602nd Special Operations Squadron

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602nd Special Operations Squadron
A-1H 602SOS Jun1970.jpg
A Douglas A-1H Skyraider of the 602nd Special Operations Squadron over Vietnam in June 1970
Active1944-1945; 1963-1970
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleClose air support and search and rescue (SAR) escort duty
DecorationsPresidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
602nd Special Operations Squadron emblem602nd Special Operations Squadron USAF badge.PNG

The 602nd Special Operations Squadron was a United States Air Force squadron that operated in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.


Douglas A-1 Skyraiders of the 1st and 602nd Special Operations Squadrons at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base during the Vietnam War

The 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando) was activated in May 1964 for the Vietnam War, and along with the 1st Air Commando Squadron, was a part of the 34th Tactical Group. The squadron became operational at Bien Hoa Air Base on 15 October 1964. By 1966 the squadron had been renamed the 602nd Air Commando Squadron and moved, first to Nha Trang Air Base in South Vietnam, and then to Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. In March 1968 it moved again to Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Navy Base. On 1 August 1968 it was redesignated the 602nd Special Operations Squadron, and was inactivated on 31 December 1970 at Nakhon Phanom. The original Squadron patch was drawn by Walt Disney in 1944. The sky was blue with a wisp of cloud behind the left wing of the eagle. No call sign was mounted above the patch.[citation needed]

The squadron operated A-1 Skyraiders under the call sign "Firefly". Their daylight task was the primary one of combat search and rescue of air crew downed in the Kingdom of Laos. A secondary task was night operations as flareships supporting the Hmong guerrillas of General Vang Pao's Clandestine Army in the Operation Barrel Roll area.[1] At times, the squadron flew single ship sorties; they would also sometimes mark their own targets for their air strikes.[2]


  • Constituted as the 2nd Fighter Reconnaissance Squadron on 11 April 1944
Activated on 20 April 1944
Redesignated 2nd Fighter Squadron, Commando on 2 June 1944
Inactivated on 12 November 1945
  • Disbanded on 8 October 1948
  • Reconstituted, redesignated 602nd Fighter Squadron, Commando, and activated on 15 April 1963 (not organized)
Organized on 1 May 1963
  • Redesignated 602nd Special Operations Squadron on 1 August 1968
Inactivated on 31 December 1970





  • Combat in CBI Theater, 14 Feb-9 May 1945
  • Combat in SEA, 1964-1970

Campaign Streamers[edit]

  • World War II:
    • Central Burma.
  • Vietnam:
    • Vietnam Advisory;
    • Vietnam Defense;
    • Vietnam Air;
    • Vietnam Air Offensive;
    • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II;
    • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III;
    • Vietnam Air/Ground;
    • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV;
    • Tet 69/Counteroffensive;
    • Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969;
    • Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970;
    • Sanctuary Counteroffensive;
    • Southwest Monsoon;
    • Commando Hunt V.[citation needed]


  • Distinguished Unit Citation: Bangkok, Thailand, 15 Mar 1945.
  • Presidential Unit Citations: Vietnam: 1 Jul 1965 – 30 Jun 1966; 1 Jul 1966-7 Mar 1967; 12 Apr-30 Jun 1967; 1 Nov 1968 – 1 May 1969; 1 Oct 1969-30 Apr 1970.
  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award With Combat "V" Device: 1-31 Dec 1970.
  • Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, 1 Apr 1966 – 31 Dec 1970.


  • Anthony, Victor B. (1973). The Air Force in Southeast Asia: Tactics and Techniques of Night Operations 1961-1970. Office of Air Force History. (2011 reprint). Military Bookshop. ISBNs 1780396570, 978-1780396576.
  • Bailey, Carl E., Lineage and Honors History of the 602 Special Operations Squadron USAF Official History; Reviewed by A. Timothy Warnock; AF Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama 2005.


  1. ^ Anthony, p. 111.
  2. ^ Anthony, p. 113.