Hurlburt Field   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

Library > Fact Sheets > 9th Special Operations Squadron

9TH SPECIAL OPERATIONS SQUADRON

Posted 8/27/2013 Printable Fact Sheet
 
Photos 
9th Special Operations Squadron
9th Special Operations Squadron emblem significance: The blue of the disc, the crescent moon, and the night sky represent the unit's primary theater of operations. Yellow signifies the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The owl is symbolic of the unit's aircraft and its ability to operate in the night low-level flight regime. The wisdom associated with the owl represents the knowledge and expertise each squadron member possesses to perform the mission. The commando knife clutched by the owl in its talons represents the special operations legacy with which the unit has been entrusted.
Download HiRes

The 9th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) is one of nine flying squadrons within the 1st Special Operations Wing. The squadron flies MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft.

The mission of the 9th SOS is the clandestine infiltration of enemy territory using low-level formation procedures to provide aerial refueling of special operations helicopters and the insertion, extraction and resupply of special operations forces by low or high altitude airdrop or airland operations. The 9th SOS specializes in the use of night vision goggles and close interval formation tactics to refuel large helicopter formations. The 9th SOS is the squadron of choice for any large refueling requirement.

The 9th SOS aircraft are modified with the Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installment. This modification allows the MC-130P to refuel from KC-135 or KC-10 aircraft and then provide a large helicopter aerial refueling capability with minimum aircraft. The range of these MC-130Ps is only limited by crew duty time.

Special operations forces improvements on Air Force Special Operations Command's fleet of MC-130Ps were completed in 1999, and all MC-130Ps will feature improved navigation, communications, and threat detection and countermeasures systems. All MC-130P Combat Shadows assigned to the 9th SOS are completely upgraded with a fully integrated inertial navigation and global positioning system and night vision goggle compatible interior and exterior lighting. They also have a forward looking infrared sensor, radar and missile warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers, night vision goggle compatible heads-up display and satellite and data-burst communications.

To enhance the probability of mission success and survivability near populated areas, employment tactics incorporate no external lighting and no communications to avoid radar and weapons detection.

Background

Special operations forces improvements on AFSOC's fleet of MC-130Ps were completed in 1999, and all MC-130Ps will feature improved navigation, communications, and threat detection and countermeasures systems. All MC-130P Combat Shadows assigned to the 9th SOS are completely upgraded with a fully integrated inertial navigation and global positioning system and night vision goggle compatible interior and exterior lighting. They also have a forward looking infrared sensor, radar and missile warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers, night vision goggle compatible heads-up display and satellite and data-burst communications.

To enhance the probability of mission success and survivability near populated areas, employment tactics incorporate no external lighting and no communications to avoid radar and weapons detection.

The 9th SOS was originally designated the 39th Bombardment Squadron and was activated April 7, 1944. The squadron began training operations at Grand Island Army Air Field, Neb., and then moved to Tinian Island, an island of the Marianas near Guam, in December 1944. From this location, the 39th BS participated in bombing raids on Tokyo and assisted with the mining of Japan and Korea. In January 1946 after World War II, the squadron moved to Clark Field, Philippine Islands. In June 1947 the squadron moved to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, but remained non-operational until November 19, 1948, when it was inactivated.

Reactivated January 2, 1951, at Walker Air Force Base, N.M., the squadron began training with B-29s, and then later received B-36s. In December 1957, the first B-52 arrived in preparation for transitioning aircraft. The B-52s and aircrews stood alert from November 1958 through May 1959, and then the 39th Bombardment Squadron changed from an operational mission to training B-52 aircrews for Strategic Air Command. The squadron inactivated Sept. 15, 1963.

The 9th Air Commando Squadron, activated and organized in January 1967, was renamed in 1968 as the 9th Special Operations Squadron. The squadron, divided into three flights, flew out of various locations in Vietnam including Da Nang (A-Flight), Phan Rang (B-Flight), and Bien Hoa (C-Flight). Other locations included Nha Trang, and Pleiku Airport.

Psychological operations were the primary mission for the squadron in Southeast Asia. Squadron aircraft (only O-2Bs at first, C-47s added later) accomplished leaflet drops and speaker broadcasts during campaigns such as the Tet Counter-offensive and Commando hunt V, VI and VII.

The 9th SOS was inactivated in Vietnam in February 1972. When the 55th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (a combined MH-60G and HC-130P/N squadron) was split March 1, 1988, its HC-130P/N Hercules aircraft became the core of the reactivated 9th SOS (Special Operations HC-130P/N Hercules aircraft were redesignated MC-130P Combat Shadow in February 1996).

The 9th SOS proved itself indispensable in December 1989 during Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama. During that operation, aerial refueling from MC-130Ps enabled the 1st SOW (later the 16th SOW) MH-53J and MH-60G helicopters to fly more than 400 missions.

In August 1990, the 9th SOS deployed to Saudi Arabia, supporting Operation DESERT SHIELD. The unit prepared for war by developing tactics and performing several mission rehearsals. It flew many air refueling and psychological leaflet drop missions during Operation Desert Storm. The unit remained through the Southwest Asia Cease-Fire Campaign and did not depart Saudi Arabia until February 1993.

The 9th SOS also maintained a continuous overseas deployment to Turkey form 1993 to 1996, supporting Operation PROVIDE COMFORT, the protection of Kurdish people in northern Iraq. In 1997, the 9th SOS became the only unit in Air Force Special Operations Command history to be simultaneously deployed to both Operation NORTHERN WATCH in Turkey and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH in Saudi Arabia, providing combat search and rescue coverage for allied nations enforcing the United Nations-sanctioned no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq.

In September 2001 the squadron began its largest operational undertaking since the Persian Gulf War in response to the 9/11 terrorist acts. The 9th SOS spearheaded the first wave of forces into the Afghanistan area of operations for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. While there, its airmen found themselves on the forefront of the Global War on Terrorism participating in operations throughout Afghanistan, including Operation ANACONDA, the heaviest fighting of the war. Through nighttime, blacked-out operations in helicopter aerial refueling, tactical airdrop and landings to austere airfields, the Night Wings' unique skills in the employment of special operations airpower was key. In subsequent months, the squadron relocated to Djibouti, Africa for anti-terrorist operations in the volatile Horn of Africa region providing the capabilities of the Combat Shadow wherever the fight moved.

During this period of heavy deployment operations during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, the squadron also trained, equipped, and deployed again to participate in the opening hostilities of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The Night Wings helped lead the way for special operations forces during the opening combat overtures of this operation and throughout continued combat operations throughout Iraq.

Over the last three years the 9th SOS has deployed to eight locations in three separate wartime theaters executing more than 650 combat missions totaling more than 3,000 combat hours. The Night Wings were instrumental in the Global War on Terrorism through the delivery of more than 2.2 million pounds of fuel to special operations helicopters during aerial refueling and the transport of 3 million pounds of critical cargo and passengers. Additionally, the 9th SOS fulfilled an invaluable role as a psychological warfare platform delivering 1 million leaflets in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While fulfilling vital missions in the Middle East, the 9th SOS also deployed three aircraft in support of recent U.S. military operations against civil unrest in Haiti. These aircraft provided fuel to helicopters as well as supplies and cargo for humanitarian assistance.

Currently, the 9th SOS is continuing its combat operations in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. With more than 30% of the squadron deployed at any one time, operations support both combat and humanitarian missions. The Night Wings are one of the Air Force's most deployed squadrons and has proven it can live up to the wing's motto, "any time...any place."

Lineage
Constituted 39th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy, on 28 Mar 1944. Activated on 1 Apr 1944. Inactivated on 18 Oct 1948. Redesignated 39th Bombardment Squadron, Medium, on 20 Dec 1950. Activated on 2 Jan 1951. Redesignated 39th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, on 16 Jun 1952. Discontinued, and inactivated, on 15 Sep 1963. Consolidated (19 Sep 1985) with the 9th Air Commando Squadron (Psychological Operations), which was constituted, and activated, on 9 Jan 1967. Organized on 25 Jan 1967. Redesignated 9th Special Operations Squadron on 1 Aug 1968. Inactivated on 29 Feb 1972. Activated on 1 Mar 1988.

Assignments
6th Bombardment Group, 1 Apr 1944-18 Oct 1948. 6th Bombardment Group, 2 Jan 1951; 6th Bombardment (later, 6th Strategic Aerospace) Wing, 16 Jun 1952-15 Sep 1963. Pacific Air Forces, 9 Jan 1967; 14th Air Commando (later, 14th Special Operations) Wing, 25 Jan 1967; 315th Tactical Airlift Wing, 30 Sep 1971-29 Feb 1972. 39th Special Operations Wing, 1 Mar 1988; 1st Special Operations Wing, 18 Apr 1989; 1st Special Operations (later, 16th Operations) Group, 22 Sep 1992-15 November 2006. 1st Special Operations Group, 16 November 2006-.

Stations
Dalhart AAFld, TX, 1 Apr 1944; Grand Island AAFld, NE, 26 May-18 Nov 1944; North Field, Tinian, 28 Dec 1944; Clark Field, Luzon, 13 Mar 1946; Kadena AB, Okinawa, 1 Jun 1947-18 Oct 1948. Walker AFB, NM, 2 Jan 1951-15 Sep 1963. Pleiku AB, South Vietnam, 25 Jan 1967; Nha Trang AB, South Vietnam, 1 Sep 1967; Tuy Hoa AB, South Vietnam, 5 Sep 1969; Phan Rang AB, South Vietnam, 15 Aug 1970-29 Feb 1972. Eglin AFB, FL, 1 Mar 1988-.

Aircraft
B-17, 1944; B-29, 1944-1947. B-29, 1951-1952; B-36, 1952-1957; B-52, 1957-1963. C-47, 1967-1972; U-10, 1967; O-2, 1967-1972. HC-130, 1988-.


Operations
Combat in Western Pacific, 27 Jan-14 Aug 1945. No personnel assigned, 25 Apr 1947-18 Oct 1948. While retaining combat capability, trained B-52 crews for Strategic Air Command 15 Jul 1959-Sep 1963. Combat in Southeast Asia, Mar 1967-Jan 1972. Trained for special operations, refueling and resupply missions using modified C-130 aircraft, 1988-. Combat in Panama, 20 Dec 1989-14 Jan 1990 and Southwest Asia, 16 Jan-5 Apr 1991. Routinely deployed personnel and aircraft to contingency operations in the Balkans and Southwest Asia, 1991-2001. Combat in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, Oct 2001-, and IRAQI FREEDOM, Mar 2003-.

Honors
Campaign Streamers
World War II
Eastern Mandates
Western Pacific
Air Offensive, Japan

Vietnam
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
Commando Hunt VI
Commando Hunt VII

Southwest Asia
Defense of Saudi Arabia
Liberation and Defense of Kuwait

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers
Panama
1989-1990

Decorations
Distinguished Unit Citations
Tokyo, Japan, 25 May 1945
Japanese Empire, 9-19 July 1945

Presidential Unit Citations
Vietnam
1 - 7 Mar 67
21 Jun 68 - 30 Jun 69

Gallant Unit Citation
6 Oct 01-30 May 03

Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" device
16 Jun 67 - 20 Jun 68
1 Jul 70 - 30 Jun 71
1 Jun 97 - 31 May 99
1 Jul 03 - 1 Jun 05 
1 Sep 06 - 30 Jun 07

Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards
1 May 60 - 31 May 62
1 May 88 - 30 Apr 90
16 Apr 92 - 15 Apr 94
1 Jun 95 - 31 May 97
1 Jul 99 - 30 Jun 01
1 Jul 01 - 30 Jun 03
1 Sep 04 - 31 Aug 06

Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Crosses with Palm
Mar 67 - 1 Aug 68
16 Jun 67 - 9 Jan 72
1 Jan - 30 Aug 68
5 Oct 71 - 9 Jan 72

Emblem Significance
The blue of the disc, the crescent moon, and the night sky represent the unit's primary theater of operations.
Yellow signifies the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The owl is symbolic of the unit's aircraft and its ability to operate in the night low-level flight regime. The wisdom associated with the owl represents the knowledge and expertise each squadron member possesses to perform the mission. The commando knife clutched by the owl in its talons represents the special operations legacy with which the unit has been entrusted.



Point Of Contact

1st Special Operations Wing
Public Affairs Office
344 Tully St.
Hurlburt Field, FL 32544-5271
DSN 579-7464 or (850) 884-7464
E-mail: 1sow.wpa@hurlburt.af.mil





 Inside Hurlburt

ima cornerSearch

ima cornerOrganizations

 




Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     USA.gov     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act