Accessibility Tools

Skip to main content
PO Box 7, Mary Esther, FL 32569  •  850.581.0099  •  info@aircommando.org

Tom Lutz

Tom Lutz

Attorney

Tom Lutz graduated with honors (Cum Laude) from FSU School of Law in May 2022. During Law School, Tom gained a wide range of practical experience, completing internships with the State Attorney’s Office, the State Attorney General’s Office, and with an individual practitioner focusing primarily on Family Law. In addition, Tom participated in the School’s Veterans Clinic, assisting Veterans with housing and employment issues. Tom earned his bachelor’s degree in Earth and Atmospheric Science from Rutgers University in 1981, and his Masters in Humanities (History) from California State University in 1996.

Tom comes to the practice of law as a second (or possibly his 3rd career). He entered the Air Force in 1982, and served 25 years as an Air Force officer and pilot, primarily flying Special Operations C-130’s. Tom retired from active duty in 2007, after 25 years of service, with the rank of Colonel. He continued to work for the Air Force for another 12 years in a civil service capacity, serving as the Deputy Director of the 1st Special Operations Group at Hurlburt Field. He retired from civil service in 2019 and entered Law School.

Tom and his wife Marge have lived in the Fort Walton Beach/Mary Esther area since 2002. Marge teaches Middle School at St Mary Catholic School. They have two children, their son Chris and his wife Debby are both Attorneys living in Washington DC, and their daughter Katie is the Communications Manager for the Global Food Bank Network based in Chicago.

Education:
B.S. from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
M.A. from California State University, Dominguez Hills, CA
J.D. from Florida State University, School of Law, Tallahassee, FL
Bar Admissions:

Admitted to Florida Bar September 2022

Board of Directors

Advisors & Staff

The Air Commando Association is an IRS Code 501(c)19 organization.

Continue reading

Air Commandos at 24 SOF Week

Stop by the Air Commando Foundation’s booth at the upcoming SOF Week in Tampa. Air Commando Foundation’s mission: Support Air Commandos and their families Past, Present & Future. “Every dollar you give – gives back.” #aircommandos #aircommandoassociation #GSOF #SOFWeek
If you haven’t seen the official SOF Week video you can view it here: https://youtu.be/TmTlCJoJ8HQ?si=y4689lxJDUJysrJe

2024 ACA Annual Convention Photos

The 2024 ACA Convention was another success!

Thank you ACA volunteer, Miss Megan Gamblin, for sharing photos taken at the Thursday Night Early Bird Social. We also extend a heartfelt thank you US AFSOC Public Affairs for providing photos from the Air Commando Association’s Heritage Seminar, the AFSOC OAY/ACA 2024 Awards Banquet, and ACA Memorial at Hurlburt Air Park.

  • IMG 1919

  • IMG 1916

  • IMG 1907

  • IMG 1898

  • IMG 1891

  • IMG 1886

  • IMG 1883

  • IMG 1872

  • IMG 1868

  • IMG 1862

  • IMG 1859

  • IMG 1852

  • IMG 1831

  • IMG 1813

  • IMG 1809

  • IMG 1805

  • IMG 1801

  • IMG 1798

  • IMG 1793

  • IMG 1789

  • IMG 1786

  • IMG 1779

  • IMG 1777

  • IMG 1775

  • IMG 1774

  • IMG 1773

  • IMG 1771

  • IMG 1768

  • IMG 1760

  • IMG 1756

  • IMG 1750

  • 240413 F KO270 1134

  • 240413 F KO270 1133

  • 240413 F KO270 1128

  • 240413 F KO270 1124

  • 240413 F KO270 1121

  • 240413 F KO270 1118

  • 240413 F KO270 1114

  • 240413 F KO270 1113

  • 240413 F KO270 1112

  • 240413 F KO270 1110

  • 240413 F KO270 1108

  • 240413 F KO270 1107

  • 240413 F KO270 1105

  • 240413 F KO270 1103

  • 240413 F KO270 1102

  • 240413 F KO270 1100

  • 240413 F KO270 1098

  • 240413 F KO270 1094

  • 240413 F KO270 1093

  • 240413 F KO270 1090

  • 240413 F KO270 1034

  • 240413 F KO270 1030

  • 240413 F KO270 1026

  • 240413 F KO270 1019

  • 240413 F KO270 1015

  • 240413 F KO270 1014

  • 240413 F KO270 1013

  • 240413 F KO270 1011

  • 240413 F KO270 1010

  • 53658643009 B6a830a8f1 O

  • 53657421712 531f3a7f3c O

  • 53658756900 99ef68b358 O

  • 53658285176 F3c47f4ef5 O

  • 53658514103 3af1aecf93 O

  • 53658513898 26af456f26 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1003 53674254231 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1053 53674609374 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1064 53674609574 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1079 53674609329 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1107 53674254136 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1120 53674472063 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1139 53674608724 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1153 53674608739 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1162 53674608954 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1174 53674708285 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1194 53674708370 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1215 53674608264 O

  • 240412 F Iy571 1220 53674608159 O

ACA Blog & Photos

Continue reading

In Memory of Our Fallen Air Commandos

The following is a list of Air Commandos who we have lost since the winter of 2023. While some of the individuals may have passed away before 2023, the ACA has just been notified.

Alfredo Tulle

Anton F. Bautz

Antonio Cano Jr.

Billy J. Roberson

Bruce A. Nagle

Charles E. Bowen

Ellis Akins

Forest Kimsey

James W. McClain Sr.

Jimmy Ifland

Mark Race

Robert Dambach

Robert J. Jones

William B. Byrd Jr.

William H. Byerley

William H. F. Page

Newest ACA Members

The Air Commando Association is pleased to welcome the following Air Commandos to the ACA!

Thank you for your membership and support!

Christopher Backus

Christopher Brewer

Ken Byrd

Jeremy Campbell

Michael Cannioto

Matthew Colbert

Seth Constien

Julia Crutchfield

Christopher Cunard

Bradley Davis Jr.

Bruce Eddy

Seth Ewing

Riley Feeney

Matthew Fredericksen

Michael Freed

Mike Friedman

James Gherdovich

Jessica Gronert

Scott Hartman

Jake Heathcott

Zane Holscher

Tanner Homan

Christian Leon

Roy Lofts II

Michael Lowe

Clifford Lucas

Tommy Marberry

Billy Mason

Joseph Orr

Kyle Palmateer

Joseph Perez

Kenneth Ruisi

Nicholas Sanchez

Michael Savage

Ryan Schmidt

Jerry Scott

Randolph Smith

TV Smith

John Spencer

Paul Stenseng

Donald Trillanes-Messig

Patrick Tritz

Makensy Umscheid

Aaron Wardlaw

Grant Willis

Sharron Wynn

From the President: 2024 ACA Convention Recap

Air Commandos

Our 2024 convention was a huge success after weeks of hectic planning and coordination. All the events came off pretty much without a hitch, culminating with our first ever combined awards banquet with AFSOC’s Outstanding Airmen of the Year. Teamwork between the AFSOC Committee and our own ACA group led to all parties in attendance agreeing it was a huge success as the young active duty award winners were highlighted along with five exceptional Air Commando Hall of Fame inductees.

The weekend began on Thursday with a Ice Breaker at the Island in Fort Walton Beach, FL. There were a few perhaps slightly embellished war stories exchanged as everyone had a good time getting together with old friends.

Friday morning we had a very nice breakfast emceed by our own CMSgt (ret) Joe Mast. AFSOC Commander Lt Gen Bauerenfiend and Command Chief Green presented nine ACA sponsored  AFSOC level awards to well deserving active duty Air Commandos. Additionally, Dr Alex Balbir of Sound Off, gave a presentation on how his organization and the ACA are working together to try to cut the rate of military suicide.

Afterwards, on Friday afternoon Air Commandos gathered for our memorial in the Hurlburt Air Park in recognition of those who have flown west. Capt Ben Hoyt, the ACA Hurlburt Chapter president, presided over the event with mentorship and assistance from ACA board member Col (ret) Lloyd Moon. Col Patrick Dierig, 1 SOW Commander, gave a very thoughtful and poignant talk and Col (ret) Jerry “Padre” Houge served as the Chaplain. Les Matheson performed moving renditions on the bagpipe. Lest we forget.

The Saturday morning open house at the ACA building was an enjoyable event attended by many. Hosted by Jeanette Elliott and Melissa Gross, with Rachel Halvorson and Pat Barnett manning the Commando Store and selling ACA swag.

As mentioned earlier, the main event of the week was the annual awards banquet at the Destin/Fort Walton Beach Convention Center which was attended by approximately 430 Air Commandos. Our emcee for the evening was Col (ret) Shelley Woodworth who teamed up with a very talented young airman from AFSOC and entertained the audience with lively exchanges between the two of them. This banquet required a large amount of effort behind the scenes and was led by Melissa and Jeanette along with a host of ACA and AFSOC volunteers. A special thank you to Dawn Hart of AFSOC PA for her invaluable assistance. ACA Advisor, Sherri Hayes once again organized and orchestrated the seating and signing in for all in attendance and was assisted by Jeanette and Melissa along with Pat Barnett and several airmen from AFSOC. ACA board members Col (ret) Rene Leon, CMSgt (ret) Rebecca Shelley and Col (ret) Lloyd Moon made sure the Partner VIP Social was a huge success. The Air Commando Hall of Fame committee, led by Lt Col (ret) JD Walker and CMSgt (ret) Gordo Scott did a superb job of ushering the new Hall of Fame inductees throughout the evening and presenting the prestigious awards on stage.

None of these events would have been possible if it were not for the very generous support of our sponsors. We would like to acknowledge Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson who is the overall convention sponsor; the Awards Banquet Sponsor L3Harris; the Air Commando Association’s Heritage Breakfast Sponsor was Lockheed Martin; and both CMSgts (ret) Rick and Julie Crutchfield along with Lockheed Martin’s support ensured the ACA Partner VIP social was a success.

Photos of the 2024 ACA Convention

I would be remiss if I did not express our sincere gratitude to our Corporate Partners for their support of the Air Commando Association throughout the year. Because of their generosity we were able to sponsor over 40 active duty Airmen at the awards banquet free of charge.

All in all, a great week of comradery in recognition of heroes young and old and renewed and extended friendships.

Any Time – Any Place
Col (ret) Dennis Barnett
President/CEO Air Commando Association

Robby Roberson Flies West

Billy Joe Roberson, SMSgt, USAF (Retired) affectionately known as Robby, passed away on 11 April 2024 in Brandon, Florida. He was born in Sylacauga, Alabama, on 3 February 1934. Robby volunteered for Jungle Jim in 1961 and was part of the first group to deploy to Bien Hoa. As Chief of Admin, he served under Colonels Ben King, Gerald Dix, Heinie Aderholt, and Gordon Bradburn.
As Air Commando Association (ACA) life member holding Card No. 2, he worked closely with General Aderholt in the formation of the ACA.
Robby is survived by his wife Dolores (Dee) Roberson, and daughters Rosemarie Litchfield and Charlene Murphy, along with four grandchildren, Christine Lukasik, Brent Litchfield, Trevis Litchfield, and Alexis Litchfield.

 

Gen Harry “Hienie” Aderholt and Robby Roberson
Robby Roberson at ACA social
Robby Roberson with Gen Harry “Hienie” Aderholt, and Christine Lukasik
Air Commandos – Robby on the right
Air Commandos – Robby Roberson on the right
Dee and Robby Roberson, Christine Lukasik, and Howie Pearson
Jeanette Elliott and Robby Roberson
ACA Banquet 2011 – Gen Richard Secord and Robby Roberson
ACA Banquet 2013 – Robby and Dee Roberson, Jeanette and Ken Elliott, and Lynnette Petsinger
ACA Banquet 2019

Embolden Valor: Capture, Curate, and Continue

I met Jim Ifland 6 months ago. He was spry, lively, engaging, curious and welcoming. His quality of life at 92 years of age was a blessing most of us will only hope for. I quickly struck up a friendship with Jim and we conversed many times over the past few months. It was imminently clear to me the Jim had a passion for our United States of America. Jim was a patriot. He knew the importance of action when required and could think outside the box to complete whatever problem lay before him. Jim personified the bold character we hope for from the men and women that stand-up and step-forward to serve our nation. Jim’s experience and lessons learned likely have numerous applications in today’s near-peer competition. He would have been a great resource to today’s strategist and young Airmen. Unfortunately, as most of you know Jim passed away this past December.

I recently performed a search for Jim on popular social media sites and only found his funeral service. This is unfortunate, because Jim had so much to share. With today’s technology, we could preserve Jim’s own words, in his own voice, sharing a lifetime of valuable lessons. Jim’s passing highlights a difficult truth. We lose approximately 250 WWII veterans; 600 Korean War veterans, and 390 Vietnam veterans every day. Of the 16 million U.S. service members that served during WWII, under 60,000 will be alive by 2025. With each loss of great Americans from previous generations we lose hard earned lessons regarding the spirit of ingenuity and pathways of action. We need to capture and preserve these stories.

The Embolden Valor Foundation sees this issue and is working hard to preserve the voices behind such valuable, yet perishable, lessons. We are seeking out and capturing stories of bold decision making, unconventional leadership, and impactful innovation. We curate that information with artificial intelligence and machine learning to uncover trends and themes–what we are calling the “First Principles of Valor.” We use the First Principles to create and deliver products and presentations to inspire boldness and courage in current and future warfighters. We need your help.

I am confident that the members of the ACA both have personal accounts and know of individuals who have stories and examples of decision making that should be captured and curated for future generations. Please email us at info@emboldenvalor.org or visit our website at www.emboldenvalor.org to share such examples so that our team can reach out and capture as many of these stories as possible.

ACA Stepping Up to Support Fellow Air Commandos

By Lou Orrie, CMSgt, USAF (ret)

Suicide rates among active duty and veterans continue to spike and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Military members, both active and retired, have scars both seen and unseen. It is those unseen scars that seem to carry the greatest burden as they are the most difficult to tackle as some of those scars run deep. To that end, the Air Commando Association has teamed up with the organization SoundOff where members of the Air Commando community can get mental health assistance anonymously free of charge. As “Quiet Professionals” we are often caught in the world of complexity, one where it is often challenging to ask for help. With SoundOff, one simply has to download the app, answer a couple of quick questions and you are up and running, getting the chance to chat with either a licensed clinician or a battle buddy. You get the chance to choose which clinician or battle buddy you would like to communicate with and the system hides your identity by automatically assigning you a random screen name. This allows you the chance to discuss various issues with the clinician or battle buddy. It all comes down to taking care of one another, ensuring the care of Air Commandos, past, present, and future. At this time this service is for current and past military members of the SOF community.

To get started, simply scan either the Apple or Google code to be directed to the SoundOff app. Once you have downloaded the app, choose the user path that will ask you to create a password and then a PIN. One word of advice is to be sure and write down the screen name the system assigns as it is not recoverable, even by the system administrators of SoundOff. You will then find yourself with several organizations to choose from. Select SOCOM, then Air Force Special Operations Command, as a minimum because the ACA funding is tied to that selection. There are other organizations that you can choose from and feel free to pick those that are applicable to your career path. Once all of that is done, you are now presented with one last choice and that is to pick your state of residence. You are now ready to receive one on one assistance from either a clinician or battle buddy. One of the benefits of this program is you get a chance to review the clinicians and battle buddies This allows you the opportunity to find someone you can open up to and receive the assistance you are looking for.

Along with being a great user platform to provide anonymous mental health assistance, you will also have the opportunity to become a battle buddy, which is just as vital as the clinicians. There are a few additional steps needed to become a battle buddy, but it is well worth the time invested. Battle buddies bridge the gap between the user and clinician. Oftentimes it takes a simple interaction with a battle buddy to stop a bad situation from becoming worse. Being a battle buddy is not anonymous so that others looking for assistance can choose someone that best aligns with their own background and experiences. To become a battle buddy/peer supporter, simply check the peer support icon that will take you to a page where you will enter your email address, phone number, and password. After registering, you will need to complete a quick program that discusses how to be a battle buddy and getting individuals the help they need.

I hope many of you that are dealing with issues find the fortitude to sign up for help and take advantage of this great program. Please consider signing up for assistance, if needed, or at least becoming a battle buddy to provide peer support to other fellow Air Commandos in need. You just may be the one to keep one of our friends or neighbors from taking their own life because they feel there is nowhere else to turn. Thank you for your time and please direct any questions to info@aircommando.org.

Veteran’s Honor Flights

By Dave Clark, ACA Life Member

I was recently selected for and went on an HONOR FLIGHT to Washington DC from Seattle, WA, along with 57 veterans including a WW II Veteran, 7 Korea War Veterans, and the rest Vietnam Veterans. What is an Honor Flight? An Honor Flight is conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many United States military veterans as possible to see the memorials in Washington DC at no cost to the veterans.

Alaska Airlines has specially painted planes for the occasion and donates flights and crews. Other airlines also donate planes and crews from different parts of the country. Buses, Hotels and food are all donated. The memorials we saw were the WW II, Korean, Vietnam, Lincoln, FDR, Navy Museum, Women’s memorial, Marine’s, Air Force memorial, Arlington’s tomb of unknown Solider, and changing of the Guard.

Some Honor flights are done in 1-day, others take 2 days. It all depends what area of the country you’re leaving from. Veterans may be required to have a guardian. The guardian is there to assist the veteran during the tours. There are many people who sign up to be guardians for veterans if he or she needs one. My nephew was a guardian for me.

These Honor Flights are amazing. What caught me off guard were the emotions I thought were long gone. I highly recommend that all eligible veterans sign up for an HONOR FLIGHT. YOU DESERVE IT. Contact the Honor Flight Group for your area and fill an application. There are no federal dollars funding these flights, it’s all done by donations.

USSOCOM Memo on Cancer Study

Air Commandos – Read memo from USSOCOM regarding cancer study.

March 5, 2024

U.S. Special Operations Command Teammates,

We are conducting an in-depth study to characterize cancer risk and diagnosis within the active duty and retired Special Operations Forces (SOF) population. The study is in cooperation with ongoing Defense Healthcare Agency efforts that inform Department of Defense (DOD) senior leaders, healthcare providers, and biomedical innovators, and will focus on personnel that have been assigned to SOF units during their careers. In line with the First SOF Truth, this effort will enable the SOF enterprise to pursue force health protection measures that reduce excess health risk, as well as support our teammates who have been, our currently, or may be diagnosed with cancer.

Click to view

To accurately characterize cancer risk within the SOF community, we encourage individuals to take necessary steps below to ensure the study team can access their diagnosis:

• Ensure any cancer diagnosis is documented in DOD or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical records. While there is no need to move ongoing cancer care or surveillance from existing facilities to a DOD or VA facility, it is critical that documentation from external providers is transferred and incorporated into these official DOD/VA medical records.

• Complete routine cancer screenings. For men, these include prostate screenings and colonoscopies. For women these include breast exams/mammograms, pap smears, and colonoscopies.

People are our competitive advantage. We will support Service members diagnosed with cancer by ensuring they have access to advanced treatment options and robust resources to enable their ability to continue to serve our Nation. The Warrior Care Program and Command Surgeon will share information discovered in the study with the Force as it becomes available.

Shane W. Shorter
Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army
Command Senior Enlisted Leader

Brian P. Fenton
General, U.S. Army
Commander

2024 ACA Annual Convention Registration Is Open

ACA Convention Registration Is Open

Air Commandos, our 2024 annual convention is held in Fort Walton Beach, FL again. Along with the 2023 Air Commando Hall of Fame induction ceremony we welcome AFSOC 12OAY to the annual awards banquet. The ACA welcomes all Air Commandos and their families: Past, Present, and Future to our annual convention.

  • Heritage Seminar Breakfast

    Friday @ 8:00 am

    Air Commando Association’s Heritage Seminar Breakfast at 8:00 am at The Island Resort at Fort Walton Beach.

  • Memorial Retreat

    Friday @ 4:00 pm

    We will be hosting a memorial retreat at the Hurlburt Field Air Park at 4:00 pm.

  • ACA Open House

    Saturday @ 9:00 am

    We welcome all visitors to the Air Commando Association’s Open House on Saturday, 13 April at 9:00 am – noon.

  • Award Banquet

    Saturday @ 5:30 pm

    We will be honoring the 2023 Air Commando Hall of Fame inductees and AFSOC 12OAY awards at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

  • Ice Breaker

    Thursday @ 5:00 pm

    Our early bird social starts at 5:00 pm at The Island Resort at Fort Walton Beach.

Awards Banquet

2024 ACA Convention

Gather with fellow Air Commandos in honoring the Class of 2023 Hall of Fame and AFSOC 12OAY awards at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Social hour starts at 5:30 pm and dinner begins at 6:30 pm. Cost is $75 per person and cash bars will be located throughout the venue. Dress code is semi-formal for civilians and Service dress for active duty personnel.

REGISTER HERE

Our Sponsors

Title Sponsor

Emerald Coast
Harley-Davidson

Proud Supporter of Air Commandos.

At Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson, Our Customers Come First. At Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson, we value the opportunity to create a long term relationship with our customers, and we do that by giving you unparalleled customer service.

Banquet Sponsor

L3 Harris

Part of the Special Operations Community.

In a fast moving and increasingly complex world, L3Harris is anticipating and rapidly responding to challenges with agile technology – creating a safer world and more secure future.

VIP Social Sponsor

Lockheed Martin

Ensuring those we serve always stay ahead of ready.

We specialize in defense tech, solving complex challenges, advancing scientific discovery and delivering innovative solutions that help our customers keep people safe.

VIP Social Sponsor

CMSGTs (Ret.) Rick & Dr Julie Crutchfield

Over 70 years of serving our nation.

REGISTER HERE

Continue reading

352nd SOW Heritage and Unity Dinner at Prestigious Ely Cathedral

RAF Mildenhall’s 352nd Special Operations Wing Heritage and Unity Dinner at Prestigious Ely Cathedral

By Brice Harmon, 352 SOW Dining Out Committee Member

Ely, United Kingdom – The 352nd Special Operations Wing at RAF Mildenhall orchestrated a dining event last August 2023, honoring their heritage and lineage at the esteemed Ely Cathedral. The gathering, organized by a dedicated 22-member in-house committee, brought together over 250 personnel, dignitaries, and special guests to honor the Wing’s legacy.

Maj Gen Edwards with with Chindit Society

Among the distinguished attendees were representatives from the revered Chindit Society (Alice Wingate, granddaughter of Maj Gen Orde Wingate, the founder of the Chindits; Sid Machin, a 99-year-old Chindit veteran; and Lt Col Paul Corden from today’s 77th Brigade, named after the first Chindit Brigade), the Honorary Commanders from each Squadron, and the Special Operations Command Europe Commander, Maj Gen Edwards and his family (pictured right). Their participation underscored the event’s significance in acknowledging the shared values, experiences, and the enduring spirit of service.

Lady Chapel – Ely Cathedral

The 2nd Chapter of the Air Commando Association significantly enhanced the event, both through their fundraising efforts and a generous donation. They raised over $4,000, which greatly contributed to the event’s scale and success. Furthermore, their donation of 900 sterling pounds, earmarked for the Chindits and other crucial support functions, demonstrated their deep commitment to honoring the Wing’s heritage. This support played a key role in fostering the spirit of camaraderie and mutual aid that is central to the Air Commando community.

The presence of Maj Gen Edwards stressed the worth of the occasion in his speech, highlighting the Wing’s critical role within the broader spectrum of special operations and international partnerships. He emphasized the 352 SOW’s abilities for “innovating to meet the needs of our nation is nothing new and have helped lead AFSOC’s transition by standing up the first Theater-Air Operations squadron.”

The event at the Ely Cathedral showcased the Wing’s steadfast ambassadorship with the United Kingdom and its people. Its strategic location amidst the cathedral’s historic grandeur served as a symbolic gathering to the enduring partnership and collaboration that stands beyond time. Amidst the ambiance of companionship and mutual respect, attendees lauded the event’s ability to reinforce the bonds between the Wing and its allies, highlighting the shared commitment to peace, remembrance, and cooperation.

The dining event stood as a testament to the 352 SOW’s unwavering dedication, reflecting its commitment to honoring traditions, fostering international alliances, and commemorating the indelible contributions made by all those serving within its distinguished ranks.

The evening was not just a celebration of heritage but also a platform to express gratitude. The Dining Out Committee extends a special ‘thank you’ to the Air Commandos Association for their support throughout the event. Truly honoring their mission to preserve, protect and document the heritage of the Air Commando’s past, present, and future. Events of this caliber are the backbone of our historical fortitude and guides us to maintain the culture of camaraderie and continue to elevate the bonds of the Air Commandos across the world.

ACJ Vol 12/3

Maj Gen Greg Lengyel, USAF (Retired) Former Commander, Special Operations Command-EuropeACA Life Member #4267
Maj Gen Greg Lengyel, USAF (Retired)

As we stand at the threshold of a new year, it is with great pleasure and pride that I welcome you to the January 2024 issue of the Air Commando Journal. In the ever-evolving tapestry of military service, the Air Commando Hall of Fame serves as a hallowed repository of valor, leadership, and dedication. Within these pages, we are honored to introduce five remarkable individuals whose indelible contributions have left an enduring mark on the legacy of Air Commandos.

As we unveil the stories of these extraordinary Hall of Fame inductees, we also delve into the annals of history to bring you a riveting account of a heroic rescue mission during the war in Southeast Asia. Through the tale of then-Maj Phil Conran’s courage and leadership, this narrative captures the essence of the Air Commando spirit and the unwavering commitment to the principles that define our profession. Fittingly, Colonel Conran is also a member of the Air Commando Hall of Fame—Class of 1998.

Lt Col George Hardy

Another highlight of this issue is a wonderful interview with Lt Col George Hardy, who began his military service during World War II as an 18 year old Tuskegee Airman flying “Red Tail” P-51s escorting USAAF bombers. By 1950 he was a bomber pilot flying B-29s during the very early days of the Korean War and after a number of staff jobs and academic assignments, Colonel Hardy completed his military career as an Air Commando flying AC-119 gunships with the 18th Special Operations Squadron.

This issue further explores the enduring relevance of the Special Operations Forces Truths – timeless wisdom that continues to guide the men and women of the Air Commando community in their pursuit of excellence. In our journey through Hurlburt Field street namesakes, we discover the significance behind the names that adorn the thoroughfares of our home base, paying homage to the trailblazers and heroes who paved the way for future generations.

SOCCOM Fact Book

Looking back at our more recent Non-Standard Aviation history, we uncover the ingenuity and adaptability that have characterized our community. Through innovative approaches and unconventional solutions, Air Commandos have always risen to the occasion, leaving a noteworthy mark on the history of SOF aviation.
Rounding out this issue we revisit the compelling narrative of the 1997 Mackay Trophy mission, a testament to the Air Commandos who rescued 56 people from destruction and civil war in the Republic of the Congo; Special Operations Command-North leading joint airpower exercise in the Arctic; and Chief Lou Orrie’s experience at the Warrior Games. Through the lens of these stories, we gain insights into the broader impact of our community on the global stage.

Warrior Games

As we embark on this literary journey, may the narratives within these pages inspire and resonate with the indomitable spirit that defines Air Commandos and this Association. Thank you for joining us on this exploration of valor, heritage, and the unyielding commitment that binds us as America’s Air Commandos. Here’s to a year filled with new achievements, shared camaraderie, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence.
I’m humbled to have served in this great community, and I thank the ACJ staff for all they do to recognize Air Commandos, past and present, while nurturing their legacy and our heritage for those who will follow.

Interactive ACJ 12/3 PDF Available Here

We have improved the readability of our ACJ Online, open the PDF and scroll to page 3 (Table of Contents) and click on any headline and it will take you directly to that article in the PDF. Look for more interactive features in the next online issue of the Journal.

2024 ACA Convention Dates Announced

Mark your calendars for the ACA annual convention. The following is a tentative schedule of activities and events taking place this year.

Thursday, 11 April:
Ice Breaker 1730-2000 at the Island
Friday 12 April:
Heritage Seminar Breakfast and AFSOC Awards
0730-1130 at the Island
Friday evening (times and details TBD) 12 April:
Fun Run and Retreat Ceremony Hurlburt Air Park
Saturday 13 April:
ACA Open House 0900-1200 @ ACA headquarters
Saturday 13 April:
ACA Annual Awards Banquet
1700-2100 at Emerald Coast Convention Center
(Note this year’s banquet will be a joint ACA AFSOC Outstanding Airmen of the Year)

CONVENTION REGISTRATION COMING SOON!


Book your stay at the Island, click on the following link to reserve your room at the group rate with the Air Commando Association. Click the below link, select the dates and room type you are interested in on the booking screen and click BOOK NOW:

ACA 2024 CONVENTION HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS 

Guests may also book over the phone by calling 850-337-9194.
Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm CDT to make their reservations.
The group rate: Starting at $189.00 USD per night plus tax rate applies to the following dates: 11-14 April 2024

LAST DAY TO BOOK: 03/11/2024 
Cancellation Policy: 48 hours prior to arrival  
Deposit Policy: Credit Card to Guarantee, No Deposit Required  
Rate: starting at $189.00 USD per night plus tax  

Please note: Guest’s need to contact the group housing coordinator directly, if they want to extend their stay or book different room types outside of the group block (which is subject to availability and rate). Reservations needed after the cutoff date must be booked directly through group housing. The group rate after cutoff is not guaranteed, and is subject to current availability. Venessa Blackmon, Group Housing Coordinator, Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm CDT. Please Call 850-337-9194 or email vblackmon@theislandfl.com

In Memory of CMSgt Alan “Yosh” Yoshida

The Air Commando community is saddened by the recent passing of Combat Control great Alan “Yosh” Yoshida, CMSgt, USAF, Retired.  ACA has passed our condolences to the Combat Control Foundation and they have asked us to share this link for support.  https://www.facebook.com/events/989129669311902?ref=newsfeed
As an Air Commando, Yosh was a great friend and colleague to many Air Commandos…past and present. He was a true quiet professional, warrior, leader, and intellectual powerhouse, and he will be forever remembered as one of the very best our Nation has to offer! He saved U.S. and coalition lives on the battlefield and destroyed our enemies. He was an exemplary keeper of freedom and honor!

A memorial event will be held for Yosh on 16 December 2023 at 1400, at 1078 County Road 241, Hondo, TX. For logistical reasons, the Combat Control Foundation needs to get a headcount of everyone who is attending the memorial in Texas.
Please visit this CCF link to RSVP for the memorial event


Alan “Yosh” Yoshida, CMSgt, USAF, Retired
The following is an official Facebook post from Lt. Gen. Tony D. Bauernfeind, commander of Air Force Special Operations:

Over the weekend, we lost a dedicated Combat Controller, Silver Star Recipient and true hero, CMSgt (Retired) Alan “Yosh” Yoshida, who passed away on December 9, 2023.

Yoshida earned the Silver Star in 2001 for his actions against the Taliban and their surrender of Kandahar to Hamid Karzai. Over the course of 5 days, Yoshida worked with the lead elements of Northern Alliance Commander Hamid Karzai’s ground force as they advanced and seized the town of Sayyd Alma Kalay. After the Taliban launched a major counterattack, Yoshida orchestrated numerous danger-close air strikes, crushing the Taliban attack and forcing the enemy to retreat to the southern side of the river, saving both his team members and hundreds of Afghans in the nearby town.

The following day, Yoshida accompanied by friendly forces, attacked a critical hilltop overlooking the only bridge in the sector crossing the Arghendab River. Exposing himself to intense machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, Yoshida advanced toward the hilltop, plotted out three enemy positions, developed aircraft attack restrictions and determined optimal munitions selection, resulting in neutralization of the enemy threat, survival of friendly forces and ensuring the strategically vital bridge remained intact.

And while his actions on those days alone are enough to write him into our history books, Yosh was so much more than just an operator. In the years that followed, he continued to pour into others, sharing his experience and wisdom far and wide throughout AFSOC and Air Force. Among his notable accomplishments is that he was one of the primary architects of generational technological advancements and equipment modernization for the Special Tactics force. When he retired a few years ago he continued to serve through his support to organizations like the Combat Control Foundation but also got some much-deserved down time with his wife and children, who he cherished.

CMSgt Yoshida, thank you for your service and dedication to our nation, AFSOC and your fellow Air Commandos.

Donations can be made here in memory of Yosh: https://www.combatcontrolfoundation.org/donate


The following obituary for Alan T. Yoshida has been released to the Combat Control Foundation by his family. The family also gave permission to post on social media channels.

On 9 December 2023, Alan Tatsuo Yoshida, loving husband, father, son, brother, and warrior passed away at age 51.

Alan was born in Mililani, Hawaii on 27 October 1972, to Ronald and Nina Yoshida. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1991 where he faithfully and proudly served his country for 28 years as a Combat Controller. Alan raised three beautiful children of whom he was extremely proud—his daughter Sydney, and his sons Noah and Trevor. Through them, his legacy lives on.
On 15 April 2015, he married the love of his life, Sarah. Together they enjoyed traveling the world and going on adventures.

Alan was a graduate of Norwich University and later served as the Strategic Accounts Executive for Parraid LLC. Alan chose to work for Parraid because the company empowered him to dream big and enabled him to transform his ideas into reality.

Alan’s interests were many. He was an artist, a technologist, a visionary, a warrior, and a dreamer. He loved little kids and Izzy dog. He tolerated Yeager. His passions included surfing, parachuting, hunting, fishing, and working on his land in Hondo. Alan truly loved his career. Although it left him in great pain, he never regretted a minute of his service and would do it all over again if he could. He was born to be an operator and was one of the best there ever was. He truly loved his brothers in arms and used his gifts and genius to improve their lives, safety, and survivability. But most of all, Alan loved and cherished his family. He was the happiest just spending time with his kids and Sarah. Give him a good cuddle and he was content.
Alan was preceded in death by his father Ronald. He is survived by his wife Sarah, his daughter Sydney Price, his sons Noah and Trevor, his mother Nina, his brother Dale, his sister Ann, and his nephew Joshua. A memorial service will be held for Alan on 16 December 2023 at 1400, at 1078 County Road 241, Hondo, TX.

In lieu of flowers we ask that donations be made to the Combat Control Foundation or bring a tree to plant in his orchard.

Forest M. “Woody” Kimsey Flies West

Silver Star recipient, Air Commando, dear friend, and loved one takes his final flight.

Forest Marshall Kimsey was born December 17th, 1939, in Pueblo, CO to Mildred Ferguson Kimsey and Clarence Jesse Kimsey. Survivors are his wife Joy Kean who he married, February 1st, 1962, and two sons Kris K Kimsey who is married to Tamara Cort and Kyle Kimsey who is married to Toni Greenman. He has one grandson, Joshua Kimsey in Germany and one granddaughter, Alyssa Kimsey in Florida. He is preceded in death by his parents.
Col. Kimsey graduated from high school in Colby, KS and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in 1962. Forest also received a Master of Arts degree from Webster College in St. Louis, MO.
After pilot training at Webb AFB, TX and helicopter school at Stead AFB, NV, he was stationed at Eglin AFB, FL in Tactical Air Warfare Center. In October 1965 the group was then sent to Southeast Asia, Udorn, Thailand, Det F, 38th ARRS (Jolly Greens). During his tour, he flew 113 combat missions and had six combat saves. He then spent four years in the Cartographic and Geodetic Service (Photo Mapping) living in Georgia and Kansas and traveling to Brazil and Ethiopia. He went to University of Southern California to study Airplane Accident Investigation after which he went to the 39th ARRS Wing Headquarter, Richards‐Gebaur and then to Eglin AFB.
In 1972, he went back to Southeast Asia and had a 3‐month tour in Ton Son Nhut. The next year, he was selected for a Coast Guard Exchange, in San Diego, for two years flying HH3F. He was next sent to Thule, Greenland as Det 14, 39th ARRS Commander. In 1975, he then went to Scott AFB as Chief of Helicopter Tactcs where he wrote the original manual for Red Flag. In Oct 1977, he was Det Commander of Det 18, 38th ARRS Plattsburg AFB, NY where he oversaw the Medical Helicopter rescue of the 1980 Winter Olympics. In 1980, he was then back to Scott AFB MAC Headquarter to be Chief of Operational Requirements. In 1981, he went to Korea to assume command of the 38th ARRS in Osan. In 1982, he was back at MAC Headquarters in Operational Requirements and worked on Special Operations Requirements. In 1983, he went to USAF Inspector General Headquarters at Norton AFB, CA where he was Functional Management Team Chief. In 1987, he as assigned to Hulburt Field with 23rd AF.
Col. Kimsey is a command pilot with over 3500 hours, mostly in the H3. His military awards include the Silver Star, Meritorious Service Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 5 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation with 1 oak leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Vietnam Campaign Medal. He is also a Master Mason, St. Thomas Lodge #306, Colby, KS and a Shriner, St. Louis, MO., Life Member VFW, Colby KS, Life Member Air Commando Association, Life Member Jolly Green Association, Helicopter Pilots Association, and Photo Mapping Association.


His Silver Star citation reads:

USAF Silver Star

“First Lieutenant, Forest M. Kimsey, distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia on 22 April 1966. On that date, Lieutenant Kimsey, flying a rescue helicopter, voluntarily flew into an area of known hostile troops in an effort to rescue two fellow Americans. Due to intense ground fire and battle damage to his helicopter, Lieutenant Kimsey was forced to withdraw from the area. Later in the day, Lieutenant Kimsey returned to the area and despite intense ground fire, successfully rescued one survivor. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Kimsey has reflected great credit upon himself and United States Air Force.”

Watch an interview of Woody in 2014 by Joe Galloway for the Veterans History Project found in the Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.109092/?

In Memory of Col Jimmy Ifland

A Final Goodbye to Col Jim ‘Jimmy’ Ifland

ACA is sad to report the passing of Jim Ifland, Col, USAF, Retired. Col Jim Ifland was a founding member of the ACA. He was the epitome of a true Quiet Professional. He was a tremendous ACA member, leader, and mentor helping form the ACA with then Col Harry ‘Heinie’ Aderholt. Jim was in the very first class of the Air Commando Hall of Fame in 1969. Among his numerous ACA contributions, Jim served as the Secretary of the Air Commando Hall of Fame Committee for many years. He was the official ACA photographer for many years. He was also a master woodworker and craftsman. His handiwork is on display throughout the ACA building. He worked tirelessly designing and building the impressive induction display for the Air Commando Hall of Fame and several other beautiful pieces of custom woodworking art. Jim’s contributions as an Air Commando are highlighted in the Air Commando Journal Vol 8 Issue 2 

He will be sorely missed. RIP Jim.

Visitation for Jim Ifland will be held at 1:00 pm with services at 2:00 pm on Saturday, 16 December at the Fort Walton Beach First United Methodist Church, 103 First St SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548.

  • Jim Ifland W Others

  • Jim Ifland

  • IMG 7203

  • ACA Two Trees Social 2013 10 10 025

  • ACA Lunch 7D 2012 06 04 054

  • ACA Christmas 2016 2016 12 11 019

  • ACA Banquet 2013 10 12 249

Continue reading

ACA Golf Tourney Success & Photos

ACA Golf Tourney Great Fundraiser!

Thank you to everyone who sponsored, supported, and played in the 2023 ACA golf tourney. We could not have done it without you! It was a great day for golf, the weather held off, the temps were low and the Air Commando spirits were high! A special thank you to Scott Photo Works, see all the photos here!

  • ACA Golf EOSR 2023 10 12 081

  • ACA Golf EOSR 2023 10 12 142

  • ACA Golf EOSR 2023 10 12 138

  • ACA Golf 5D3 2023 10 12 143

  • ACA Golf EOSR 2023 10 12 080

  • ACA Golf EOSR 2023 10 12 069

  • CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE PHOTOS

Continue reading

Become an ACA Corporate Partner

In Memory of

The following is a list of Air Commandos who we have lost over the course of 2023. While some of the individuals may have passed away before 2023, the ACA has just been notified.

Reynold S. Adams
Richard Bingham
Richard J. Braun
William Cartwright
Michael F. Corbett
Wayne Corder
Edwin B. Denny
Bradfield Eliot
Irl Franklin
Robert Graham Jr.
Rodney Lee Guidry
Jim Hobson Jr.
John D. Hunsuck
Ben Josey
Jesse Joyce
Vic Kindurys
Donald Mack
Steve M. McCarthy
John Ordemann
William E. Powers
John Roddick
Gene Ronsick
Ronald Sampson
Gordon D. Smith
Kevin Stuart

Looking for Downed Pilot

The ACA received a call from someone who was looking for a fellow service member from the 602nd SOS who flew during the Vietnam War. They thought their friend was a Captain and that he crashed. It is not a lot to go on, but Melissa at ACA headquarters found the following website and it has a lot of information for just such a question. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is a fantastic resource to help in locating POW/MIAs https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/
Melissa was able to provide the caller with the following information: On March 1, 1969, Captain Campbell piloted an A-1J Skyraider, and for unknown reasons, his aircraft crashed in Laos. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified Captain Campbell’s remains in May 2010.

ACA Member Combines Family and History

ACA Lifetime member Dave Clark with grandson Kia.

Several years ago, my wife and I put together a Navajo Code Talker presentation and have done this many times to various groups over the years. Last week while visiting my daughter’s family in Virginia, I was able to do the presentation with my grandson Kai for his Civil Air Patrol Squadron. A high point of my life.

During the question and answer time besides answering questions about the code talkers, I was also asked about my ACA shirt and about being a Air Commando. Since I had several ACA coins with me I was able to trade and give away my ACA coins. I always travel with ACA coins. I will be ordering more soon. My little way of supporting a great organization. One of these days I will attend the ACA reunion.

 

For More Information on Code Talkers, visit the National WWII Museum website

ACJ Vol 12/2

Brig Gen Robert “Gwyn” Armfield, USAF (Retired)Former Commander, 24th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, FL
Brig Gen Robert “Gwyn” Armfield, USAF (Retired)

Every edition of the Air Commando Journal squarely hits the target with value-added historical perspective for our Air Commandos. Today, our force needs the journal more than ever as they face a return to possible great power combat, but a guaranteed continuation of high-consequence special operations.
What the Air Commando Journal offers is a chance for current leaders to take a minute and learn from the past as they prepare to lead Airmen into what lies ahead. As was written long ago, there is nothing new under the sun.
Thanks to the ACJ Team for consistently producing such a professional product. I’m very humbled and honored to write this foreword.
This summer’s issue offers some golden nuggets of insight into very unique missions that our teammates got after — many times with limited resources and guidance — and in typical Air Commando fashion, made the impossible possible. That is why the word “special” is in the name. If it was easy, somebody else would have already done it.
The highlight of this edition is one of those uniquely complex and difficult missions: Operation Bahamas and Turks, aka Op BAT where Air Commandos supported a White House effort to interdict drug smugglers in the early ‘80s using Vietnam era equipment while pioneering the use of NVGs and precision navigation. As you’ll read, this was one hard mission and it came at a cost. For those who have been around for a while, your pulse will certainly quicken when you read Lt Col Warren Hubbard’s “First Report” detailing the January 1984 loss of UH-1N, callsign 44 Alpha, and the search for missing crew members.
From the Caribbean to the Pacific, Butch Gilbert recounts the near tragedy that occurred on Tinian Island during a joint readiness exercise in 1985 that provides great lessons on operating in the remote Pacific islands.
For me, the most inspiring vignette is the epic story of Capt Warren Tomsett and his crew flying their C-47, callsign Extol Pink, into rising terrain and deteriorating weather to land on a remote Vietnam hillside runway marked with a few burning rolls of toilet paper; all to save the lives of a handful of critically injured Vietnamese soldiers.
The issue opens with an AFSOC history lesson by Lt Gen Donny Wurster. I was fortunate to have served under General Wurster and he succinctly recounts how Air Force Special Operations grew from the 1st SOW being a tenant unit on Hurlburt Field with just three flying squadrons in the late 70s into what AFSOC is today. General Wurster relates how a handful of Air Commando budget programming ninjas, strategically placed on Air Force, USSOCOM, and AFSOC staffs, recapitalized our entire fleet of aircraft. Emerging leaders need to study and remember how AFSOC pulled off this recapitalization feat as it will need to be done again in the future.
This edition also highlights the dedication of the Spirit 03 memorial at USAFA so that future Air Commandos can study and honor those who did not return from their final mission.
Finally, the ACJ always provides clear-eyed and straight-shooting book reviews and this edition is no exception as they comment on Wisdom of the Bullfrog (it’s good) and hopefully bury once and for all the infamous Relentless Strike.
Hoo-yah Team, RA

Interactive ACJ 12/2 PDF Available Here

We have improved the readability of our ACJ Online, open the PDF and scroll to page 3 (Table of Contents) and click on any headline and it will take you directly to that article in the PDF. Look for more interactive features in the next online issue of the Journal.

2023 ACA Convention Rescheduled

Air Commandos, as we were finalizing preparations for the ACA 2023 Convention, we became aware of some major conflicts outside our control that would have had a significant impact on our ability to coordinate and execute our normal Convention schedule. Therefore, your board has decided to move this year’s 2023 fall activities to early spring of next year. The one exception will be the ACA Heritage Golf Tournament which will be our major fundraiser this year. Registration is coming soon for the Golf Tournament on 12 October at Rocky Bayou Country Club in Niceville, Florida.

As soon as we finalize the dates for the spring effort we will post them.

Information Operations / Special Operations MISO Policy Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire an Information Operations / Special Operations Related Military Information Support Operations Policy Analysis Support Services member at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Ability to interface with senior level management.
  • Demonstrated excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills.

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Master’s degree from an accredited university in any field of study
  • Experience program budget review and force management experience.

EDUCATION

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Minimum 4 years of combined Joint, OSD, or Service level Information Operations (IO), Operations in the Information Environment (OIE), Information Warfare (IW), Special Operations with special emphasis on Military Information Support Operations (MISO), sensitive special activities/operations.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Active Top Secret/SCI

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: Information Operations / Special Operations MISO Policy Analyst

 

OSD and Special Operations Plans and Strategies Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire an OSD Plans and Strategies Analysis support services member at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The OSD SOLIC Plans and Strategies Analysis support services member will provide SME analysis and advice within ASD SO/LIC for Departmental campaign planning and strategy. Staff, coordinate, and further develop strategies, concepts, campaign plans, and orders related to USSOCOM and special operations, in support of the Office of Secretary of Defense, Policy. Staff, coordinate, and further develop posture plans, in support of campaign plans related to USSOCOM and special operations, in support of the Office of Secretary of Defense, Policy. Support ASD(SO/LIC) integration into future operations, crisis action and compartmented contingency planning to inform senior leader decision-making and support combatant command special operation planning requirements. Lead and facilitate OASD(SO/LIC) integration with USSOCOM global synchronization of DOD trans-regional combating terrorism and countering weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) efforts from design and implementation through assessment of planning efforts and synchronization venues. Liaison and coordination among all participants during deliberate and crisis action planning and the execution of a crisis action team (CAT). Facilitate OASD(SO/LIC) integration into functional working groups from other agencies/departments, and the Joint Staff. Facilitate OASD(SO/LIC) integration with operational planning requirements through Joint Staff management practices and procedures. Assist in hosting/chairing meetings, visitations or conferences related to contingency and operations plans, emerging special operations opportunities and other initiatives. Analyze DoD and combatant commands operations, plans, and strategies for Special Operations equities and integration. Facilitate and support OASD(SO/LIC) integration into detailed planning, research, and analysis for deliberate and contingency planning working groups related to counterterrorism (CT), counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD), counter-narcotics (CN) and other special operations activities. Facilitate and lead OASD(SO/LIC) integration with USSOCOM’s “Coordinating Authority” responsibility in support of the National Military Strategic Plan to Counter Trans-regional Terrorist Organizations.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Minimum 10 years of combined OSD, Joint Staff, USSOCOM, or Service level policy, programs, and force management experience.
  • Minimum 5 years of combined Joint, Combined, Interagency, and Regional experience working military operations, to include strategic and operational levels in joint, combined, and interagency environments
  • Minimum 4 years of experience in deliberate and crisis action planning at the operational or strategic level to include expert knowledge of the Joint Operational Plans and Execution System procedures.
  • Minimum 3 years of experience leading or participating in integrated process teams or joint planning groups at the operational or strategic levels.
  • Ability to interface with senior level management
  • Demonstrated excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to provide technical support and advice

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Must have at Active Top Secret/with SCI eligibility

EDUCATION:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Preferred: Master’s degree from an accredited university in any field of study
  • Graduate of Senior Service College or equivalent Senior Service Fellowship Program
  • Graduate of Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS), School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), Maritime Advanced Warfighting School (MAWS), School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW), or equivalent.

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: OSD and Special Operations Plans and Strategies Analyst

Special Operations Aviation Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire a Aviation Analysis Support Services member at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The OSD SOLIC Aviation Analysis Support Services member will provide SO&IW staff with technical advice and analysis of SO maritime capabilities support and requirements in the OSD Planning, Programming and Budget processes and Joint Staff Requirement process resulting in OSD Program Decision Memorandum (PDM) and Program Budget Decision (PBD). Provide SO Aviation SME technical support to SO&IW representative at CAPE issue team meetings to resolve Program Objective Memorandum (POM) decisions. Provide SO&IW staff and SO/LIC leadership with technical advice on SO aviation capabilities, plans, and funding to support the drafting and development of materials needed for Department and Interagency meetings and requests from Department leadership. Provide SO&IW SO aviation analysis of USSOCOM’s Capability Planning Guidance (CPG) and Program Planning Instruction for compliance with OSD policy and priorities. Provide SO&IW analysis of USSOCOM’s POM, specifically aviation programs and, when appropriate, identify and write issue papers addressing disconnects between USSOCOM and other Services POMs related to SO aviation programs and capabilities. Provide SO&IW an analysis of USSOCOM’s SO aviation programs in POM baseline including program milestones, fielding plans, roadmaps, budgets, and execution status. Provide SO&IW an analysis of USSOCOM’s compliance with OSD priorities for SO aviation and ISR programs following USSOCOM Integrated Process Team –building POM. Provide written advice and recommendations to SO&IW representative for Functional Capabilities Board and weekly Working Group meetings, attending as necessary to maintain situational awareness and make recommendations, as required, on topics, requirements, and gaps that have SO aviation equities. Provide analysis of USSOCOM’s SOF aviation capabilities, for material acquisition, modernization, and force development programs compliance with OSD policies. Provide technical assistance on SO aviation programs for congressional reports, directed studies, briefings, GAO reviews, and DoD IG audits. Provide written technical analysis and support to ASD (SO/LIC)’s representative at SOF aviation related conferences. Provide SO aviation technical analysis and support to ASD (SO/LIC) representative at the Special Operation Policy Oversight Committee. SME duties include monitoring SOF aviation issues in debate by Congress and having detailed knowledge of any SOF aviation issues requiring Congressional reports such as, mobility, light attack/armed reconnaissance, ISR, or Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AvFID).

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Minimum 4 years of combined Joint, OSD, or Service level aviation policies, programs, OSD program budget review and force management experience.
  • Minimum 4 years of experience with USSOCOM Strategic Planning Process or Service force management process.
  • Ability to interface with senior level management
  • Demonstrated excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to provide technical support and advice

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Must have at Active Top Secret/with SCI eligibility

EDUCATION:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Preferred: Master’s degree from an accredited university in any field of study

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: Special Operations Aviation Analyst

Special Operations Training, Exercise, Education and Readiness Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire a Training, Exercise, Education, & Readiness Analyst at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The OSD SOLIC Training, Exercise, Education, & Readiness Analyst will provide technical expertise on Joint Combined Exercise for Training (JCET) authorities and research, track, coordinate within DoD and the interagency and staff for approval all JCET events. Research, track, coordinate and staff for notification and approval all Realistic Military Training events within Departmental guidelines. Provide SME technical analysis, support, written advice and recommendations the Government on Special Operations training programs to include developing budgetary and programmatic guidance. Provide SME technical analysis, support, written advice and recommendations the Government on Special Operations education programs to include developing budgetary and programmatic guidance. Provide SME technical analysis of USSOCOM’s SO training programs, Joint Special Operations University education programs, and SO exercise programs in POM baseline including program milestones, fielding plans, roadmaps, budgets, and execution status. Provide SME technical analysis on integration and policy compliance of SOF training requirements matters in the Joint process. Provide SO&IW analysis of SO- training, exercises, and education-authorities, related legislative proposals, congressional marks up, appeals, directed studies and reports. Assist in drafting Congressional testimony for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC) Annual Posture Statement pertaining to SO training programs, readiness, and SOF education. Provide SME technical analysis of SOF interoperability with the general purpose forces. Provide SO SME technical support for the DoD and SOF Language Program. Provide written technical analysis and support to ASD (SO/LIC)’s representative at USSOCOM’s Personnel and Readiness conference and OSD P&R conferences. Provide SME technical analysis and support to ASD (SO/LIC) for readiness matters at the Special Operation Policy and Oversight Council.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Minimum 5 years of combined Joint, OSD, or Service level training policy, readiness, reporting, Joint Combined Exercise Training, education and global force management experience
  • Minimum 4 years of experience at OSD or Service level in managing SOF education and OSD language program
  • Minimum 3 years of experience with Global Force Management and the Secretary of Defense Orders Book process
  • Ability to interface with senior level management
  • Demonstrated excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to provide technical support and advice

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Must have at Active Top Secret/with SCI eligibility

EDUCATION:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Preferred: Master’s degree from an accredited university in any field of study

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: Special Operations Training, Exercise, Education and Readiness Analyst

Special Operations Sensitive Activities and Compartmented Program Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire an SA & Compartmented Program Analysis support services member at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The OSD SOLIC SA & Compartmented Program Analysis support services member will provide specialized sensitive activity and SAP operations expertise and advice to ASD/SOLIC and SOLIC/SO&CT staff and leadership. Provide policy analysis and subject matter expertise in support of DOD sensitive activity capabilities, plans, requirements program, budget and execution. Support ASD/SOLIC sensitive activity and SAP program reporting requirements by writing, editing, reviewing and fact-checking congressional and other reports including, but not limited to, SAP annual reports, Clandestine Quarterly report inputs, GAO audits and Departmental responses to them, and IG reports and Departmental responses to them. Such support will also include episodic or issue-specific reports arising from program activity. Provide subject matter expertise in support of SOLIC/SO&CT i to establish and/or refine, implement and monitor compliance with policy, governance and implementation documents for maritime, aviation and terrestrial SAs and programs being conducted or planned by SOF. Such documents will typically include program or organizational charters, contracts, Execute Orders, Planning Orders, Concepts of Operation, and Deployment Orders. Conceptualize, research, organize and produce briefing materials related to SOF SAs for presentation to or use by DoD staff and leadership during intra and inter-departmental engagements such as USSOCOM and GCC sensitive activity conferences, meetings, hearings and other fora and, in particular, meetings of the Special Operations Policy Oversight Council in which SOF SAs or programs are under discussion. Monitor and assess the execution of SOF SAs and programs to proactively identify, characterize and report to SOLIC/SO&CT staff and leadership, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and risks that could lead to program failure or exposure, significant policy repercussions, or embarrassment to the United States, the Department of Defense or our partners. Recommend mitigation measures or alternative courses of action to eliminate or minimize such risks, consistent with mission accomplishment. Provide experience-based, value-added operational perspective to senior policy decisions makers on SOF sensitive activities and ensure coordination with policy, legal and operational counterparts. Assist in hosting/chairing meetings, visitations or large meetings related to contingency and operations plans, emerging special operations opportunities and other initiatives.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Minimum 3 years of combined OSD and/or Service staff experience working SOF-related sensitive and special access program operations and policies. A combination of experience in both the maritime and aviation environment is desirable.
  • Minimum 3 years of experience with and extensive knowledge of USSOCOM special mission units.
  • Ability to interface with senior level management
  • Demonstrated excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to provide technical support and advice
  • Experience with and knowledge of contracting oversight in a sensitive activities context is highly desirable, though such knowledge and experience do not have to have been obtained in a Contracting Officers Representative or similar role.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Must have at Active Top Secret/with SCI eligibility

EDUCATION:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Preferred: Master’s degree from an accredited university in any field of study

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: Special Operations Sensitive Activities and Compartmented Program Analyst

Special Operations Special Access Program Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire a SAP Analysis support services member at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The OSD SOLIC SAP Analysis support services member will provide one SME on Special Access Programs (SAP) and SO sensitive special operations (SSO) for DoD; focusing on capability development, programming, training, budget, execution and requirements. Provide day to day analysis and subject matter expertise in support of DOD SSO/SAP capabilities, roadmaps, fielding plans, Joint Staff requirements processes, program milestones, budget, and execution status. Provide experience-based specialized SSO and SAP special operations expertise and direct advice to SOIW leaders in direct support of ASD (SO/LIC). Collect, prepare, organize, log, track conduct briefs, charters, legal opinions and other foundational documents, provide reports and lead analysis of SSO/SAP capabilities. Provide SOIW an analysis of USSOCOM’s compliance with OSD priorities for Sensitive Activities and Special Access Programs following USSOCOM Integrated Process Team –building POM. Provide SOIW written SME analysis and advice for USSOCOM and OSD SOF Sensitive Activities and SSO Conferences. Provide SOIW analysis of SOF Sensitive Special Operations and Special Access Program authorities, related legislative proposals, and congressional mark ups, appeals. Provide technical assistance on SO SSO/SAP for congressional reports, directed studies, GAO reviews, DoD IG audits, and studies; Provide SME technical analysis of USSOCOM’s sensitive activity training programs, readiness reporting, and exercise programs for compliance with OSD policies and priorities. Provide SAP/SSO technical analysis and support to ASD (SO/LIC) representative for the Special Operation Policy Oversight Committee and USSOCOMs Special Access Program Oversight Counsel.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Minimum 3 years of combined OSD and/or Service staff working SOF-related sensitive and special access programs, requirements, planning, programming/budget processes, contracts, and policies.
  • Minimum 3 years of experience with and extensive knowledge of USSOCOM special mission units.
  • Ability to interface with senior level management
  • Demonstrated excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to provide technical support and advice

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Must have at Active Top Secret/SCI and Special Access Program clearance

EDUCATION:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Preferred: Master’s degree from an accredited university in any field of study

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: Special Operations Special Access Program Analyst

Special Operations Maritime Program Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire a Maritime Program Analyst at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The OSD SOLIC Maritime Program Analyst will provide technical SOF maritime support and advice. Ability to interface with senior level management. Demonstrated excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills. Provide SO&IW staff with technical advice and analysis of SO maritime capabilities support and requirements in the OSD Planning, Programming and Budget processes and Joint Staff Requirement process resulting in the OSD Program Decision Memorandum (PDM) and Program Budget Decision (PBD). Provide SO maritime technical and analytical support to SO&IW representative for CAPE issue team meetings to resolve Program Objective Memorandum (POM) decisions. Provide SO&IW staff and SO/LIC leadership with technical advice on SO maritime capabilities, for congressional and interagency meetings engagements. Provide SO&IW analysis of USSOCOM’s Capability Planning Guidance (CPG) and Program Planning Instruction for compliance of SO-peculiar maritime programs to include SOF-undersea and sea surface capabilities, for material acquisition, modernization, and force development programs compliance with OSD policy and priorities. Provide SO&IW analysis of USSOCOM’s maritime programs and, when appropriate, identify and write papers addressing disconnects between SOCOM’s programs and other Services POMs. Provide SO&IW an analysis of USSOCOM’s SO maritime programs in POM baseline including SO maritime program milestones, fielding plans, roadmaps, budgets, and execution status. Provide SO&IW an analysis of USSOCOM’s compliance with OSD priorities for SO maritime program following USSOCOM Integrated Process Team –building POM; Provide written advice and recommendations to SO&IW representative for Functional Capabilities Board and weekly Working Group meetings that focus on maritime related issues. Provide technical assistance on SO maritime input for congressional reports, briefings, legislative proposals, and appeals. Provide SO maritime technical input for directed GAO reviews, DoD IG audits, and studies. Provide written technical analysis and support to ASD (SOLIC)’s representative at USSOCOM’s Maritime conference. Provide SO maritime technical analysis and support to ASD (SOLIC) representative at the Special Operation Policy Oversight Committee.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Minimum 4 years of combined Joint, OSD, or Service level maritime policies, programs, Joint requirements processes, and force management experience
  • Minimum 4 years of experience with USSOCOM Strategic Planning Process (SPP) or Service force management processes in the maritime area of expertise.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Must have at Active Top Secret/with SCI eligibility

EDUCATION:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Preferred: Master’s degree from an accredited university in any field of study

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: Special Operations Maritime Program Analyst

Special Operations Congressional and Budget Program Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire a Legislative and Budget Program Analyst at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The OSD SOLIC Legislative and Budget Program Analyst will provide SO&IW staff and SOLIC leadership with technical advice on Congress’ support for, interest in, and concerns regarding Special Operations (SO) man, train, equip issues. Provide SO&IW analysis of SO-personnel authorities, related legislative proposals, congressional marks up, and appeals. Provide technical support for development or processing of any SO-related Congressional hearings, reports, briefings and requests for information. Assist in drafting Congressional testimony for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC) Annual Posture Statement. Provide SO&IW written advice and analysis of USSOCOM Commander’s congressional testimonies, talking points, and engagement plans. Provide technical support to SO&IW liaison to OSD/Legislative Affairs, Congress, and budget meetings. Provide SME technical support, analysis, assist in the review, develop recommendations and edits of President’s Budget (PB) justification exhibits and related briefings. Develop analysis recommendations for the PB strategy briefings and budget rollout for the ASD-SO/LIC. Assist in development, review, and monitoring of reprogramming actions, budget related conferences, and mid-year execution review.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Minimum 10 years of combined Joint, Interagency, OSD, or Service experience working with the staffs of the House and Senate Services and Appropriations committee
  • Minimum 10 years of experience drafting congressional testimony for senior Defense Officials
  • Minimum 7 years of experience at the Joint, Interagency, OSD or Services drafting and editing legislation, congressional reports, research, and strategic communications
  • Ability to interface with senior level management
  • Demonstrated excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to provide technical support and advice

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Must have at Active Top Secret/with SCI eligibility

EDUCATION:

  • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university
  • Preferred: Master’s degree from an accredited university in any field of study

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: Special Operations Congressional and Budget Program Analyst

General Support Services – Policy Oversight Analyst

OVERVIEW:

The Hoplite Group is seeking to hire a General Support Services member at the Pentagon, to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The General Support Services member to support the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) OASD SO/LIC’s responsibilities to provide the overall supervision (including oversight of policy and resources) of special operations activities.

QUALIFICATIONS:

The ability to prioritize and multi-task effectively in a fast-paced, publicly visible environment. Demonstrated knowledge of the executive/legislative decision-making process. Demonstrated knowledge of USSOCOM, subordinate organizations, DOD, and Service roles and missions. Skill in dealing effectively with voluminous amounts of information. Experience in preparing and presenting highly complex technical material or highly complex issues, or both, to non-specialists. Experience in assessing the political and institutional environment in which decisions are made and implemented. Demonstrated ability to exercise judgment in all phases of analysis — ranging from sorting out the most important problems, to sifting evidence, and framing feasible options. Demonstrated ability to effectively express ideas orally and in writing, using appropriate language, organizing ideas, and marshaling facts in an objective manner. Demonstrated ability to work effectively under the pressure of tight time-frames and rigid deadlines. Draft and coordinate action packages and other correspondence related to your area of special operations policy and resources expertise for senior DoD leadership; coordinate, plan, and develop policies and initiatives appropriate for strategic guidance documents or DoD issuances such as directives or instructions. Minimum 5 years of experience using communication skills, both written and oral, to include preparation of written products for senior leader (general officer/flag officer/senior executive service level).

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

  • Must have at Active Top Secret/with SCI eligibility

EDUCATION:

  • Bachelor’s degree

OTHER:

  • Travel may be required, CONUS/OCONUS.
  • Normal Duty Hours – Monday-Friday, 0730-1630.
  • Mission may require extended shifts or weekend work.
  • Alternative Work Location/Telework may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

APPLY HERE: General Support Services – Policy Oversight Analyst

Elbit

Elbit Systems of America, LLC is a U.S.-based wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd., a leading global source of innovative, technology based systems for diverse defense and commercial applications…. Visit our website!

Irl Leon Franklin Takes Final Flight

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Irl “Leon” Franklin who passed away on June 11th, 2023 at his longtime home in Winnemucca NV. Leon, as he liked to be called, was 88 years old and was born in Hutchinson Kansas to Carol and Clifford Franklin.

Leon graduated from Kansas State University and later received his Master’s Degree in Education from University of Southern California (USC). He lived an exciting and fulfilling life. After finishing ROTC at Kansas State he entered the Air Force in 1956 and retired in 1979 at the rank of Lt. Col. He served in the Vietnam War as a pilot of C123’s and later C130’s. Leon’s claim to fame was the historic Son Tay raid where we tried to get our POW’s back. Although the raid was unsuccessful it did prove to influence the end of the conflict. The C130 plane Leon used in the Son Tay raid was retired and put at the gate at Cannon AFB in Clovis NM – Air Force Special Operations Command (museum).

Leon moved to Winnemucca NV in 1979 and started his second career as a Jr. High school counselor and across the street his wife Ella Mae Franklin ran the Gemini Child Care Center. Leon served Humboldt County and the State of Nevada for twenty years and retired in 1999. Leon served with distinction on the Juvenile Justice Council for the Governor of Nevada. Leon also served as chairman of the airport board for many years where he secured funding for lengthening the runways from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Leon continued to fly (his passion) when he got to Winnemucca NV. He owned a Cessna 210 (AOPA) which he flew whenever possible and held an instructor’s license – he taught a local college course on flying. Leon would fly local mine personnel to other mines on an independent basis. Leon started the Civil Air Patrol squadron in Winnemucca NV and worked with various law enforcement agencies to allow them to see things from the sky. Leon was honored with the airfield at the airport being named in his honor “Franklin Field”. Leon was also awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot award from the FAA for fifty years of dedicated service to flying.

Leon served his community through Lions Club International where he served in many different positions and volunteered his time. Leon installed many of the lifeline’s for the older generation in Winnemucca NV. Leon is survived by Ella Mae Franklin, his wife of 66 wonderful years and his daughter Renee Petersen and son Mark Franklin.

It is with heart felt gratitude we thank the private health care personnel that took care of Leon (and Ella Mae) over the last year.

*Services were held on June 16, 2023 at 9 am at the Winnemucca Cemetery.

AOC Operational Training Development Personnel

The Hoplite Group is seeking Operational Training Development (OTD) Personnel highly experienced in instructional system development to support government-led maintenance and execution of all 505 TTG formal courses. Additionally, support 505 CCW operational-level training events (as required) and the 505 CCW/Advance Programs (AP) Air Component Special Technical Operations Planners Course (ACSTOPC). In addition to the courses addressed above, the following 505 TRS Formal Training Unit (FTU) courses currently require support: AOC Initial Qualification Training (IQT) Network Administrator Course, AOC IQT Systems Administrator Course, AOC Fundamentals Course, Joint Air Operations Command and Control Course, AOC IQT Air Mobility Division Course, AOC IQT Airspace Course, AOC IQT Combat Operations Division Course, AOC IQT Communications Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans Division Course, AOC IQT Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, AOC IQT Interface Control Operator Course, AOC IQT Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operator Course, AOC IQT Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell Course, AOC IQT Strategy Division Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans/Operations Technician Course.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

OTD Personnel will provide guidance in Instructional Systems Development (ISD) in accordance with AFH 36-2235, as well as routinely analyze system requirements to successfully determine required tasks, conditions, standards, and behavioral outcomes for courses to meet ACC training needs. Assist and advise military, government civilian, contractor instructors and course managers/directors in correctly applying instructional system design process. Conduct period reviews of instructional design plans, instructional methods and teaching strategies. Develop and review concise written polices and directives that establish evaluation and assessment procedures for all courses. Provide periodic oral and written updates on student admissions, testing and compliance metrics. Biannually compile the Graduate Evaluation Report summary report suitable for release to higher headquarters by collecting and analyzing data using electronic statistical software, and interpreting results. Conduct recurring evaluations on courseware and classroom instruction to ensure learning objectives and measurement instruments are accomplishing their intended purpose. Maintain current knowledge of available and projected educational technologies and instructional techniques. Provide accurate recommendations and detailed analysis on the selection and application of all educational technology. Oversee the operation of evaluation data system, which includes automated decision support systems and electronic database systems. Review data such as course validation statistics, test analysis statistics, comparative studies of student progress and observation of instructional methods including the use of training devices, equipment and facilities. Develop and administer surveys to obtain feedback from students, graduates, their supervisors, and instructors. Conduct analysis and summer of statistical results. Develop new instruments used in collection and recording course and instructor performance data. Develop valid and reliable questionnaires, surveys and interviews targeting course graduates and their supervisors. Conduct trend analysis on data collected and make recommendations for improving courses. Provide and maintain course material consistent with AFIs, AFTTPs, ACC and USAFWC Directives, 505 CCW and 705 TRS guidelines.

REQUIREMENTS:

· Have formal training in ISD

· At least 2 years of practical ISD application

· Understanding of AFH 36-2235 and ACCIs series directives

· 10 years of DoD military experience

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance

EDUCATION:

· Bachelors degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college​

OTHER:

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE: https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/aocoperationaltrainingdevelopmentsme

HQE-SM Administrative Support – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking Administrative Support personnel to provide scheduling and administrative support for the Highly Qualified Expert – Senior Mentor (HQE-SM) program and for exercise support personnel who advise, and assist the operational-AFCHQ staffs, at the Director and Division Chief level, during major exercises and contingency operations at both CONUS and OCONUS locations. Identify the best capabilities for developing the Air Force’s command and control process knowledge, systems applications, and warfighting leadership. Interact with warfighters during major exercises, experiments, war games, tests, senior officer training, and academic courses. Deliver instruction in academic venues (i.e., lecture, seminar, and practicum) as well as over-the-shoulder during dynamic exercise environments. Provide peer- level advice, assistance, training, and performance feedback to warfighting professionals, enhancing their leadership and command and control skills at the operational level of war. Exercise support for each exercise typically consists of several planning conferences, several planning activities, and an exercise execution period. Senior Exercise Support personnel shall provide necessary services to support Operational Command Training Program (OCTP) directed activities with respect to all Tier 1 and major AFCHQ exercises, joint- operational warfighter exercises, senior-level academics, and senior-level developmental seminars and summits. The service will include SMEs as well as scheduling and administrative support to associated personnel. Senior Exercise Support SMEs will instruct 705 TRS academic training programs. Senior Exercise Support SMEs will be considered guest instructors and will not be required to obtain academic instructor certification; instruction will be coordinated by the respective course manager.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

HQE-SM Exercise Support Administrative Assistant coordinate with host/requesting organizations, HAF, AU, AFCHQs, and other DoD organizations. Arrange all aspects of travel, using DTS to include itineraries, rental vehicles, and hotel reservations for HQEs, and notify appropriate activity of proposed visits; time of arrival and departure, personnel to be contracted and purpose of travel. Administrative Assistant will be responsible for travel orders, country clearances and worksheets in support of program missions as well as on-boarding, security clearance, timecards and other administrative tasks pertaining to the HQE-SM Program. When available, will support training courses to include assisting with scheduling, administrative tasks, hospitality, and protocol activities as directed. Such activities will not include responsibility or the accountability/control of Government Payment sources such as but not limited to petty cash or purchasing cards. Must possess knowledge of time and attendance tracking (timecards) and reporting procedures, data management skills to prepare charts, graphs, databases, and spreadsheets in order to enter, revise, sort, research, calculate and retrieve data.

REQUIREMENTS:

· At least 2 years of Administrative experience

· Proficient with multimedia operations, Microsoft Operating Systems, and Microsoft Office Suite.

· Understanding of DOD and AF manning, training and TDY budgeting process

· Understanding of DTS

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active Secret clearance

EDUCATION:

· Associate degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE: https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/hqesmadministrativesupport

AOC Senior Exercise Support Personnel – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking AOC Senior Exercise Support Personnel highly experienced in AFCHQ AOC and AFFOR operations to perform the duties as an AOC Director SME, Combat Plans Division Chief SME, Combat Operations Division Chief SME, ISR Division Chief SME, Non-Kinetics Effects SME, and AFCHQ AFFOR Functional Director SME to support executive-level training, advise, and assist the operational AFCHQ staffs, at the Director and Division Chief level, during major exercises and contingency operations at both CONUS and OCONUS locations. Identify the best capabilities for developing the Air Force’s command and control process knowledge, systems applications, and warfighting leadership. Interact with warfighters during major exercises, experiments, war games, tests, senior officer training, and academic courses. Deliver instruction in academic venues (i.e., lecture, seminar, and practicum) as well as over-the-shoulder during dynamic exercise environments. Provide peer- level advice, assistance, training, and performance feedback to warfighting professionals, enhancing their leadership and command and control skills at the operational level of war. Exercise support for each exercise typically consists of several planning conferences, several planning activities, and an exercise execution period. Senior Exercise Support personnel shall provide necessary services to support Operational Command Training Program (OCTP) directed activities with respect to all Tier 1 and major AFCHQ exercises, joint- operational warfighter exercises, senior-level academics, and senior-level developmental seminars and summits. The service will include SMEs as well as scheduling and administrative support to associated personnel. Senior Exercise Support SMEs will instruct 705 TRS academic training programs. Senior Exercise Support SMEs will be considered guest instructors and will not be required to obtain academic instructor certification; instruction will be coordinated by the respective course manager.

REQUIREMENTS:

Exercise Support Personnel must be a USAF certified instructor or equivalent with superior written and verbal communication skills. Exercise Support Personnel must have specialized C2 training (C2WAC, JAOSC, JAC2C, JSSC, etc.) and cross-functional experience (service component and/or JTF/Combatant Command Staff Principle). Must understand exercise development, training management, and UJTL based training objectives.

AOC Director must have at least 3 years on an AFCHQ AOC or AFFOR Staff in a leadership capacity preferably as Division Chief or Director. Practical experience executing the Joint Planning Process. Actively participated in at least 2 planning events. At least 2 years as an AOC Director performing leadership duties. Participate in a Minimum of 5 exercises or real-world contingencies. AOC Director must demonstrate skills in comprehensive AOC operations, to include ATO coordinator. A working knowledge of requisite TBMCS applications, joint USAF doctrine, USAF service and functional component roles, and relationships, JOPES processes.

Combat Plans Division Chief SME must have successfully completed a military command tour at a Squadron level or above and 2 years as a Combat Plans Division Chief, performing leadership duties during minimum 5 exercises or real-world contingencies. Must have demonstrated knowledge and skill in strategy development and operational assessment activities as well as working knowledge of TBMCS applications, Joint and USAF Doctrine, to include USAF services and functional component roles and relationships. Comprehensive knowledge of TET responsibilities, development of JIPTL, MAAP team responsibilities, development of Air Battle Plan with excellent superior written and verbal communication skills. Certified USAF instructor or equivalent.

Combat Operations Division Chief SME must have successfully completed a military command tour at squadron level or above and 2 years of experience as Combat Operations Division Chief (CCO) performing leadership duties during minimum 5 exercises or real-world contingencies. Must have demonstrated knowledge and skill in CCO duties as well as the duties of a SODO to include Time Sensitive Targeting Processes, TBMCS applications and a strong knowledge of joint and USAF Doctrine to include USAF service and functional component roles and relationships.

ISRD Chief SME successfully completed a military command tour at squadron level or above and 2 years of experience as ISRD Chief performing leadership duties during a minimum of 5 exercises or real-world contingencies. Must have demonstrated knowledge and skill in full spectrum ISRD activities to include ISR operations: targeting, collection management, processing, exploitation, and dissemination management, and ACF as well as TBMCS applications and strong knowledge of Joint and USAF Doctrine to include USAF service and functional component roles and relationships.

Non-Kinetics (NK) Effects SME must have military experience at least at the 0-5 level, with a minimum of 2 years’ experience of planning and employing non-kinetics operations. The SME must have experience in Space, Cyber, and IFO capabilities with at least 2 years instructing these capabilities at the tactical and operational level. Must have demonstrated superior knowledge and skill in planning, coordinating, and integrating space, cyber and IFO capabilities into each of the ATO cycle processes (strategy, targeting, attack planning, ATO production, execution, and assessment) with working knowledge of TBMCS applications as well as have the knowledge and application of electronic warfare support, de-confliction, and targeting priorities.

AFCHQ AFFOR Functional Director SME must have served as an AFFOR Chief of Staff and have successfully completed a military command tour at squadron level or above with a minimum of 2 years’ experience as AFCHQ AFFOR HQs Chief of Staff or functional director (specifically A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5, or A-6, but no more than one from the same directorate), performing leadership duties during minimum 5 exercises or real-world contingencies. Must demonstrate superior knowledge and skill in one (preferably more) of the following: intelligence, operations, plans, communications, force protection, civil engineering, services, information management, medical, and safety with working knowledge of entire AFFOR HQ staff organization, processes, roles, and responsibilities. AFFOR SME must have the knowledge and application of Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force (AETF) requirements development, force readiness, deployment, base opening, sustainment, redeployment, and reconstitution. Must understand JOPES to include the TPFDD processes, C4I systems pertinent to primary functional area and familiarity with other key C4I systems for AFFOR HQ Staff such as GCCS, JOPS, DCAPES and SORTS. AFFOR SME must show strong knowledge of Joint and USAF Doctrine to include USAF service and functional component roles and relationships.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance

EDUCATION:

· Bachelors degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Must be eligible to travel CONUS/OCONUS requiring a US Passport.

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE: https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/aocseniorexercisesupportpersonnel

AOCIQT Network Engineer & Administrator – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking AOCIQT Network Engineer/Administrator to support government-led maintenance and execution of all 505 TTG formal courses. Additionally, support 505 CCW operational-level training events (as required) and the 505 CCW/Advance Programs (AP) Air Component Special Technical Operations Planners Course (ACSTOPC). In addition to the courses addressed above, the following 505 TRS Formal Training Unit (FTU) courses currently require support: AOC Initial Qualification Training (IQT) Network Administrator Course, AOC IQT Systems Administrator Course, AOC Fundamentals Course, Joint Air Operations Command and Control Course, AOC IQT Air Mobility Division Course, AOC IQT Airspace Course, AOC IQT Combat Operations Division Course, AOC IQT Communications Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans Division Course, AOC IQT Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, AOC IQT Interface Control Operator Course, AOC IQT Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operator Course, AOC IQT Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell Course, AOC IQT Strategy Division Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans/Operations Technician Course.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Network Engineers/Administrators will upgrade, integrate, install, configure, test, maintain, dismantle and turn in data/video communication networks – both hardware and software. Operate, maintain, and configure routers, switches, voice systems, VoIP/Video bridges, ITNs, comm racks and closet wiring. Engineers will maintain network encryption devices intended to apply encryption internal to the base campus – i.e., TACLANE’s providing local SIPRNET, and JWICS connectivity. Engineers will perform internal campus network fault notification and management, DNS/DHCP IP administration; install and administration on base campus wireless network devices. Implement network management planning, active network monitoring, Install and administer on base network infrastructure, router/switch preventive maintenance inspections to include IOS upgrades. As well as responsibilities delegated by the AOC System Manager to optimize performance and quality of service to ensure and maintain a 98% uptime and network is available 2-days prior to course execution or as directed.

REQUIREMENTS:

· CompTIA Security Plus certificate or equivalent

· Must have experience with IT concepts, practices, and procedures as certified IAW DoD 8570.01-M IAT II and industry standards.

· Understand interconnectivity of wireless, fiber optics, coaxial and copper broadband and baseband.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance

EDUCATION:

· Bachelors degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE: https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/aociqtnetworkengineerandadmin

AOCIQT Systems Engineer & Administrator – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking AOCIQT Systems Engineer/Administrator to support government-led maintenance and execution of all 505 TTG formal courses. Additionally, support 505 CCW operational-level training events (as required) and the 505 CCW/Advance Programs (AP) Air Component Special Technical Operations Planners Course (ACSTOPC). In addition to the courses addressed above, the following 505 TRS Formal Training Unit (FTU) courses currently require support: AOC Initial Qualification Training (IQT) Network Administrator Course, AOC IQT Systems Administrator Course, AOC Fundamentals Course, Joint Air Operations Command and Control Course, AOC IQT Air Mobility Division Course, AOC IQT Airspace Course, AOC IQT Combat Operations Division Course, AOC IQT Communications Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans Division Course, AOC IQT Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, AOC IQT Interface Control Operator Course, AOC IQT Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operator Course, AOC IQT Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell Course, AOC IQT Strategy Division Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans/Operations Technician Course.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Systems Engineer/Administrator will upgrade, integrate, install, configure, test, maintain, dismantle and turn in data and video communication networks – both hardware and software. Maintain and provide situational awareness for all systems, servers, workstations, peripherals, communication devices, and software as well as properly configured for on-line network operations and are available to customers. Engineers will perform the responsibilities delegated by the AOC System Manager to optimize performance and quality of service. Assign and maintain user IDs and passwords, administer user privileges on the system. Perform routine system maintenance. Work with the FTU Help Desk to implement network security policies/procedures. Implement software patches/security fixes required by the AOC System Manager, Information System Security Manager (ISSM), and/or program management office. Ensuring and maintaining a 98% uptime and AOC systems are available 2-days prior to course execution or as directed. System Engineer/Administrator must comply with polices IAW AFI 17-100.

REQUIREMENTS:

· CompTIA Security Plus certificate or equivalent

· Must have experience with IT concepts, practices, and procedures as certified IAW DoD 8570.01-M IAT II and industry standards.

· Understand interconnectivity of wireless, fiber optics, coaxial and copper broadband and baseband.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance

EDUCATION:

· Bachelors degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE: https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/aociqtsystemsengineerandadmin

AOCIQT Network Engineer & Administrator – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking AOCIQT Network Engineer/Administrator to support government-led maintenance and execution of all 505 TTG formal courses. Additionally, support 505 CCW operational-level training events (as required) and the 505 CCW/Advance Programs (AP) Air Component Special Technical Operations Planners Course (ACSTOPC). In addition to the courses addressed above, the following 505 TRS Formal Training Unit (FTU) courses currently require support: AOC Initial Qualification Training (IQT) Network Administrator Course, AOC IQT Systems Administrator Course, AOC Fundamentals Course, Joint Air Operations Command and Control Course, AOC IQT Air Mobility Division Course, AOC IQT Airspace Course, AOC IQT Combat Operations Division Course, AOC IQT Communications Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans Division Course, AOC IQT Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, AOC IQT Interface Control Operator Course, AOC IQT Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operator Course, AOC IQT Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell Course, AOC IQT Strategy Division Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans/Operations Technician Course.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Network Engineers/Administrators will upgrade, integrate, install, configure, test, maintain, dismantle and turn in data/video communication networks – both hardware and software. Operate, maintain, and configure routers, switches, voice systems, VoIP/Video bridges, ITNs, comm racks and closet wiring. Engineers will maintain network encryption devices intended to apply encryption internal to the base campus – i.e., TACLANE’s providing local SIPRNET, and JWICS connectivity. Engineers will perform internal campus network fault notification and management, DNS/DHCP IP administration; install and administration on base campus wireless network devices. Implement network management planning, active network monitoring, Install and administer on base network infrastructure, router/switch preventive maintenance inspections to include IOS upgrades. As well as responsibilities delegated by the AOC System Manager to optimize performance and quality of service to ensure and maintain a 98% uptime and network is available 2-days prior to course execution or as directed.

REQUIREMENTS:

· CompTIA Security Plus certificate or equivalent

· Must have experience with IT concepts, practices, and procedures as certified IAW DoD 8570.01-M IAT II and industry standards.

· Understand interconnectivity of wireless, fiber optics, coaxial and copper broadband and baseband.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance

EDUCATION:

· Bachelors degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE: https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/aociqtnetworkengineerandadmin

C2 KM Tactics Development Development Personnel – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking Tactics Development personnel with in-depth knowledge of AOC/AFFOR and C2 Portal KM to support government-led maintenance and execution of all 505 TTG formal courses. Additionally, support 505 CCW operational-level training events (as required) and the 505 CCW/Advance Programs (AP) Air Component Special Technical Operations Planners Course (ACSTOPC). In addition to the courses addressed above, the following 505 TRS Formal Training Unit (FTU) courses currently require support: AOC Initial Qualification Training (IQT) Network Administrator Course, AOC IQT Systems Administrator Course, AOC Fundamentals Course, Joint Air Operations Command and Control Course, AOC IQT Air Mobility Division Course, AOC IQT Airspace Course, AOC IQT Combat Operations Division Course, AOC IQT Communications Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans Division Course, AOC IQT Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, AOC IQT Interface Control Operator Course, AOC IQT Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operator Course, AOC IQT Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell Course, AOC IQT Strategy Division Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans/Operations Technician Course.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Tactics Development Personnel will assist in administrative and management responsibilities, related to air component TTPs, and evolving training events such as AGILE Flag, and ACE related courses/events. Personnel will support AFTTP updates and related products, provide command liaison to other AOCs, AFFOR staff, services, agencies, and training or exercise entities to ensure the 505 CCW is active and aware of all evolving air component tactics activities, requirements, and issues. Personnel may be asked to accomplish squadron taskers, build/deliver briefings, draft papers, conduct analysis, attend conferences, other unit directed activities, TTP updates/rewrites, exercise support and participate in continuation training. Tactical Development Personnel will provide AOC/AFFOR expertise to support Lessons Learned role and be the primary website administrator a KM support to the 505th CCW Tactics Development and C2 Portal. Tactics Development KM personnel will ensure hosting and distribution of tactics related information, products, and 505 CCW training courses, as well as coordinate updates with course management teams and 705th TRS leadership.

REQUIREMENTS:

· At least one year experience in AFCHQ Ops at an operational level of warfare as Action Officer.

· 10 years of DoD military experience

· Must have practical experience and actively participated in 2 or more planning events

· At least one year experience in TTP development to include contribution to a Flash Bulletin, Tactics Bulletin, and AFTTP 3-1/3-3 re-writes

· Previous Knowledge Management experience

· Microsoft SharePoint management experience on NIPRNET, SIPRNET and JWICS

· Proficient with multimedia operations, Microsoft Operating Systems, and Microsoft Office Suite.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance

EDUCATION:

· Bachelors degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Tactics Development Personnel must be eligible to travel to support tactics development conferences including CAFWEPTAC.

· CONUS/OCONUS travel may occur requiring a valid passport.

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE: https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/c2kmtacticsdevelopmentpersonnel

AOC Scenario Development Personnel – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking Scenario Development personnel with in-depth knowledge of Joint Air, Space and Cyber Operations, Air Component, and Joint Planning Processes to support government-led maintenance and execution of all 505 TTG formal courses. Additionally, support 505 CCW operational-level training events (as required) and the 505 CCW/Advance Programs (AP) Air Component Special Technical Operations Planners Course (ACSTOPC). In addition to the courses addressed above, the following 505 TRS Formal Training Unit (FTU) courses currently require support: AOC Initial Qualification Training (IQT) Network Administrator Course, AOC IQT Systems Administrator Course, AOC Fundamentals Course, Joint Air Operations Command and Control Course, AOC IQT Air Mobility Division Course, AOC IQT Airspace Course, AOC IQT Combat Operations Division Course, AOC IQT Communications Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans Division Course, AOC IQT Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, AOC IQT Interface Control Operator Course, AOC IQT Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operator Course, AOC IQT Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell Course, AOC IQT Strategy Division Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans/Operations Technician Course.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Scenario Development Personnel will create robust training scenarios (media products and planning documents) to support specific learning objectives for AFCHQ operational level planning. One of the Scenario Developers will support the 505th TRS in developing, synchronizing, and maintaining scenarios, produce the Master Scenario Event List (MSEL), event scheduling utilizing Part Task Trainer (PTT). Scenario Developer personnel should understand the processes and systems used for developing and publishing the following products: CONOPS, SPINS, OPORDs, OPLANs, JAOPS, AODs, Plan Annexes/Appendices, ACPs, ATO, ACOs, FrOB, Tactical guidance/directives, FRAGOs, and RSTAs. Scenario development personnel shall attend squadron instructor academics and continuation training events, as available. Scenario Development Personnel may be tasked to accomplish squadron taskers; build/deliver briefings; draft papers; conduct analysis; attend conferences and other unit-directed activities; participate in TTP updates or rewrites; provide exercise support; and participate in continuation training. Prioritization of effort between these activities and course execution/maintenance responsibilities will be at the discretion of the Government.

REQUIREMENTS:

· Proficient with multimedia operations, Microsoft Operating Systems, and Microsoft Office Suite.

· 10 years of DoD military experience

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance

EDUCATION:

· Bachelors degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Scenario Development Personnel must be eligible to travel to attend training, site visits and other appropriate meetings/conferences CONUS/OCONUS requiring a valid passport.

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE: https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/aocscenariodevelopmentpersonnel

AOC Student Services Personnel – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking Student Support Services personnel for all 505 and 705th courses averaging 3,000 students/year on government-led maintenance and execution of all 505 TTG formal courses. Additionally, support 505 CCW operational-level training events (as required) and the 505 CCW/Advance Programs (AP) Air Component Special Technical Operations Planners Course (ACSTOPC). In addition to the courses addressed above, the following 505 TRS Formal Training Unit (FTU) courses currently require support: AOC Initial Qualification Training (IQT) Network Administrator Course, AOC IQT Systems Administrator Course, AOC Fundamentals Course, Joint Air Operations Command and Control Course, AOC IQT Air Mobility Division Course, AOC IQT Airspace Course, AOC IQT Combat Operations Division Course, AOC IQT Communications Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans Division Course, AOC IQT Integrated Air and Missile Defense Course, AOC IQT Interface Control Operator Course, AOC IQT Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operator Course, AOC IQT Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell Course, AOC IQT Strategy Division Course, AOC IQT Combat Plans/Operations Technician Course.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Student Support Services personnel will manage training quotas for six MAJCOMs, Air National Guard, other services, and coalition nations that enroll students in training courses, perform all functions to support execution of assigned courses using Oracle Training Administration (OTA) system and other registration software as required. Personnel will build and/or manage course database, schedule and providing training line numbers for all courses to meet current and emerging requirements IAW MAJCOM Directives. Student Support Personnel will manage no shows and student records, budgeting to ensure AOC and AFFOR training programs are properly resourced, prepare detailed plans, budgets, and schedules for all courses, and validate annual student TDY budget. Identify training program travel funding requirements for inclusion in fiscal programing e.g., Program Objective Memorandum (POM). Provide support and advise on reprogramming funds and funding levels due to manpower, scheduling and other changes, assist in evaluating modifications to existing plans in response to changing environments. Support training courses to including with assisting with scheduling, administrative tasks, hospitality, and protocol activities as directed. Work with base organizations on behalf of students for administrative support and actions.

REQUIREMENTS:

· Proficient with multimedia operations, Microsoft Operating Systems, and Microsoft Office Suite.

· Understanding of DOD and AF manning, training and TDY budgeting process

· Understanding of MAJCOM Directives

· Working knowledge of Oracle Training Administration (OTA)

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active Secret clearance

EDUCATION:

· Associate degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE:

https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/aocstudentservicespersonnel

C2 Senior Instructor SME – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking Senior Instructors in the following areas of expertise: Offensive Cyber Operations, Fighter/Bomber, Space, Electronic Warfare, Intelligence and/or experience from both geographic and global AFCHQs. The Senior instructors will instruct or support instruction on government led and/or contractor led maintenance and execution of 505 TTG courses and 705 TRS course management/support to the Air Component Senior Leader Course (ACSLC), Combined Senior Staff Course (CSCC), and Lead Wing Command and Control Course (LWC2C) as well as general instructor support to the following courses and training events: Command and Control Warrior Advanced Course (C2WAC), Air Force Forces (AFFOR) Intermediate Staff Course (AISC), Senior Officer Just-in-time Air Component Training (SJAT), and other courses supporting multi-domain planning and supporting select portions of Air University’s (AU’s) Combined Force Air Component Commander (CFACC) Course, Air Mobility Command’s (AMC’s) Director of Mobility Forces (DIRMOBFOR) Course, and other Air Combat Command (ACC) and 505 CCW C2 operational-level and wing-level training events/courses.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Senior Instructors support general instruction in C2WAC, LWC2C training, and AISC on a rotational and cross-matrixed basis. Senior Instructors may also support senior-level courses for lessons related to their specific area of expertise. Senior Instructors will be expected to prepare classrooms for instruction, operate training equipment, issue student course ware, observe student planning exercises and provide verbal and written feedback on student performance, update course material as needed, develop, review, and respond to end of course critiques and develop, execute evaluation plan used to determine academic instruction effectiveness based on feedback. Develop continuity folders, reference material, audiovisual library, films, Training Plans, Training Task Lists, Syllabi of Instruction, Instructor Grades, Student Guides, media and other course ware as required. May be required to assist in squadron taskers, such as briefings, draft papers, conduct analysis, attend conferences, and exercise support.

REQUIREMENTS:

· Senior Instructors must have expertise in multi-domain operations, joint planning, and the air tasking cycle.

· Highly desired that Senior Instructors have at least 3 years of AFCHQ experience, be post-2016 graduates of C2WAC and/or ACSTOPC, have participated in at least two Tier-1 operational-level exercises, have been an APG/OPG/OPT lead, graduated 13O IST or USAF Weapons School (or equivalent), rank-appropriate military PME, and/or have experience developing formal military courses.

· Or at least one year of experience within the past 5 years in an AFCHQ or as a similarly qualified instructor and/or operational level planning; such as, Battlefield Coordination Detachment (BCD) or Naval Liaison Element (NALE) with previous instructor experience.

· Preferably held positions in AFCHQs commensurate with that of an O-4 to O-6 and served as either a Branch/Team Chief or higher.

· Proficient with multimedia operations, Microsoft Operating Systems, and Microsoft Office Suite.

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance

EDUCATION:

· Bachelor’s Degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Instruction of courses can either be located at Hurlburt Field or at off-site locations (CONUS & OCONUS) requiring a valid passport.

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY HERE:

f11e3e_3bb22cad5de745b18275cc7624017fdd~mv2.png

AF Forces Staff Instructor SME – Hurlburt Field, FL

The Hoplite Group is seeking full time highly experienced instructors with subject matter expertise in Air Force Forces (AFFOR), A4 and A5 Directorate. The instructors will instruct or support instruction on government led and/or contractor led maintenance and execution of 505 TTG courses and 705 TRS course management/support to the Air Component Senior Leader Course (ACSLC), Combined Senior Staff Course (CSCC), and Lead Wing Command and Control Course (LWC2C) as well as general instructor support to the following courses and training events: Command and Control Warrior Advanced Course (C2WAC), Air Force Forces (AFFOR) Intermediate Staff Course (AISC), Senior Officer Just-in-time Air Component Training (SJAT), and other courses supporting multi-domain planning and supporting select portions of Air University’s (AU’s) Combined Force Air Component Commander (CFACC) Course, Air Mobility Command’s (AMC’s) Director of Mobility Forces (DIRMOBFOR) Course, and other Air Combat Command (ACC) and 505 CCW C2 operational-level and wing-level training events/courses.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Instructors will be expected to prepare classrooms for instruction, operate training equipment, issue student courseware, observe student planning exercises and provide verbal and written feedback on student performance, update course material as needed, develop, review, and respond to end of course critiques and develop, execute evaluation plan used to determine academic instruction effectiveness based on feedback. Develop continuity folders, reference material, audiovisual library, films, Training Plans, Training Task Lists, Syllabi of Instruction, Instructor Grades, Student Guides, media and other courseware as required. May be required to assist in squadron taskers, such as briefings, draft papers, conduct analysis, attend conferences, and exercise support.

REQUIREMENTS:

· Proficient with multimedia operations, Microsoft Operating Systems, and Microsoft Office Suite.

· 10 years of DoD military experience in air component (A4, A5, AFFOR etc.)

· At least 1 year of previous course management software instruction

· Attend and complete 705th TRS instructor certification training

SECURITY CLEARANCE REQUIREMENT:

· Active TS/SCI clearance.

EDUCATION:

· Bachelor’s Degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college

OTHER:

· Instruction of courses can either be located at Hurlburt Field or at off-site locations (CONUS & OCONUS) requiring a valid passport.

· Telework will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Unit’s SOPs

· Normal duty hours are 0730-1630, M-F. Duties may be adjusted to meet mission requirements, which could be outside the normal workweek and require extended shifts/and or weekend work.

APPLY AT:

Air Commandos Giving Back to Their Communities

ACA member John Heisler presented the Air Commando Award to two AF JROTC cadets in West Virginia on behalf of his Air Commando Association.

In John’s his own words, “Thank you so much for this opportunity!”

The ACA encourages every member to reach out to their local high schools to confirm they have an AF JROTC unit and to offer to present the Air Commando award to winners. There are no costs to the members, the high schools have the ribbons and the certificates. The ACA sponsors an Air Commando award to over 800 AF JROTC units around the world and it means a lot to the young cadets to have an Air Commando present the awards.

Thank you John!

Maj Gen James Hobson Takes Final Flight

Maj Gen James Hobson Takes Final Flight

ACA is saddened to report that Major Gen (ret) James L. Hobson, Jr. has taken his last flight. Gen Hobson commanded Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), Hurlburt Field, Florida from July 1994 to July 1997. During his command, AFSOC operated one wing, three flying groups and a Special Tactics Group with more than 100 aircraft and 11,900 personnel assigned worldwide.

As 8th SOS Commander, Gen Hobson courageously led the airfield seizure and rescue of Americans at Point Salines Airport, Grenada in Operation URGENT FURY. His efforts resulted in being awarded the 1983 Mackay Trophy, for the most meritorious flight of the year. Hobson became the Commander of the 8th SOS prior to the crisis in Grenada. After his heroic actions in Operation URGENT FURY, he and others were personally thanked by President Reagan. Gen Hobson also served as the Vice and then Commander of 39th Special Operations Wing at Eglin AFB, FL. After promotion to Brigadier General in 1989, Gen Hobson became the Vice Commander of 23rd AF at Hurlburt Field, and assisted in the planning of the Panama invasion in December 1989. He commanded the 322nd Airlift Division, Ramstein AB, Germany and orchestrated the massive logistical air bridge through Europe in support of Operation DESERT STORM. Next, he commanded the 435th Airlift Wing at Rhein-Main AB, Germany and then became the Director of Operations and Transportation at Air Mobility Command.

Major General James Hobson retired in 1997 as a command pilot with 6,850 military flying hours. He is a member of the Air Commando Hall of Fame and the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor. RIP sir and blessings to spouse Diane, family, and friends.

General Hobson’s official Air Force bio

USSOCOM Hall of Honor Citation

  • Hobson fighter jet

  • Hobson trophy

  • USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor induction ceremony

Continue reading

Leading in the Shadows of Giants

Forging NexGen Commandos with the Air Commando Association

By SMSgt Jonathan Van Nevel
The 492d Special Operations Training Support Squadron is the largest formal training unit in Air Force Special Operations Command. Our “Blacksmiths” are 440 strong and consist of active duty, government civilians, contract employees, and reservists. We are responsible for administratively managing initial and mission qualification training for all AFSOC aircraft including the AC-130J and the U-28A. On average our student population exceeds 200 Airmen, each with an aspiration to make a difference in the world.
Forging the next generation of Air Commandos requires us to find the right balance between training and readiness. If training is too difficult, we risk overwhelming students, which could lead to poor performance and remedial training. Alternatively, if training isn’t challenging enough, we risk wasting time, money, and resources. Therefore, it’s essential to identify the right balance for each student, in essence we must strike when the iron is hot!
As with any training unit, our student population varies between high and low performers. Some students are quick to exceed the standard, while others struggle to meet the standard. One noticeable character difference between those in the margins of this bell curve is intrinsic motivation. High performers are internally driven to do something difficult and come out stronger, sharper, and more resilient. For Airmen that are not intrinsically motivated, leaders ought to help them find a sense of hope, purpose, and inspiration and help them succeed in training, but we don’t have to do it alone.
The third Annual 492d SOTRSS 5K and Heritage event was held in May 2023. The Blacksmiths partnered with the Air Commando Association, so our students could hear firsthand accounts from veterans who didn’t just get through training, but took home a win – not for themselves, but for our nation!

Shown in the photo from L-R: Clay McCutchan, Maj Gen (Ret); Steve Thornburg MSgt (Ret); Steven Dryer, Col (Ret); Lloyd Moon, Col (Ret); Paul Harmon, Col (Ret); Al Greenup, Col (Ret); and Less Matheson Lt Col (Ret).

A personal thank you to all the ACA volunteers for serving a tall glass of hope, purpose, and inspiration – it was refreshing for us all! I’m proud to be a part of an organization and community that formed an event, bridged generational gaps, and gave us all an opportunity to embrace our proud heritage – to learn from those who embodied the heart of our Airmen’s Creed – Honor and Valor! I applaud all Air Commandos within our community to continue to serve beyond their service and look forward to doing it again next year!*

About the Author: Jon Van Nevel is the Senior Enlisted Leader at 492 SOTRSS. He has 15 years experience in AFSOC and has accumulated 2,400 flight hours on the AC-130U Spooky Gunship.
*This article first appeared in the Air Commando Journal Vol 11 Issue 3 on page 6.

In Memory of John Roddick

John C. Roddick passed away on April 20, 2023 at the age of 91. He is survived by his four children: Lonnie M. (James) Ryan of Wentzville, MO, Laura A. Roddick of St. Charles, MO, Chris J. (Rebecca McMackin) Roddick of CT, Jason M. (Michael Geiler) Roddick of St. Peters, MO; four grandchildren, Amber Lynn Reese, Cari-bea (Justin) Guilfoyle, Sky Marie Cummins, Milo Indigo Roddick; three great-grandchildren; Nicholas Miles Reese, Noah Richard Davis, Abraham Michael Guilfoyle; He is preceded in death by his father, Ralph B. Roddick, mother, Margarita Anna Pridat, wife, Caroline C. Roddick, brother, Joseph Edward Eisenreich.

CMSGT John “JC” Roddick, USAF, joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1949. He was called to active duty in 1950 to serve in Korea. He then joined the tactical reconnaissance wing in 1954. He was recruited to support RB-26B reconnaissance at Takhli Air Base, Thailand for Operation Mill Pond in 1961. In 1963 he was assigned to the 1st Air Commando Group in Hurlburt Field, Florida. He became the President of the Air Commando Association from 1979 to 1980. He officially retired from the Air Force in 1980 after 32 years of service and later being inducted to the Commando Hall of Fame in 1996.

Memorials may be made to: Air Commandos Association at www.aircommando.org

View online tribute to John Roddick at www.pitmanfuneralhome.com

Professional Luncheon at the Soundside Club

Attention ACA members and AFA members! Register today for the Joint Professional Luncheon with guest speaker AFSOC Commander Lt Gen Bauernfeind on Tuesday June 20th, 2023 at 11:00 at The Soundside Club, Hurlburt Field.

Important: Please notify our staff if you are NOT a DOD id card holder so we may make arrangements at the gate for entry. As always, we ask all to arrive early and be in place by 1100 hours.

REGISTER HERE!!

Scholarship Winners Announced

We are proud to announce the winners of the Lt Col Dave Krebs High Flight Scholarship and the Ray Bourque Service Scholarship.

Chase from Freeport, Florida will receive a one time $4,000 dollar Krebs Scholarship. This specific scholarship is targeted at students who are committed to pursuing a career in aviation, specifically pilot training. This scholarship is open to senior high school students who are in good standing of the AFJROTC or CAPS.

Isabela from Jackson, Tennessee, a senior high school AFJROTC student who demonstrated outstanding support for veterans groups and humanitarian community efforts was awarded the Ray Bourque Service Scholarship for $2,000. Ray Bourque was unsurpassed in volunteering his time not only to a host of ACA efforts, but veteran and humanitarian programs throughout the community.

Both scholarships are competitive in nature and judged by a committee of ACA members who have no relationship to the candidates. Deadline for both scholarships each year is 30 March, the winners are announced on 30 April.

For more information on scholarships offered by the Air Commando Association please visit www.aircommando.org

Michael Corbett Flies West

Michael F. Corbett: January 27, 1947 – April 23, 2023
Major MICHAEL F. CORBETT (USAF Retired), age 76, passed away peacefully in his home on Sunday, April 23, 2023, with his loved ones at his side. Mike had courageously battled Primary Progressive Aphasia, a rare neurodegenerative disorder characterized by gradual dissolution of the ability to communicate, since 2018.

Mike was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 27, 1947, the son of the late Leonard Patrick Corbett and Elizabeth (Betty) Miller.

He enlisted in the United States Air Force on 29 September 1967 and started his career as a member of a Special Operations Weather Team and earned the prestigious Honor Graduate award from the Combat Control Training School. Following fourteen years in the enlisted force, Mike completed a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Texas A & M University and was commissioned as an officer on 3 December 1981. During his 31-year military career, he served in various weather-related positions, including Forecaster for Air Force One, Staff Weather Officer, Weather Station Commander, and War Planning Officer. Upon retirement from the Air Force, Mike completed his Master of Science in Human Resources and Development at Chapman University. He continued his service career for 13 more years as an Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Instructor at Northside High School, guiding and molding hundreds of future leaders.

He is survived by his wife: Ursula Corbett; three children: Lenny Corbett; Katherine Corbett; David Corbett with his wife Christina Corbett and his Mother Linda Smith; his sister Jane and her husband Robert Tatum; his brother William (Bill) and his wife Gloria Howell; his grandchildren: Kyle and Samantha Corbett; and his great-grandson Nathaniel Corbett. Also mourning his passing are extended family members in Florida and New York.

As a lifelong scientist with an interest in contributing to the advancement of research into dementia treatments, Mike donated his brain to the Mayo Clinic. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the National Aphasia Association to bring awareness to a disorder affecting more than 2,000,000 Americans.

The family would like to thank the private caregivers and Gentiva Hospice for their service and guidance during his passing.

Joseph B. Paul Jr. Funeral Service is honored to assist the Corbett family.

Victor A Kindurys Remembered

January 1, 1939 ~ April 26, 2023 (age 84)

Victor A. Kindurys croaked on April 26, 2023.  Victor was born on January 1, 1939, in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Vic served 30 years in the Air Force and was proud to have served with the Air Commandos.  He flew a Forward Air Control (FAC) tour and A-1s in two tours in Vietnam and received numerous commendations for his service to our country.

He departed this world in search of a small war in a warm country.  He leaves behind the love of his life, Linda, and his son Mark as well as two grandsons and several great-grandchildren.  He will be sorely missed.

In lieu of flowers please plant a tree or contribute to the VFW, DAV, USO, or NRA.

A memorial service was held at 10:00 AM on May 1, 2023, at McLaughlin Mortuary Chapel located at 17 Chestnut Avenue SE, Fort Walton Beach.  Interment was at at 11:00 AM on May 2, 2023, at Barrancas National Cemetery with full military honors.

Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at www.McLaughlinMortuary.com

In Memory of William Cartwright

William Drew (“Bill”) Cartwright, of Gulfport Mississippi (formerly from Tifton Georgia and Denver Colorado) passed away on Monday, October 24, 2022. He had just reached his 101st birthday.

Bill was born September 29, 1921 in Tifton Georgia. He was the only child of Perry Lloyd Cartwright and Cora Jane Hendricks Cartwright.

Bill is survived by his daughters Suzanne Walters and Barbara Cartwright, his grandchildren Karen Walters and David Walters (Brandy), his great-grandchildren Charlotte Elizabeth and Lillian Grace, his niece Elsa Conboy and many other nieces and nephews acquired through his marriage to Del. He is preceded in death by his wife, Deloriese (“Del”) Swindle Cartwright, his son-in-law Wayne Walters, and his niece Teresa Wolfe.

Bill accomplished much and observed much in his 101 years on this earth. He left a lasting legacy and example of hospitality, graciousness, generosity, hard work, integrity, and determination. He visited 42 states and 25 countries over the span of his lifetime and resided in more than 10 of those states. He was devoted to family, committed to his church, enamored with anything mechanical or technical (specifically cars, camera’s, airplanes, TV’s, internet, and Skype) and loved to tell stories to anyone who would listen.

Bill was born and raised in Tifton Georgia and graduated from Tifton High School in 1939. Bill had just started his working life when the United States entered World War II. Bill entered military service with the Army Air Corp on March 16, 1942, and was discharged from service on January 24, 1946. Bill primarily served as a Liaison Pilot in India and the Philippines during his service and was fortunate to not have been in active combat.

WWII Air Commandos at ACA Banquet 2012
WWII Air Commandos at ACA Banquet 2012

After the war, Bill worked as a crop duster pilot for five years. He married Del in 1948 in Lebanon Illinois. He and Del met while Bill was stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois for training during the war. Bill re-entered military service in 1950 and served until his retirement in 1966. This second stint in the Air Force involved two tours overseas including 3 years in England and 3 years on a British RAF base in Germany. Bill and Del became parents with the birth of Suzanne in 1959 and then again in 1964 when Barbara came along.

Following his retirement from the Air Force, Bill took advantage of the G.I. Bill and obtained his Associate Degree in Electronic Technology from Brevard Junior College in Brevard Florida. Then Bill, Dell and the girls relocated to Denver Colorado in 1969 where Bill had previously been stationed twice with the Air Force. At the same time, Del’s sister Lovena, her husband Issac (Jimmy), and twin girls Elsa and Teresa, also relocated from Illinois to Denver to have family support as Jimmy was declining due to Huntington’s Disease. Bill became substitute father to Elsa and Teresa and combined, all his “girls” were called his “harem”.

In Denver, Bill worked for Western Electric for five years, and after being laid off during a recession, once again used the G.I. Bill to attend college and obtain his B.S. degree in Electronic Technology from Metropolitan State College. Bill went on to work for NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in Boulder Colorado for 11 years before retiring in 1987 and making travel his primary occupation.

Bill and Del enjoyed 20 years of retirement life, including annual cross-country trips with their RV, several cruises, and a couple of trips back to England, often visiting people they had made friends with over their years in the military. They also enjoyed several annual camping trips each summer with their two grandchildren.

Bill lost his wife Del in 2007 after 59 years of marriage. Although heartbroken, Bill continued to take an annual winter trip with the RV just as he and Del had been doing for 20 years. In 2009, Bill decided to relocate from Denver Colorado, back to Tifton Georgia, his hometown. He sold the Denver house and bought a 3-bedroom house in Tifton. In this transition, Bill rekindled his friendship with Travelle Morgan, also widowed, whom he and Del had been friends with for many years. Bill’s friendship with Travelle provided many happy times and loving companionship during his 10 years in Tifton. He sorely missed her when he determined it was time to make his next move.

In 2019, Bill made his final relocation to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport Mississippi, initially in the Independent Living section, and over his three years there transitioning through assisted living and long-term care. His family was grateful for the respect and care he received during his time there.

Bill impacted many lives during his time on earth and he will be greatly missed by many. He’s now in his final, permanent home in heaven with Jesus.

An in-person Celebration of Life service is being planned which will be held at Corona Presbyterian Church in Denver Colorado.

Obituary courtesy of Riemann Family Funeral Home, Gulfport.

ACJ Vol 12/1

Col Paul Harmon
Paul Harmon, Col, USAF (Ret) Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to the spring issue of the Air Commando Journal. The editorial staff thanks all the authors who took the time to write down their pieces of our Air Commando history. This edition begins with a little nostalgia. We found a short essay written by Maj Gen Johnny Alison about his great friend Col Phil Cochran in our archives and I thought it would be nice to revisit this wonderful story of admiration between friends.

Sticking with the nostalgic theme, Mr. Patrick Charles tells the story of the little known Air Commando Song. He also adds further insights, which set the stage for Operation Thursday back in March 1944.

We move forward to the 1960s with two of our veteran Airmen. First, Col Roy Lynn led an Air Commando mobile training team to the Congo to help create an airborne rapid reaction force. And second, it was “just another day in the the office” for Capt Bruce Fister flying his C-123 on a resupply mission into the U.S. outpost at Khe Sanh, Vietnam, just 16 days after the infamous Tet Offensive began. This ferocious and surprising communist offensive shocked the American public into reality about the escalating war as we watched it unfold on the nightly news with Walter Cronkite.

Next, Col Rick Beery describes the herculean efforts of the men and women of the 655th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron to support the 55th Rescue, later Special Operations, Squadron, and their MH-60G Pave Hawks in all the operations described in the two recent issues of the Air Commando Journal. We also follow Lt Col Bill LeMenager as he takes us into the cockpit of his MH-53 Pave Low on a combat sortie leading an RAF CH-47 Chinook helicopter well north into Iraq in late January 1991. The mission was to rescue the remnants of the British Special Air Service ‘lost’ patrol, BRAVO 20, which was forced to retreat after an difficult engagement with a superior Iraqi force.

Finally, we take a closer look at Cannon AFB and what it took to transition the long-time 27th Fighter Wing into a modern day, cutting edge Air Commando hub of excellence and innovation. Retired Col Toby Corey, working on the AFSOC staff, leads us from a phone call from the AFSOC vice commander through what it took to acquire a second installation to support our rapidly expanding command. Corey went on to be one of the first Air Commandos to arrive at the the 27th Fighter Wing to support the transition to a special operations wing. Next, Lt Col Rick Masters, now Mr. Masters and long-time Director of Staff for the 27th Special Operations Wing, was also there at the beginning. A former AC-130H and MC-130H electronic warfare officer, Masters shares his knowledgeable perspective on the evolution of Cannon from the Base Realignment and Closure list to the center of excellence it is today, while serving with eight (and counting) wing commanders. A key point that Masters makes is how the 27th SOW naturally evolved as an “always open to new ideas,” “comfortable with change,” and “on the leading edge of innovation” organizational identity over the last 15 years.

To close out our 27th Special Operations Wing story, Capt Andrew Walker provides insights on the importance of Melrose Range as a “backyard” training range for the 27th SOW and the greater joint special operations community. And lastly, SMSgt Dan Graham describes AFSOC’s proof of concept for multi-capable airman and a look at the command’s Mission Sustainment Teams.

In closing, this issue spans 79 years of Air Commando history; from our beginning in World War II to the modern day Air Commando. I hope you enjoy the issue as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you.

Interactive PDF Available Here

We have improved the readability of our ACJ Online, open the PDF and scroll to page 3 (Table of Contents) and click on any headline and it will take you directly to that article in the PDF. Look for more interactive features in the next online issue of the Journal.

Colonel Wayne D Corder Remembered

Wayne Dennis Corder, 82, of Destin, Florida, passed away on February, 14, 2023, from complications from treatment for Multiple Myeloma. He is survived by the love of his life, Rebecca “Becky” (Ingwersen) Corder and two children from a previous marriage, Wayne “Denny” Corder, Jr. of California and Daphne Corder, of Massachusetts. Wayne was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, on April 6, 1940 to Doris Hamer. Wayne’s early years were spent with his maternal grandparents, Bert and Jenny Hamer who were Vaudeville performers, and his Uncle Harry in Fairhaven where he developed his lifelong love for the Boston Red Sox from his family’s tradition of listening to the games over the AM radio as a boy. Wayne later moved with his mother and adoptive father, Colonel Willis Corder, to Orlando, Florida and to other follow-on Army assignments for his middle and high school years. Wayne felt a strong calling to the military and had an appointment to West Point through his father, but Wayne wanted to fly. So after attending the Missouri School of Mines, he received the esteemed “Principal Appointment” placement from Vice President Nixon for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs where he attended from 1960 to 1964. He later received a Master’s degree from Pepperdine University.

Wayne proudly served his country in the Air Force for 30 years from 1964 to 1994, retiring as a Colonel. As a pilot, he flew T-38s and B-52s for years before becoming a helicopter pilot. He few H3s, HH53s, and Hueys among others in Vietnam and Korea. He served as Squadron Commander, 20th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida from 1982 to 1984. During that assignment, he implements “Operation BAT” (Caribbean) which was a drug intervention program with the DEA during the Reagan Administration. Other accomplishments include his years as Director for Operations and Vice Commander, 1550th Special Operations Wing, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. He also served as Commander 23rd AF, DET 3 Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. Wayne also played a role in civilian rescue during the catastrophic fire at MGM Grand in Las Vegas in November 1980, serving as the on-ground commander for military and civilian helicopter rescues that saved over 1,000 lives, rescuing hotel guests from the balconies of the hotel tower during the historic fire.

Wayne’s greatest joy in life came from his lifelong love, Becky, whom he met in Alaska and married on June 8, 1974, in Phoenix, Arizona. Wayne and Becky had a special bond throughout their marriage and enjoyed their balance of active duty with military support activities such as fundraising for scholarships, doing yard work together, their love of all things Hawaiian from their years stationed there, and honoring each other in everything they did. Together they were American patriots, football junkies, and doting parents to their beloved Manx felines, Finley and PP.

Wayne and Becky’s 49 years together were “the two of us against the world” and the two of them at the lively center of their world of close friends. They were known by many for their backyard cookouts and after-dinner social time where the scotch flowed as freely as the stories and laughter. To their closest friends, Mark and Penny, John and Mary, Jan and Chris, Darrin and Jamie, Phil and Judy, and many more, Wayne and Becky were a source of joy, laughter, stories, and fun. Wayne especially enjoyed a little provocation during social times, stirring up the banter with friends.

Wayne’s favorite hobbies included long range rifle shooting, his well-curated library of first edition, author-signed World War II books, his pro football obsession of tracking scores and statistics, and his past-time of sending friends videos of the latest antics of Finley and PP. Wayne lived every day with and for Becky and filled their days with fun – fulfilling his belief that a life well-lived was “running it till the wheels fall off!”

Wayne’s family extends its gratitude to the team at the Emerald Coast Cancer Center, Fort Walton Beach, and Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, for their exceptional expertise and care. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Eglin Air Force Base.

“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22

Obituary courtesy of Heritage Gardens Funeral Home in Niceville, Florida.

ACF Works with Veteran and Building Homes for Heroes

The Air Commando Foundation was honored to assist with home renovations to allow wheelchair access and handicap upgrades to a family home.

From the family: “The addition to our home is getting very close to being complete, and it’s looking really great. We are very excited about being able to get it all set up and move in! Our son just had surgery to remove the only remaining large tumor in his lung on Friday, January 20th. He recovered a lot faster than the last time. He was able to do half days at school last Tuesday and Wednesday and did a full Thursday! We are waiting for the biopsy from the tumor which should be back next week to find out what the next step looks like but either way he will remain off chemo until his scan next month where they will see if anything new has grown. We’re praying for the tumor to be dead and no new growths so he can move into routine surveillance and get back to a little more sense of normalcy!

The house really turned out great. It is such a blessing and will make life a lot easier for him. We appreciate everything the ACA has done for us to make this happen and since things are hopefully going to be a lot less chaotic soon we’d love the chance to help give back so if there is any way we could help out the ACA please let me know because I’d love to help out in any way possible.”

Air Commando Family is Recovering

Air Commando Family is Recovering
This past fall, my wife suffered a heart attack and had a pretty extensive surgery thereafter. My first sergeant contacted you all and asked for help on my behalf. My wife is recovering and thanks to your organization (To which I will forever be grateful) It was because of you all that we survived my wife’s time out of work. Thank you so much for helping my family keep food on the table for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a very rough end of the year, but you all helped us and I can never thank you all enough.

Sincerely,
Steve, Kelly, Judah, Oliver, and Heidi

Update on Andy Reed’s Recovery

The Foundation reached out to the Air Commando community for donations and assistance to help Andy… Here is a recent update on his progress.

Things are moving along well with Andy’s recovery, his visits to Gainesville for doctor visits are now 3 months apart, he is taking his medication, he is still struggling with physical therapy. Andy is gaining weight slowly and still has a long way to go!


Former Pave Low gunner, retired MSgt Andy Reed was in dire need of a liver transplant. The good news is he was fortunate to receive a donor liver and had his surgery on 10 July. The Air Commando Foundation (ACF) is assisting with fundraising on Andy’s behalf for his aftercare that could take up to six months and $15,000 or more.

ACF already contributed $1,200 to his pre-surgery support and will provide the first $5,000 of his post-surgery recovery for things that Tricare will not cover.

Your donations to ACF for this specific cause will allow additional support. Any funds not used for this effort will remain in the general ACF account for future unmet needs of Air Commandos and their families. ACF is a 501(c)(3) benevolent organization, and all donations are tax deductible.

Thank you for your continued support of our Air Commandos and their families!

Help Andy Reed Now!

ACJ Vol 11/3

Major General Eugene Haase, USAF (Retired) Former 55th SOS Director of Operations and MH-60G Pave Hawk Evaluator Pilot

Welcome to the annual Air Commando Journal Hall of Fame issue. As in past years, we showcase the Air Commando Hall of Fame inductees for 2022, as well as all the winners of the Commander’s Leadership Awards, and the annual AFSOC level awards all of which were introduced and recognized during the Air Commando Convention this past October—all outstanding and so deserving of these accolades.

Additionally, this issue continues with Part 2 of the tribute to the 55th Special Operations Squadron and the MH-60G Pave Hawk with firsthand accounts of the standup of the formal schoolhouse at Kirtland AFB, support of Operation Uphold Democracy, the extensive weapons development and testing that took place just prior to Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the heroic rescue of Hammer 34 in Serbia during Operation Allied Force, and finally honors the memory of the men lost during a joint training exercise on 29 October 1992.

I think at this point, after back-to-back issues of the journal, it becomes crystal clear the important role the 55th SOS “Nighthawks” played across the board in every contingency operation AFSOC was involved with from 1989 until the unit closed in late 1999. Moreover, over the past two years the Air Commando Association welcomed two former members of the 55th SOS into the Air Commando Hall of Fame – Maj (ret) Dan Turney and CMSgt (ret) Roger Maginel.

This past April, we had the incredible honor of dedicating MH-60G tail number 87-26009 into the Hurlburt Field Air Park. It has been a special time to say the least. I had the very good fortune to be a member of the 55th the day we were redesignated as a special operations squadron and the day the 55th was deactivated upon our return from Italy after the unit’s two daring rescues during Operation Allied Force. From start to finish, the 55th was the total package – talented leadership, top notch training, unmatched aircrew members, support personnel and a great aircraft – all of which led to a unit that was an integral part of what Air Force Special Operations brought to the fight.

As a fitting closure to the 55th SOS’s chapter in AFSOC and Air Commando history, you’ll read comments from Dawn Goldfein as she recounts the night her husband (General Dave Goldfein, CSAF #21) was shot down, really putting into perspective what our military spouses deal with day in and day out while they soldier on wondering what happens if we do not come home from the mission. The spouses are so critical to the team and we could not do what we do, as well as we do it, without this unwavering support on the home front. A big thank you to all the spouses across the force that make us better every day.

In closing, I want to personally thank everyone who had a part in making this two-edition tribute to the 55the SOS and Pave Hawk possible starting with Paul Harmon. The editor-in-chief determines content and this was Paul’s idea from the start – from all of us to you THANKS! To all the people who wrote and contributed – thanks for the Herculean efforts in putting on your “way back” caps and sharing insights and details I am fairly certain have not been captured anywhere else on paper to date. Some of these events happened 30+ years ago. I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as we enjoyed putting them together. I think I speak for the entire MH-60G community in saying that it was an honor and privilege to be a part of the AFSOC team…anytime, anyplace.

Interactive PDF Available Here

We have improved the readability of our ACJ Online, open the PDF and scroll to page 3 (Table of Contents) and click on any headline and it will take you directly to that article in the PDF. Look for more interactive features in the next online issue of the Journal.

ACA Is Now A 501c3

By Bill Rone, SES (Retired) ACA Executive Financial Advisor

Greetings Air Commandos, I hope each of you and your families are safe and healthy as we struggle to cope with rising costs and increasing interest rates.

Funding is essential to keep any activity viable—government, non-profit, or commercial, and your Air Commando Association is no different. Since my last SITREP a very exciting change has occurred. Retired CMSgt Mike Gilbert and his Warrior Law team successfully led the ACA through a complex IRS process to reclassify the ACA from a 501(c)(19) to a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

What does this mean? By law, 501(c)(19) non-profits are very rigid and administratively challenging for membership verification and record keeping and are more closely scrutinized because many have “posts” that include revenue generating bars, food service, and entertainment areas, etc., and this is why we made the change to a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

The reclassification of the Air Commando Association to a 501(c)(3) is important because many donors who have limited their charitable donations to only 501(c)(3) non-profit charities can now consider donating to the ACA. Another benefit for the ACA reclassification to 501(c)(3) is it opens the door for individuals to make Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) from their IRAs to the ACA, free from federal income taxes. When we were a 501(c)(19), donors could not make tax free donations using QCDs…now they can!

The ACA has operated at essentially the same support level to the Air Force Special Operations Forces mission for many years. These two new revenue opportunities have the potential to provide relief and growth potential to the ACA. We can do better and Air Commandos deserve it.

As a 42 year “tight fisted” DoD Comptroller and volunteer “finance guy” for many non-profits, I clearly recognized how lean and efficient the ACA operates—and fights far above its weight class—with only two employees operating out of our small facility west of Hurlburt Field. If you are a commercial business or your employer, or any organization you serve, allows donations to 501(c)(3) non-profits, please consider donating to the Air Commando Association.

If you have reached the wonderful age of 70.5 years, I strongly recommend investigating making QCD contributions from your non-Roth IRAs to the ACA—or any worthy 501(c)(3) non-profit or church; they are federal income tax free. The year you reach age 72, you will be required to take Required Minimum Distributions from your IRAs—or lose 50 percent of those amounts each year to federal tax penalties. QCDs may be a good fit for your family situation.

NOTE: QCDs cannot be made from Thrift Savings Plan accounts. As I approached 70.5, I rolled my TSP to an IRA. I could have made incremental transfers from TSP to my IRA, but elected to simplify and roll 100 percent to my new IRA account.


The QCD process is relatively simple. A QCD must flow directly from your IRA custodian to your designated charity. Your custodian will report that amount to the IRS. When your taxes for that year are prepared, QCDs will be excluded from taxable income. The process is simple but each of you should consult your IRA custodian and tax preparer as you move forward. My wife and I have used QCDs for all donations to 501(c)(3)s and our church for three years. I enjoy avoiding federal income taxes on our withdrawals and the ability to donate 100 percent of my 1990 TSP withholding–plus investment growth to my favorite charities. If you have QCD questions, please contact me through the ACA office at (850) 581-0099 or info@aircommando.org.


I am pleased to report the ACA and our Air Commando Foundation are well funded for current operations and we have accumulated strong reserves for unexpected loss of altitude and air speed. Please see the 2022 ACA Convention financial briefing for a much better recap. I am honored to serve Air Commandos as a volunteer.

This content first appeared in the Air Commando Journal, Vol 11 Issue 2 on page 5 in the SITREP

Air Commando Hall of Fame 2022

Air Commando Hall of Fame 2022

Introducing the class of 2022 Air Commando Hall of Fame

Reference: Air Commando Journal, Vol 11 Issue 3, January 2023, pages 8-12

By Air Commando Journal Staff

Major General Stephen A. Clark

Major General Stephen A. Clark, Retired, United States Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptionally dedicated service to the Air Force and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) from March 1987 to September 2018. General Clark made extraordinary contributions at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. In addition to flying combat missions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Haiti, he served in leadership positions in Afghanistan and Iraq. His legacy includes an unparalleled development of future AFSOC leaders, combat leadership during the opening salvo of the Global War on Terror, and a strategic vision in building the SOF force structure of the future at AFSOC, Joint Special Operations Command, and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). He served as operations officer and commander of the 4th Special Operations Squadron from 2002 through 2005. This was a particularly challenging and historical time in the AC-130U unit’s history. He commanded Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component-Iraq from July 2006 through August 2007. There he commanded all SOF aviation assets during this brutal period of fighting in Iraq. This period included insurgency against coalition forces and a full-fledged civil war. He is credited by many for bringing the Air Commando’s “voice” to the front of the table. From 2009 to 2011, Maj Gen Clark served as the second AFSOC commander of Cannon AFB. Under his leadership, the wing more than doubled in size and grew to more than 5,000 personnel and 84 aircraft. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Major General Stephen Clark reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.


Lieutenant General Eric E. Fiel

Lieutenant General Eric E. Fiel’s significant contributions to Air Force Special Operations Forces and the United States Special Operations Command span more than four decades. He has commanded at multiple levels in the United States Air Force and the USSOCOM, culminating his service as the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. At every level of command, in peacetime and in combat, he received the highest commendations from his commanders and the trust and respect of his superiors, peers, and subordinates. Through sense of duty, strength of character, personal fortitude, and unfaltering commitment to his people and the mission, he endeavored to make positive, lasting contributions to the defense of the United States of America. He airdropped Rangers on Point Salinas during Operation Urgent Fury and led AC-130Us in Allied Force. He was at the tip of the spear after 9/11, leading joint special operations forces during multiple tours of duty. Part of his enduring legacy left behind as the AFSOC commander was the stand-up of the 24th Special Operations Wing and pushing forward as much combat capability as possible to fight and win on the battlefield. To that end, he directed the first beddown of MC-130J Commando II and CV-22 Osprey in Europe General Fiel inspired and empowered those around him to serve to their full potential and to not be afraid to take risks. He worked tirelessly for the nation, the mission, and Air Commandos and their families. He is exceedingly worthy of induction into the Air Commando Hall of Fame. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Lieutenant General Eric Fiel reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.


Chief Master Sergeant Roger D. Maginel

Chief Master Sergeant Roger D. Maginel, United States Air Force, Retired, has served our nation with honor for almost 45 years, including active-duty, contractor and civil service. He distinguished himself during 25 years with the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) in squadron, wing, and headquarters positions and epitomizes the saying that “One Man Can Make a Real Difference!” Chief Maginel was an initial cadre MH-60 flight engineer in the 55th SOS, the first H-60 unit in the USAF. He played a critical role for all Air Force MH-60 flight engineers by developing initial qualification courseware and tactics, techniques, and procedures for all enlisted aircrew. He flew on the first NVG night water operation for the 55th SOS. He was also a vital crewmember on the first long-range refueling test of the MH-60G flying two MH-60s non-stop from Eglin AFB, FL to Peterson Field, CO. This ten-hour flight required three aerial refuelings and covered over 1200 nautical miles. Chief Maginel’s expertise was so critical that he was tasked to support HQ Air Rescue and the 542nd Operations Group before returning to HQ AFSOC as Chief Flight Engineer and Enlisted Aircrew Functional Manager. During this tour at HQ, he participated in Operations Allied Force And Enduring Freedom and was current and qualified as a flight engineer on the UH-1N and Mi-8 Hind for the 6th SOS’s foreign internal defense mission. After active-duty retirement, he excelled at HQ AFSOC as a unit deployment manager and air expeditionary force planner. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Chief Master Sergeant Roger D. Maginel reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.


Senior Master Sergeant Michael Rizzuto

Senior Master Sergeant Michael Rizzuto, United States Air Force, Retired, served for over 33 years within the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). SMSgt Rizzuto’s AFSOC career spanned 15 years as an active-duty enlisted member and 18 years as a Department of Defense civilian. A two-time formal training Distinguished Graduate, three-time Life Support Technician of the Year (1993, 1996, 2002), and four-time Special Tactics Squadron NCO and SNCO of the Quarter (1992, 1999, 2001, 2002). His career is highlighted by numerous awards, first-time initiatives, by-name selections, and selfless service. These accomplishments include establishing the first Navy-certified dive locker in the USAF and the first chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, and high yield explosives (CBRNE) capability in all of SOF. He was involved in numerous projects designing, building, and fielding equipment for special mission use, and was hand-selected support to support classified operations, including the first combat parachute jump since the Vietnam War. SMSgt Rizzuto directly supported every major force structure event, including initial stand up, of the 724th Special Tactics Group, ensuring each organizational change was operationally validated by the command. As his unit’s unofficial historian he authored every Annual Historical Report since 2008, ensuring the preservation of the unit’s story for future generations. He established a 501 (c)3 non-profit, providing merit-based scholarships and grants to current and former unit members, spouses, and children. This was also used to fund and build a permanent memorial to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Senior Master Sergeant Michael Rizzuto reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.


Lieutenant Colonel William O. “Sam” Schism

Lieutenant Colonel William O. “Sam” Schism distinguished himself as a 16-year-old flying as a US Navy seaplane radio operator in the World War Two Pacific theater. He further distinguished himself during a 25-year United States Air Force career by exceptional, competent and, professional service as a worldwide airlift, reconnaissance, photo-mapping, and special operations officer and pilot. A gifted leader and manager, he quietly and competently led crews, squadrons, and special projects with great success. During his 9,600-hour USAF flying career, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Meritorious Service Medals and eleven Air Medals. He commanded AC-130A Spectre gunships during the Vietnam War and distinguished himself in combat flying operations. He then filled key management and leadership positions in the Air Commando community and was chosen as the active-duty lead for the conversion of the 919th SOG, into the gunship weapon system. Assembling a hand-picked team of active duty professionals, he provided excellent and positive leadership to active duty and Reservists alike and did an outstanding job successfully concluding a difficult conversion with decades of lasting impact. After his USAF retirement, the US Government decided not to honor its promise of lifetime medical care for 20-year military veterans. Lt Col Schism sued the Federal Government and along with Brig Gen Bud Day and Maj Robert Reinlie battled for five years until the promise of lifetime medical care for 20-year veterans was set up by Congress itself. As “one of the most important cases the court decided,” Schism v United States led to Tricare for Life, for all services, all ranks, and all Air Commandos. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Lieutenant Colonel William O. “Sam” Schism reflect great credit upon himself, Air Force Special Operations Command, and Air Commandos of every generation.

ACJ Spotlight

Submit Your Article

Our goal at the ACJ is to tell the Air Commando and USAF Special Operations story, from our beginning to today. We need your help to do that. We seek quality articles, well written, factually based, and reflecting your experiences living the special operations mission in all of its complexities.

Submit Your Article

More Air Commando Journal

Continue reading

Maritime / Boat Mechanic Position Open with Hoplite Group

We are pleased to share our Corporate Partner, The Hoplite Group is looking for a Maritime / Boat Mechanic with security clearance. Please read carefully and send resume/CV to https://www.thehoplitegroup.com/contact-us

Job description

Required: Active Secret Clearance

The Hoplite Group is seeking a Maritime Maintenance SME to provide maritime maintenance, small engine repair, support boat driver operations for dives, AIE’s and deliberate water jumps, troubleshooting, testing, accountability, and management of the following list of equipment (including any future Maritime equipment added or replaced for training requirements): 35-foot aluminum hull boats with triple 300hp engines, Inflatable Wing boats (filling, folding, patching), 40hp Raider Engines, Amphibious Rescue Craft (ARC), Various size boat trailers
This position’s support provided is pivotal to the successful completion of the Advanced Skills Training (AST) mission, ultimately producing combat-ready Special Tactics operators.

Duties

  • Provide routine/preventative maintenance and minor repair of watercraft and associated equipment to include large and medium sized boats, rigid-hull 12 inflatable Wing boats, jet ski/wave runners, Raider outboard engines, boat/maritime trailers, hard flotation and safety equipment, and other related maritime items.
  • Coordinate with unit’s authorized representative for major repairs or overhauls of watercraft, engines, and equipment. Schedules and conducts required inspections, servicing, and reporting IAW organizational and manufacturer guidelines.
  • Conduct, track, and project inventories of all unit watercraft, and associated equipment. Utilized required security and safety practices and procedures to include wearing protective safety equipment and clothing when appropriate.
  • Comply with higher headquarters mandated Navy 3M reporting, inspections, and accountability programs.
  • Provide boat driver support for unit training when qualified military boat drivers are not otherwise available.
  • Utilize required security and safety practices and procedures. Wears protective safety equipment and clothing when appropriate and required.

Education Requirements & Certifications

  • High School Diploma, plus experience commensurate with performance of required duties.
  • Minimum of 5 years’ experience as a boat & engines repair mechanic.
  • Be physically able to operate unit’s Amphibious fleet

Job Type: Full-time

Schedule: Monday to Friday

Ability to commute/relocate: Hurlburt Field, FL 32544: Reliably commute or planning to relocate before starting work (Required)

Experience: Repairing boats/engines: 5 years (Required)

Security clearance:  Secret (Preferred)

Work Location: One location

In Memory of MSgt Ray Bourque

MSgt Ray Bourque Takes His Final Flight

The ACA is deeply saddened to inform our members of the passing of MSgt Ray Bourque. Ray was an ardent supporter of all things Air Commando. His unwavering dedication to the ACA along with his continuous support for veterans groups and humanitarian community efforts was unsurpassed.

A “Cajun Ray Celebration of Life Fish Fry” will be held at the American Legion Post 296, 311 Main Street, Destin, FL. 32541 on February 4, 2023, from 2-5 pm.

In his honor and memory, donations towards an “Outdoor Digital Sign” may be made to the American Legion.
🇺🇸 For God and Country 🇺🇸

We would like to share a sentiment from Ray’s daughter:

When I go to Heaven, I want to depart this world “exactly” as my Dad did.
Pa (Ray Bourque) passed on January 2, 2023. 
Born on Christmas Day in 1929, he was really special and his life reflected that.
He was able to attend his Birthday Party at the American Legion on Dec. 21st with a “full house” of close friends and family!
He was able to have “caring support” from Emerald Coast Hospice.
He was able to pass “pain free” and in his home surrounded by his loving family.
He lived a long and exciting life leaving behind a multitude of friends from all over the world!

Back in 2011, through the generosity of Mr David Krebs, who was a close personal friend of Rays and wanted to highlight Ray’s support of veterans, a scholarship was established in Ray’s name. It is open to senior high school students of the AFJROTC or CAPS who have demonstrated support for veterans groups and humanitarian community efforts.

Volunteering his time not only to a host of ACA efforts, along with veteran and humanitarian programs throughout the community, Ray epitomized the Air Commando ethos of the “Quiet Professional.” 

  • David Krebs Jr, Richard Secord, and Ray Bourque at Two Trees Restaurant in Ft Walton Beach, FL

  • Felix “Sam” Sambogna, Ray Bourque, and Hap Lutz

  • Ray Bourque taking a well deserved break at an ACA event

  • Ray working at the ACA Fish Fry in 2005

  • Mrs Jo Ann Bourque with her husband Ray.

  • Roger Klair with Ray Bourque at ACA Fish Fry

  • ACA-Banquet_2012

  • Ray at ACA Fish Fry

  • ACA-Two-Trees-Social_2013

  • Ray with Mr “T” at Two Trees Restaurant in Ft Walton Beach

  • Maj Gen Dick Secord and Ray during the ACA Banquet in 2013

  • Ray with volunteers at ACA Fish Fry 2004

ACA Blog & Photos

Continue reading

ACA Holiday Hours

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Air Commandos!! We would like to wish all of our members, our family and friends, our generous community partners and event sponsors, and all the active duty service men and women who watch over all of us this holiday season a safe, healthy, and happy holiday!
The Air Commando Association headquarters will be closed from 23 Dec until 2 Jan, we will reopen on 3 Jan 2023.

Joe Kittinger, aka Col Joe, Takes Final Flight

It is with heavy hearts, we say a final farewell to ACA Life Member #51 Colonel Joe Kittinger. Col Joe as he was known, was an original Air Commando, set several world records in aviation, served in Vietnam, was a prisoner of war, was inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame in 1969, and was a close friend of the founders of the Air Commando Association including Brig Gen Harry “Heinie” Aderholt.

Joe Kittinger received numerous awards and recognitions, such as: the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Life Time Achievement in Aviation Award. The Life Time in Aviation Accomplishments Award from the National Bi-Plane Association, the Victor A. Prather Award from the American Astronautical Society, and the Living Legends of Aviation award.

We would like to share a message from the National Aviation Hall of Fame on Col Joe’s flying accomplishments.


The National Aviation Hall of Fame reflects on the life of Joe Kittinger

“For his daring courageousness in going where none had gone before to pave the way for the NASA astronaut program, Joseph W. Kittinger is enshrined with highest honors into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.”  – at his presentation for induction in 1997

It is with much sadness and admiration that the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) reflects on the passing of 1997 Enshrinee Joe Kittinger.

Joe Kittinger, aka Col. Joe, will be missed by many, including fellow Enshrinees, members, and the entire National Aviation Hall of Fame.

“With unmatched dedication, Colonel Joe Kittinger, USAF, leaves a legacy of public service,” said NAHF President and CEO Amy Spowart. “As a USAF Test Pilot, Col. Joe skillfully excelled, and as an extraordinary balloonist with Project Man High and then Project Excelsior, he achieved what many saw as impossible. That he continued these successes with three tours of Vietnam is beyond comprehension and combines for what makes him an American worthy of induction into the NAHF.”

Having been ignited by the aviation bug at age two through an introduction with a Ford Trimotor at his local Orlando airport, Kittinger truly began his aviation career in 1950 in the Aviation Cadet Program. Proving himself a talented pilot, Kittinger was eventually assigned to Holloman Air Force Base, where he flew experimental jet fighters and participated in aerospace medical research. This combination would impact Joe Kittigner’s unique aviation experience and legacy.

“The synthesis of Col. Kittinger’s abilities as a pilot and medical researcher, as learned in part from his work with fellow NAHF Enshrinee John Paul Stapp, made him the ideal choice for Project Man High,” said NAHF Trustee Colonel/Dr. Kathy Hughes, USAF (Ret). “The program served to study cosmic radiation, ascertain the ideal components of astronaut selection, physiological monitoring, and high altitude hardware. Col. Kittinger truly helped pave the way for Project Mercury.”

Following the success of Man High One, Kittinger moved to Project Excelsior to test the human ability to survive extremely high altitude bailouts. In 1959, Kittinger jumped from Excelsior I from an altitude of 76,000 feet. Despite a mishap that caused him to lose consciousness, Col. Kittinger achieved his mission and continued to test the limits.

Perhaps his greatest feat came in 1960 in Excelsior III. From an altitude of 102,800 feet, Joe Kittinger set the World Record for the highest balloon ascent. During the ascent, the glove on his pressure suit did not function properly, and he had to decide whether to risk lifelong injury or abort the mission. Kittinger continued and stepped out of the gondola setting another World Record for the longest parachute freefall, four minutes and thirty -six seconds before his parachute opened at 12,000 feet.

“Col. Kittinger reached a speed over 600 miles per hour during that jump,” said Hughes. “He fell through temperatures as low as -94 F. While his hand swelled to twice its normal size during the fall, Col. Kittinger suffered no permanent damage. He demonstrated enormous courage in the pursuit of advancing aeromedical research.”

The results of Joe Kittinger’s courageousness include the new knowledge that it is possible to put a human into space and that fliers can freefall into the atmosphere from higher than first-believed altitudes. It also gave Project Gemini, NASA’s second human spaceflight program, ejection seats and tested the prototypes of the suits worn by X-15 pilots.

For this, President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Kittinger the prestigious Harmon Trophy.

Unsurprisingly, Joe Kittinger was not done. Col. Kittinger went on to serve three tours in Vietnam. As the Commander of the 555th “Triple Nickel” Tactical Fighter Squadron, Kittinger flew F-4s. In 1972, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent 11 months as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. Following his release in 1973, Kittinger was named Vice Wing Commander of an F-4 fighter wing in England. He retired from the USAF in 1978.

And still, Col. Joe was not done. While serving as the VP of Flight Operations for Rosie O’Grady’s Flying Circus in his home city of Orlando, Kittinger set another record for the longest distance flown in a helium balloon; 2000 miles from Las Vegas, NV to Franklinville, NY. In 1984, Kittinger became the first to fly solo across the Atlantic in a helium balloon, 3,543 miles in a 3,000 cubic meter balloon.

“When people ask what makes a person worthy of induction into the NAHF, I often share moments like Col. Joe’s freefall. How can one person put mission before self so eagerly in the name of progress?” said Spowart. “When we talk about standing on the shoulders of giants, the entire aerospace universe should know that they are on Joe Kittinger’s iconic shoulders. The impact he made on the world of aviation is unfathomable. He is a legend in every way, and he will never be forgotten while the NAHF exists.”

Joe Kittinger was 94.

Remembering John Connors

Remembering John S. Connors

The ACA is sadden to announce we lost one of our longest serving members. Our dear friend and stalwart comrade, John Connors, ACA Life Member #70, has taken his final flight. John was instrumental in the early days of the association, he helped with fund raising for the current headquarters building, served in several positions on the board, kept historical records for the ACA for decades, volunteered for countless activities supporting his fellow Air Commandos. He always had a kind word to say, worked side-by-side with fellow members to get the job done, and was the epitome of the “Quite Professional”.

Photo Tribute to John Connors

John Stephen Connors
November 29, 1932 ~ November 23, 2022 (age 89)

Lt. Col. John Stephen Connors, 89, passed away November 23, 2022, at his residence in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. John was born November 29, 1932, in Newburyport, Massachusetts to his parents, John Stephen Connors and Anna Agnes Connors.

A pilot in the United States Air Force, he also held a bachelor’s degree, and enjoyed collecting stamps and coins, as well as gardening and reading.

Catherine Hogg Connors was John’s bride, whom preceded him in death. John is survived by his stepsons, Robert Murphy with wife, Susan, and James Murphy with wife, Lori; stepdaughter, Jane Wofford; grandsons, Ed Wofford, Matthew Wofford with wife, Hollie, and Preston Murphy; as well as, great granddaughters, Ava and Adley Wofford.

John was a member of the Air Commando Association, Air Force Association, and Reserve Officers’ Association; he was also a member of the American Legion for twenty-five years, the Veterans of Foreign Wars for fourteen years, Daedalians for nine years, Retired Affairs Office for three years, and Military Order of the World Wars for one year. He held officer positions in several of the aforenamed and had TOP SECRET SECURITY Clearance until 1982.

Very active in civic organizations, John was a member of Knights of Columbus for thirty years, United Way of Okaloosa County for three years, Fort Walton Beach Bicentennial Committee (1976), Eglin Armament Museum Board Council of Government (1980-1982), Chamber of Commerce (1980-1982), and March of Dimes (1980-1982), as a representative of the Hurlburt Base Commander.

John held a commercial pilot license, including Helicopter; FCC Radio Telephone; and FAA 2nd Class Medical.

A visitation was held on Friday, December 2, 2022, at 11:00 A.M. in the Davis-Watkins Funeral Home Chapel on Racetrack Road, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and the funeral service was at 12:00 noon with Chaplain Charles Albertell officiating. John was laid to rest at Beal Cemetery in Fort Walton Beach, Florida immediately afterwards.

Visit www.daviswatkins.com/obituary/John-Connors#obituary to watch a video of the visitation service.

Obituary courtesy of Davis Watkins Funeral Homes & Crematory.

ACA Blog & Photos

Continue reading

ACJ Vol 11/2

Chad P. Franks, Major General, USAF (Ret) Former Commander, 15th Air Force, Shaw AFB, SC

On a beautiful morning in October 1999, I found myself standing in formation in a shared maintenance hangar between our MH-60G Pave Hawks and MH-53M Pave Lows on the flightline at Hurlburt Field. I was a captain at the time and we were gathered on this day for the deactivation ceremony for the 55th Special Operations Squadron (SOS). The 55th SOS was AFSOC’s only MH-60G flying squadron and we had recently returned from a combat deployment supporting Operation Allied Force. The command was transitioning to the CV-22 Osprey and the deactivation of the 55th SOS was the first step toward bringing this new capability to the command. I remember having very mixed emotions as I watched the furling of the 55th SOS guidon with all its campaign streamers. There were many former 55th SOS squadron members in attendance, as well as AFSOC leadership and our counterparts in the wing we had served with over the years. I had many emotions that morning…sadness, disappointment, uncertainty…but the dominant emotion was mission accomplishment.

I found myself filled with gratitude as I looked back on the accomplishments of the squadron. This incredible team searched for a congressman in the mountains of Ethiopia and helped remove Manuel Noriega from power in Panama. They helped expel Saddam Hussein and his forces from Kuwait during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and supported Operation Northern Watch in Turkey to keep Saddam’s forces contained. Our last combat deployment was Operation Allied Force where the “Night Hawks” were part of the operation that brought an end to Slobodan Milosevich’s genocide in Kosovo, rescuing the first (and only) downed F-117 stealth fighter pilot and an F-16 pilot, who went on to be the future Chief Staff of the Air Force, then Lt Col Dave “Fingers” Goldfein. All these legacy missions, and others, are contained in this issue of the Air Commando Journal for your enjoyment.

The 55th SOS showed the tremendous strategic impact a relatively small squadron could have on the landscape of our country’s conflicts. I am convinced that they had such an outsized impact due to the discipline and sense of purpose that permeated the squadron.

I first arrived at the 55th SOS in fall of 1995 and there was a sense of pride and dedication to the mission that was palpable throughout the squadron. It was a culture established by the Air Commandos that had come before me and embodied the SOF Truths that humans are more important than hardware and quality is better than quantity. It was a culture that had been established through hard and exhausting training with our fellow Air Commandos and joint special operations warriors. The intense training paid off time and time again as the squadron was called upon to bring their capabilities to bear and resulted in a legacy of excellence in the special operations community.

When we look back on the legacy of the 55th SOS, it is one personified by quiet professionalism, tactical excellence, disciplined operations, and a commitment to the mission. AFSOC recently dedicated a MH-60G into the airpark at Hurlburt Field to acknowledge the incredible work done by the men and women who operated, maintained, and supported the Pave Hawk mission. It is appropriate we acknowledge the role the MH-60G Pave Hawk community has played in the history of AFSOC and its outsized impact on the special operations mission. The 55th SOS’s legacy stands as a reminder that an Air Commando properly trained and equipped cannot only be successful but also make strategic impacts for our nation…
Anytime, Any Place.

Read the complete issue in PDF format here.

Furnish Family Gets Much Needed Support

Air Commando Foundation,

In October of 2021 we were notified that our sister-in-law tragically passed away and our nieces and nephew were put into foster care. Immediately upon hearing the news my wife Jessica left on a Red Cross flight from the United Kingdom to Florida to help get the children out of foster care. While Jessica was working to get us established in Florida, I was in England with our three children attempting to get humanitarian orders processed. Thanks to the amazing support of the 352 Special Operations Support Squadron our package submitted and approved within a few days. We were set to move the rest of the family to Hurlburt Field and establish a home in hopes of getting custody the children.

Moving for military families is nothing out of the ordinary but we found ourselves in financial difficulties. The expedited move and extra expenses associated with taking in three additional children took its toll. Our First Sergeant from the 352 SOSS reached out on our behalf to the ACA and explained the difficult situation we were in. The financial support ACF provided enabled us to settle into a home with all of the necessities needed to support three additional children. We have now been a family of eight for 8 months and all of the children are slowly settling in. Having 6 children under 10 years of age definitely adds to the fun and we never know what the next day will bring. Emotions sometimes run high but at the end of the day we wouldn’t have it any other way. The transition has brought to light different challenges, and we expect an uphill climb as the children move into their preteen years but we are ready. We cannot express enough gratitude to the Air Commando Foundation and the amazing family community of the Air Force Special Operations Command.

Sincerely, Cody & Jessica Furnish & family

Friendly Fire in Northern Iraq

Friendly Fire in Northern Iraq

Recovery of Eagle Flight — 14 April 1994

Reference: Air Commando Journal, Vol 11 Issue 2, November 2022, pages 43-48

By Todd Bolger, Lt Col, USAF (Retired)

OPC Military Coordination Center (MCC) located at Zakho, Iraq (Photo by Scott Swanson)

Sitting combat alert day after day for weeks and months on end can be summed up simply, 90 percent of the time is sheer boredom, but the other 10 percent can be over-the-top hectic. So it often was in Incirlik, Turkey, where the 55th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) provided an organic combat rescue alert posture as part of both Operation Provide Comfort II (OPC) and its multi-national combined task force (CTF) enforcing the United Nations (UN) no-fly zone in northern Iraq in the mid-1990s. By 13 April 1994, most of the 55th SOS crews had deployed to Incirlik multiple times to support this mission. It was just another typical alert day for the two MH-60G combat crews and support personnel until the alert radios sounded and the 55th, along with assigned special tactics (STS) forces, jumped into action. Two Iraqi helicopters were spotted in the no-fly zone, and both were shot down by two US F-15 Eagles. The 55th had to be ready for whatever came next and the events that followed put into motion what would be one of the longest helicopter recovery missions on record.

Again, that day began normally with the CTF conducting no-fly zone operations within the northern Iraq area of operations. The 55th SOS’s deployed mission commander, also serving as the OPC commander and commander of Air Force Special Operations Forces (COMAFSOF), received an urgent call from the CTF search and rescue liaison officer (SARLO). A flight of CTF F-15s had just shot down two Hind helicopters in northern Iraq. This was alarming! Not only was it unlikely that Hind helicopters were suddenly operating in northern Iraq for the first time in two years, but, more importantly, two US Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 6th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment–call sign, “Eagle Flight”–were conducting an important CTF mission in the same area that day. COMAFSOF had just spent a few days in Zakho, Iraq, flying on Eagle Flight helicopters with the OPC Military Coordination Center (MCC) commander on daily missions visiting the various Kurdish villages. He knew that on this particular day the outgoing MCC commander was taking the incoming MCC commander to meet the local Kurdish leaders throughout northern Iraq.

Earlier that morning with a crew of 10, Eagle Flight departed their base in Diyarbakir, Turkey and made their first stop at the MCC in Zakho, where they picked up 16 members of the UN Provide Comfort coalition leadership team. This included four Kurdish civilians; one Chaldean-Catholic civilian; three Turkish, two British, and one French military officer; plus five US civilian and military officials, leaving one major behind to man the MCC. This day-long mission was meant to be an auspicious occasion for the entire MCC senior staff to meet and greet local Kurdish leaders at several locations, to include Irbil, Iraq, which is located approximately 120 miles inside Iraq. Knowing this, the COMAFSOF asked the SARLO to quickly check with the CTF operations section on the location and time of the reported shoot-down, against the flight plan and schedule for Eagle Flight. The SARLO quickly called back, stating that it appeared the Eagle Flight helicopters were supposed to be flying in the area near Irbil at about the same time the shoot-down was reported. Further, CTF Ops had not received any position updates from Eagle Flight since before the reported Hind shoot-down. The COMAFSOF grimly commented to the SARLO that, “Those were not Hinds…”

COMAFSOF immediately notified both 55th operations duty officer and the Commander, Joint Special Operations Task Force (COMJSOTF) of the potential friendly-fire shoot-down, while attempting to nail down CTF’s actual awareness of the situation. Immediate concern was that IF it was a friendly shoot-down, time was of the essence to rescue survivors, especially given the two-hour minimum preparation and launch time, and four additional hours transit time to the recovery location. It soon was apparent the CTF staff was not yet aware or engaged, a factor which cost the recovery effort a few extra hours of precious time. Fortunately, the 55th SOS, with JSOTF in tow, wasted no time “leaning forward in the saddle” to prepare for the mission, should it come to pass, well in advance of direction from CTF HQ.

Over the next hour and a half, as Eagle Flight failed to check in, and no further radar contact was made, the realization that the two downed helicopters were most likely the US Army helicopters of Eagle Flight began to sink in. The alert team readied the added gear for a potential recovery mission, to include additional personnel and communications equipment. Simultaneously, the 55th SOS generated its third and last helicopter, which required a maintenance check flight, providing what proved to be a mission critical asset. It was evident the CTF was not positioned to deal with a mass casualty event that would depend heavily on 100 percent of JSOTF’s air assets. If any one of the helicopters had been non-mission capable, the rescue/recovery operation would have been extended into a two-day operation. The ability to generate all necessary assets that day speaks highly of the squadron’s deployed maintenance readiness and personnel.

Apart from CTF delays, other challenges included very heavy-weight helicopter mission loads with STS and Army Special Forces (SF) personnel on board to provide crash site security and manpower for whatever the mission would encounter on the ground. Taking off at maximum gross weight and flying such a long distance would require inflight refueling enroute to the crash site(s). Yet the host nation imposed two other mission-impacting restrictions. First, a Turkish military officer was required to be on each helicopter simply to observe, which scratched a troop actually needed for the mission and second, Turkey prohibited the helicopters from air refueling within Turkish airspace. This forced the very heavy, fully loaded MH-60Gs, flying in hot conditions, to be critically low on fuel when crossing the border into Iraq. Then, when CTF finally gave the launch order, the Turkish base initially denied take off clearance, further delaying the mission.

By 1500, a full four hours after initial alert call, three combat loaded MH-60Gs finally departed Incirlik for the four-hour flight to the shoot-down site. The COMJSOTF and COMAFSOF were also aboard the MH-60Gs, serving as the joint rescue/recovery mission commander (RMC) and his air mission commander (AMC), respectively. When the crash sites were found, they and the special tactics teams off-loaded to provide on-site command and control (C2) for the operation. Along with the helicopter team, two MC-130P Combat Shadows launched to provide communications links and continuous on-call helicopter aerial refueling. Once the MH-60 formation was airborne, the long flight to the border proved to be uneventful. However, the AMC thought it was odd that the flight received virtually no radio (SATCOM) communications enroute and no situation or threat updates. Nothing!

The mission crews did not even know for certain if it was a shoot-down, and if so, if there were any survivors; but they still pressed on with the urgency of a rescue mission. Further, while the aircrews were aware of an Iraqi artillery and infantry garrison within 20 miles of the objective area, they had no information regarding enemy activity or what threats the recovery forces should expect upon arrival. Crossing the border into Iraq with bare minimum fuel onboard, all aircraft successfully inflight refueled, which required delicate flight maneuvers because the MH-60s were still very heavy.

Two of three 55th SOS MH-60G Pave Hawks at the Eagle Flight shootdown site, taken the day the accident investigation team was brought to the site. Vicinity of Site One (Photo taken by Scott Swanson)

The Pave Hawks arrived at the first shoot-down site just after sunset. But it wasn’t until actually flying over the first site that the aircrews saw the American flag in the cabin door window of the wreckage, confirming the downed aircraft were not Hinds, confirming their fear of fratricide. Flight lead provided airborne security while chalks two and three began recovery team insertion. The first site located was designated Site One. It was fairly level and accessible for a landing to insert their STS team. The RMC and AMC offloaded at Site One and spent the rest of the mission on the ground, providing both C2 of the recovery forces and the critical radio link with CTF. The second crash site was designated Site Two and it provided the biggest challenge to the task force, given the very rough terrain and limited number of body bags they had with them. The crash site was on a steep hill, not suitable for a helicopter landing, forcing the STS team to insert 500 meters down-slope. During the insertion the aerial gunner, while assisting the special tactics team offloading equipment, jumped out of the aircraft and broke his foot on the uneven terrain. The PJ immediately taped up the gunner’s foot with duct tape and proceeded to climb the steep terrain to the site while the gunner jumped back on the aircraft and continued his aircrew duties for the next 10-plus hours.

A few Special Forces soldiers from the Zakho MCC, who were already in the vicinity of Site One, met the arriving helicopters and escorted the RMC and AMC on a quick reconnaissance of the crash site. They reported a total of 12 dead at Site One and 14 dead at Site Two and no survivors. The SF team had collected all the dog tags and some personal effects from the deceased and gave them to the RMC. When the details were provided to the CTF, the CTF directed the RMC to recover the remains and sensitive equipment back to Diyarbakir, Turkey, under the cover of darkness. This was to prevent daylight site exploitation by Iraqi forces. It was now clearly a recovery, and not a rescue mission, but still an urgent one because it was located in hostile and uncertain territory. Thus began a very long, difficult, and dark night in many ways.

There were also about 200 armed Kurdish Peshmerga operating in the area, but not associated with the crash recovery. While there was no indication of any Iraqi military response to the recovery operation, the Iraqi threat was still a concern. Another concern was that the only communications between the AMC and the helicopters were VHF survivor radios transmitting in the clear, and it was very likely Iraqi forces were aware of the recovery force activity.

Full darkness came quickly as the mission crews got to work locating and preparing the remains for transport. This proved to be a slow and tedious task, due to the darkness, steep terrain at Site Two, as well as a broad dispersion pattern at both crash sites. In order to facilitate the process, flight lead put a plan together, directing one helicopter to recover remains from the steep hillside of Site Two and then shuttle the remains over to Site One, which was used as a collection area (see diagram to the right). The two other MH-60s then began transferring the collected remains from Site One to the security of the MCC at Zakho for temporary holding, prior to the final flight to Diyarbakir, Turkey.

As mentioned previously, Site Two proved to be the greater challenge for the recovery effort. The ground team found an area that permitted stokes litter hoisting near the wreckage which was along a steep cliff and surrounded by several 10-15 foot tall trees. This required the Pave Hawk to hover out of ground effect which called for very high-power settings. The stamina, skill, and determination of the Pave Hawk and special tactics team at Site Two allowed the recovery of all 14 sets of remains, using 8 separate stokes litter hoist events in the process. The whole process took a long time because of the challenges presented by steep and wooded terrain. To expedite the loading process at Site One, several aircrew members left the aircraft to help load remains. While preparing for the mission and prior to leaving Turkey, the CTF could locate only 16 body bags at Incirlik Airbase (AB), so the team had to use many of the body bags to transport more than one set of remains. This, of course was not ideal, but the aircrews and ground team, did what was necessary to get the job done, quickly, respectfully, and safely, despite all the clear and present dangers.

While the shootdown recovery was a somber and serious event, those of us who have served know that sometimes humor in the darkest of situations can be an incredible medicine. During one of the 40-minute shuttle runs from the crash site to the MCC at Zakho, a call came across the intra-flight radio:
Chalk one, “Did you see that?”
A pensive response came from chalk two, “Maybe.”
Chalk one replied, “I didn’t know if I was going a bit loopy and seeing things.”
Chalk two replied, “You probably are, but we saw it too!”

The exchange was prompted by the sight of huge 50-70 foot shadows projected on a cliff from a group of Peshmerga fighters sitting around a fire. One fighter stood up and shouldered a weapon and walked off, out of the firelight. This scene played out as huge shadows easily visible under NVGs, and provided a surreal sight that brought some much-needed levity to the crews that night.

Crewmembers from the 55th SOS at Site One of the Eagle Flight shootdown, the day the accident investigation team was brought to the site. Back to camera is unidentified Turkish military. Left to right is Aerial Gunner Robert Keiper, Copilot Mike Geragosian, and Aerial Gunner Rodney Quinn. Person in far background is unidentified (Photo taken by Scott Swanson)

The Pave Hawks conducted multiple inflight refuelings in northern Iraq throughout the night as they balanced aircraft weight and fuel endurance requirements, all the while avoiding sporadic ground fire. The MC-130s established an air-refueling orbit all night, north of the objective area, to stay clear of any possible Iraqi threats and making it easier for the Pave Hawks to pop up from low-level flight for fuel as needed. During the refuelings, one crew experienced a refueling probe partial extension malfunction. Normally the refueling probe extends a total of eight feet putting the probe tip four feet beyond the rotor disk when refueling. For this crew, the probe would only extend approximately three to four feet, leaving the probe tip under the rotor disk and making it highly possible for a blade strike on the refueling hose or basket; a very hazardous situation. The crew evaluated the risk and discussed the situation with the MC-130 aircraft commander before conducting a partially extended refueling. Over the night, the crew completed four successful aerial refuelings with the partially extended probe. This allowed them to stay on scene and enabled the recovery of all remains prior to daylight. The MH-60 crew demonstrated incredible skill because even one blade strike on the hose or basket would not just have damaged the helicopter, but could also have prevented the tanker from providing fuel to the other two helicopters that were feverishly working the crash sites and who were dependent on multiple refuelings. By the end of the night, after 13-14 hours of strenuous flying, another crew was critically low on fuel and repeatedly failed to make contact with the MC-130’s refueling hose. Despite the fatigue and the stress culminating in that moment, the crew stepped back, and with the encouragement and direction from the flight engineer came together as a team to finally make contact and receive the fuel necessary to reach Diyarbakir. The alternative was making a precautionary landing with its precious cargo in hostile territory and necessitating assistance from the other helicopters.

Once all 26 sets of remains were successfully recovered and shuttled to Zakho, the MH-60s returned to Site One to recover all JSOTF ground forces for final transport back to Zakho. After all forces were safely back in friendly territory, the three Pave Hawks loaded all 26 sets of remains waiting at Zakho, and then flew the final shuttle of the night to Diyarbakir, arriving after sunrise.

When the three helicopters landed at Diyarbakir and taxied to the airport parking ramp, they were met by the Eagle Flight command team. The aircrews kept the cargo doors closed to lessen the visible blow of the stack of body bags inside the cabin. One of the aerial gunners jumped off the aircraft to meet the command team. As he walked toward the group, meeting them a few feet outside of the rotor disk, he could see a lieutenant colonel leading the group, obviously crying, but doing his best to remain stoic. The gunner, still covered in blood and charred flesh from lifting the remains, could read the commander’s body language as he desperately looked for confirmation. No words were needed. The gunner just slowly shook his head “No” and the officer fell into the gunner, sobbing. They both dropped to the ramp as the others surrounded them. The moment lasted a few minutes, but it seemed like a lifetime. The moment has stayed with the gunner and the onlooking crewmembers to this day.

Finally at Diyarbakir, the three crews entered crew rest, sleeping on cots hastily assembled on a gymnasium basketball court floor. In the end, 55th SOS MH-60 alert crews logged 15+ hours of flight time and over 19 hours of on-duty time after initial alert notification. The crew flying the third aircraft logged over 22 hours of duty time, including their maintenance test flights earlier in the day, all of which exceeded the Air Force’s crew duty day limits because the mission required it.

Crewmembers from the 55th SOS at Site One of the Eagle Flight shootdown, on the day the accident investigation team was brought to the site. Left is aircraft commander John Stein and right is flight engineer Kurt Gustafson (Photo taken by Scott Swanson)

The 55th SOS crews flew two additional missions to the crash site over the following days. After proper crew rest, they flew the 3rd Air Force commander and incident investigation team back to the crash sites. The next day, they transported the CTF commander and various distinguished visitors from Diyarbakir to Zakho for a memorial service and return. The Pave Hawks then flew the ground recovery team (STS, C2, and SF) from Zakho to Diyarbakir, where they boarded an MC-130 for flight back to Incirlik AB. The third day, the 55th crews resumed SAR alert for CTF air activities from Diyarbakir, finally returning to Incirlik that evening.

Despite the tragic loss of two US helicopters with 26 lives, the actions of the 55th SOS and the entire JSOTF team were remarkable. The team was able to recover all remains under cover of darkness, denying Iraq the ability to exploit the shootdown, and ultimately moving all forces back into either the UN Security Zone or Turkey, all with no loss of life or injury to recovery personnel. Most importantly, the team’s actions provided families of the deceased the ability to bury their loved ones. The selfless, forward-leaning, mission-focused, agile, and tenacious character of each member of the 55th SOS team is truly what made this arduous recovery mission under such tragic and potentially hostile conditions so successful. The efforts of all involved contributed immeasurably to the 55th SOS being selected as the AFSOC Squadron of the Year for 1994.


About the Author: Lt Col Todd Bolger retired after serving 21 years in the Air Force. His assignments included 8 years in AFSOC, While assigned to the 55th SOS, Colonel Bolger deployed in support of Operations Provide Comfort, Northern Watch, and Uphold Democracy (Haiti). Later, as the 66th Rescue Squadron Commander, he led the initial US combat rescue deployments for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. UponAfter his retirement, he joined SAIC and later, Leidos, as a Joint Special Operations University instructor and program manager, followed by multiple international business development and management programs in Europe and the Mideast.
Contributors to this article: Col (Ret) John Zahrt, Maj (Ret) Scott Swanson, SSGT William Rodney Quinn Jr, MSgt (Ret) Kurt Gustafson

ACJ Spotlight

Submit Your Article

Our goal at the ACJ is to tell the Air Commando and USAF Special Operations story, from our beginning to today. We need your help to do that. We seek quality articles, well written, factually based, and reflecting your experiences living the special operations mission in all of its complexities.

Submit Your Article

More Air Commando Journal

Continue reading

Bonwit Family’s Generosity

Lt Col Barry Lee Bonwit, passed away on April 20, 2022 and his beloved wife and family sent a very substantial donation to the ACA in his name. Colonel Bonwit, whose member number was #103, loved the Air Commando Association and served with honor and distinction as a “Quiet Professional” anytime-anywhere. The ACA is truly grateful to the Bonwit Family.

 

Lt. Col. Barry Lee Bonwit, age 95, passed away peacefully at his home on Perdido Bay on April 20, 2022 of natural causes. He is predeceased by a son, Mark Christian and leaves behind his beloved wife of 52 years Roberta Ann; a son, Christopher Lee (wife Chanjira); daughter, Lisa Lee; two grandchildren, Katie and William, and a favorite niece, Renee Zahourek (Jon). Colonel Bonwit was born May 13, 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up on Miami Beach, Florida and at the age of 16 he enlisted in the Air Force October 1943. He served as a B-17 tail gunner during the latter part of World War II. In July 1946, he was honorably discharged, only to return and gain admission to the Aviation Cadet Program. On October 12, 1950, he graduated and was assigned to the Air Rescue Service where he spent the next seven years navigating amphibious aircraft in Saudi Arabia and Hawaii. Concluding this tour of duty, in 1957, Colonel Bonwit attended Stanford University under the Air Force Institute of Technology, earning a degree in International Relations. B-52 Bombardment training in 1959 blossomed into a navigator assignment at Eglin Air Force Base until 1961, and a radar navigator position at Homestead AFB, FL flying B-52H aircraft until 1966. He attended A-26 navigator training school and was assigned to the 609 Air Commando Wing in Thailand. Colonel Bonwit was later stationed at Maxwell AFB in 1971 researching the VietNam war. In October 19711, he was assigned radar navigator on the B-52 in the 46th Bomb Squadron and 3 years later he became the Air Weapons officer until his retirement in August 1975. In the course of his career, Colonel Bonwit has flown a total of 212 combat missions 75 of which were staged over North Vietnam. 4 operations were flown over Hanoi as part of Linebacker II. He accrued over 7,700 flying hours in aircraft including the B-36, A-26, SA16, B-52, B-29, B-17. Colonel Bonwit also gained counter insurgency experience in SE Asia. Among numerous awards Colonel Bonwit wore the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorius Service Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Vietnam Service Medal with one battlestar. Upon retiring to Perdido Bay near Pensacola, Colonel Bonwit and his wife Roberta, traveled all over the globe. He also received a Masters in International Relations from Troy University. His favorite organizations were the Air Commando Association, the Air Rescue Association, Stanford Alumni Association, Air Force Navigators Association and Friends of Perdido Bay. A service and burial will be held at a later date. Remembrances may be sent to the Air Commando Association, P.O. Box 7, Mary Esther, FL 32569-0007.

Published in Pensacola News Journal – Posted online on September 02, 2022

Maj Gen Bob Patterson Flies West

We would like to share a beautiful tribute to Maj Gen Patterson by our friends in the Airlift Tanker Association. It highlights his huge contribution to the stand up of AFSOC as well as his long and dedicated career in the Air Force. Gen Patterson was inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame in 2012. Blessings to his family and RIP Air Commando.

www.atalink.org/news/our-association-mourns-the-loss-of-friend-and-hall-of-fame-inductee,-maj-gen-bob-patterson

In Memory of Our Members Nov 2022

In a final salute to our members who have recently passed away in 2022, the Air Commando Association and all who answered the call of our nation: we salute you!

Kenneth C Anderson
Barry L Bonwit
James Edwards
Owen Haddock
Ben Kraljev Jr.
Robert Patterson
Edward Reed
Howard Sanders

Welcome Newest ACA Members

The ACA is proud to welcome the following Air Commandos to our association. We hope new members and seasoned members alike, will continue to volunteer and donate to our mission of “Supporting Air Commandos and their families: Past & Present!”

Wes Alderman

William Barnwell

Drew Belcher

Russell Bergeron Jr.

Joe Borrell

Jason Browne

Nigel Carl

Patrick Dugan

Ana-Maria Ehrler

Anthony Ferrara

Jeffrey Fields

Colin Fleck

Ralph Furtner

Michael Hackman

Jake Haines

Richard Hollinger Jr.

Ryan James

James Kinsley

Joseph Lopez

Keith Maresca

Patrick McAllister

Jeremiah McCoy

Derek McLane

Steven Meyers

Jeremiah Monk

Gregory Moody

Sean Oats

Donald Plater

Eric Prince

Tommy Roberson

Ruben Ruiz Perez

Joseph Rushlau

Jeffrey Shaw

Taylor Williams

Fellow ACA Member Inducted in Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame

The ACA recently learned of life member Colonel (Retired) Walter K. Schmidt’s induction into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame. We congratulate Colonel Schmidt and are please to present the citation content below for our readers:

Walter k Schmidt, Col, USAF, (Ret) has been selected for induction into Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame for valor on 5 November in Columbus, GA. The HOF objective is to publicly emphasize the honor brought to the state and nation by the sacrifice of Georgia military veterans and their families. It’s dual purpose is to honor our Georgia vets and educating young people as to who are our real heroes.

Col Schmidt’s career has been nothing but outstanding. He joined the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing at Clark AB flying 10 and then 15 day shuttles out of Tan Son Nhut AB Vietnam from January 1966 to June 1968 flying 481 days in Vietnam. On one of his Air Medals it was noted, he distinguished himself in Phu Yen Province flying day and night combat assault in hostile environment in deploying the 1st Cav, enabling them to trap and demoralize a major hostile force. It was also noted on one of his Distinguished Flying Crosses that he participated in aerial flight near A Loui, A Shau Valley in an extremely hazardous Tactical Emergency airdrop mission under adverse conditions to deliver ammunition to the beleaguered forcées in the valley. The outstanding skill and professionalism displayed by (then) Captain Schmidt in getting the load on target under adverse conditions exemplify the highest standards of tactical airlift. On his second tour at Nha Trang AB 1970-1971 in 15th/90th SpecialOperations Squadrons with Military Assistance Command – Studies and Observation Group (MACSOG); a highly classified multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations, strategic reconnaissance, and physiological warfare operations against North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. MACSOG was made up of Army Special Forces (green berets), Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Operators, Marine Force Recon and CIA operatives. On this tour Col Schmidt’s total time in country (Vietnam) now is 831 days to include 1801.6 hours combat time, 429 combat missions and 2214 combat sorties. Col Schmidt stayed within the Special Operations community for next 20 years; including a tour as Commander United States Air Forces Europe elite 7th Special Operations Squadron. As 21st AF, Director Special Operations and Special Activities, he was responsible for close hold planning and coordination of MAC airlift forces in night airdrop invasion of Panama. And as CAT director he directed all MAC assets; 12 C-130s deploying Rangers, 80 C-141s deploying 82nd Airborne Brigade and 11 C -5s hauling reinforcement supplies in the invasion of Panama in Operation Just Cause in December 1989, which has been described as most efficient and effective use of airlift in history. Colonel Schmidt is an extremely highly decorated officer to include Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 cluster, Meritorious Service with 2 clusters, Air Medal with 16 clusters. Air Force Accommodation Medal, Army Accommodation Medal ((Air Liaison Officer to US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) Europe)), Air Force Presidential Award, Navy/Marine Presidential Award (26th Marines with a landing at Khe Sahn), Army Presidential Award (MACSOG), plus numerous other medals. Colonel Schmidt is also a parachutist, which he is very proud of, with 38 jumps, to include 6 as a Captain, 23 as a Major, 1 as a Lieutenant Colonel and 8 as a Colonel. Colonel Schmidt’s entire period of service of 28 years in the United States Air Force was nothing but professional in every aspect. These distinct accomplishments and professional competence, aerial skill, airmanship and devotion to duty displayed by Colonel Schmidt reflect great credit upon himself and United States Air Force. Colonel Schmidt has been married for 52 years to Monique (née Flocon) Schmidt. They have five children; Eric, Chantal, Annick, Brigitte, and Darya. Colonel and Mrs Schmidt have been extremely active in their local community affairs for all of their tours. He was inducted in to the Air Commando ( Special Operations) Hall of Fame in 2010. And this induction into Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of his career. Colonel Schmidt taught AF Junior ROTC at Cherokee High School for 12 years upon his retirement from the AF in 1990. He and his wife reside in the Soleil sub-division of Canton, GA.

Antelope Island 30th Anniversary and Rededication

On Saturday, Oct. 29. 2022, a memorial service was held to honor the lives of 12 men – 30 years to the day after they died. Oct. 29, 1992, an MH-60G Pave Hawk chopper crashed into the Great Salt Lake, claiming the lives of 12 of the 13 men on board during what the Air Force called a routine training mission.

ACA members along with family, friends, and service members from our military community gathered on a cold October day to remember their fallen loved ones and to re-dedicate the memorial in their honor. The ACA is proud to have been a part of this remembrance and honored to have participated in the restoration of the memorial.

For the complete story visit: https://www.abc4.com/news/florida-man-mission-restore-memorial-12-fallen-soldiers-antelope-island/

To see all the photos from the Rededication visit: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ups5qdqwrd7jkqk/AAB4O87kzaJJxS-kM6RY0ghpa?dl=0

Hoplite Group Looking for Admin Support

The Hoplite Group, a growing veteran-owned small business, is seeking a Program/Admin Specialist to support our Defense U.S. Government customers and DoD programs, responsible for administrative and operational support. This is a fantastic opportunity for an individual with a get things done mindset, energetic and ready to seize an opportunity for growth potential. While this is a mid-level position, the successful candidate for this position should have a skill set which would allow them to progress to more senior management roles as they gain more experience.

Ideally located in the Tampa to work remotely, or in the Panhandle/Destin area to work from Hoplite Group’s headquarters

Click on this link to apply. www.thehoplitegroup.com/adminpmspecialist

DoD Gov Contracts Program Admin Support
Destin or Tampa – Florida (Remote support)

START : Immediate Start

LOCATION : Destin or Tampa – Florida (Possibility of Remote Support)

 

RESPONSIBILITIES 

– Maintain ongoing day to day interaction as needed with corporate management, subcontractors, prime customers, and employees or consultants on contracts regarding administrative issues, operational matters, billing questions, contractors’ hours, project reports, invoicing etc.

– Administers oversight of FTEs positions and engages with strategic partners and prime/sub-contractor management.

– Prepares monthly invoices, including payroll reports, and organizing invoice supporting documentation for the Finance Department.

– Manages requests and updates for contractual requirements and insurance, including DBA.

– Submits contract data items such as periodic progress/performance reports, or other contractually required documentation.

– Facilitates operations and support of staffing, logistics, and mobilization of personnel – CONUS and OCONUS.

– Travel accommodations and reimbursement

– Acts as SPOT administrator.

 

QUALIFICATIONS & IDEAL BACKGROUND

– Bachelor’s Degree, ideally in business administration or management.

– At least three years of experience in government contracting admin/program management work.

– Ideally, experience/understanding of SOF environment

– Familiarity with the Fly America Act and international travel management

– Holds an active Secret Clearance with Department of Defense. Desired but not required.

– Proficient with Microsoft Office, and Google suite.

– Able to produce clear and concise communications.

– Extremely well organized and a get things done attitude.

Photos of the 2022 ACA Convention

We are very excited to share all the photos which were taken by ACA life member Scott Schaeffler of Scott Photo Works. Scott was a helicopter pilot by trade (flew the Pavelow in the 20th SOS 1994-97 and ended his military career flying Hueys with the 6th SOS). His company is based in Northwest Florida and offers an array of professional photography services from real estate to events. The ACA is incredibly fortunate to have such a generous and talented member be our official photographer! Thank you Scott!

2022 ACA Convention Photos

Bostwick Family Faces Huge Challenges

Air Commando Association & Foundation,

This past year has been the most difficult for our family. My husband, the selfless father and provider of our family, was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes. Shortly after his surgery he began an intense regiment of chemotherapy. Our family’s summer consisted of babysitters, long drives to receive treatment and many runs to the local grocery store in order to have food that he could eat.

A month after my husband ‘s cancer went into remission we were given the worst news of our lives, our son Gabriel was also diagnosed with cancer. To say we were shocked is an understatement and I cannot begin to describe the grief, sorrow and fear we faced. We chose to have Gabriel treated at the University of Alabama despite the fact that we would have to travel, live out of hotels and hospitals and be separated as a family for many months at time. We ate way too much fast food, and spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays in hotels so we could be together as a family. While Gabriel was fighting for his life and lost a leg we tried desperately to provide a sense of normalcy for our two other children, the last thing on our mind was finances. That is when the Air Commando Association stepped in to help. We sat down with them, shared our story and current financial struggles and they listened with kind hearts. We were humbled when the foundation cleared our credit card debt as well as paid for repairs to our vehicles including our 2011 minivan which was essential with our son in a wheelchair. The ACA also connected us with Eglin Federal Credit Union and Building Homes For Heroes to help renovate our home with a handicap bedroom and bathroom for Gabriel. Today Gabriel is in school and in 6th grade! He is also learning to walk with a new prosthetic leg! Gabriel is still undergoing chemotherapy for the cancer that has moved into his lungs but his spirits are high. My husband continues to be the primary parent who travels with our son to and from UAB. All of this while keeping up with his job and caring for the rest of us. The last two years have brought so many unexpected challenges and we are so thankful for the Air Commando Association and Foundation for helping us navigate through them.

Sincerely,

Jaci & Andrew Bostwick & Family

Remembering Our Fallen

Please join us as the Special Operations Community commemorates the 12 lives lost in the helicopter crash on 29 October 1992 near Antelope Island and rededicate the memorial in their honor. 29 Oct 2022 from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM at Antelope Island Rd, Syracuse, UT 84075 Visit https://combatcontrol.team/event-4978067 for more information.

Boeing

For more than 100 years, Boeing and its customers have created the future of aerospace and defense – from the earliest days of aviation to the highly sophisticated and integrated systems of today. This trusted partnership continues as defense customers once again look to Boeing to help them solve their toughest challenges. Visit our website!

75th Anniversary of the USAF

Join our community celebration! The Northwest Florida community is honoring the 75th Anniversary of the Air Force and featuring stories of the operations based out of Hurlburt Field, Eglin AFB, and Duke Field.

September 13, 2022 from 1:30pm – 3:30pm CDT
Mattie Kelly Arts Center at NWFSC
$20 per person Tickets can be purchased at Mattie Kelly Arts Center
 
Scheduled Speakers:
Doolittle Raid Training — Cindy Chal/Lt Col Dick Cole’s (of the Doolittle Raiders) Daughter
Korea/Vietnam — Capt (Ret) Dale Dye
POW — Col (Ret) Howard Hill
Operation King Pin (Son Tay Raid) — Col (Ret) Larry Ropka
Vietnam Refugees — Col (Ret) Billy Keeler
Operation Eagle Claw — CMSGT (Ret) Bill Walter
Grenada — Lt Col (Ret) Kirby Locklear
Panama — CMSgt (Ret) Bill Walter
Desert Storm — Lt Col (Ret) Corby L. Martin (USAFSOS)
Somalia ‘Black Hawk Down’ — CMSgt (Ret) Bill Walter
Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan — Col Allison Black
Development of the GBU-43/B “MOAB” bomb — Lt Col (Ret) Mark Hunter
Bin Laden Raid (Neptune Spear) — Lt Gen (Ret) Marshall ‘Brad’ Webb

Kenneth C. Anderson

With great sadness for our loss, but even more gratitude for his life, we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Kenneth (Ken) C. Anderson. Born July 18, 1935, to Roy and Bel (Kwapil) Anderson in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Ken passed from death into life eternal with his Lord Jesus on April 6, 2022, following a long battle with diabetes, strokes, and dementia. On December 10, 1983, Ken married Jean Veldey VanKeuren. Memories of growing up in Door County include helping his dad in the boat and bait business, plus working to buy his clothes and save for college. After graduation from St. Olaf College, Ken served his country for 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. Highlights include training in an Air Commando unit, earning a graduate degree in business and earning medals. Ken’s service took him to Viet Nam, Thailand, Panama, Guam, England and stateside duty that included the Pentagon. Post retirement, he worked at Oshkosh Truck Corporation in defense program management. Further applying his education and experience, Ken next enjoyed teaching at Fox Valley Technical College. After full retirement, his all-time favorite job was volunteering in kindergarten. A devoted Christian, he served at Oshkosh Community Church. Favorite pastimes included reading, fishing, flying as a private pilot, going to Door County, and visiting family. He’ll be fondly remembered for his faith, intellect, sense of humor, love of family and his many pets.

Ken is survived by and his memory will be cherished by his wife, Jean and sons, Eric (Kelley) Anderson, Jon (Dolly Piette) VanKeuren and Chris (Jenny) VanKeuren, plus six grandchildren: Jake, Ashley, Faith, Crystal, Maddy and Andy. He is further survived by his brother,Wayne (Nancy); sisters-in-law: Carol Veldey (Carlton Peterson), Kate Connors, and Evie (Tim) Kane, nieces and nephews plus former daughters-in-law Kris Behm and Sarah Van Keuren. Preceding him in death are his parents and son, Mark Anderson.

Funeral services for Ken will be held on Saturday, April 9, 2022 at 4 :00 pm in Community Church, 2351 Ryf Road with the Rev. Alan Cleveland officiating. A time of visitation will be held at the church on Saturday from 3:00 pm until the time of service. Full military honors will be accorded by the United Veterans Honor Guard immediately following the service. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery. In lieu of floral expressions, a memorial fund for charity will be established.


Courtesy of Fiss & Bills-Poklasny Funeral Home

Lt. Col. Donald Moody, USAF (Ret)

Lt. Col. Donald Moody, USAF (Ret) 86, earned his heavenly wings, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

Memorials: EAPLS (Raven FACs) Scholarship Fund, 507 Rolling Green Dr., Lakeway, TX 78734 or Bear Valley Community Church, 7900 Precinct Line Rd., Colleyville, TX 76034.

Don was born in Burkburnet, Texas on July 13, 1935, to Douglas and Wilma Day Moody. He was a 1953 graduate of Wichita Falls High School and, following graduation, enlisted in the USAF and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet program. After graduation, he flew the F-84 at Luke AFB in Arizona. He then went to Bentwaters RAF in England, and then to Toul Rosiere AFB, France. He then flew the F-100D aircraft at Hahn AB, Germany. Upon his return to the states, Don was posted to Webb AFB, Texas, where he flew the T-38A as an instructor pilot.

Following his tour as a UPT Instructor Pilot, Don reported to Hurlburt Field, Florida, where he began a long and storied career in the USAF Special Operations forces as an Air Commando. He instructed foreign pilots, training them to fly the AT-28D as close air support attack pilots. In 1966, Don was sent to Udorn RTAFB, Thailand, as part of Operation Waterpump, where he trained Laotian and Hmong pilots to become fighter pilots in the Royal Laotian Air Force (RLAF). He then went to Luang Prabang, Laos, (L-54) as the Air Operations Center (AOC) Commander, working for the American Embassy.

In January of 1967, L-54 was overrun by North Vietnamese troops, which resulted in heavy losses of T-28s at the base. Don then had to rebuild the RLAF T-28 capability for the second time in six months.

While in Southeast Asia Don served as a Butterfly FAC, a Raven FAC, and an AOC Commander. He spent 849 days there and flew 446 combat missions.

During his military service, he was awarded the Bronze Star (with OLC), the Distinguished Flying Cross (with OLC), Air Force Legion of Merit, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal (with OLC), Joint Service Commendation Medal by 7th Air Force unit USSAG and other medals.

Prior to retirement, he earned his BS from William Carey University, MS. and his MBA from Northwestern State University in Louisiana. In 1976 he retired from the Air Force at England AFB, Louisiana, flying A-37’s.

After retirement from the Air Force, Don continued his career, first as a banker, and then working for Southern Air Transport, and finally at Simuflite as a Government Compliance Specialist.

Upon retirement from Simuflite , he became a volunteer youth Baseball and Football Coach. This he loved. He finally volunteered as a VIPS (Volunteer in Police Service for the North Richland Hills Police Dept. He loved to do this as well.

In 2003, he was inducted into the Air Commando’s Hall of Fame for his outstanding service and contributions to this nation as an Air Force special operator and Air Commando.

Don was instrumental is forming the “Edgar Allen Poe Literary Society” in 1973, a nonprofit Texas corporation that provides scholarships to deserving Laotian and Hmong students. He has been a valued member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for many years. His presence and guidance there will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Lorraine Garren Moody. Children: Lisa Moody, Kelly Valadez, Jennifer Moody Ogden (Jim), Michael Moody (Staci), Laura Crewe, Lisa Greenfield, Lynette Kithas (Mike) Carl Greenfield and grandchildren whom he loved very much.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Douglas and Wilma Day Moody, Sister, Sharon Moody Brock, and son David Moody.

Don wrote about his experiences during the Laos/ Cambodia conflict. They are published on the Raven website under The Adventures of Bob and Don. The web address is ravens.org.

ACJ Vol 11/1

Thomas J. Trask, Lt General USAF (Ret)
Former Vice Commander USSOCCOM

The hallmark of great special operations has always been the creativity and ingenuity of the operators themselves. It is a story of men and women who thrived on challenge and on the unknown, came together as teams, and accomplished unbelievable feats. They were their best when the challenges were the greatest and the stakes the highest. After growing up in the 20th SOS in the 1980s and 90s, I learned from my mentors to study the history, learn what others had done, but always know that the next mission would be different. As I grew more experienced, I imparted as much of that history as I could on to others, and one of my go-to lines was that “special operations are missions that nobody is trained to do.” Certainly, there were tasks and specific skills we honed and did repetitively, but that was for training. It was like having a plan that is simply the point from which to deviate. The hard missions always had something we hadn’t planned for or trained for.

This issue of the Air Commando Journal provides a focus on a time in special operations that has not been studied to the extent of many others. The Korean War came at a time of great transition in military art. It was a combination of WWII technology with the advent of new types of weapons and purpose. It was the first war with large scale use of jet aircraft, helicopters, and completely redefined use of air control parties, all under the threat of a nuclear strike from either side. It was also the first major attempt of a global governing body, the United Nations, to oversee a “limited” war. The requirement for new ways to fight was enormous.

Michael Haas’s book, Apollo’s Warrior’s, provides possibly the best source of Air Commando operations in Korea ever written and this excerpt on the impact of psychological warfare highlights the need to control information, as timely today as it ever was. The review of Colonel Haas’s latest book, In the Devil’s Shadow, puts it on my must-read list. Mike also enlightens us with the story of Donald Nichols, a Master Sergeant who rose to Lt Colonel, operated on the edge of out of control, but created many of the SIGINT and HUMINT techniques in Korea that would become critical to Cold War success. The operations of the 581st Aerial Resupply & Communications Wing, as described by Rick Newton, provide an interesting study on one of the most prolific groups of Air Commandos in the conflict. This issue also includes Paul Harmon’s article on Maj Gen Richard Secord and follows the life and military career on one of the men who most shaped current day AFSOC. There is also Gene Correll’s recollections of moving an MH-53J Pave Low squadron, recently evacuated from the Philippines, onto a fighter base in Korea in the early 90s, and finally a more recent accounting of AFSOC’s Deployed Aircraft Ground Response (DAGRE) teams by Matt Durham.

I must congratulate the ACJ team as they move into the second decade of producing this journal. The ACJ has become an extremely useful tool in providing professional development and education to another generation of Air Commandos. These useful histories and records of what went right and wrong in the past will long serve the next generation and the generation after that. Keep up the great work team!

Read the complete issue in PDF format here.

Operation Atlas Response

Operation Atlas Response

The US military’s contribution to relief efforts following torrential rains and flooding in southern Mozambique and South Africa.

Reference: Air Commando Journal, Vol 11 Issue 1, July 2022, pages 35-42

By Mike Russell, Colonel, USAF (Retired)

Author’s Note: This article was composed from data and events recorded in the United States Special Operations Command study titled Special Operations Forces in Operation ATLAS RESPONSE, Flood Relief in Mozambique, March 2000.

A local man waits for the signal from SSgt Greg Sanford, an Aerial Gunner assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron at Keflavik, Iceland, to help unload tents for the people in the town of Machanga, south of Beira, Mozambique. (Photo by TSgt Cary Humphries)

US ambassador to Mozambique, Brian Curran, left, and USAF Maj Gen Joe Wehrle, commander of Joint Task Force Operation Atlas Response, discuss the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies with Colonel Joachim Wundrak, the head of the German contingent. (Photo by TSgt Cary Humphries)

THE BEGINNING
During late February and early March 2000, two tropical cyclones, Connie and Eline, dumped heavy rain on southeast Africa, causing extensive flooding that left approximately one million people homeless. In Mozambique, one of the hardest hit countries, hundreds of thousands of residents fled their homes and sought refuge on high ground. Dramatic news footage showed desperate flood victims huddling on roofs and clinging to the tops of trees. Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Malawi, and the Netherlands responded with a multinational humanitarian relief effort. Working in concert with those nations, the United States sent Joint Task Force-ATLAS RESPONSE (JTF-AR) to provide assistance to the devastated region. At the end of the mission, the United States had delivered more than 1.5 million pounds of humanitarian relief supplies and cargo and had moved more than 1,100 aid workers, medical personnel, assessment team members, US military, and other passengers as part of the international relief effort.

JTF-AR included conventional military as well as special operations forces (SOF). Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) provided the SOF who were organized into the Joint Special Operations Task Force-ATLAS RESPONSE (JSOTF-AR). JSOTF-AR included a headquarters, a special operations communication element (SOCE), a joint special operations air component (JSOAC), and civil affairs (CA) personnel who worked in the two civil-military operations centers (CMOC). The JSOTF integrated into the JTF structure, enabling SOF to make a number of contributions that were critical to the success of the US humanitarian efforts in Mozambique, to include: SOCEUR CA personnel who were well versed in assessment missions and had experience working with the various non-governmental organizations (NGO), private volunteer organizations (PVO), and international organizations (IO) who had already been providing relief before JTF-AR arrived. The JSOTF also provided air-refuelable helicopters and MC-130P Combat Shadow tankers that permitted the JSOTF to reach outlying areas beyond the range of non-refuelable helicopters, a reliable long-haul theater deployable communications system (TDC) that ultimately formed the backbone of the JTF’s communications capability, and SOF intelligence resources to augment JTF capabilities. By integrating special operations aircraft into the surveys of flooded and damaged areas, intelligence personnel were able to take high quality digital photographs of flooded and damaged areas from the low flying special operations aircraft which significantly increased both the quantity and quality of intelligence products for the JTF.

THE PLANNING
On 7 February, US Ambassador to Mozambique, Brian Curran, declared a disaster and, on 15 February, Secretary of Defense William Cohen visited the area and promised to send aid, albeit unspecified at that time.

Anticipating a formal tasking, USEUCOM directed United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) to deploy a humanitarian assistance survey team (HAST) to the disaster region, conduct an assessment of the emergency, establish a US military presence, and make recommendations to the Commander in Chief European Command (CINCEUR) regarding further actions. Maj Gen Joseph Wehrle, 3rd Air Force (AF) Commander, put Lt Col Steven Dreyer in charge of the HAST which deployed to Mozambique on 17 February. Surprisingly, the SOCEUR CA director, Maj Greg Mehall, had to lobby for positions on the HAST. Mehall was sufficiently persuasive and he and another SOCEUR CA soldier deployed with the HAST, arriving in Maputo, Mozambique, the next day.

When the HAST toured the hardest hit areas to the north, they found washed out roads, but saw no flooding or any significant damage to the infrastructure. The HAST concluded that floodwaters had started to subside, and with the help of the international relief organizations already on site the country seemed to be returning back to normal. Dreyer recommended no further action was needed.
That changed on 22 February when Cyclone Eline made landfall. Rainfall from Eline swelled rivers to as much as 26 feet above normal and left an additional 23,000 people homeless. At the same time, unrelenting rain in Zimbabwe and South Africa forced water releases from several stressed Mozambican dams, which exacerbated the flooding and prompted the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to recommend the United States take action.

Commander of the 67th SOS, RAF Mildenhall, Lt Col Ross Victor, reviews the day’s mission with his MC-130P Shadow crew before departing from AFB Hoedspruit, South Africa, where they are deployed in support of Operation ATLAS RESPONSE. (Photo by TSgt Cary Humphries)

On 28 February, President Clinton pledged $1,000,000 through USAID to support “aircraft for critical search and rescue (SAR) operations and the delivery of relief supplies.” However, on 1 March, he committed additional resources, including a joint task force and specifically mentioned special operations forces, including MH-53 helicopters, as well as Green Berets and Navy SEALS.
On 3 March 2000, the Joint Staff issued an execute order that included a SOF command element, up to six MH-53s, three MC-130Ps, three MC-130Hs, and two rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB). USEUCOM established JTF-AR and appointed Maj Gen Joseph Wehrle as the JTF-AR Commander. I was the SOCEUR Deputy Commander at the time and was selected to command the JSOTF. Lt Col Raymond Kruelskie, SOCEUR Deputy J3, would serve as my deputy.

Believing the MH-53s to be the wrong assets for the mission due to their strong rotor downwash and the extremely long logistic pipeline to South Africa, I recommended either Air Force Rescue HH-60s or Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) MH-60s be deployed from the United States instead. However, because the President had specifically mentioned MH-53s in his press briefing, there was extreme reluctance among the leadership to exclude them. Fortuitously, three HH-60 Rescue helicopters, crews, and maintenance personnel were in the process of redeploying from Operation NORTHERN WATCH in Turkey. Acting quickly, USEUCOM was able to stop the HH-60 redeployment and redirect the Rescue assets to support JTF-AR. Subsequently, Maj Gen Wehrle decided to use both the MH-53s and HH-60s.

Ultimately, the JSOTF-AR would consist of a command element and SOCE from SOCEUR, three MH-53 Pave Lows, two MC-130P Combat Shadows, and pararescue specialists (PJ) and combat controllers (CCT) from the 352nd Special Operations Group (SOG) at RAF Mildenhall, UK, as well as three HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 41st Rescue Squadron (RQS) at Moody AFB, Georgia that would fall under the tactical control (TACON) of the JSOTF-AR.

THE DEPLOYMENT
Because of airfield conditions in the affected area, the late US response, and the large size of the deployment, Hoedspruit, South Africa, across the southwestern border of Mozambique, was chosen as the JTF-AR intermediate staging base (ISB). On 4 March, after considerable diplomatic wrangling, approval to use Hoedspruit was obtained from South Africa and the deployment began. The HAST, led by Lt Col Dreyer split into three groups: Dreyer took his team to Hoedspruit, Major Mehall stayed with his team at Maputo, and Major John Burns took his team to Biera, Mozambique, where the JSOTF-AR would bed down. There, the individual teams coordinated for lodging, workspace, warehouse space, transportation, and fuel. Once the JTF arrived, the HASTs folded into the JTF and JSOTF as CMOCs where they provided liaison between JTF-AR, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), and the government of Mozambique.

Maj Gen Wehrle and his core staff arrived at Hoedspruit on 6 March. The next day he took a small staff to Maputo to establish a JTF HQ there, but left the bulk of the JTF-AR at Hoedspruit. Colonel Russell also arrived on 6 March and immediately began the process of preparing to move the JSOTF forward to Biera as soon as the airport assessment was completed and airlift could be arranged. Two C-5s carrying the HH-60s, aircrews, maintenance, and support personnel and equipment arrived at Hoedspruit on 7 and 8 March. The last C-5, carrying the MH-53s, arrived on 11 March. By the time the aircraft arrived in theater, the mission focus had changed from rescue to humanitarian relief.

Due mainly to logistical considerations, it was decided that the MH-53s and MC-130Ps would base out of Hoedspruit where they would support the southern region of Mozambique while the HH-60s would move forward to Biera with the JSOTF to support the northern region.
The move to Biera, originally planned for early on 8 March was delayed by C-130 maintenance problems and crew duty day restrictions. Thus, the JSOTF did not arrive at Biera until the evening of 8 March. With the airport and relief operations at Biera in the process of shutting down for the day, Colonel Russell set up communications with the JTF, secured the JSOTF equipment, and then met with his JSOTF staff to prioritize tasks for the next day before bedding down for the night. The HAST that had moved to Biera earlier had done a great job of securing quarters, transportation, and work space which enabled the JSOTF to hit the ground running very early the next day, to set up the JSOTF, prepare for the HH-60s arrival, coordinate with the wide variety of foreign military and humanitarian support organizations, and figure out how to meld into the existing air asset allocation process. With multiple military and civilian organizations from different countries all contributing, General Wehrle did not want it to appear that the Americans were taking over the flying operations. Therefore, he asked us to “tread lightly” in our dealings with the other organizations.

With so much to be done and a hard arrival time for the HH-60s amidst a media frenzy, the next day proved to be hectic. The CMOC and the Contingency Response Air Mobility Squadron that arrived earlier in the operation, had already established contacts with nearly all the relevant players at Biera. This allowed me to quickly begin coordination with relief participants while the JSOTF staff and SOCE set up their equipment and organized the workspace to be ready to conduct operations. With just five minutes to spare until the announced HH-60 arrival time, the JSOTF-AR was fully operational. The HH-60s were on initial approach and I, SGM Phil Clayton, and Maj Giles Kyser from the JSOTF J3 were physically pushing civilian aircraft out of the designated HH-60 parking area to make room for the arriving helicopters.

An unidentified HH-60G planner, Lt Col Corby Martin, Col John Zahrt at Biera Airport. (USAF photo)

Keeping in mind that President Clinton had specifically mentioned Green Berets during his press briefing, I designated LTC Burt Brasher, the SOCEUR Legal Advisor and also a Special Forces officer, to be my Public Affairs Officer. When the HH-60s arrived, LTC Brasher was standing in front of the CNN and international news cameras wearing his green beret and tactfully keeping that part of the President’s promise.

The decision to keep the MH-53s and MC-130s at Hoedspruit, drove the requirement to split the JSOTF-AR into two elements: the JSOTF HQ at Beira and a special operation liaison element (SOLE) with the JTF staff at Hoedspruit. Colonel Kruelskie headed up the SOLE while Col John Zahrt, the 352nd Special Operations Group (SOG) commander, became the JSOAC commander, exercising operational control of all SOF air assets and TACON of the HH-60s. Kruelkskie and Zahrt worked closely together. They attended all meetings with the JTF-AR staff as well as the twice daily teleconferences with General Wehrle.

Two Navy planners from Naval Special Warfare Unit Two also deployed as part of the JSOTF to determine if Naval Special Warfare assets were required for rescue operations in the flooded riverine areas. They determined that there was no requirement and were released to return to Germany, however, this initial deployment of a couple SEALs kept the rest of the President’s promise to deploy Green Berets and Navy SEALs.

THE OPERATIONS
While the JSOTF staff was setting up at the Beira, I met with key personnel from the various relief organizations and foreign militaries to figure out the best way for the JSOTF to be helpful and work with their system. Peter Carrington, a British civilian from the World Food Program, wanted to turn the operation over to the United States as soon as possible, but in keeping with General Wehrle’s guidance, I demurred. Instead, I emphasized that the US intended to augment and support the relief system already in place.
Carrington put the JSOTF in touch with a Malawian officer, Maj Masamba, who had been a key player from the beginning of the emergency response operation. He had coordinated early relief efforts after the disaster and because of his personal rescue efforts, was regarded as something of a hero. Masamba organized regular meetings where NGOs, PVOs, and IOs with operational needs could connect with aircraft owners and operators to get relief supplies to needy areas. Lt Col Corby Martin, the JSOAC representative within the JSOTF, worked closely with Masamba to build an effective, cooperative operation. With Maj Masamba’s assistance, Colonel Martin procured a load of corn for delivery to a flood damaged area as soon as the HH-60s arrived. Within hours of touchdown, the helicopters were in the air again, delivering relief supplies to northern regions of Mozambique. JSOTF-AR was open for business!

MH-53J build up. (USAF photo)

On 10 and 11 March, the MH-53s finally arrived at the ISB and, once built up, immediately started flying missions in support of the southern Mozambique relief effort. The Combat Shadows refueled the helicopters in-flight, which made extended flights to outlying areas possible and also relieved the pressure on fuel supplies in Mozambique. Between aerial refueling and delivery operations, the Pave Lows, Pave Hawks, and Combat Shadows also served as real time reconnaissance platforms by taking digital photos of the region. Images provided by the MC-130Ps were designated LOR image for “Lieutenant on a Rope,” referring to the intelligence specialists that took the photos from an open aircraft doorway while secured with a gunner’s harness. The JSOTF’s digital imagery proved to be clearer than that of the Keen Sage OC-130 photo reconnaissance aircraft and also provided a below-the-clouds capability. As ATLAS RESPONSE unfolded, 50 percent or more of the JTF’s aerial survey photos came from JSOAC personnel taking pictures from helicopters and MC-130Ps.

By 11 March, Operation ATLAS RESPONSE was in full swing. With communications support provided by the TDC, the headquarters staff managed the JSOTF-AR from the second floor of the Beira air terminal. The three HH-60s operated out of Beira, the three MH-53s from Hoedspruit used Maputo as a staging area, and the MC-130Ps provided fuel from Hoedspruit for all the USAF helicopters. Conventional C-130s staged relief supplies among the three airfields while the Keen Sage OC-130s collected survey and assessment images. General Wehrle controlled the missions from his headquarters at Maputo where the main CMOC was also located. The Maputo and Beira CMOCs operated independently, and other than exchanging daily SITREPs, contact between the two was minimal.

MH-53 landing at Hoedspruit Air Base (USAF photo)

When the JSOTF arrived at Beira we found more than 50 NGOs, PVOs, and IOs competing for cargo space on aircraft from five nations. Even though the NGOs had an infrastructure in place, the relief efforts were not well synchronized. We had trouble with relief teams not showing up on time, incomplete cargo loads, and inefficient ground loading operations. My direction to the staff and CMOC was to the point, “Get these people organized and get the helicopters full.” I needed the CA soldiers to improve the efficiency of the relief effort by “supporting and augmenting’’ the civilian agencies, but not by taking over.” To that end, the CA team worked to transform the CMOC into a civilian-run disaster response cell. They established daily meetings where the UNDAC-led civilian groups would prioritize NGO, PVO, and IO requirements and coordinate missions with the air cell. With the civilians making the decisions, the JSOTF did not have to decide which relief agencies would get airlift and, therefore, could concentrate on making operations more efficient. Aircrews also shared information they gathered on missions, such as which areas appeared to have urgent needs and which appeared to have surplus relief supplies.

To increase the efficiency of air operations, the JSOTF had to resolve a cultural difference regarding schedules. Whereas the JSOTF-AR viewed scheduled times as hard, the IOs, PVOs and NGOs regarded scheduled times as approximate. To minimize the impact, Maj Burns assigned SSG Johnson, a CA NCO and former 3rd Special Forces Group soldier, the task of trouble shooter and expediter. After acquiring a truck and a radio, SSG Johnson moved from “crisis to crisis” and, through the strength of his personality, was able to build rapport with the airfield workers and get their cooperation to keep the relief efforts as close to “on-time” as possible.

SSgt Greg Sanford, 56 RQS unloads tents from an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. (USAF photo)

With all the additional humanitarian relief sorties adding dramatically to the operational tempo at Biera, the local air traffic controllers were in danger of becoming overwhelmed. So, the JSOAC sent a three-man team from the 321st Special Tactics Squadron to assist. TSgt Epperson, the PJ on the team, was fluent in Portuguese, so the team was able to effectively communicate with the local controllers and quickly developed a good working relationship. The team provided assistance and advice without appearing to take over operations or offending the local controllers. With the large number of aircraft now using Beira, one of the main challenges was controlling the ground movement of aircraft. There was no clear parking or ground movement plan, so the situation on the ground was becoming dangerous. The combat controllers recognized the problems, devised an aircraft parking and ground movement plan and, with tact and diplomacy, were able to convince airport management, as well as host nation and foreign ground personnel and aircrews, to accept the plan.

Initially, all three HH-60s flew 12 hours a day, every day, but Maj Kyger, the HH-60 mission commander, cut back to two helicopters per day to allow for crew rest and aircraft maintenance. In the end, the Air Rescue crews and maintenance kept at least 2 helicopters in the air every day for 19 days straight.

The nature of the HH-60 missions varied. Typical missions included rice, food, tents, tools, and farming equipment deliveries. Many of the missions involved moving civilian relief workers and medical personnel throughout the relief area. One of the longest missions flown involved carrying the Mozambican Minister of the Environment to the Cahora Vasa Dam in the extreme northwest to try to persuade the dam operators to delay releasing more water into the valley despite the dam’s stressed condition.

JSOTF also performed a few SAR missions. On 11 March, five boats from Britain’s Royal National Lifeboat Association failed to arrive at their destination on time. The HH-60s searched for the boats until darkness, then resumed the search in the morning. They found the five boats that morning and radioed their position to the British contingent who sent their own Sea King helicopters to complete the rescue. In another incident, a German medical assistant had an accident that left shards of glass in his eye. The only hope of saving his eye was to get him to a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, as soon as possible. Within minutes, the JSOTF was able to recall a conventional C-130 aircraft that had just departed Biera to transport the patient to Pretoria where they were able to save the man’s eyesight. Other missions included evacuating a local national with gangrene and assisting in the medical evacuation of a British Royal Navy seaman who fell out of a helicopter and broke his leg. An HH-60 also carried two German physicians to a remote village to attend to a child with an advanced stage of cerebral malaria. Unfortunately, the young girl succumbed to the disease before the helicopter arrived.

Relief supplies at Palmeria, a staging area for international aid workers. (USAF photo)

Our emphasis on providing support, rather than usurping control, paid big dividends throughout the mission. Our “we-really-are-here-to-help” way of doing business facilitated early acceptance of the American forces by the NGOs, PVOs, IOs, and other military forces. Within days, ATLAS RESPONSE personnel had smoothly integrated with all other relief organizations. On numerous occasions, representatives from other military and civilian relief organizations expressed their appreciation for the cooperative attitude and team focus maintained by JSOTF-AR personnel.

The system for mission coordination for southern Mozambique differed from the one used at Beira. The Maputo CMOC secured office space conveniently located next to the United Nations’ Joint Logistics Operations Center (JLOC) and effectively integrated with government, NGOs, and PVOs. Using information generated at JLOC meetings, the CMOC built a database of towns and villages that had been visited and their needs, enabling the NGOs, PVOs, and IOs to efficiently identify mission requirements. CMOC staff members also helped to match up supplies with the most appropriate aircraft. The overall management of the effort in southern Mozambique was not as structured as the one implemented in the north and relied on a corkboard and notecard system to coordinate NGO, PVO, and IO needs with air assets. Though simple, it proved to be effective.

Maj Scott Howell from the 352nd Operations Support Squadron (OSS) served as the JSOAC liaison officer to the JTF-AR headquarters at Maputo and took the lead for collecting all JTF-AR requirements for the southern region. He identified missions at the CMOC, passed the missions back to the JTF-AR staff in Hoedspruit for dissemination to the JTF or JSOTF for approval, and managed the missions in Maputo. Maj Howell made it possible for me to maintain oversight of all JSOTF missions. Scott did a great job, and did virtually all the planning and coordination for mission support at each site. He was invaluable and key to successful ops in the southern region.

21st SOS crew from Mildenhall, UK, assists the people of Xai-
Xai, Mozambique, with the offloading of donated items. (Photo by Ron Jensen, Stars & Stripes)

Col Zahrt received mission assignments from the Hoedspruit JTF-AR staff via the JSOTF. The JSOAC managed refueling operations for the JSOTF helicopters, coordinated survey missions, and maintained OPCON of the MH-53s, MC-130Ps, and STS. Lt Col Paul Harmon, commander of the 21st Special Operations Squadron, reviewed and approved all of the MH-53 mission assignments to ensure the Pave Lows were effectively used during the operation.

As in the north, missions in the south varied. The Pave Lows stayed busy moving relief supplies and personnel throughout the southern region. On 12 March, an MH-53 flew from Hoedspruit to the Maputo airfield where the crew met with General Wehrle, US Ambassador Curran, and the Vice Chief of Staff from the Mozambican armed forces. The helicopter then flew to Palmeria, a staging area for international aid workers, where it uploaded over two tons of relief supplies. It then flew over miles and miles of flooded countryside to the remote village of Xai-Xai where it was greeted by hundreds of cheering villagers, mostly children. The MH-53s also helped deliver a water purification system to one of the southern villages and approximately two tons of medicine, rice, and clothing to another remote village. Due to their size and heavy rotorwash, the MH-53’s were sometimes unable to deliver relief supplies to some of the smaller landing zones. The JSOAC’s MC-130Ps, in addition to providing in-flight refueling to the MH-53s and HH-60s, performed survey and assessment missions, and on occasion, moved relief supplies among the different airfields.

A CASUALTY
Near the end of the operation JSOTF-AR did suffer one casualty. On 24 March, an Airman from the 352nd Maintenance Squadron joined several of his co-workers for a trip to Lisbon falls near Graskop, South Africa, during their off-duty time. Against the advice of his friends, the Airman insisted on swimming in a prohibited area at the top of the falls where he got caught in a strong current, was swept over one of the smaller falls, and subsequently carried over the larger, 300-foot waterfall. Two JSOTF-AR MH-53s and one MC-130 responded immediately and joined South African Rescue personnel in conducting an air and ground search until darkness. The Airman’s body was discovered the next morning at the base of the falls.

THE END
On 24 March, after much discussion, the government of Mozambique announced that it was time to transition relief efforts to its local governments. On 25 March, the HH-60s delivered 14 tons of food in their last day of operations and the C-130s moved 42.6 tons of agricultural seed to Maputo. On 26 March, the JSOTF flew three missions, delivering 5.52 tons of food, and also began packing for redeployment, concluding humanitarian relief efforts under JTF-AR.

Moholool Front gate

During Operation ATLAS RESPONSE, more than 700 US personnel were deployed. Aircrew, maintenance, and support personnel flew approximately 600 sorties, delivered 970 tons of cargo, and moved 1,200 passengers from various relief organizations, foreign governments, and militaries. The Airmen and support personnel from JSOTF-AR flew 319 of those sorties, delivered 203 tons of the cargo, and moved 387 passengers. The HH-60s proved to be the workhorses of the operations, delivering over 177 of the 203 tons of food and cargo transported by JSOTF-AR assets.

Because they had been diverted to Mozambique while on their way home from a 120-day deployment, the HH-60 team was given priority for the return home. The Air Rescue personnel departed from Beira for Hoedspruit on 27 Mar and boarded C-5s for home on 2 April. JTF and JSOTF personnel, except for a handful of CMOC staff members, who remained behind to transition relief operations, departed Mozambique by 28 March and all remaining air assets and CMOC personnel left southern Africa by 7 April.

Operation ATLAS RESPONSE was the first major deployment of US military forces to Africa since Operation RESTORE HOPE (Somalia, 1993). JSOTF-AR demonstrated the flexibility and adaptability of SOF, especially special air operations personnel and units. Over a period of more than a month, SOCEUR and the 352nd SOG planned and deployed over 5,500 miles, from northern Europe to southern Africa, set up dispersed operations 400 miles apart, integrated with conventional and multinational air forces to ensure responsive support of more than 50 international aid organizations, and successfully redeployed all resources to home stations. It was a job well done and one we were rightly proud of.


About the Author: Colonel Mike Russell is a retired Air Commando and USAF pilot. He flew as a Primary Jet Instructor Pilot (T-37), Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Pilot (HH-53B/C Jolly Green Giant), and Special Operations Helicopter Pilot (MH-53H/J Pave Low III). Col Russell also served as the Commander, 21st SOS, Deputy Commander, 16th Special Operations Group, Commander of the 66th Air Operations Squadron, and Deputy Commander of Special Operations Command Europe, and JSOTF-AR Commander.

Additional Photos Not included in the printed article

  • Maj. Ronald Whittle, a pilot assigned to the 17th Airlift Squadron at Charleston AFB, South Carolina, guides the first C-17A Globemaster III to a landing at Huidspruit AFB, South Africa. Photo by Tech. Sergeant Cary Humphries

  • Biera Ramp C-47 and Helos

  • Shadow on Biera Ramp

  • DustDevils at Heodsripte

  • The Combat Shadow is deployed for the operation from the 67th Special Operations Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, England. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Cary Humphries

  • Pave supply offload

  • South Africa Helo

ACJ Spotlight

Submit Your Article

Our goal at the ACJ is to tell the Air Commando and USAF Special Operations story, from our beginning to today. We need your help to do that. We seek quality articles, well written, factually based, and reflecting your experiences living the special operations mission in all of its complexities.

SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLE

More Air Commando Journal

Continue reading

A Daughter’s Devotion to Her Father

Air Commando Association & Foundation,

In December of 2018 my father Bob fell in his home and severely injured his cervical spine. After extensive surgery he was admitted to a rehab facility in Atlanta for physical therapy and healing. Over the course of 11 months my dad was transferred to three different facilities for post surgical complications, infections, and additional surgical procedures in an effort to get him up and walking again. I spent as much time with him as I could at each facility, living in hotels as my belly grew bigger in pregnancy. My wonderful husband remained home to take care of our two year old son and work on our small farm. The following November I was beyond excited when the doctors said I could bring my father home to Mossy Head for Christmas.

The traveling and hotel expenses had drained our small savings account but I was determined to make things work. I sent a message out on Facebook to my father’s Air Force and contractor co-workers asking for help with his house. With dad in a wheel chair several modifications were needed before I could bring him home; ramps, wider doors, reinforced floors and a bigger bathroom. Most of his bud dies were on board to help with the labor but I could not come close to paying for the materials. When a member of the Air Commando Association and long-time friend of my father sent me a note saying she may be able to get me so me financial help I was overjoyed!

The Air Commando Association and Foundation sent me a check for $7,800.00 to cover the cost for all of the materials! My dads maintenance friends from Hurlburt Field and L3 SOFSA did all of the work and I finally brought my father home! My father passed away 7 months later and we miss him dearly but he spent his last months at home with us and his two grandbabies. I can’t thank the ACA enough for making it possible for me and my dad to sit on his porch in Mossy Head listening to the frogs sing and kids play for just a little while longer.

Sincerely,

Jacquie & Bob Cross (Aug 1957 – Sept 2020)

Donate to Help Andy Reed Recover

Former Pave Low gunner, retired MSgt Andy Reed was in dire need of a liver transplant. The good news is he was fortunate to receive a donor liver and had his surgery on 10 July. The Air Commando Foundation (ACF) is assisting with fundraising on Andy’s behalf for his aftercare that could take up to six months and $15,000 or more.

ACF already contributed $1,200 to his pre-surgery support and will provide the first $5,000 of his post-surgery recovery for things that Tricare will not cover.

Your donations to ACF for this specific cause will allow additional support. Any funds not used for this effort will remain in the general ACF account for future unmet needs of Air Commandos and their families. ACF is a 501(c)(3) benevolent organization, and all donations are tax deductible.

Thank you for your continued support of our Air Commandos and their families!

Help Andy Reed Now!

Air Commandos Remembered on Memorial Day

Lt Gen (Retired) & Mrs Brad Webb represented all Air Commandos during the 2022 Memorial Day Ceremony held at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX this past Monday. General & Mrs Webb are shown at the First Air Commando Plaque at the Memorial Wall. visit www.pacificwarmuseum.org to learn more about the National Museum of the Pacific War.

Remembering Felix ‘Sam’ Sambogna

Remembering Felix ‘Sam’ Sambogna

Lt. Col. Felix L.”Sam” Sambogna, USAF retired, passed away on September 24, 2021. He was born in Manchester, CT in 1931 and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, CT in 1953.

  • ► Felix Sambogna’s Obituary

    Lt. Col. Felix L.”Sam” Sambogna, USAF retired, passed away on September 24, 2021. He was born in Manchester, CT in 1931 and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, CT in 1953.

    He is survived by four children: Michael Sambogna and Ron Watterson of Dallas, Texas; Nancy and Michael Shoults of Destin, FL; Patricia and Michael Hardiman of Destin, FL; Felix Jr. and Karen Sambogna of Alpharetta GA; and eight grandchildren: Whitley (wife Rosey), Erin (husband Andy), Samantha (husband Ben), David, Hannah, Jordan, Grace, and Ryan, and four great grandchildren Addison, Alden, Rylan, and Sterling.

    He served 29 years in the USAF as a command pilot, squadron commander, deputy base commander, and staff officer. Overseas assignments included Japan, Thailand, Korea, and Vietnam. After retiring from the USAF, he was employed by Oklahoma State University (OSU) and worked for 17 years at the OSU Field Office on Eglin AFB. After retirement from OSU, he performed as a volunteer for the Guardian ad Litem program for 16 years as an advocate for abused and/or neglected children. Felix was a member of the Air Commando Association (past president), Military Officers Association of America, Air Force Association, the Order of the Daedalians, and Saint Mary’s Catholic Church.

    Granddad Sam loved his family, his country, and the Air Force. His children and grandchildren were the joys of his life. He also loved tennis, racquetball, the NY Yankees and Notre Dame Football.

    He was a force of strength, unconditional love and humility that will be forever missed by his family. Peace be with you dad.

    A funeral mass will be at 10:30 AM on Friday, October 15, 2021 at St. Mary Catholic Church in Fort Walton Beach. Arrangements are being handled by McLaughlin Mortuary. He will be cremated and inurned at Beal Memorial Cemetery following the mass.

    Donations may be made to the Air Commando Association, Hospice or American Cancer Society.


    Published in Northwest Florida Daily News
  • ► Tributes

    “Sam was a constant from the first time I walked into the HQ ACA building. A buddy with John Grove, he had his heart in Appalachian relief efforts, Bless the Children global charities, the John Grove School support, a zillion shipments of goods and medical supplies that went all over our hemisphere as well as supporting Christmas Wish while it endured and supporting fresh water projects in Thailand that started years ago by SOF forces during the SEA conflict. Sam provided steady leadership/management of the McCoskrie Threshold Foundation until its termination this year. He was an inspiration to all of us and a challenge for each of us to run as well as we can, as far and fast as we can for just as long as we can. I will miss that bright light.”
    –Steve Connelly

    “Sam was one of the good guys — a big heart, a true listener, and giving friend to so many.”
    –Norm Brozenick

    “What a blessing and an honor to know and work with him. Always a kind word! Hope next time we are all together we can hoist an adult beverage to him.”
    –Chris Foltz

    “I’m truly saddened to hear this. I always looked forward to chatting with Sam at St. Mary’s Church and we always looked for each other after Mass. I really enjoyed our little chats. We will miss him and he and the family are in my prayers.”
    –Max Friedauer

    “I am also heartbroken to hear this sad news. Sam was so selfless.. involved in so many charities that he never spoke about… just doing things for the greater good and not for the recognition.
    He was truly the “Quiet Professional” working in the background, making things happen for the Annual Memorial Ceremony at the Hurlburt Field Airpark. He will be sorely missed! My prayers for his family.”
    –Heather L. Bueter

    “Thank you for informing me of Sam’s passing. I cherish the memories of the many times I spent with him. He was always a joy to be with and will be long remembered; not only for what he accomplished, but more importantly for the man he was. RIP Sam, fly high.”
    –John Sweet

    “Truly, a good man. Always had the ACA at heart”
    –Harry Bishop

    “So sorry to hear this. Sam was everywhere doing everything at the few Reunions that I have attended. ANY TIME, ANY PLACE”
    –Ed Broughton

    “Sorry to hear that news. I few with at Ben Hoa in 1969 & 1970. He was truly a historical fighter pilot.”
    –R. Wayne Moorhead, Lt. Colonel, USAF

    “So sad. Another stalwart will be very much missed.”
    –Larry Ropka

  • 7D_060

  • ACA_Banquet_2017_10_15_114

  • ACA_Luncheon_2015_07_04_7D_118

  • ACA_Seminar_7D_2014_10_18_002

  • ACA_Seminar_7D_2014_10_18_103

  • ACA_TasteNorthBay_2013_04_25_40D_104

  • ACA-Banquet_2015_10_10_5D3_082

  • ACA-Banquet_2015_10_10_5D3_209

  • ACA-Christmas-2016_2016_12_11_010

  • ACA-Christmas-2016_2016_12_11_024

  • ACA-Lunch_7D_2012_06_04-042

  • ACA-Lunch_40D_2012_07_04__118

  • ACA-Lunch_40D_2012_07_04__119

  • ACA-Luncheon_40D_2013_07_04_0010

  • ACA-Luncheon_2013_07_04_0022

  • ACA-Luncheon_2013_07_04_0049

  • ACA-Luncheon_2013_07_04_0123

  • DSC_0054

  • IMG_0967

  • IMG_4840

  • IMG_4870

  • IMG_4921

  • IMG_4937

  • IMG_7203

  • Memorial_ACA_2019_10_27_172

  • Stage_ACA-Banquet_5D3_2019_10_26_181

  • Stage_ACA-Banquet_5D3_2019_10_26_183

  • Stage_ACA-Banquet_5D3_2019_10_26_184

  • Stage_ACA-Banquet_5D3_2019_10_26_185

  • us-at-the-reunion

ACA Blog & Photos

Continue reading

LtGen Slife Reflecting On Conflict in Afghanistan

If you’ve been part of AFSOC in the last 20 years, Afghanistan is almost certainly part of you. I spent the middle third of my career in and out of there between 2002 and 2011, with all the attendant highs and lows. From the very beginning to the very present, I have been responsible for sending countless Airmen into harm’s way there, not all of whom returned to their families. In November 2003, I sent home the remains of my teammates and friends in the aftermath of the first fatalities I experienced as a commander. In May of 2011, we killed Osama bin Laden. Highs and lows…lows and highs…I’ve felt it all.

Like many, I struggle to make sense of it all. There will be history books written about everything from our tactics to our strategy and a host of unanswered questions swirling around in all our minds…all of it will be dissected under the cold, unforgiving light of retrospective assessment. I think I’m still way, way too close to be able to opine on any of this with any degree of certainty. However, there are a few things of which I’m certain.

First, the Airmen of AFSOC have done what they were asked to do magnificently. Valor. Sacrifice. Duty. All of it. I wake up every morning with a profound sense of gratitude to be associated with this command and the Airmen who comprise it. Even today, AFSOC forces continue to answer the call and loyally do the things they’re asked to do in these chaotic, turbulent times. From Medal of Honor recipient MSgt John Chapman to the still-serving squadron commander currently on his 19th deployment, AFSOC Airmen have done their duty magnificently.

Second, there will be many hard days…months…years…ahead for many of us as we reflect–often with with deep ambivalence–on how we feel about our experiences in Afghanistan. We’ll process this all while continuing to deal with the physical wounds, the neurocognitive wounds, the psychological wounds, and the moral wounds we’ve suffered along the way.

If, like me, you find yourself trying to put your own experiences into some context which will allow you to move forward positively and productively, I urge you to talk about it. For our still-serving Airmen and families, you can start with chaplains, psychologists, and physicians. For our teammates who have separated or retired since 9/11, there are resources available for you as well. While there is no “one size fits all” answer, there is a size which fits. If you can’t find resources through the Preservation of the Force and Families program, the Veteran Affairs Administration, the local Chapel, the Mental Health clinic at your servicing Medical Group, the Airman and Family Readiness Center, or Military OneSource, ask your chain of command or message me directly and let us help you find the right avenue. We’ve been through too much together as an AFSOC team to try to process these very complex things on our own.

I expect I’m not alone in being reminded of the famous opening lines of “A Tale of Two Cities.”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

I don’t know what it all means. But for now, the knowledge that doing one’s duty is its own reward will have to be enough.


Please note: The AFSOC Commander’s message originally appeared on FaceBook.

Air Commandos Support ECHG

Thank you to all who supported and participated in the 2021 Emerald Coast Honor Games! Good spirited competition among amazing athletes, strong community support, and of course our Air Commandos – Any Time Any Place!

Thank you ACA Emerald Coast Chapter Ruck 22 team: Andrew Malinowski, Justin Bresser, Aliyah Pogue, Lauren Flores, and Cecil Moran

My ‘Project 404’ legacy on wheels

I spent 30 magnificent months with Project 404 (Det 1 606 ACS/Det 1 56 ACW/Det 1 56 SOW. Did the daily shuttle from Udorn to Vientiane and the assigned to L-54. In my 6 years in SEA there was no finer organization … PERIOD! I commemorated that association with personalized license plates over the ensuing years, starting with ‘404’, ‘LAOS’, ‘AT28D’, and adding ‘RLAF’ today.

Steve Herberth
ACA Lifetime Member #768

Valor Untold Available Now

US military personnel and volunteers offload the remains of Jonestown victims from a 55th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron HH-53 Jolly Green Giant helicopter. The bodies will be placed in coffins for transport to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

For the first time ever, ACA Press brings you the untold story of Air Commandos responding to the Jonestown Massacre.

Valor Untold: Air Commandos During the Jonestown Massacre Recovery, 1978
By Richard D. Newton

Published by: Air Commando Association Press, 2021, 38 pages

It has been 42 years since the tragic November 1978 mass suicide/murder of American citizens at the Peoples Temple Agricultural Settlement in Jonestown, Guyana. In the intervening four decades, so much has happened to US special operations forces and the US Air Force, brought about in large part by world events that demonstrated the unquestionable need for fully resourced, trained, and ready joint special operations forces.
This monograph tells the heretofore untold story of what the Airmen who would, a few years later, form the nucleus of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), did to help recover the victims’ bodies – a special air operation that pushed the limits of what their training and previous combat experiences had prepared them
for.

Order your copy now!

CMSgt Richard A. Young 1942 – 2022

Richard A. “Dick” Young, 80 of Ft. Walton Beach passed away May 2, 2022, surrounded by family at Sacred Heart of the Emerald Coast in Miramar Beach, Florida.

Dick was born April 2, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of the late William and Lois Young of Masonville, Ohio. He graduated in 1959 from Hiram Johnson Senior High School in Sacramento, California, and immediately entered active duty with the United State Air Force. In 1979 he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Park College in Parkville, Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in Management.

Dick is survived by his wife, Fonda, and daughters Jennifer Nelson (Rick) of Ft. Walton Beach and Joanna Merchant (John) of Crestview, grandchildren Kennedy, of Ft. Walton Beach, Kenneth (Sabrina) of Orlando, Kendall, Brienna, and Lane. He is also survived by a sister, Marty Stockton, of Greenville, Missouri, a brother, Steve Young, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents William and Lois.

Dick entered the Air Force in 1959 and served continuously until his retirement as a Chief Master Sergeant in July of 1992 with over 33 years of dedicated and honorable service. Career fields included Aircraft Maintenance, Flight Engineer, and Recruiter. His last ten years were served as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Commander of the 834th Airlift Division, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida, and Military Airlift Command, Scott AFB, Illinois.

Chief Young accumulated over 4,800 hours in B-47 and C-130 aircraft of which 950 were combat time, flying 156 missions on a Forward Air Control C-130 Flare Ship, 59 of those missions were over North Viet Nam. He was also a private pilot with over 900 hours in single-engine aircraft, land, and sea. During his military service, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, 4 Meritorious Service Medals, 7 Air Medals, and 2 Air Force Commendation Medals.

After his retirement from the Air Force, Dick was hired at the Air Force Enlisted Village, also known as Bob Hope Village. He retired from the foundation in 2011 as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Loyal Order of Moose, and many more.

Dick loved his family; especially his grandchildren. He enjoyed socializing and catching up with friends at his favorite spots to have an adult beverage. His companionship and generosity will be missed by those who had the pleasure of knowing him.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Air Force Enlisted Village at www.afev.us

A Visitation will take place on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 2:00 PM at Emerald Coast Funeral Home followed by a funeral with full military honors at 3:00 PM.

Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com


Courtesy of Emerald Coast Funeral Home

LeRoy W. Svendsen Jr. 1928-2022

Major General LeRoy W. (Swede) Svendsen, Jr. died on the 14th day of February at the age of 93. General Svendsen is survived by his wife, the former Juanita Boggs. Eight children: Randy, Chicago IL, Lance (Sandra), Charleston SC, daughter Kristi, San Antonio TX; stepsons Jon Boggs (Sue) Houston, Jeffery Boggs (Patty) Gaithersburg, MD.; eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Swede was born in Chicago on the 26th of December 1928 into a working class family and grew up in the Great Depression. Times were tough on the adults, but the children never seemed to realize the economic impact, there was plenty of love in that big family. Grandparents, two of their married children and three grandchildren lived in the same home – there was never any thought about asking for government help.

Swede was approaching his 13th birthday when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He tried to join the Marine Corps at age 14, but his parents would not give their permission. At age 15 his parents finally agreed, and he enlisted in the Navy as an aerial gunner and radio operator. His mates had trouble with the name Svendsen, so they called him “the Swede”. From that day forth he was known as Swede Svendsen. He was honorably discharged from the US Navy 11 June 1946 after WWII ended. He returned to high school, finishing two years in one semester and completing two years of college in one semester taking end of course exams, most based on training schools he attended in the Navy.

Since grammar school, Swede always wanted to be a fighter pilot. When the US Army Aviation Cadet program opened back up after the war, he joined up in 1947. Flight training began February 1948 at Randolph Field; where he completed Primary and Basic pilot training. Before completing the training, the US Air Force became the new branch for fliers. By 21 years of age he had served his country in the US Navy, US Army, and began a long career in the USAF. He received advanced pilot training at the Fighter School at Williams AFB, AZ, graduating as a Second Lieutenant in February 1949. His first assignment was to the 4th Fighter Group at Langley, AFB, VA, flying F-80’s and then F-86’s.

When the Korean War broke out (June 25th, 1950), he was among the first volunteers to deploy for two combat tours – one with the 25th Infantry Division, 35th Infantry Regiment as a Forward Air Controller and as commander of a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) during the perimeter campaign in August of 1950.

While in Japan TDY for 3 months, he requested assignment back to his squadron at K- 2 Korea. Major Ben King was the commander who approved the re-assignment. He returned to the 8th Fighter Squadron, 59th Fighter Group, flying F-80C fighter bombers (114 missions) in attacks deep into North Korea, stemming the flow of enemy – Chinese and North Korean forces and equipment. Losses were heavy in the fighter bomber business, and half of his squadron was lost in four months.

Returning to the United States in 1951, Swede served with the 6th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio, then the 62d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, O’Hare Air Force Base, IL., as fighter pilot, operations officer, flight commander, air commander, and executive officer. In 1956 he flew in three test programs for the F-102 “Delta Dagger” at the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center. From 1956-1959 he was flight commander and later air operations officer, 323d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Truax Field, WS.

He was the Chief for the Fighter- Interceptor Branch, Headquarters Fifth Air Force, Fuchu Air Station, Japan, 1959-62.

He joined Air Force Special Operations shortly after it was formed (1962) Hurlburt Field, Fl. All were volunteers, and he deployed to South Vietnam early in 1963 as commander 6th Fighter Sq, 1st Air Commando Wing in 1963/4 and ran a classified commando operation prior to the introduction of general-purpose forces. He flew the AT-28 fighter bomber (about 100 missions) in sanitized civilian gear and operated with US Army Special Forces on the ground in various war zones. He was also responsible for employment of B-26, A-1E, C-46, C-47, U-10, and Palatus Porter assets. On his second tour in Southeast Asia, Swede was chief of Project 404 in Laos, meaning he managed all USAF programs in country–a covert operation! After this, he completed college and graduated from Florida State University in 1965.

Swede served five years in the Special Operations Command and in 1969 was one of first inductees into the Air Commando Hall of Fame.

Swede would return to Southeast Asia in the closing weeks of our withdrawal from Vietnam in April 1975 as a Brigadier General and Deputy to the US Army commander of residual forces in charge of evacuations. When surrounded by about 15 North Vietnamese Divisions, he personally set about to destroy Bien Hoa, which had the capability of building US-1 “Huey” helicopters and other sophisticated military equipment. As Bien Hoa went up in flames, he set a plan to destroy Long Bin, a supply base of the ARVN, the following day. He evacuated by Air America Helicopter that evening to the command ship, Blueridge, off the coast of Vietnam.

Swede served at the Pentagon, 1966-70, first as a plans officer in Warfare Division, Directorate of Plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and later in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force as liaison officer for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1968 he volunteered to pilot the historically famous Pima Paisano B-24 from the desert of Puna, India to the Tucson Air Museum, Arizona.

After graduating from the Army War College in the class of 1971, Swede was assigned to Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, as deputy commander for operations and, later, commander, 38th Flying Training Wing. He was assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, 1972-74, and commander, 29th Flying Training Wing, Craig Air Force Base, AL., 1974-75.

Swede was appointed Major General in 1974, and in 1975 was on his way to Egypt as defense attaché, U.S. Embassy in Cairo. He served in that capacity until he assumed his final assignment to Randolph Air Force Base, TX. There he served in dual capacity as assistant deputy chief of staff, Manpower and Personnel Center for Military Personnel Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and commander, Air Force Manpower and Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, TX. Swede retired from the US Air Force May 1980.

Swede was a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours, mostly in fighter aircraft, and an airborne parachutist. He flew over 230 logged combat missions in 2 wars. Many other missions were not logged due to their covert nature.

Awards Swede received include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster and four bronze oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, and the Outstanding Unit Award. Swede is also a member of the Order of the Sword.

A service will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.


Obituary courtesy of Porter Loring Mortuary
  • 1
  • 2