Publisher: Norm Brozenick
Editor: Paul Harmon
Managing Editor: Rick Newton
Senior Editor: Scott McIntosh
Contributing Editor: Ron Dains
Contributing Editor: Matt Durham
Contributing Editor: Joel Higley
Contributing Editor: Mike Russell
Layout Editor/Graphics: Jeanette Elliott
Advertising: Melissa Gross
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.