551st Special Operations Squadron

551st Special Operations Squadron

Insignia of the 551st Special Operations Squadron.
Active 1971 – 2007, 2009 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Size 92 active duty personnel and 66 civilian contractors
Part of Air Force Special Operations Training Center, Hurlburt Field, Florida
Garrison/HQ Cannon AFB, NM
Motto(s) One MInd, Any Weapon
Mascot(s) Owl
Equipment previous MH-53J Pave Low III
Commander Lt Colonel Douglas J. Distaso[1]

The 551st Special Operations Squadron (551 SOS) is a squadron of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center and based out of Cannon AFB, New Mexico. The 551st had previously been based at Kirtland Air Force Base from 15 March 1976 until its inactivation on 10 May 2007.[2] It was reactivated in 2009 and currently is assigned to the AFSOC and trains aircrews on the MC-130 and AC-130.



The 551st was originally designated the 1551st Flying Training Squadron, and was assigned to the 1550th Aircrew Training and Test Wing, 1550th Combat Crew Training Wing. In 1994, it was redesignated the 551st Special Operations Squadron, and was reassigned to the 58th Special Operations Wing.

The 551st conducted helicopter training until it was inactivated in 2007. It is also responsible for special operations contingencies, exercises, and humanitarian rescue missions. The Squadron conducted training on the Pave Low helicopter, but suspended these operations due to the looming retirement of the helicopter.[3]

Stations, Assignments, & Aircraft

Date Base Assignment Aircraft
1 April 1971 Hill AFB, Utah 1551th Aircrew Training and Test Wing HH-43 Huskie 1971 – (1975)
HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant (1971–1987)
HC-130 Hercules (1973–1987)
HH-3 Jolly Green Giant (1971–1992)
UH-1 Iroquois (1987–1994)
HH-60 Pave Hawk (1990–1994)
1 October 1991 Kirtland AFB, New Mexico 542d Operations Group
1 April 1994 Kirtland AFB, New Mexico 58th Operations Group MH-53J Pave Low III
2009 Cannon AFB, New Mexico 551st Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre
MC-130W Combat Spear
MQ-1 Predator
2010 Cannon AFB, New Mexico 551st Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre
AC-130W Stinger II
MC-130J Combat Shadow II
MQ-9 Reaper
Dornier 328
Pilatus PC-12
M-28 Skytruck


Air Force Outstanding Unit Award


  1. Fact Sheet: 551st Special Operations Squadron. Air Education and Training Command. Accessed: 4 November 2007.
  2. "551st Special Operations Squadron [551st SOS]." Globalsecurity.org. Accessed: 4 November 2007.
  3. S. Rupp. "Special operations squadron halts Pave Low student training." Kirtland Air Force Base. Accessed: 4 November 2007.

External links

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