73rd Special Operations Squadron

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73d Special Operations Squadron
New AC-130J completes first test flight 140131-F-PT591-002.jpg
AC-130J
Active1918–2015; 2018-
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
TypeSquadron
Part of1st Special Operations Wing > 1st Special Operations Group
Garrison/HQHurlburt Field
Motto(s)Without Fail
EngagementsWorld War I War Service Streamer without inscription.png
World War I
  • Toul sector streamer, France, 31 October–11 November 1918[1]
World War II - American Campaign Streamer (Plain).png World War II Aleutian Campaign
DecorationsUS Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - Stremer.jpg
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Insignia
73d Special Operations Squadron emblem (approved 27 June 2007)[2]73rd Special Operations Squadron.png
Patch with 3d Strategic Support Squadron emblem3d Strategic Support Squadron - Emblem.png
73d Pursuit Squadron emblem (approved 23 March 1932)[3]73d Bombardment Squadron -Emblem.png

The 73d Special Operations Squadron is a unit of the United States Air Force, assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The squadron operates the AC-130J Ghostrider ground-attack aircraft in support of Air Force Special Operations Command.

The 73d is one of the oldest in the Air Force, its origins dating to the formation of the 73d Aero Squadron in February 1918. It served on the Western Front in France during World War I, and took part in the Aleutian Campaign during World War II, it was part of Strategic Air Command during the Cold War. The 73d was inactivated and its personnel and equipment transferred to the 16th Special Operations Squadron in 2015; the squadron was reactivated on 23rd of February 2018 to fly the new AC-130J "Ghostrider" gunship assigned to the 1st Special Operations Group at Hulburt Field, Florida.[4]

History[edit]

World War I[edit]

The 73d dates to the formation of the 73d Aero Squadron at Rich Field, Waco, Texas on 22 February 1918; the first personnel were 150 privates under the command of 1st Lieutenant Loren W. De Motte, which arrived at the Aviation Camp. Once organized into a unit, the 73d was transferred to Call Field, Wichita Falls, Texas, where it underwent basic indoctrination training; the men were also trained in aviation mechanic work.[5]

73d Aero Squadron group photograph, taken at Ourches Aerodrome, France, November, 1918.

On 8 July, orders were received for the unit to proceed to the Aviation Concentration Center, Garden City, Long Island, for preparation to serve overseas. An observation balloon detachment of 30 men was assigned to the squadron at Garden City, and the unit moved to the Port of Embarkation at Hoboken, New Jersey on 29 July where it boarded a ship bound for France. After an uneventful crossing of the Atlantic, it arrived at the port of Brest, France on 26 August. At Brest, the balloon detachment was detached from the squadron, and the squadron was ordered to proceed to the St. Maixent Replacement Barracks for assignment. Initially assigned as a support unit to the 1st Day Bombardment Group at Delouze Aerodrome on c. 20 September, the squadron maintained Dayton-Wright DH-4s of the group. On 4 October, it was ordered to Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome, where it was reassigned to the Second Army. At Colombey, the squadron operated the 6th Air Park; a maintenance and supply organization as part of the 1st Air Depot, it moved to Ourches Aerodrome about 15 November [5]

It remained in France after the Armistice in November, returning to the United States in June 1919 where it was demobilized at Hazelhurst Field, New York on 4 July.[2]

Inter-war period[edit]

A new unit, the 73d Headquarters Squadron was constituted in the Regular Army Reserve on 18 October 1927 at San Antonio, Texas. Army reserve officers assigned to the unit participated in summer training at Kelly Field, Texas, 1928–30 with the 3d Attack Group. On 8 May 1929, it was redesignated as the 73d Pursuit Squadron, and became an associate unit of the 18th Pursuit Group at Dodd Field, Texas.[6]

The unit was activated on 15 July 1931 by the Army Air Corps as an active-duty squadron, it was assigned without reserve personnel to the 17th Pursuit Group at March Field, California and equipped with Boeing P-12 fighters.[2] In 1934 it received new Boeing P-26 Peashooters but retained the P-12s,[2] it was reorganized and redesignated as the 73d Attack Squadron on 1 March 1935. The squadron was awarded the Frank Luke Trophy for 1935, having the highest gunnery score in the U.S. Army Air Corps.[6]

On 5 June 1936 the squadron was consolidated with its World War I predecessor unit, the 73d Aero Squadron. It received Northrop A-17 attack aircraft,[2] replacing the Boeing fighters; the squadron flew reconnaissance flights in support of flood relief in southern California from 2 March to 5 March 1938. Reorganized and redesignated as the 73d Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 17 October 1939, being re-equipped with Douglas B-18 Bolos.[2][6]

It moved to McChord Field, Washington, 26 June 1940; the 73d was relieved from assignment to the 17th Bombardment Group on 3 May 1941 and assigned to the 28th Composite Group.[6]

World War II[edit]

The squadron moved to the new Elmendorf Field, near Anchorage, Alaska on 14 March 1941,[2] it was one of the first Air Corps units assigned to the Alaska Territory. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the squadron flew anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Alaska.[7]

When the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands in June 1942 the squadron was reassigned to Fort Glenn Army Air Base on Adak Island, it and began flying combat missions over the captured islands of Kiska and Attu Islands. The squadron flew combat missions with Martin B-26 Marauders and later with North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers during the Aleutian Campaign and returned to the United States in August 1943.[7]

The squadron was transferred to Pyote Army Air Field, Texas, on 6 October, and was disbanded there on 1 November,[8] its personnel retrained as replacement crews for Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and its aircraft redeployed as replacement aircraft to overseas combat units.[2]

Postwar[edit]

In its early years, along with its own fighter wings for escorting its bombers, Strategic Air Command (SAC) formed a limited air transport capability to supplement that of the Military Air Transport Service, which provided SAC with the majority of its airlift support;[9] the 3d Strategic Support Squadron was activated on 16 November 1950 at Hunter Air Force Base, Georgia and assigned to the SAC Second Air Force.[2]

During the 1950s the squadron carried much classified equipment and personnel to various locations around the world. 0n 5 January 1953, it moved to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana and reassigned to the 4238th Strategic Wing on 1 July 1959. The squadron was inactivated on 1 June 1961 when SAC got out of the transport business.[2]

The 73d Bombardment Squadron and the 3d Strategic Support Squadron were consolidated as the 73d Special Operations Squadron in 1985, but were not activated.[10]

It was activated in 2006 to operate the new MC-130W Combat Spear aircraft;[11] the 73d was the first flying special operations squadron to move to Cannon Air Force Base after the fighter squadrons left.[12]

As of April 2012 the MC-130W was re-designated as the AC-130W Stinger II due to the change on missions with the Dragon Spear conversion program.

On 12 June 2015, the squadron was inactivated and its mission, personnel and aircraft were combined with those of the 16th Special Operations Squadron.[13]

The squadron was reactivated on 23 February 2018, it was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Group.[14]

Lineage[edit]

73d Aero Squadron
  • Organized as 73d Aero Squadron on 26 February 1918
Demobilized on 4 July 1919
Reconstituted and consolidated with the 73d Attack Squadron as the 73d Attack Squadron on 16 October 1936[2]
73d Bombardment Squadron
  • Constituted as the 73d Headquarters Squadron on 18 October 1927
  • Redesignated 73d Pursuit Squadron on 8 May 1929
Activated on 15 July 1931
Redesignated 73d Attack Squadron on 1 March 1935
Consolidated with the 73d Aero Squadron on 16 October 1936
Redesignated: 73d Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 17 October 1939
Disbanded on 1 November 1943
Reconstituted and consolidated with the 3d Strategic Support Squadron as the 73d Special Operations Squadron on 19 Sep 1985[2]
3d Strategic Support Squadron
  • Constituted as the 3d Strategic Support Squadron on 26 October 1950
Activated on 16 November 1950
Inactivated on 15 June 1961
Consolidated with the 73d Bombardment Squadron as the 73d Special Operations Squadron on 19 Sep 1985[2]
73d Special Operations Squadron
  • Formed by consolidation of the 73d Bombardment Squadron and the 3d Strategis Support Squadron on 19 Sep 1985
Activated on 1 Oct 2006[2]
Inactivated c. 12 June 2015[13]
Reactivated on 23 Feb 2018[15]

Assignments[edit]

73d Aero Squadron
Post Headquarters, Rich Field, 26 February 1918
Post Headquarters, Call Field, 1 March 1918
2d Day Bombardment Group, November 1918 – 1919
Eastern Department, 1919-4 July 1919[2]
73d Bombardment Squadron
17th Pursuit Group (later 17th Attack Group, 17th Bombardment Group), 15 July 1931
28th Composite Group, 3 May 1941
Second Air Force, 6 October–1 November 1943[2]
3d Strategic Support Squadron
Second Air Force, 15 November 1950
4238th Strategic Wing, 1 July 1959 – 15 June 1961[2]
73d Special Operations Squadron
16th Operations Group, 1 October 2006 – c. 12 June 2015[2][13]
1st Special Operations Group, 23 February 2018 - present[16]

Stations[edit]

73d Aero Squadron
73d Bombardment Squadron
3d Strategic Support Squadron
  • Hunter Air Force Base, Georgia, 16 November 1950
  • Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, 5 January 1953 – 15 June 1961[2]
73d Special Operations Squadron

Aircraft[edit]

73d Bombardment Squadron (Medium)
3d Strategic Support Squadron
73d Special Operations Squadron

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Battle Participation of Organizations of the AEF, p. 101
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Dollman, David (17 October 2016). "73 Special Operations Squadron (AFSOC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 268-269
  4. ^ "Hurlburt Field reactivates 73d SOS". Hurlburt Field Public Affairs. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Gorrell, p. 26
  6. ^ a b c d Clay, p. 1424
  7. ^ a b Cloe & Monaghan,[page needed]
  8. ^ Cloe & Monaghan, p. 122
  9. ^ "SAC Historical Study No. 61, The Strategic Air Command, A Chronological History 1946-1956". Historical Division Office of Invormation, Headquarters Strategic Air Command. Retrieved 20 September 2017. (some pages missing, all pages after 1948 missing)
  10. ^ Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 662q, 19 September 85, Subject: Reconstitution, Redesignation, and Consolidation of Selected Air Force Tactical Squadrons
  11. ^ Haig, Jamie (20 October 2006). "73rd SOS reactivates with new aircraft after 45 years". 16th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  12. ^ "AFSOC answers questions about new Cannon mission". AFSOC Public Affairs. 27 August 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e Slack, Chip (15 June 2015). "Squadrons realign, restructure missions". 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Hurlburt Field reactivates 73d SOS". Hurlburt Field Public Affairs. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Hurlburt Field reactivates 73d SOS". Hurlburt Field Public Affairs. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Hurlburt Field reactivates 73d SOS". Hurlburt Field Public Affairs. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Hurlburt Field reactivates 73d SOS". Hurlburt Field Public Affairs. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Hurlburt Field reactivates 73d SOS". Hurlburt Field Public Affairs. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.

Bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.