21st Special Tactics Squadron
|21st Special Tactics Squadron|
1 July 1984 – 1 October 1993|
1 May 1996 – present
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Type||Special Operations Forces|
Air Force Special Operations Command|
24th Special Operations Wing
720th Special Tactics Group
Persian Gulf War|
War in Afghanistan
The 21st Special Tactics Squadron (21st STS) is one of the Special Tactics units of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It is garrisoned at Pope Field, North Carolina.
Special Tactics Squadrons are organized, trained and equipped specifically for various special operations missions facilitating air operations on the battlefield. They conduct combat search and rescue missions, collect intelligence, as well as call in close air support or airstrikes against enemy combatants and are often parterned with other U.S. special operations forces overseas.
- Designated as the 1721st Combat Control Squadron and activated on 1 July 1984
- Redesignated 624th Combat Control Squadron on 1 June 1992.
- Inactivated 1 October 1993.
- Twenty-First Air Force: 1 July 1984
- 1725 Combat Control Group, 1 March 1991
- 624 Airlift Support Group, 1 June 1992 - 1 October 1993
- 720th Special Tactics Group, 1 May 1996 - Present
- Pope Air Force Base, NC, 1 July 1984 - 1 October 1993
- Pope Air Force Base, 1 May 1996 - Present (Pope AFB was renamed Pope Field on March 1, 2011)
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1985 - 30 June 1987|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device||20 December 1989 - 9 January 1990|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 August 1995 - 31 July 1997|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 August 1997 - 31 July 1999|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device||1 September 2001 - 31 August 2003|
|Air Force Meritorious Unit Award||1 July 2006 - 31 May 2008|
- Senior Airman Zachary Rhyner, a Combat Controller, was the first living recipient of the Air Force Cross in the Global War on Terror. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions during the Battle of Shok Valley on 6 April 2008 in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. According to the citation, during the battle he directed Close air support and Airstrikes totalling 4,570 cannon rounds, nine Hellfire missiles, 162 rockets, a dozen 500-pound bombs and one 2,000-pound bomb. As a result of the same battle ten U.S. Army soldiers, nine Special Forces and one Combat Cameraman, received the Silver Star.
- Senior Airman Dustin Temple, a Combat Controller, was the most recent recipient of the Air Force Cross during a 48-hour battle September 27–29, 2014 against Taliban forces in the Kajaki district of Helmand province. He was attached to U.S. Army Special Forces team from the 7th Special Forces Group with two other 21st STS members and accompanied by Afghan commandos. Temple called in dozens of airstrikes from various aircraft, among them, F-16s, AH-1s, AC-130s and an MQ-1. Over the course of the battle he controlled 28 helicopters and 20 fixed wing aircraft in a total of 26 engagements. After 45 hours of fighting a resupply helicopter dropped critically needed ammunition to the U.S. and Afghan forces. Temple and two other teammates braved enemy fire across open terrain multiple times to recover the ammunition. The Army team-leader Captain Evan Lacenski He carried a critically wounded Green Beret over 300 meters in open terrain to the MEDEVAC helicopter. He was credited with saving 80 lives as a result of his actions. Along with Temple receiving the Air Force Cross, the other two STS members received the Silver Star for their actions during the battle.
- "AFHRA Factsheet:21 SPECIAL TACTICS SQUADRON (AFSOC)". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- "Factsheet:720th Special Tactics Group". Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- "Hall of Valor: Zachary Rhyner". Military Times. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- "Combat controller receives Air Force Cross, Purple Heart". 11 March 2009. Archived from the original on January 16, 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Gina Cavallaro (15 December 2008). "Valor of combat cameraman earns him Silver Star". Army Times. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- "Combat controllers to receive Air Force Cross, Silver Stars". Retrieved May 6, 2015.