ACJ Vol 12/1
Publisher: Norm Brozenick
Editor: Paul Harmon
Managing Editor: Rick Newton
Senior Editor: Scott McIntosh
Contributing Editor: Ron Dains
Contributing Editor: Joel Higley
Contributing Editor: Mike Russell
Layout Editor/Graphics: Jeanette Elliott
Advertising: Melissa Gross
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.