15th Special Operations Squadron
|15th Special Operations Squadron
A 15th Special Operations Squadron MC-130 deploys to Haiti to provide humanitarian and disaster relief
|Active||1942–1943; 1944–1946; 1947–1949; 1968–1970; 1992–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Force Special Operations Command |
1st Special Operations Wing
1st Special Operations Group
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation |
Presidential Unit Citation (United States)
Gallant Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat V device
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
|15th Special Operations Squadron emblem (approved 27 November 1992)|
|15th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 13 April 1945)|
The squadron was first activated in 1942 as the 520th Bombardment Squadron. It engaged in antisubmarine warfare operations as the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron off the Atlantic coast of the United States until 1943 when the Navy assumed responsibility for the mission. It was disbanded in the fall of that year.
In 1944, the 15th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy was activated as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress unit. It participated in combat operations against Japan in 1945, receiving a Distinguished Unit Citation. The squadron was inactivated on Guam in 1946. It was again briefly active in the Air Force Reserve from 1947 to 1949.
The 15th Special Operations Squadron was activated in Vietnam as a Lockheed C-130 Hercules gunship squadron. It participated in combat until it was inactivated in 1970, earning a Presidential Unit Citation (United States), Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat V device and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm.
The 15th Antisubmarine Squadron and 15th Bombardment Squadron were consolidated with the 15th Special Operations Squadron in September 1985, but remained inactive until 1992, when the squadron again activated as a special operations C-130 unit.
The first predecessor of the squadron was activated at Jacksonville Municipal Airport in late 1942 as the 520th Bombardment Squadron, one of the four original squadrons of the 378th Bombardment Group. The squadron apparently drew its cadre from the 18th Observation Squadron, which moved on paper from Jacksonville to Birmingham Army Air Field, Alabama the same day.[note 1] It was originally equipped with a mixture of observation aircraft and medium bombers. Using these aircraft, the squadron began flying antisubmarine patrols off the Atlantic Coast.
AAF Antisubmarine Command soon reorganized, eliminating its groups and assigning its squadrons directly to its two wings. As a result, the squadron became the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron and was assigned to the 26th Antisubmarine Wing. Although assigned to the 25th Wing, the squadron flew most missions in the area north of its station, moving its operations to Langley Field, Virginia in 1943, so it was attached to the 25th Antisubmarine Wing until July 1943, when it moved its operations to Drew Field, Florida.
In July 1943, the AAF and Navy reached an agreement to transfer the coastal antisubmarine mission to the Navy. This mission transfer also included an exchange of AAF long-range bombers equipped for antisubmarine warfare for Navy Consolidated B-24 Liberators without such equipment. The squadron continued operations from Batista Field, Cuba until it was disbanded on 2 November 1943.
B-29 bombardment squadron
The second predecessor of the squadron is the 15th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy, which was activated as part of the 16th Bombardment Group on 1 April 1944 at Dalhart Army Air Field, Texas as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress unit. It moved to Fairmont Army Airfield, Nebraska for training in August 1944 and received Bell B-29B Superfortresses designed for fast low-level bomb runs. The squadron deployed to the Pacific Theater of Operations, where it was stationed at Northwest Field, Guam under XXI Bomber Command's 315th Bombardment Wing. It flew very long range strategic bombardment missions over the Japanese Home Islands concentrating on oil industry targets, particularly refineries and coal liquification facilities (26 June-14 August 1945). No B-29s from the squadron were lost during combat operations over Japan.
The squadron was inactivated on Guam 15 April 1946. Its personnel returned to the United States and its aircraft were sent to storage in the Southwest United States.
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.
- 15th Antisubmarine Squadron
- Constituted as the 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 and consolidated with the 15th Bombardment Squadron and the 15th Special Operations Squadron as the 15th Special Operations Squadron
- 15th Bombardment Squadron
- Constituted as the 15th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy 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 on 19 September 1985 and with the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron and the 15th Special Operations Squadron as the 15th Special Operations Squadron
- 15th Special Operations Squadron
- Constituted as the 15th Air Commando Squadron and activated, on 13 February 1968 (not organized)
- Organized on 15 March 1968
- Redesignated 15th Special Operations Squadron on 1 August 1968
- Inactivated on 31 October 1970
- Consolidated on 19 September 1985 and with the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron and the 15th Bombardment Operations Squadron
- Activated on 1 October 1992
- 378th Bombardment Group, 18 October 1942 (attached to 25th Antisubmarine Wing after 20 November 1942)
- 26th Antisubmarine Wing, 14 December 1942 (attached to 25th Antisubmarine Wing until c. July 1943)
- 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 (not organized)
- 14th Air Commando Wing (later 14th Special Operations Wing), 15 March 1968 – 31 October 1970
- 1st Special Operations Group (later 16th Operations Group, 1st Special Operations Group), 1 October 1992 – present
- Jacksonville Municipal Airport (Later Jacksonville Army Air Field), Florida, 18 October 1942 (air Echelon operated from: Langley Field, Virginia, 3 June-3 July 1943; Drew Field, Florida, July 1943; Batista Field, Cuba, c. 25 July–c. 1 October 1943)
- Wendover Field, Utah, 17 October-2 November 1943.
- Dalhart Army Air Field, Texas, 1 April 1944
- Fairmont Army Air Field, Nebraska, 15 August 1944 – 7 March 1945
- Northwest Field (Guam), Guam, 14 April 1945 – 15 April 1946
- Hill Field (later Hill Air Force Base), Utah, 1 August 1947 – 27 June 1949
- Nha Trang Air Base, South Vietnam, 15 March 1968 – 31 October 1970.
- Hurlburt Field, Florida, 1 October 1992 – present
- North American O-47 (1942)
- North American B-25 Mitchell (1942–1943)
- Lockheed B-34 Lexington (1943)
- Consolidated B-24 Liberator (1943)
- Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (1944–1945)
- Boeing B-29B Superfortress (1944–1946)
- Lockheed C-130E(I) Combat Talon (1968–1970)
- Lockheed MC-130H Combat Talon II (1992–present)
- Explanatory notes
- The Hurlburt Fac Sheet states that the 18th Observation Squadron was redesignated the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron. This is contradicted by both Maurer and Dollman. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. ' Dollman, AFHRA Factsheet 15 Special Operations Squadron.
- Dollman, David (17 October 2016). "Factsheet 15 Special Operations Squadron (AFSOC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 83
- "About Us: Fact Sheet 15th Special Operations Squadron". 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs. 28 March 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 82
- Ferguson, pp. 82-83
- Mann,[page needed]
- Thigpen (2001), pp. 77–78.
- Thigpen (2001), p. 82–83.
- Ferguson, Arthur B. (April 1945). "The Antisubmarine Command, USAF Historical Study No. 107" (PDF). Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence Historical Division. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
- Mann, Robert A. (2009), The B-29 Superfortress: A Comprehensive Registry of the Planes and Their Missions, McFarland, ISBN 0-7864-4458-4
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) . Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
- 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
- Cantwell, Gerald T. (1997). Citizen Airmen: a History of the Air Force Reserve, 1946-1994. Washington, D.C.: Air Force History and Museums Program. ISBN 0-16049-269-6.
- Hagdedorn, Dan (1995), Alae Supra Canalem: Wings Over the Canal, Turner Publishing, ISBN 1-56311-153-5