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|
Air Force Special Operations Command |
1st Special Operations Wing
1st Special Operations Group
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.
Global, day and night, adverse weather capability to insert, extract, and resupply special operations forces by low or high altitude airdrop or airland operations.
The squadron was first established in late 1942 as the 520th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) at Jacksonville Municipal Airport, Florida from a cadre of the former 18th Observation Squadron. It was reassigned from Third Air Force to Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command in November and redesignated as the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron.
The squadron was one of several hastily converted to dedicated antisubmarine duties in response to the German U-boat threat in the Atlantic and Caribbean regions during 1942 and 1943. It was re-equipped with a hodgepodge of aircraft that could be spared for antisubmarine patrol duties at the time, including various early North American B-25s, Lockheed B-34s and Douglas B-23s, and operated at several locations up and down the Atlantic seaboard (including Langley Field, Virginia and Drew Field, Florida) before deploying to Batista Field, Cuba on 3 August 1943 as an element of the 26th Antisubmarine Wing (although it had been attached to the 25th Antisubmarine Wing from 21 November 1942 until going to Cuba).
The squadron continued Antisubmarine operations over the South Atlantic coastline and the Gulf of Mexico from Drew Field, near Tampa Florida until August 1943 when the Navy took over the antisubmarine mission. It was disbanded on 2 November 1943.
B-29 Bombardment squadron
The 15th Bombardment Squadron, (Very Heavy) 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 squadron was briefly reactivated as a part of the Air Force Reserve between 1 August 1947 and 27 June 1949.
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, 20 November 1942 – c. July 1943
- 26th Antisubmarine Wing, 14 December 1942
- 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 (AAF), Florida, 18 October 1942
- Air Echelon operated from: Langley Field, Virginia, 3 June-3 July 1943
- Air Echelon operated from: Drew Field, Florida, July 1943
- Operated from: 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)
- B-25 Mitchell (1942–1943)
- B-34 Lexington (1942–1943)
- B-24 Liberator (1943)
- B-17 Flying Fortress (1944–1945)
- B-29B Superfortress (1944–1946)
- C-130E(I) Combat Talon (1968–1970)
- MC-130H Combat Talon II (1992–present)
- Robertson, Patsy (2011-02-12). "Factsheet 15 Special Operations Squadron (AFSOC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 83
- 15 SOS Fact Sheet
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 82
- Thigpen (2001), pp. 77–78.
- Thigpen (2001), p. 82–83.
- 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. (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