15th Special Operations Squadron
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|15th Special Operations Squadron|
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
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Force Special Operations Command
1st Special Operations Wing
1st Special Operations Group
AFOUA w/V Device
RVGC w/ Palm
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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
- 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.
- 378th Bombardment Group, 18 October 1942
- Attached to 25th Antisubmarine Wing, 20 November 1942–c. July 1943
- 26th Antisubmarine Wing, 14 December 1942
- Second Air Force, 15 October-2 November 1943.
- 16th Bombardment Group, 1 April 1944 – 15 April 1946
- 445th Bombardment Group, 1 August 1947 – 27 June 1949
- Pacific Air Forces, 13 February 1968
- 14th Air Commando (later, 14th Special Operations) Wing, 15 March 1968 – 31 October 1970
- 1st Special Operations (later, 16th Operations; 1st Special Operations) Group, 1 October 1992–present
- Jacksonville Municipal Airport (AAF), Florida, 18 October 1942
- 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
- Wendover Field, Utah, 17 October-2 November 1943.
- Dalhart AAF, Texas, 1 April 1944
- Fairmont AAF, Nebraska, 15 August 1944 – 7 March 1945
- Northwest Field, Guam, 14 April 1945 – 15 April 1946
- Hill Field, (later, AFB), Utah, 1 August 1947 – 27 June 1949
- Nha Trang Air Base, South Vietnam, 15 March 1968 – 31 October 1970.
- Eglin Air Force Aux Field No. 9 (Hurlburt Field), Florida, 1 October 1992–present
- O-47 (1942)
- B-25 Mitchell (1942–1943)
- B-34 Lexington (1942–1943)
- B-24 Liberator (1943)
- B-17 Flying Fortress (1944–1945)
- B-29B Superfortress (1944–1946)
- C-130E(I) Combat Talon (1968–1970)
- MC-130H Combat Talon II (1992–present)
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
- Hagdedorn, Dan (1995), Alae Supra Canalem: Wings Over the Canal, Turner Publishing, ISBN 1-56311-153-5
- 15 SOS Fact Sheet
- Mann, Robert A. (2009), The B-29 Superfortress: A Comprehensive Registry of the Planes and Their Missions, McFarland, ISBN 0-7864-4458-4
- AFHRA 15 SOS Page
- 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.
- Thigpen (2001), p. 82–83.