ACJ Vol 12/2
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
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