12th Special Operations Squadron

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This article is about the 12th Special Operations Squadron, formerly the 12th Fighter Squadron, activated in 2015. For 12th Special Operations Squadron of the Vietnam War, see 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron.
12th Special Operations Squadron
Tu-95MS and F-15C.jpg
12th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle and a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear bomber[note 1]
Active since 15 January 1941
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Special operations
Part of 27th Special Operations Wing
Garrison/HQ Cannon Air Force Base
Nickname(s) Dirty Dozen
Motto In Omnia Paratus Latin Ready for Anything
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation (United States)
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award wich Combat V device
Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines)
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea)
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
Commanders
Current
commander
Lt. Col. Josh Hartig
Insignia
12th Special Operations Squadron emblem (Approved 15 April 1957)[1] 12th Fighter Squadron.jpg

The 12th Special Operations Squadron is assigned to the 27th Special Operations Group at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. Its mission is the launch and recovery of Remotely Piloted Aircraft from unprepared locations throughout the world. The squadron was activated in 2015 to replace a detachment that had been performing the same mission since October 2013.

The squadron was previously active at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska as the12th Fighter Squadron, part of the 3d Operations Group. The squadron operated the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle aircraft conducting air superiority missions.

The mission of the 12th is to launch and recover Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) operationally employed by the 2d, 3d and 33d Special Operations Squadrons. To avoid the inherent delay in transmitting commands through satellite communications to RPAs from distant stations, the squadron deploys to locations where it can operate the craft for takeoff and landing using line of sight signals. This minimizes risk during critical flight operations, while permitting mission operations to be performed from more remote secure locations.[2]

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The 12th Special Operations Squadron was first activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan as the 12th Pursuit Squadron, one of the original squadrons of the 50th Pursuit Group. in January 1941 when the United States expanded its military forces on the eve of World War II. After training with Seversky P-35s and Curtiss P-36 Hawks, the squadron moved with its parent 50th Pursuit Group to Key Field, Mississippi in October, where it began to equip with Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. It was located there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 8.[1]

Responding to the critical need for fighters in the Pacific, in February 1942 the squadron deployed to Christmas Island. The 12th flew patrols over the Pacific from Christmas Island between February and October 1942. It began combat operations from Fighter Strip No.2 on Guadalcanal on 19 November 1942, moving to Guadalcanal in February. Operations were frequently split. Although based on Guadalcanal until August 1944, flight operations were conducted from Mono Airfield on Stirling Island. The 12th moved to Mar Drome, Sansapor, Netherlands East Indies that month although starting on 8 November, a portion of the squadron operated from Morotai. The split operation lasted until 10 January 1945, anth three days later the squadron moved to Lingayen Airfield in the Philippines, although the squadron moved to Hill Strip little more than a week later, its rear echelon continued to operate from Lingayen until 24 April 1945, when it leapfrogged forward to become the advanced echelon at Moret Field on 24 April, being joined by the rest of the squadron on 4 May. Combat operations continued until 14 August 1945 from Moret (and from Puerto Princesa Airfield between 26 April and 11 May 1945).[3]

Following the surrender of Japan, the squadron remained in the Philippines.[3]

Korean War[edit]

12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron P-51D[note 2]

When the North Korean People's Army crossed the 38th parallel to invade South Korea in June 1950, Far East Air Forces looked to its resources in the Philippines to reinforce its forces in Korea and the squadron was moved from the Philippines to Taegu Air Base in late July. However, as United Nations forces withdrew into the Pusan Perimeter, the squadron was forced to move to Ashiya Air Base, Japan eleven days after arriving in the theater of war, after flying only a handful of missions from Taegu with North American P-51 Mustangs. The following month it returned to Korea and Pusan East (K-9) Air Base.[3]

After the Inchon Landings, United Nations forces rapidly moved north and the squadron was able to establish a detachment at Pyongyang East Air Base on 5 November 1950, with the entire squadron arriving just over two weeks later. However, Chinese intervention in Korea forced the squadron to withdraw in December, first to Suwon Air Base, then to Chinhae Air Base (although a detachment of the squadron continued to operate from Suwon until 4 January 1951). Part of the squadron resumed Suwon operations again on 24 March 1951, while another part flew out of Pusan West Air Base Suwon operations lasted until 4 May 1951, while those in Pusan lasted only until 23 April.

12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron F-86F at Taegu

Although still stationed at Chinhae, The squadron operated from Seoul Air Base, closer to the front lines, from 8 May to 9 August 1951 and again from 18 August until 30 September, after which it began operations at Hoengseong Air Base. It moved entirely to Hoengseong on 2 June 1952[3]

It continued to fly combat missions in Korea from until 8 January 1953 and again, after re-equipping with the North American F-86 Sabre, from 25 February to 27 July 1953.[3]

Vietnam War[edit]

An F-105G taking off from Korat, 1972.

The 12th deployed to Vietnam from 1 February – 15 March 1965 and 15 June – 25 August 1965.[3] It supported air defense alert capability in Southeast Asia from, 1968–1972.[3]

The squadron stood alert in South Korea from, 23 January – 13 June 1968, after seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo by North Korea.[3]

Operations in the Pacific[edit]

The squadron was unmanned and unequipped from May 1972 until November 1975. It remanned and reequipped with McDonnell F-4 Phantom IIaircraft in late November 1975. Through 1980, it flew offensive and defensive exercises in support of its wing, the 313th Air Division, and Pacific Air Forces. It converted to McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle aircraft in 1980. In 1981, the 12th earned the Hughes Trophy in recognition as the outstanding fighter squadron in the USAF.

On 5 November 1999, the squadron moved without personnel or equipment to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska where it joined the 3d Wing on 28 April 2000. Between 2000 and 2008, it performed offensive and defensive counter-air missions with current air-to-air weaponry, including night vision goggles (NVG), to achieve air superiority in support of taskings from 3 Wing.[3]

At Elmendorf Air Force Base, the squadron employed the F-15C air superiority fighter in global expeditionary support of war-fighting commands.[4] The squadron was inactivated in September 2006, due the Base Realignment and Closure of 2005.

Remotely piloted vehicles[edit]

The 12th was redesignated the 12th Special Operations Squadron and activated at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico to operate RPVs from forward deployed locations during critical flight maneuvers when operating the craft by transmitting signals through satellites could potentially endanger them due to the delay in signal transmission. It absorbed the personnel and equipment of a small detachment that had been performing the same mission at Cannon since October 2013. The squadron is the first of its kind in the United States Air Force, and is being considered as a model for similar units by Air Combat Command.[2]

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as the 12th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Redesignated 12th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942
Redesignated 12th Fighter Squadron, Two Engine on 26 January 1944
Redesignated 12th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine on 6 May 1946
Redesignated 12th Fighter Squadron, Jet on 23 December 1949
Redesignated 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 20 January 1950
Redesignated 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 July 1958
Redesignated 12th Fighter Squadron on 1 October 1991[5]
Inactivated in October 2007
  • Redesignated 12th Special Operations Squadron
Activated c. 1 June 2015

Assignments[edit]

Attached to:
Air Task Group 5, Provisional, 27 January – 19 February 1955,
Air Task Force 13, Provisional, c. 3 September – 30 November 1955
49th Fighter-Bomber Group, 7 August 1956 – 14 March 1957
18th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 15 March – 15 August 1957
Thirteenth Air Force, 16 August – 1 September 1957
  • Thirteenth Air Force, 2 September 1957
  • 18 Fighter-Bomber Wing (later 18th Tactical Fighter Wing), 25 March 1958
Attached to
2d Air Division, 1 February – 15 March 1965, 15 June – 25 August 1965
314th Air Division, 23 – 29 January 1968

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

[5]

Awards and campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation Philippine Islands, 10 November 1944-11 November 1944 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation Korea, 3 November 1950-24 January 1951 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation Korea, 22 April 1951-8 July 1951 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Presidential Unit Citation 25 June 1965-25 August 1965 Southeast Asia, 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device 1 August 1964-5 June 1965 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 December 1959-30 November 1960 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 September 1962-31 August 1963 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 6 June 1965-31 December 1966 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 September 1978-30 September 1979 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 1979-31 May 1980 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1981-31 May 1983 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1983-31 May 1984 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1984-31 May 1986 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1987-31 May 1989 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1989-31 May 1991 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1991-31 May 1993 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron (later 12th Fighter Squadron)[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1993-31 August 1994 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 September 1994-31 August 1995 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 September 1995-31 August 1997 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 January 2000-31 December 2001 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 January 2002-30 September 2003 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 2003-30 September 2005 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines) Streamer.png Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation 13 January 1945-4 July 1945 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer KPUC.PNG Korean Presidential Unit Citation [28] July 1950-31 January 1951 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Streamer KPUC.PNG Korean Presidential Unit Citation 1 February 1951-31 March 1953 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
VGCP Streamer.jpg Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm 1 April 1966-30 June 1970 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
  • Hughes Trophy: 1981
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
Streamer APC.PNG Air Combat, Asiatic-Pacific Theater 10 February 1942-2 March 1946 12th Pursuit Squadron (later 12th Fighter Squadron)[5]
Streamer APC.PNG Guadalcanal 7 August 1942-21 February 1943 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer APC.PNG Northern Solomons 23 February 1943-21 November 1944 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer APC.PNG Bismarck Archipelago 15 December 1943-27 November 1944 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer APC.PNG New Guinea 24 January 1943-31 December 1944 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer APC.PNG Leyte 17 October 1944-1 July 1945 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer APC.PNG Luzon 15 December 1944-4 July 1945 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer APC.PNG Southern Philippines 27 February 1945-4 July 1945 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer APC.PNG China Defensive 4 July 1942-4 May 1945 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer APC.PNG Western Pacific 17 April 1944-2 September 1945 12th Fighter Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png UN Defensive 28 July 1950-15 September 1950 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png UN Offensive 16 September 1950-2 November 1950 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png CCF Intervention 3 November 1950-24 January 1951 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png 1st UN Counteroffensive 25 January 1951-21 April 1951 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png CCF Spring Offensive 22 April 1951-9 July 1951 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png UN Summer-Fall Offensive 9 July 1951-27 November 1951 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png Second Korean Winter 28 November 1951-30 April 1952 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png Korea Summer-Fall 1952 1 May 1952-30 November 1952 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Korean Service Medal - Streamer.png Third Korean Winter 1 December 1952-30 April 1953 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron[5]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Advisory 1 November 1961-1 March 1965 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Defensive 2 March 1965-30 January 1966 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Taken 28 September 2006 during a Russian exercise that brought the Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear near the west coast of Alaska.
  2. ^ Aircraft is North American P-51D-30-NA Mustang serial 44-74617, taken on a South Korean airfield in 1950
  3. ^ Detachments operated from Sanga-Sanga in the Sulu Archipelago from 11 June 1945 until the end of the war and from Tacloban from 25 July - c. 30 July 1945
  4. ^ A detachment operated from Floridablanca Army Air Base after 24 June 1946

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 65-66
  2. ^ a b Kay-Fantozzi, A1C Shelby. "Cannon activates 12th SOS". 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs. Retrieved May 26, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Robertson, Patsy (March 17, 2015). "Factsheet 12 Fighter Squadron (PACAF)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved June 5, 2015. 
  4. ^ 12 FS Fact Sheet[dead link]
  5. ^ 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 ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay AFHRA Factsheet, 12 Fighter Squadron (Lineage, including assignments, stations and aircraft through September 2006)

Bibliography[edit]

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