943. It was re-equipped with a hodgepodge of aircraft that could be spared for antisubmarine patrol duties at the time, including various early North American B-25s, Lockheed B-34s and Douglas B-23s, and operated at several locations up and down the Atlantic seaboard (including Langley Field, Virginia and Drew Field, Florida) before deploying to Batista Field, Cuba on 3 August 1943 as an element of the 26th Antisubmarine Wing (although it had been attached to the 25th Antisubmarine Wing from 21 November 1942 until going to Cuba).

Continued Antisubmarine operations over the South Atlantic coastline and the Gulf of Mexico from Drew Field, near Tampa Florida until August 1943 when the Navy took over the Antisubmarine mission. Disbanded on 2 November 1943.

B-29 Bombardment squadron[edit]

The 15th Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy) was activated as part of the 16th Bombardment Group on 1 April 1944 at Dalhart Army Airfield as a B-29 Superfortress unit. Received Bell B-29B Superfortresses designed for fast low-level bomb runs. Deployed to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO), assigned to Northwest Field, Guam under XXI Bomber Command, 315th Bombardment Wing. Flew very long range strategic bombardment missions over the Japanese Home Islands concentrating on oil industry targets, particularly refineries and coal liquidification facilities (26 June-14 August 1945). No B-29s from the squadron were lost during combat operations over Japan.[2]

Squadron remained in Western Pacific, although largely demobilized in the fall of 1945. Some aircraft scrapped on Tinian; others flown to storage depots in the United States. The 15th BS was inactivated on 15 April 1946, then briefly reactivated as a part of the Air Force Reserve between 1 August 1947, and 27 June 1949.[3]

Combat Talon[edit]

The designation was revived and reactivated in Southeast Asia in 1968. The 15th Special Operations Squadron saw combat and performed special operations missions from 15 March 1968, to 31 October 1970, flying the C-130E (I) Combat Talon.[3] The unit was again inactivated, but was consolidated with the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron and the 15th Bombardment Squadron in September 1985.

The 15th SOS was reactivated on 1 October 1992, to operate the MC-130H Combat Talon II and assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing.

The Combat Talon was first operational as Detachment 1, 314th Troop Carrier Wing beginning 1 September 1966, as a support unit for MACV-SOG.[4] On 15 March 1968, the detachment was designated the 15th Air Commando Squadron, and then the 15th Special Operations Squadron on 1 August 1968, and made part of the 14th Special Operations Wing. In Vietnam, the aircraft was used to drop leaflets over North Vietnamese positions, and to insert and resupply special forces and indigenous units into hostile territory throughout Southeast Asia. Combat Talon crews operated unescorted at low altitudes and at night.[5]


  • Constituted 520th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 13 October 1942
Activated on 18 October 1942
Redesignated: 15th Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy) on 29 November 1942
Disbanded on 2 November 1943
  • Reconstituted on 19 September 1985
  • Consolidated (19 September 1985) with the 15th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy
Constituted on 28 March 1944
Activated on 1 April 1944
Inactivated on 15 April 1946
Activated in the Reserve on 1 August 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
  • Consolidated (19 September 1985) with the 15th Special Operations Squadron
Constituted 15th Air Commando Squadron, and activated, on 13 February 1968
Organized on 15 March 1968
Redesignated 15th Special Operations Squadron on 1 August 1968
Inactivated on 31 October 1970
  • Activated on 1 October 1992.


Attached to 25th Antisubmarine Wing, 20 November 1942–c. July 1943


Air Echelon operated from: Langley Field, Virginia, 3 June-3 July 1943
Air Echelon operated from: Drew Field, Florida, July 1943
Operated from: Batista Field, Cuba, c. 25 July–c. 1 October 1943
Air echelon operated from: Boringuen Field, Puerto Rico, c. 9–25 January 1945

Aircraft Operated[3][edit]


See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.


  1. ^ 15 SOS Fact Sheet
  2. ^ Mann, Robert A. (2009), The B-29 Superfortress: A Comprehensive Registry of the Planes and Their Missions, McFarland, ISBN 0-7864-4458-4
  3. ^ a b c d e f g AFHRA 15 SOS Page
  4. ^ Thigpen, Col. Jerry L. (2001). The Praetorian STARShip: The Untold Story of the Combat Talon, Air University Press/Diane Publishing. ISBN 1-58566-103-1, pp. 77–78.
  5. ^ Thigpen (2001), p. 82–83.