12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron

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12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron
Active 1942-1944; 1944-1945; 1966-1970; 1996-present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Command and control
Part of Air Combat Command
Garrison/HQ Robins Air Force Base
Motto(s) Draconis Vigilantis Latin
Colors      (1966-1970)
Engagements European Theater of Operations
Mediterranean Theater of Operations Vietnam War
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm
Commanders
Current
commander
Lt Col Nelson Rouleau
Insignia
12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron emblem (approved 12 April 2000)[1] 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron emblem.jpg
12th Air Commando Squadron unofficial emblem[note 1] 12th Air Commando Sq emblem.png
2d Antisubmarine Squadron emblem 2d Antisubmarine Squadron - Emblem.png

The 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron is a United States Air Force flying unit, assigned to the 461st Air Control Wing, stationed at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. The squadron flies the E-8C Joint STARS, providing airborne battle management, command and control, surveillance, and target acquisition.

Mission & Vision[edit]

Mission: "Provide U.S. Combatant Commanders 10 Combat Mission Ready Crews"

Vision: "Airmen who demonstrate the ability, acumen, and the audacity to secure our nation's interests"

Truths: "JSTARS, its Airmen, and U.S. national security are indivisible" & "An Airman's mind is superior to technology"

Flight Paths: Training, Relationships, Imagination, and Resiliency

End State: "Provide the nation with a continuous advantage in the air, space, and cyber domain"

Commanders of the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[edit]

The commander of the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron is an air force position held by a lieutenant colonel. The 12th ACCS is responsible for organizing, equipping, and ensuring the combat capability of more than 200 airmen in the Air Force's first E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System operational squadron.

No. Image Name Term of Office
Began Ended
1 Charles Freniere June, 1996 January, 1998
2 Gordon McKay January, 1998 October, 1999
3 Mark Hall October, 1999 November, 2000
4 Tom Wozinak November, 2000 November, 2002
5 Nick Quantral November, 2002 October, 2004
6 Kelly Noler October, 2004 June, 2006
7 Henry Cyr June, 2006 June, 2008
8 Bill Gould June, 2008 April, 2010
9 Chris Blaney April, 2010 April, 2012
10 Max Weems April, 2012 April, 2014
11 Christopher Clark April, 2014 April, 2016
12 Nelson Rouleau April, 2016 Present

History[edit]

Antisubmarine warfare[edit]

Antisubmarine B-24

The first predecessor of the squadron was activated at Langley Field, Virginia in October 1942 as the 523d Bombardment Squadron, one of the original squadrons of the 378th Bombardment Group.[2] One month later, it was redesignated the 2d Antisubmarine Squadron. The squadron was initially equipped with a number of different types of bombers, but by the end of the year had standardized on the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.[1] With the 378th, the squadron engaged in antisubmarine patrols off the east coast of the United States. When the 378th Group was inactivated in December, the unit was assigned directly to the 25th Antisubmarine Wing, which was responsible for Army Air Forces antisubmarine operations off the Atlantic coast of the United States.[3]

In January 1943, it moved to RAF St Eval, England, being the first of four antisubmarine squadrons to arrive there to participate in the Battle of the Atlantic.[1][4] From St Eval it began flying antisubmarine patrols around England. Although the squadron remained assigned to the 25th Wing, at St Eval, it was attached to the provisional 1st Antisubmarine Group.[1]

In March 1943, the squadron moved to Craw Field, near Port Lyautey, French Morocco, where it was attached to the 2037th Antisubmarine Wing, another provisional organization, until being reassigned to the newly activated 480th Antisubmarine Group.[1] Its mission was to patrol an area of the Atlantic north and west of Morocco. Its antisubmarine activity reached a peak in July, when German U-boats concentrated off the coast of Portugal to intercept Allied convoys bound for the Mediterranean. Its actions protected supply lines for forces involved in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily.[5] The unit most frequently attacked enemy subs 700 miles off the coast of Spain, in what was termed, the "Coffin Corner." This was an area in which the subs surfaced to recharge their batteries. It was also possible to attack them in this location before they joined up into wolfpacks.[6] The 2d Squadron earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for its combat contributions in the Battle of the Atlantic against German submarines.[1]

The squadron returned to the United States at end of 1943 and was disbanded at Clovis Army Air Field in January 1944.[1] Most of the unit's aircrews became cadres for Boeing B-29 Superfortress unit at Clovis.[7]

Airlift operations in the Mediterranean Theater[edit]

Douglas C-47

The 327th Ferrying Squadron, which was activated at Capodichino Air Base, Italy on 31 May 1944 is the second forerunner of the squadron. The 327th flew cargo, passengers, and mail to destinations in Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, North Africa, and southern France. It moved to the United States in late September 1945 and was inactivated in October.[1]

Operation Ranch Hand[edit]

Squadron UC-123B aircraft over Vietnam

In the fall of 1966 Operation Ranch Hand expanded its size with the delivery of eleven additional Fairchild UC-123B Provider aircraft that had been authorized earlier in the year.[8] As a result, the Special Aerial Spray Flight of the 309th Air Commando Squadron expanded to a full squadron at Tan Son Nhut Airport, being replaced by the 12th Air Commando Squadron on 15 October 1966. Sixteen days later, the squadron suffered its first loss when an aircraft was shot down in the Iron Triangle. The expansion to squadron strength led to the expansion of the unit's defoliation mission to area targets, such as War Zone C, War Zone D and the Mekong Delta, in addition to clearing lines of communication.[9] Due to crowding at Tan Son Nhut, also Saigon's commercial airport, the squadron moved to Bien Hoa Air Base in December.[1]

In October 1966, the squadron also began flying insecticide missions. These missions focused on killing malaria spreading mosquitos. A single aircraft was dedicated to this mission, since the application rate of insecticide was much lower than that for herbicides and one mission could cover a large area. Because of the corrosive effects of the insecticide on aircraft camouflage paint, an uncamouflaged aircraft was eventually settled on to fly these missions.[9][note 2]

In February 1967, the squadron flew its first mission in the southern portion of the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. Infiltration through the DMZ posed a significant threat to forces in the I Corps area, but the sensitivity of defoliation in an area so near North Vietnam had delayed operations there. By the late summer, selected targets in the northern portion of the DMZ and nearby infiltration routes within North Vietnam had been added to the target list.[10] DMZ operations were flown from the operating location the squadron maintained at Da Nang Air Base.[11]

The squadron participated in Operation Pink Rose in late 1966 and early 1967. Pink Rose was an attempt to burn forested areas. In this operation, the unit applied two treatments to the target areas with defoliants. Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses then dropped incendiary bombs to ignite fires in the area. Results were disappointing and no further efforts were made to use forest fire as a method of stripping jungle canopies.[12]

In addition to defoliation, the 12th also flew crop destruction missions. Crop destruction missions were flown with planes displaying Vietnamese markings, and a Vietnam Air Force member flew on board the lead aircraft.[13] These missions were intended to reduce the amount of food available to Viet Cong forces and to increase the cost of food procurement. Seventh Air Force also found that the missions caused the Viet Cong to divert forces from combat and devote them to raising food. In contrast, a study by the RAND Corporation questioned the effectiveness of these missions, and concluded they increased hostility toward Americans.[14]

In January 1968, the squadron flew 589 sorties on target, the most it would fly during the war. However, on 31 January, its base at Bien Hoa was subjected to intense rocket and mortar attack as part of the Tet Offensive, halting operations. On 2 February, the squadron resumed operations, including emergency airlift missions. Six days later, Military Assistance Command Vietnam directed that the spray tanks be removed from the squadron's aircraft and its planes be devoted to airlift. No operations were flown on 28 February, when another rocket attack destroyed four buildings housing squadron aircrew and heavily damaged another. The squadron flew 2866 airlift sorties during the Tet Offensive before returning to the defoliation mission in mid-March.[15]

"Patches" after conversion to C-123K[note 3]

Later in 1968, the unit added Nha Trang Air Base and Phu Cat Air Base to Da Nang as staging areas for defoliation operations as missions clearing friendly lines of communication again took precedence over the area targets of the previous two years. Targets also shifted away from the heavily populated III Corps zone. In May, the squadron received its first UC-123K, equipped with two additional General Electric J85 engines, which greatly reduced the planes' vulnerability to loss of an engine. This conversion was completed by April 1969. By this time, the squadron had lost six UC-123Bs on combat missions.[16]

During February 1969, in anticipation of a repeat of the previous year's offensive, the squadron deployed to Phan Rang Air Base, returning to Bien Hoa in early March.[17] As the Nixon administration implemented its plan for American withdrawal from Vietnam, pressure to reduce the squadron's operations increased. Squadron sorties were to be reduced by 30% by July 1970 and in view of the reduction, eleven Providers were transferred to other units in the 315th Special Operations Wing in November. The squadron also lost Nha Trang as a staging base when it was transferred to the Vietnamese Air Force.[18] In April 1970, the squadron was notified that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had decided that Agent Orange was no longer to be used. On 9 May, the 12th exhausted its supply of Agent White and flew its last defoliation mission. From 11 May to 6 July, the squadron flew leaflet and flare missions over Cambodia. The reduced insecticide and crop destruction missions no longer required a separate squadron, so the unit moved to Phan Rang, where its personnel and equipment were absorbed by Flight A of the 310th Special Operations Squadron. It became non-operational at the end of July and was inactivated in September 1970.[1][19]

In its four years of operations, the 12th was awarded four Presidential Unit Citations, an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device and several Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm.[note 4]

Airborne command and control[edit]

In September 1985, the 2d Antisubmarine Squadron and 327th Ferrying Squadron were reconstituted and consolidated with the 12th Special Operations Squadron, and the consolidated unit designated the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron. However, the squadron remained inactive until January 1996, when it was activated to fly Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS aircraft as part of the 93d Operations Group for air control and target attack radar system.[1]

In 2002, the JSTARS mission was transferred to the Georgia Air National Guard and the squadron was transferred to the Guard as part of the 116th Operations Group.[note 5] This arrangement was reversed in 2011, and the squadron returned to the regular Air Force in 2011.

Lineage[edit]

2d Antisubmarine Squadron
  • Constituted as the 523 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 13 October 1942
Activated on 18 October 1942
Redesignated 2d Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy) on 23 November 1942
  • Disbanded on 29 January 1944
  • Reconstituted on 19 September 1985 and consolidated with the 327th Ferrying Squadron and the 12th Special Operations Squadron as the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[1]
327th Ferrying Squadron
  • Constituted as the 327th Ferrying Squadron on 12 May 1944
Activated on 31 May 1944
Inactivated on 5 October 1945
  • Disbanded on 8 October 1948
  • Reconstituted on 19 September 1985 and consolidated with the 2d Antisubmarine Squadron and the 12th Special Operations Squadron as the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[1]
12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron
  • Constituted as the 12 Air Commando Squadron (Defoliation) and activated on 26 August 1966 (not organized)
Organized on 15 October 1966
Redesignated 12 Special Operations Squadron on 1 August 1968
Inactivated on 30 September 1970
  • Consolidated with the 2d Antisubmarine Squadron and the 327th Ferrying Squadron as the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron on 19 September 1985
Activated on 29 January 1996
  • Allotted to the Air National Guard on 1 October 2002[1]
  • Withdrawn from the Air National Guard on 1 October 2011

Assignments[edit]

  • 378th Bombardment Group, 18 October 1942
  • 25th Antisubmarine Wing, 14 December 1942 (attached to VIII Bomber Command, c. 2 January 1942, 1st Antisubmarine Group (Provisional), 15 January 1942, 2037th Antisubmarine Wing (Provisional), 1 March 1943 – 21 June 1943)
  • 480th Antisubmarine Group, 21 June 1943 – 29 January 1944
  • Mediterranean Air Transport Service, 31 May 1944
  • XII Air Force Service Command, c. 15 September – 5 October 1945
  • Pacific Air Forces, 26 August 1966 (not organized)
  • 315th Air Commando Wing (later 315th Special Operations Wing, 315th Tactical Airlift Wing), 15 October 1966 – 30 September 1970
  • 93d Operations Group, 29 January 1996
  • 116th Operations Group, 1 October 2002[1]
  • 461st Operations Group, 1 October 2011

Stations[edit]

  • Langley Field, Virginia, 18 October – 26 December 1942
  • RAF St Eval (Station 129),[20] England, 2 January 1943
  • Craw Field, Port Lyautey, French Morocco, c. 11 March – 25 November 1943 (air echelon operated from Agadir, French Morocco, in July 1943)
  • Clovis Army Air Field, New Mexico, c. 4 – 29 January 1944
  • Capodichino Air Base, Naples, Italy, 31 May 1944 – 5 October 1945[note 6]
  • Tan Son Nhut Airport, South Vietnam, 15 October 1966
  • Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam, 1 December 1966
  • Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam, 10 July – 30 September 1970
  • Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, 29 Jan 1996 – present[1]

Aircraft[edit]

Awards and campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Presidential Unit Citation European Theater of Operations and North Africa 16 January 1943-28 October 1943 2d Antisubmarine Squadron[1]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation Southeast Asia 15 October 1966-30 June 1967 12th Air Commando Squadron[1]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation Southeast Asia 21 January 1968-12 May 1968 12th Air Commando Squadron[1]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation Southeast Asia 15 May 1968-15 April 1969 12th Air Commando Squadron (later 12th Special Operations Squadron)[1]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation Southeast Asia 1 April 1970-30 June 1970 12th Special Operations Squadron[1]
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 15 October 1966-30 April 1967 12th Air Commando Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 29 January 1996-31 May 1997 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[22]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1997-31 May 1999 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[22]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 31 August 2004-31 May 2006 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[22]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 2006-31 May 2007 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[22]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 2013-31 May 2014 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[22]
VGCP Streamer.jpg Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm [note 7] 12th Air Commando Squadron (later 12th Special Operations Squadron)
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
American Campaign Streamer.png Antisubmarine 18 October 1942 – 26 December 1942 523d Bombardment Squadron (later 2d Antisubmarine Squadron)[23]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Air Offensive, Europe 2 January 1943 – 25 November 1943 2d Antisubmarine Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Antisubmarine, EAME Theater 2 January 1943 – 25 November 1943 2d Antisubmarine Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Rhineland 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945 327th Ferrying Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Air Combat, EAME Theater 2 January 1943 – 24 November 1943, 31 May 1944 – 11 May 1945 2d Antisubmarine Squadron, 327th Ferrying Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Rome-Arno 31 May 1944 – 9 September 1944 327th Ferrying Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Po Valley 3 April 1945 – 8 May 1945 327th Ferrying Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air Offensive 15 October 1966 – 8 March 1967 12th Air Commando Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II 9 March 1967 – 31 March 1968 12th Air Commando Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air/Ground 22 January 1968 – 7 July 1968 12th Air Commando Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III 1 April 1968 – 31 October 1968 12th Air Commando Squadron (later 12th Special Operations Squadron)[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV 1 November 1968 – 22 February 1969 12th Special Operations Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Tet 1969/Counteroffensive 23 February 1969 – 8 June 1969 12th Special Operations Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969 9 June 1969 – 31 October 1969 12th Special Operations Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970 3 November 1969 – 30 April 1970 12th Special Operations Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Sanctuary Counteroffensive 1 May 1970 – 30 June 1970 12th Special Operations Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Southwest Monsoon 1 July 1970 – 31 July 1970 12th Special Operations Squadron[1]
Streamer KC.PNG Kosovo Air undetermined 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron[1]
Streamer gwotE.PNG Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal undetermined 12th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron[24][note 8]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ The emblem was previously used by 309th Air Commando Squadron Special Aerial Spray Flight. The green disc represents the jungle, while the brown bend sinister is a defoliated strip. The Chinese logogram for "purple" is in the center. Purple was the generic name used by Ranch Hand personnel for all defoliants.
  2. ^ This aircraft, Serial 56-4362, "Patches" is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Buckingham states that workers had stripped "Patches" of its camouflage paint, but there is no evidence that the plane was camouflaged while in Vietnam. Buckingham, p. 124.
  3. ^ The aircraft took almost 600 hits in combat, and it was named "Patches" for the damage repairs that covered it. Seven of its crew received the Purple Heart for wounds received in battle. It carries VNAF national markings. Patches was accepted in 1957 as a C-123B, and it went to Vietnam in 1961 to fly as a low-level defoliant sprayer. In 1965, it was redesignated as a UC-123B. In 1967, Patches became a dedicated insecticide sprayer and in 1968, Fairchild converted it to a UC-123K. "Patches" served in the Air Force Reserve as a C-123K from 1972 until it was retired to the museum in 1980
  4. ^ Kane lists a single award. However, "AF Pamphlet 900-2, Unit Decorations, Awards and Campaign Participation Credits, Vol II" (PDF). Washington, DC: Department of the Air Force. 30 September 1976. Retrieved August 11, 2016.  lists a total of five.
  5. ^ The squadron kept its designation, and was not renumbered in the block of numbers (101-300) allotted to the Air National Guard.
  6. ^ Kane states that the squadron returned to the United States in September, but does not give a station.
  7. ^ Kane lists one award for 15 October 1966-31 July 1970. Air Force Pamphlet 900-2 lists five awards, for 15 October 1966-31 July 1966, 15 October 1966-1 August 1968, 1 May 1968-31 July 1970, 1 June 1969-1 June 1970, 1 May 1968-31 July 1970. The AF Personnel Center database lists two awards, for 15 October 1966-1 August 1968 and 1 May 1968-31 July 1970.
  8. ^ This campaign credit was earned by an expeditionary unit for which the squadron was the primary force provider and is bestowed on the squadron.
Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an Kane, Robert B. (March 19, 2012). "Factsheet 12 Airborne Command and Control Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  2. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 266
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 388-389
  4. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 3, 25-26, 101
  5. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 354
  6. ^ Staff writer(s), no byline (December 20, 1943). "AIR: Sub Hunters' Return". Time. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  7. ^ See Mueller, p. 60 (showing B-29 units at Clovis).
  8. ^ Buckingham, p. 123
  9. ^ a b Buckingham, p. 124
  10. ^ Buckingham, pp. 125-127
  11. ^ Buckingham, p. 128
  12. ^ Buckingham, pp. 127-128
  13. ^ Buckingham, p. 137
  14. ^ Buckingham, pp. 133-136
  15. ^ Buckingham, pp. 142-143
  16. ^ Buckingham, pp. 143-144, 149, 152
  17. ^ Buckingham, p. 152
  18. ^ Buckingham, pp. 161
  19. ^ Buckingham, pp. 167-168
  20. ^ Station number in Anderson.
  21. ^ World Airpower Journal. (1992). US Air Force Air Power Directory. Aerospace Publishing: London, UK. ISBN 1-880588-01-3
  22. ^ a b c d e "Air Force Personnel Services: Unit Awards". Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved August 15, 2016.  (search)
  23. ^ See Maurer, Combat Units, p. 266 (indicating that the squadrons of the 378th Bombardment Group performed patrols off the Atlantic Coast).
  24. ^ "Special Order G-33994" (PDF). United States Air Forces Central Command. 14 July 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2016. 

Bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.