4th Special Operations Squadron
|4th Special Operations Squadron|
An AC-130U from the 4th Special Operations Squadron jettisons flares near Hurlburt Field
|Active||1942–1944; 1949–1954; 1965–1969; 1970–1992; 1995 – present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Force Special Operations Command|
Global War on Terror
|Decorations||Presidential Unit Citation|
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device Air Force Meritorious Unit Award
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
|4th Special Operations Squadron emblem (approved 20 June 1995)|
|4th Air Commando Squadron emblem|
|4th Liaison Squadron emblem|
|4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron emblem|
The squadron plans, prepares and executes AC-130U gunship missions, providing precise delivery of munitions supporting joint conventional and special operations forces. It directly supports unified and theater special operations commands by conducting close air support, armed aerial reconnaissance, and interdiction missions worldwide in support of Secretary of Defense taskings.
World War IIEdit
The first predecessor of the squadron was organized in April 1942 at Logan Field, Maryland. Shortly thereafter, operating from New Castle Army Air Base, Delaware, the 4th ferried aircraft to locations in Alaska, Africa, and Europe under the 2d Ferrying Group. It also airlifted cargo and evacuated wounded to US military hospitals. However, the Army Air Forces found that standard military units, based on relatively inflexible tables of organization not well adapted to training and support missions. Accordingly it adopted a more functional system in which each base was organized into a separate numbered unit. The squadron was disbanded in March 1944, and, along with the other elements of the 2d Ferrying Group and support units at New Castle, replaced by the 552d AAF Base Unit (2d Ferrying Group).
Light aircraft operationsEdit
The second predecessor of the squadron was activated at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina in October 1949 as the 4th Liaison Flight and initially equipped with Stinson L-13 light aircraft. It was expanded to become the 4th Liaison Squadron on 15 July 1952, but was inactivated a week later. However, it was activated the same day at Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina, where it was equipped with de Havilland Canada L-20 Beavers. At the beginning of 1953, the squadron moved overseas to Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany, where it operated the Beavers until inactivating on 8 March 1954.
The third predecessor of the squadron was activated in August 1965 as the 4th Air Commando Squadron. Although nominally stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, the squadron was organized at Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas, where it trained as the first gunship unit in the Air Force for the next three months. It flew night combat missions in South Vietnam manning the Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunship beginning in November 1965. By year's end, the 4th had flown 277 combat sorties, used 2,458 illumination flares, and expended 137,136 rounds of ammunition in support of friendly positions under attack. In February 1966, four of the squadron's gunships were moved to Thailand to operate against the Ho Chi Minh Trail. There they would serve several roles. They were equipped to assume Airborne Command and Control Center duties in lieu of Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft. They both struck and directed forward air control in the Operation Barrel Roll area of Laos. They also hunted supply trucks along the Trail. Between December 1965 and July 1966, they were credited with destroying 243 trucks. However, they lost four AC-47s and 26 air crew members in the process, as enemy anti-aircraft fire became steadily more effective. The 4th was then assigned solely to defense of hamlets and troops under attack.
Airborne command and controlEdit
From 1 April 1970 to 30 September 1992, the 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, assigned to the 28th Bombardment Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, provided airborne command post responsibilities with specially modified Boeing EC-135 airborne command post aircraft for Fifteenth Air Force and Strategic Air Command as part of the Post Attack Command and Control System The 4th was the workhorse of Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) operations. Three dedicated Airborne Launch Control Centers (ALCC) (pronounced "Al-see"), designated ALCC No. 1, ALCC No. 2, and ALCC No. 3 were on ground alert around-the-clock providing ALCS coverage for five of the six Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Wings. These dedicated ALCCs were mostly EC-135A aircraft but sometimes were EC-135C or EC-135G aircraft, depending on availability. ALCC No. 1 was on ground alert at Ellsworth AFB, SD and during a wartime scenario, its role would have been to take off and orbit between the Minuteman Wings at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota and Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, providing ALCS assistance if needed. ALCCs No. 2 and No. 3 were routinely on forward deployed ground alert at Minot AFB, ND. During a wartime scenario, ALCC No. 3’s role would have been to take off and orbit between the Minuteman ICBM Wings at Minot and Grand Forks Air Force Bases, North Dakota, providing ALCS assistance if needed. ALCC No. 2’s dedicated role was to take off and orbit near the Minuteman ICBM Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, providing ALCS assistance if needed. The 4th ACCS also maintained an EC-135C or EC-135G on ground alert at Ellsworth as the West Auxiliary Airborne Command Post (WESTAUXCP), which was a backup to SAC’s Operation Looking Glass Airborne Command Post (ABNCP), as well as a radio relay link between the Looking Glass and ALCCs when airborne. Although equipped with ALCS, the WESTAUXCP did not have a dedicated Minuteman ICBM wing to provide ALCS assistance to.
In September 1996, the squadron deployed to Brindisi, Italy, supporting Operation Joint Endeavor in the skies over Bosnia and Herzegovina. The squadron saw its first combat operations since the Vietnam War in April 1999 over Kosovo while supporting Operation Allied Force. The 4th was called upon to strike Taliban and Al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan In the fall of 2001. In the spring of 2003 the 4th participated in the invasion of Iraq. During the initial 2 months of the conflict the 4th flew more than 1000 combat hours from 3 separate forward operating locations.
- 4th Ferrying Squadron
- Constituted as the 4th Air Corps Ferrying Squadron on 18 February 1942
- Activated on 8 April 1942
- Redesignated 4th Ferrying Squadron on 12 May 1943
- Disbanded on 31 March 1944
- Reconstituted and consolidated with 4th Liaison Squadron, 4th Special Operations Squadron and as on 19 September 1985
- 4th Liaison Squadron
- Constituted as the 4th Liaison Flight on 27 September 1949
- Activated on 27 October 1949
- Redesignated 4th Liaison Squadron on 15 July 1952
- Inactivated on 22 July 1952
- Activated on 22 July 1952
- Inactivated on 8 March 1954
- Reconstituted and consolidated with 4th Ferrying Squadron, 4th Special Operations Squadron and 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron as 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron on 19 September 1985
- 4th Special Operations Squadron
- Constituted as the 4th Air Commando Squadron (Fire Support) and activated on 2 August 1965 (not organized)
- Organized on 8 August 1965
- Redesignated 4th Special Operations Squadron on 1 August 1968
- Inactivated on 15 December 1969
- Consolidated with 4th Ferrying Squadron, 4th Liaison Squadron and 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron as 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron on 19 September 1985
- 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron
- Constituted as the 4th Airborne Command and Control Squadron on 12 March 1970
- Activated on 1 April 1970
- Consolidated with 4th Ferrying Squadron, 4th Liaison Squadron and 4th Special Operations Squadron on 19 September 1985
- Inactivated on 30 September 1992
- Consolidated squadron
- Redesignated 4th Special Operations Squadron on 13 February 1995
- Activated on 1 May 1995
- Northeast Sector, Air Corps Ferrying Command (later 2d Ferrying Group), 8 April 1942 – 31 March 1944
- Fourteenth Air Force, 27 October 1949
- Tactical Air Command, 1 August 1950
- Ninth Air Force, 14 August 1950 – 22 July 1952
- Eighteenth Air Force, 22 July 1952
- Twelfth Air Force, 13 February 1953 – 8 March 1954
- Pacific Air Forces, 2 August 1965 (not organized)
- 2d Air Division, 8 August 1965 (attached to 6250 Combat Support Group until 1 March 1966)
- 14th Air Commando Wing (later 14 Special Operations Wing), 8 March 1966 – 15 December 1969
- 28th Bombardment Wing, 1 April 1970
- 28th Operations Group, 1 September 1991 – 30 September 1992
- 16th Operations Group (later 1st Special Operations Group), 1 May 1995 – present
- Ferried a variety of aircraft, many assigned to other units (1942–1944)
- Stinson L-13 (1949–1951, 1951–1952)
- Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor (1951–1952)
- de Havilland Canada L-20 Beaver (1952, 1952–1953)
- Douglas FC-47 (later AC-47) Spooky (1965–1969)
- Douglas C-47 Skytrain (1966–1967)
- Douglas HC-47 Skytrain (1969)
- Boeing EC-135 (1970–1992)
- Lockheed AC-130U Spooky (1995 – present)
- Dollman, TSG David (17 October 2016). "Factsheet 4 Special Operations Squadron (AFSOC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- "Hurlburt Field Library: Fact Sheet 4th Special Operations Squadron". 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs. 23 May 2013. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Goss, p. 75
- Anthony, Sexton, pp. 27 - 36.
- Kuehn, Capt Cory (2010). "ALCS 50th Anniversary: Celebrating a Proud Heritage" (PDF). Vol. 25 (Number 1). Air Force Missileers. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 July 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- Hopkins III 1997, p. 114-117, 196.
- Ogletree, Greg (2000). "The 4th Airborne Command & Control Squadron" (PDF). Vol. 6 (Issue3). The ACCA Flyer. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- Hopkins III 1997, p. 1.
- Anthony, Victor B. and Richard R. Sexton (1993). The War in Northern Laos. Command for Air Force History. OCLC 232549943.
- Bergeron, TSG Randy G. (2001). Desert Shield/Desert Storm: Air Force Special Operations Command in the Gulf War (PDF) (Reprint ed.). Hurlburt Field, FL: Air Force Special Operations Command History Office. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Goss, William A. (1955). "The Organization and its Responsibilities, Chapter 2 The AAF". In Craven, Wesley F.; Cate, James L. (eds.). The Army Air Forces in World War II (PDF). Vol. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. LCCN 48003657. OCLC 704158. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- Hopkins III, Robert S. (1997). Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker: More Than Just a Tanker. Aerofax. Leicester, England: Midland Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1857800692.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
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