919th Special Operations Wing
|919th Special Operations Wing|
919th Special Operations Wing – Lockheed MC-130E-LM Hercules 64-0559
|Active||11 February 1963 – present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Force Reserve Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Duke Field, Florida|
|Colonel Jon Weeks|
|Emblem of the 919 SOW|
|Transport||MC-130E Combat Talon|
The 919th Special Operations Wing (919 SOW) is an Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Tenth Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, stationed at Duke Field (Eglin Air Force Auxiliary Field #3), Florida.
The 919th SOW employs about 1,300 reservists. Air reserve technicians, commonly referred to as ARTs, are the nucleus of the wing. They provide management continuity to keep the units combat ready. ARTs carry dual status as full-time civil service employees for the Air Force who, as a condition of employment, must participate as reservists. More than 280 ARTs and 35 civilians support the wing in day-to-day operations.
Following the mobilizations in 1961 and 1962 for the Berlin Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Continental Air Command (ConAC) realized that it was unwieldy to mobilize an entire wing unless absolutely necessary. Their original Table of Organization for each Wing was a wing headquarters, a troop carrier group, an Air Base Group, a maintenance and supply group, and a medical group. In 1957, the troop carrier group and maintenance and supply groups were inactivated, with their squadrons reassigned directly to the wing headquarters – despite the fact that many wings had squadrons spread out over several bases due to the Detached Squadron Concept dispersing Reserve units over centers of population.
To resolve this, in late 1962 and early 1963, ConAC reorganized the structure of its reserve Troop Carrier Wings by establishing fully deployable Troop Carrier Groups and inserting them into the chain of command between the Wing and its squadrons at every base that held a ConAC troop carrier squadron. At each base, the group was composed of a material squadron, a troop carrier squadron, a tactical hospital or dispensary, and a combat support squadron. Each troop carrier wing consisted of 3 or 4 of these groups. By doing so, ConAC could facilitate the mobilization of either aircraft and aircrews alone, aircraft and minimum support personnel (one troop carrier group), or the entire troop carrier wing. This also gave ConAC the flexibility to expand each Wing by attaching additional squadrons, if necessary from other Reserve wings to the deployable groups for deployments.
As a result, the 919th Troop Carrier Group was established with a mission to organize, recruit and train Air Force Reserve personnel in the tactical airlift of airborne forces, their equipment and supplies and delivery of these forces and materials by airdrop, landing or cargo extraction systems. The group was equipped with C-119 Flying Boxcars for Tactical Air Command airlift operations.
The 919th TCG was one of three C-119 groups assigned to the 455th TCW in 1963, the others being the 918th Troop Carrier Group at Dobbins Air Force Base, Georgia, and 920th Troop Carrier Group, also at Memphis Municipal Airport, Tennessee.
The 919th was renamed the 919th Tactical Airlift Group (919 TAG) and equipped with the C-130A, and based at Duke Field, Florida, from 1971, it performed airlift of personnel and cargo, in addition to airdropping U.S. Army paratroopers during exercises from 1971 to 1974.
Re-designated the 919th Special Operations Group on 1 July 1975, the group began transitioning to the AC-130A Spectre aircraft and training for gunship operations, with close air support as a primary duty, but included ability to perform armed interdiction, reconnaissance, and escort, forward air control and combat search and rescue in conventional or unconventional warfare setting. Redesignated the 919th Special Operations Group (919 SOG), the command was later upgraded to wing status and renamed the 919th Special Operations Wing (919 SOW). In addition to its primary combat duties, the 919th also provided range clearing support for missile launches at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and along the Eastern Test Range from 1979 to 1989 and for NASA space shuttle launches at the John F. Kennedy Space Center from 1981 to 1988.
The 711th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) hit key facilities and provided cover for U.S. Army troops during the invasion of Panama, December 1989 – January 1990. On 1 April 1990 the 919th gained a second SOS (71 SOS) located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Both squadrons participated in the conflict in Southwest Asia: the 71 SOS, flying HH-3Es deployed 12 January 1991 – 16 March 1991 and the 711 SOS, flying AC-130As, deployed 7 February – 12 March. In addition, the 711 SOS used their AC-130s to fly cargo and passengers. The 919 SOW lost the 71 SOS on 1 October 1993, but in late 1994, gained the 5th Special Operations Squadron (5 SOS). The 5 SOS began to receive their MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft in April 1995 and trained for special operations, aerial refueling of special operations helicopters, and resupply missions. The 711 SOS transitioned from AC-130A gunships to MC-130E Combat Talon I aircraft beginning in October 1995 and trained for a primary mission of infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces. Periodically the wing deployed personnel and aircraft to support special operations forces in contingency operations worldwide, in addition to numerous humanitarian deployments. The 919th has conducted flight training in MC-130E Combat Talon I for both Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Force Reserve Command since 1 October 1997.
An Air Force news release dated 18 April 2013 announced the final flight of the wing's MC-130E aircraft, which will be flown to the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The Combat Talons are being replaced with C-145A aircraft which have already arrived at Duke Field.
Current units include:
- 919th Operations Group (919 OG)
- 2d Special Operations Squadron (2 SOS) (Creech AFB, with move to Hurlburt Field scheduled in FY 2013)
- 5th Special Operations Squadron (5 SOS) (Hurlburt Field)
- 711th Special Operations Squadron (711 SOS)
- 919th Maintenance Group (919 MXG)
- 919th Mission Support Group (919 MSG)
- 919th Medical Squadron (919 MDS)
- Established as 919th Troop Carrier Group, Assault, and activated, on 15 Jan 1963
- Organized in the Reserve on 11 Feb 1963
- Discontinued, and inactivated, on 15 Dec 1965
- Re-designated 919th Tactical Airlift Group on 17 Jun 1971
- Activated in the Reserve on 30 Jul 1971
- Re-designated: 919th Special Operations Group on 1 Jul 1975
- Re-designated: 919th Special Operations Wing on 1 Aug 1992.
- Continental Air Command, 15 Jan 1963
- 445th Troop Carrier (later, 445th Air Transport) Wing, 11 Feb 1963 – 15 Dec 1965
- 459th Tactical Airlift Wing, 30 Jul 1971
- Eastern Air Force Reserve Region, 1 Dec 1974
- Tenth Air Force, 8 Oct 1976
- Fourth Air Force, 1 Mar 1983
- Tenth Air Force, 1 Jul 1994 – present
- 919th Operations Group: 1 Aug 1992 – present
- 71st Special Operations Squadron: 1 Apr 1990 – 1 Aug 1992
- 701st Troop Carrier Squadron: 11 Feb 1963 – 15 Dec 1965
- 711th Tactical Airlift (later Special Operations): 30 Jul 1971 – 1 Aug 1992.
- C-145A Skytruck (2013–present)
- MC-130E Combat Talon I (1995–2013)
- C-130 Hercules (1971–present)
- U-28 (2008–present)
- MQ-1 Predator (2008–present)
- MC-130P Combat Shadow (1995–2008)
- AC-130A Spectre (1975–1995)
- HH-3 (1990–1993)
- C-123 Provider (1963–1965)
- Fort Walton Beach, Florida, "Gunship Conversion at Duke Means More Jobs, Money", Playground Daily News, Thursday 3 July 1975, Volume 30, Number 126, page 7B.