24th Special Tactics Squadron

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24th Special Tactics Squadron
140414-F-RP072-629 (18194271289).jpg
Squadron members complete fast rope and hoisting training during exercise Advanced Guard
Active1941–1944; 1987–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
TypeSpecial Mission Unit
RoleSpecial Operations
Part ofShield of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command.svg Air Force Special Operations Command
24th Special Operations Wing insignia.jpg 24th Special Operations Wing
724th Special Tactics Group insignia.jpg 724th Special Tactics Group
Garrison/HQPope Field, North Carolina
EngagementsOperation Just Cause[1]
DecorationsAir Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Gallant Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award[1]
24th Special Tactics Squadron emblem (approved 22 June 1990)[1]24th STS badge.jpg

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.[2][3] It is garrisoned at Pope Field, North Carolina.


The 24th STS provides special operations airmen for the Joint Special Operations Command, including Combat Controllers, Special Operations Weather Technicians, Pararescuemen, and Tactical Air Control Party personnel. They are the Air Force's Tier 1 unit, and 24th STS members are provided as enablers to the Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (a.k.a. Delta Force) and the Navy's Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU (a.k.a. SEAL Team 6) due to their specific skill sets. As such, 24th STS members are also trained in conducting classified and clandestine operations such as direct action, counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, hostage rescue, and special reconnaissance. [4]


World War II[edit]

The first predecessor of the squadron was activated at Hamilton Field in October 1941 to be the director unit for the 24th Pursuit Group, which was formed simultaneously at Clark Field, Philippines as the headquarters for pursuit squadrons of the Philippine Department Air Force. After completing training, the squadron sailed on the USAT President Garfield on 6 December 1941. However, due to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field, the President Garfield returned to port on 10 December and the squadron returned to Hamilton Field.

Although nominally assigned to the 24th Group from January though October of 1942, the squadron served with air defense forces on the Pacific coast until it was disbanded on 31 March 1944 when the Army Air Forces converted its units in the US from rigid table of organization units to more flexible base units. Its personnel and equipment were transferred to the 411th AAF Base Unit (Fighter Wing) at Berkeley, California.

Special operations[edit]

The 24th Special Tactics Squadron participated in the United States invasion of Panama in 1989.[1] 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.[5] 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.[6] Combat Controller (CCT) SSgt. Jeffrey W. Bray also received the Silver Star for coordinating helicopter attack runs throughout the night around their positions.[6][7][8]

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.[9][10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

On 8 April 2003 Combat Controller Scott Sather, a member of the 24th STS,[13] became the first airman killed in combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom near Tikrit, Iraq.[14] 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.[15] Sather Air Base was named after him.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

Notable members[edit]

Colon-Lopez in Afghanistan in 2004 while a member of the 24th STS.
  • 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.[24] In 2007 Colon-Lopez was one of the first six recipients of the newly created Air Force Combat Action Medal.[25] He was awarded the AFCAM for a 2004 operation in Afghanistan during which he led an Advance Force Operations Team.[26]


24th Fighter Control Squadron
  • Constituted as the 24th Air Corps Interceptor Control Squadron on 14 October 1941
Activated on 21 October 1941
  • Redesignated 24th Fighter Control Squadron on 15 May 1942
  • Disbanded on 31 March 1944
  • Reconstituted and consolidated with the 1724th Special Tactics Squadron on 1 March 1992[1]
24th Special Tactics Squadron
  • Designated as the 1724th Combat Control Squadron on 1 May 1987
  • Redesignated 1724th Special Tactics Squadron on 1 October 1987
  • Consolidated with the 24th Fighter Control Squadron on 1 March 1992
  • Redesignated 24th Special Tactics Squadron on 31 March 1992[1]



  • Hamilton Field, California , 21 October 1941 (aboard the USAT President Garfield, 6–10 December 1941
  • Berkeley, California, 7 October 1943 – 31 March 1944
  • Pope Air Force Base (later Pope Field), North Carolina, 1 May 1987 – present[1]

Unit Awards[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 18 December 1989 – 16 January 1990 [1]Operation Just Cause
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 16 August – 7 November 1993 [1]Battle of Mogadishu
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 1 September 2001 – 31 August 2003 [1]
GUC Streamer.JPG Air Force Gallant Unit Citation 1 January 2006 – 31 December 2007 [1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 8 November 1993 – 31 July 1995 [1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 August 1995 – 31 Jul 1997 [1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 5 August 1997 – 31 July 1999 [1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 September 1999 – 31 August 2001 [1]
  • Air Commando Association 2012 AFSOC Squadron of the Year[27]


  • July 2003 – July 2005, Lt. Col. Mark F. Stratton[28]
  • June 2005 – June 2007, Lt. Col. Robert G. Armfield – Previous 24th STS assignments: Director of Operations (January 1998 – July 2002)[29]
  • June 2009 – April 2011, Lt. Col. Matthew Wolfe Davidson – Previous 24th STS assignments: Flight Commander (August 1998 – January 2002), Deputy Commander (June 2008 – June 2009)[30]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Robertson, Patsy (9 June 2010). "Factsheet 24 Special Tactics Squadron (AFSOC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  2. ^ Priest, Dana (2 September 2011). "'Top Secret America': A look at the military's Joint Special Operations Command – Washington Post". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  3. ^ "The Secret US War in Pakistan". The Nation. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  4. ^ "In high demand, Air Force commandos must find new ways to cope with stress of duty". The Gaffney Ledger. 9 May 2005. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  5. ^ Haulman, Daniel L. (12 November 2015). "The United States Air Force in Somalia, 1992–1995" (PDF). pp. 11, 13.
  6. ^ a b Oliveri, Frank (June 1992). "Heroes at Mogadishu". Air Force Magazine. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Awards of the Silver Star for Conspicuous Gallantry in Action During Operation Restore Hope in Somalia(1993)". Archived from the original on 15 January 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  8. ^ Gertz, Bill (3 October 1993). "The Fast Pace of Special Ops". Airforcemag.com. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  9. ^ Groen, Ken (2001). "413 Squadron wins Diamond Trophy at SAREX" (PDF). SARSCENE. p. 8. ISSN 1183-5036. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  10. ^ John Pike. "23rd Special Tactics Squadron [23rd STS]". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  11. ^ Naylor, Sean (2006). Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. Berkeley: Berkley Books. ISBN 0-425-19609-7.
  12. ^ John Pike. "United States Combat Jumps". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather". Projects.militarytimes.com. 8 April 2003. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  14. ^ Michael Robert Patterson. "Scott D. Sather, Staff Sergeant, United States Air Force". Arlingtoncemetery.net. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Our Fallen Heroes: Scott Sather". SOFREP. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  16. ^ "DVIDS – News – Sather Air Base welcomes new commander". Dvidshub.net. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  17. ^ "OTS Foundation Portal – The hunt ends". Air Force OTS. 11 September 2001. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  18. ^ "Pentagon releases names of 30 Americans killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash". New York Post. 11 August 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  19. ^ "Airmen to walk 800 miles in memorial march for fallen from Bragg" (PDF). Fayobserver.com. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  20. ^ "The Air Force Cross For Actions in Somalia in 1993". Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  21. ^ "Ty Burrell, left,... – Ty Burrell and Jeremy Piven in 'Black Hawk Down'". Courant.com. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  22. ^ "The Air Force Cross in the Global War on Terrorism". Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  23. ^ LaRaia, Becky J.; McKeown, Lisa Terry (8 April 2005). "Ship takes heroic legacy to the fight". 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
  24. ^ "USAF Biography: Chief Master Sergeant Ramon Colon-Lopez". Kadena Air Base. January 2013. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  25. ^ Burgess, Lisa (13 June 2007). "Officials honor first recipients of Air Force Combat Action Medal". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  26. ^ Randolph, Monique (12 June 2007). "Air Force Awards First Combat Action Medals". American Forces Press Services. Archived from the original on 14 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  27. ^ Martin, Mike (16 October 2012). "AFSOC Airmen past, present recognized at 2012 Air Commando Association banquet". Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  28. ^ "Colonel Marc F. Stratton". United States Air Force. July 2011. Archived from the original on 24 February 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  29. ^ "Colonel Robert G. Armfield". Air Force Special Operations Command. May 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  30. ^ "Colonel Matthew Wolfe Davidson". 24th Special Operations Wing. September 2014. Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017.


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

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]