24th Special Tactics Squadron
|24th Special Tactics Squadron|
24th STS unit emblem
|Active||14 October 1941 – 31 March 1944
1 May 1987 – present
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Type||Special Operations Force|
|Part of|| 24th Special Operations Wing
724th Special Tactics Group
|Garrison/HQ||Pope Field, North Carolina|
|Decorations||Gallant Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
The 24th Special Tactics Squadron is one of the Special Tactics units of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It is the U.S. Air Force component to Joint Special Operations Command. It is garrisoned at Pope Field, North Carolina.
- Constituted as 24 Air Corps Interceptor Control Squadron on 14 October 1941.
- Activated on 21 October 1941.
- Redesignated as 24 Fighter Control Squadron on 15 May 1942.
- Disbanded on 31 March 1944.
- Reconstituted, and consolidated (1 March 1992) with the 1724 Combat Control Squadron which was designated, and activated, on 1 May 1987.
- Redesignated as: 1724 Special Tactics Squadron on 1 October 1987.
- Redesignated as: 24 Special Tactics Squadron on 31 March 1992.
- Fourth Air Force, 21 October 1941
- 24th Pursuit Group, 15 January 1942
- Fourth Air Force, 15 January – 7 July 1942
- IV Fighter Command, 8 July – 14 October 1942
- San Francisco Air Defense (later, San Francisco Fighter) Wing, 15 October 1942 – 31 March 1944
- Twenty-Third Air Force, 1 May 1987;
- 1720th (later, 720th) Special Tactics Group, 1 October 1987 – 29 April 2011
- 724th Special Tactics Group, 29 April 2011 – Present
- Hamilton Field, CA, 21 October – 6 December 1941
- US Army Transport Garfield, 6–10 December 1941
- Hamilton Field, CA, 10 December 1941 – 7 October 1943
- Berkeley, CA, 7 October 1943 – 31 March 1944
- Pope AFB, NC, 1 May 1987 – 1 March 2011
- Pope Field, NC, 1 March 2011 – Present
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/ "V" Device||18 December 1989 – 16 January 1990||Invasion of Panama|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/ "V" Device||16 August – 7 Nov 1993||Battle of Mogadishu|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||8 November 1993 – 31 July 1995|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 August 1995 – 31 Jul 1997|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||5 August 1997 – 31 July 1999|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 September 1999 – 31 August 2001|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/ "V" Device||1 September 2001 – 31 August 2003||Invasion of Afghanistan/Iraq|
|Air Force Gallant Unit Citation||1 January 2006 – 31 December 2007|
- Other accolades
- Air Commando Association 2012 AFSOC Squadron of the Year
The 24th Special Tactics Squadron participated in the United States invasion of Panama in 1989. The 24th STS deployed 11 personnel including the unit commander, Lt. Col. Jim Oeser, as part of JSOC's Task Force Ranger during Operation Restore Hope in 1993. Due to their actions during the Battle of Mogadishu multiple decorations were awarded to the airmen. Pararescueman (PJ) TSgt Tim Wilkinson received the Air Force Cross and fellow PJ MSgt Scott Fales received the Silver Star, both for providing lifesaving medical care to wounded soldiers. Combat Controller (CCT) SSgt. Jeffrey W. Bray also received the Silver Star for coordinating helicopter attack runs throughout the night around their positions.
From 15 to 20 September 2000 the 24th STS with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron took part in the annual Canadian military exercise, Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX). This was the first time Special Tactics units took part in SAREX.
In recent years the squadron has been heavily involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan where the unit was part of the JSOC groupings Task Force 121, Task Force 6-26 and Task Force 145. In 2003 members of the unit were involved in two combat jumps in the initial phases of the Iraq War alongside the 3rd Ranger Battalion. The first combat jump was on 24 March 2003 near the Syrian border in the Iraqi town of Al Qaim where they secured a small desert landing strip to allow follow-on coalition forces into the area. The second combat jump was two days later near Haditha, Iraq, where they secured the Haditha Dam.
On 8 April 2003 Combat Controller Scott Sather, a member of the 24th STS, became the first airman killed in combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom near Tikrit, Iraq. He was attached to a small team from the 75th Ranger Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment (RRD). The RRD team and Sather were operating alongside Delta Force, under Lieutenant Colonel Pete Blaber, west of Baghdad. They were tasked with deceiving the Iraqi army into believing the main U.S. invasion was coming from the west in order to prevent Saddam Hussein from escaping into Syria. Sather Air Base was named after him.
The 24th STS was a part of JSOC's Task Force 145 which was a provisional grouping specifically charged with hunting down high-value al-Qaeda and Iraqi leadership including Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in June 2006.
The squadron lost three members – PJs John Brown and Daniel Zerbe and CCT Andrew Harvell – in 2011 when the Chinook in which they were flying was shot down in Afghanistan. To honor the three 24th STS members who died in the 2011 Chinook shootdown, 18 members of AFSOC marched 800 miles from Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio Texas to Hurlburt Field, Florida in their memory.
- PJ Tim Wilkinson received the Air Force Cross for his actions during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu. Wilkinson was portrayed by Ty Burrell in the 2001 film Black Hawk Down which chronicled the events of the Battle of Mogadishu.
- CCT John Chapman was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, and is currently in pending status to be the first Air Force member to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam Era, for his actions in the Battle of Takur Ghar during the War in Afghanistan. In 2005 a U.S. Navy Buffalo Soldier-class container ship was renamed the TSgt John A. Chapman in Chapman's honor.
- PJ Ramon Colon-Lopez was a member of the 24th STS twice. From February 1999 – January 2005 Colon-Lopez was a Special Tactics Element Leader and April 2009 – April 2011 he was the Squadron's Senior Enlisted Advisor. In 2007 Colon-Lopez was one of the first six recipients of the newly created Air Force Combat Action Medal. He was awarded the AFCAM for a 2004 operation in Afghanistan during which he led an Advance Force Operations Team.
- Jul 2003 – Jul 2005, Lt. Col. Mark F. Stratton
- Jun 2005 – Jun 2007, Lt. Col. Robert G. Armfield - Previous 24th STS assignments: Director of Operations (Jan 1998 - Jul 2002)
- Jun 2009 – Apr 2011, Lt. Col. Matthew Wolfe Davidson - Previous 24th STS assignments: Flight Commander (Aug 1998 - Jan 2002), Deputy Commander (Jun 2008 – Jun 2009)
In popular culture
In James Phelan's 'Jed Walker' series of thriller novels, the title character of Jed Walker is a veteran of the 24th STS.
- Priest, Dana (2 September 2011). "'Top Secret America': A look at the military's Joint Special Operations Command – Washington Post". Articles.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "The Secret US War in Pakistan". The Nation. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "Factsheets : 24th Special Operations Wing". Afsoc.af.mil. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Mike Martin (2012-10-16). "AFSOC Airmen past, present recognized at 2012 Air Commando Association banquet". Afsoc.af.mil. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
- "AFHRA Factsheet: 24 SPECIAL TACTICS SQUADRON (AFSOC)".
- Bruce Rolfsen. "The real 'Black Hawk Down'". Air Force Times. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- Frank Oliveri. "Heroes at Mogadishu". Airman Magazine. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- "Awards of the Silver Star for Conspicuous Gallantry in Action During Operation Restore Hope in Somalia(1993)". Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- Gertz, Bill (3 October 1993). "The Fast Pace of Special Ops". Airforcemag.com. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "SARSCENE Magazine – Special 2001 edition". Nss.gc.ca. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- John Pike. "23rd Special Tactics Squadron [23rd STS]". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Naylor, Sean (2006). Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. Berkeley: Berkley Books. ISBN 0-425-19609-7.
- John Pike. "United States Combat Jumps". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather". Projects.militarytimes.com. 8 April 2003. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- Michael Robert Patterson. "Scott D. Sather, Staff Sergeant, United States Air Force". Arlingtoncemetery.net. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "Our Fallen Heroes: Scott Sather". SOFREP. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "DVIDS – News – Sather Air Base welcomes new commander". Dvidshub.net. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "OTS Foundation Portal – The hunt ends". Air Force OTS. 11 September 2001. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "DoD names troops killed in Chinook shootdown". 11 August 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- "Airmen to walk 800 miles in memorial march for fallen from Bragg". Fayobserver.com. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "The Air Force Cross For Actions in Somalia in 1993". Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- "Ty Burrell, left,... – Ty Burrell and Jeremy Piven in 'Black Hawk Down'". Courant.com. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "The Air Force Cross in the Global War on Terrorism". Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- Senior Airman Becky J. LaRaia; Lisa Terry McKeown, 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs (8 April 2005). "Ship takes heroic legacy to the fight". US Air Force. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "USAF Biography: Chief Master Sergeant Ramon Colon-Lopez". Jan 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- Stars and Stripes
- Dept of Defense
- Col John T. Carney Jr.; Benjamin F. Schemmer (2003). No Room for Error: The Covert Operations of America's Special Tactics Units from Iran To Afghanistan. Presidio Press. ISBN 978-0345453358.
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