ACJ Vol 12/3
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
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.
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.
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.
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.