8th Special Operations Squadron

The 8th Special Operations Squadron (8th SOS) is one of nine flying squadrons in the 1st Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field, FL.

The primary mission of the 8th SOS is to provide rapid global response supporting long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of Special Operations Forces in hostile or denied territories, during day, night, and adverse weather, under one period of darkness. To accomplish these varied missions, the 8th SOS utilizes the CV-22 Osprey, a highly specialized Bell-Boeing tilt-rotor aircraft.

Since its inception in 1917, the 8th SOS has had more than 100 squadron commanders and flown several different types of aircraft. This list includes DH-4s, B-26s, B-57s, A-37s, MC-130Es, and CV-22s.

The 8th SOS flew the MC-130E Combat Talon until August 2006. The history of the Talon I stretched back to 1966 when the first C-130E was modified and a small squadron established at Pope Air Force Base, N.C. Later that year four of these specially modified MC-130s were deployed to Nha Trang, Republic of Vietnam, in support of the war in Southeast Asia. During the Southeast Asia conflict, Combat Talon Is were extensively involved in covert/clandestine operations in Laos and North Vietnam. They routinely flew unarmed, single-ship missions deep into North Vietnam under the cover of darkness to carry out unconventional warfare missions in support of Military Assistance Command's Special Operations Group.

Members of the 8th SOS were deployed as part of a joint task force that landed in the Iranian desert in April 1980 in support of the American hostage rescue attempt. During that mission, five members of the squadron lost their lives. The squadron received its motto "with the guts to try" from this operation.

The squadron was called on again in October 1983 to lead the way in the rescue of American students endangered on the island of Grenada (Operation URGENT FURY). After long hours of flight, the aircrew members faced intense ground fire to airdrop Army Rangers on time, on target. They subsequently followed up with three psychological operations leaflet drops designed to encourage the Cubans to discontinue the conflict.

Members of the 8th SOS were mobilized in December 1989 as part of a joint task force for Operation JUST CAUSE in the Republic of Panama. Following the conflict, it was an 8th SOS Combat Talon I that flew General Manuel Noriega back to the United States to stand trial.

Operation DESERT SHIELD commenced in August 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The 8th SOS was deployed to Saudi Arabia as a deterrent against the Iraqi threat to its southern neighbor. In January 1991, when Iraq failed to comply with United Nations directives to withdraw from Kuwait, the proven skills of the 8th SOS were called on once again as Operation DESERT SHIELD escalated into Operation DESERT STORM. The 8th SOS played a pivotal role in the success of coalition forces as they liberated Kuwait by dropping 11 15,000-pound BLU-82 bombs and 23 million leaflets and conducting numerous aerial refuelings of special operations helicopters.

The U.S. Air Force relies on the proven abilities of the 8th SOS as is evident by its deployments in support of Operations PROVIDE PROMISE and DENY FLIGHT in Bosnia, Operation ASSURED RESPONSE in Liberia and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH in Saudi Arabia. Even Hollywood relied on the crews of the 8th in the 1997 hit movie "Air Force One."

When the World Trade Center fell on September 11th, 2001, the 8 SOS was propelled into Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The squadron was nearly completely deployed, operating from several locations simultaneously to unseat the Taliban rulers and install the interim government. The 8th supports operations by re-supplying Special Operations Forces operators in the field, refueling helicopters, and landing at short unprepared fields all over the country. When Operation IRAQI FREEDOM kicked off, the 8th was once again at the forefront. Its crews were some of the first to cross the border as hostilities began. Such a high operations tempo led to the 8th SOS being the Air Force's most deployed active-duty squadron in 2002 and 2003.

The 8th SOS opened a new chapter in its distinguished history when it transitioned from the Combat Talon I to the CV-22 Osprey in August 2006. Development of the CV-22 Osprey stems directly from the 1980 failed Iran hostage rescue attempt. After three decades of development and testing, the CV-22 passed its final exam with the completion of initial operational test and evaluation flown by the 8th SOS crew. The CV-22 fulfills the unique Air Force requirement for a platform capable of long-range, infiltration and exfiltration to targets located anywhere in the world. 8th SOS crews continually train to bring tilt-rotor technology into the battlefield against our nation's worst enemies. With the combined ability to fly at C-130 speeds and land to austere landing areas like a helicopter, the Osprey brings a revolutionary capability to combatant commanders.

In 2008, the 8th SOS logged over 190 transoceanic flight hours during a self-deployment to the nation of Mali supporting U.S. Africa Command's Flintlock exercise. In 2009, 8th SOS crews deployed to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, where they delivered 40,000 pounds of critical food and medical supplies to remote Honduran villages. During the same year the 8th SOS culminated its years of testing and evaluation with its first-ever combat deployment in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. There, 8th SOS crews flew 123 total missions, of which 45 were direct assaults against known enemy insurgents.

In 2010, the 8th SOS deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. During this deployment, 8 SOS crews flew 875 combat sorties, 642 direct assault sorties, infiltrated 4069 SOF assaulters, transported 284 terrorists and high-value targets and delivered over 87,000 pounds of supplies to allied forces.

The 8th SOS is proud of its people and those who have preceded us for more than 80 years. The men and women of the 8th SOS are poised for action in the 21st century and will continue to demonstrate that the squadron has the guts to try -- "Any Time, Any Place."

Organized as 8th Aero Squadron on 21 Jun 1917. Redesignated: 8th Squadron (Surveillance) c. Jun 1921; 8th Squadron (Attack) c. Nov 1921; 8th Attack Squadron on 25 Jan 1923; 8th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 15 Sep 1939; 8th Bombardment Squadron (Dive) on 28 Sep 1942; 8th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 25 May 1943; 8th Bombardment Squadron, Light, c. Apr 1944; 8th Bombardment Squadron, Light, Night Intruder, on 25 Jun 1951; 8th Bombardment Squadron, Tactical, on 1 Oct 1955; 8th Attack Squadron on 18 Nov 1969; 8th Special Operations Squadron on 30 Sep 1970; 8th Fighter Squadron on 1 Jul 1973; 8th Special Operations Squadron on 1 Mar 1974.

Headquarters Camp Kelly, 21 Jun 1917; Headquarters Selfridge Aviation Field, 8 Jul 1917; Headquarters Aviation Concentration Depot, 28 Oct 1917; Headquarters American Rest Camp, 8 Dec 1917; Headquarters American Air Service Camp, 1 May 1918; I Corps Observation Training Center, 30 Jul 1918; IV Corps Observation Group, 31 Aug 1918 (attached to 1 Division, 8-14 Sep 1918); VI Corps Observation Group, 23 Oct 1918; Advanced Section Services of Supply, 5 Feb-21 Apr 1919; Unkn, 21 Apr-1 Jul 1919; Army Surveillance (later, 1 Surveillance; 3 Attack; 3 Bombardment) Group, 1 Jul 1919 (attached to 3 Bombardment Wing, 13 Aug 1956-24 Oct 1957); 3rd Bombardment Wing, 25 Oct 1957 (attached to 41st Air Division, 1 Sep 1963-7 Jan 1964); 41st Air Division, 8 Jan 1964 (attached to 405th Fighter Wing, 9-23 Apr 1964); Thirteenth Air Force, 24 Apr 1964 (attached to 405th Fighter Wing, 24 Apr-17 Nov 1964, and further attached to 34th Tactical Group, 5 Aug-3 Nov 1964); 405th Fighter Wing, 18 Nov 1964 (attached to 33rd Tactical Group, 18-28 Jun 1965; 2nd Air Division, 28 Jun-7 Jul 1965; 6252nd Tactical Fighter Wing, 8 Jul-15 Aug 1965, 16 Oct-16 Dec 1965 and 15 Feb-7 Apr 1966; 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, 8-18 Apr 1966, 15 Jun-15 Aug 1966, 12 Oct-12 Dec 1966, 11 Feb-12 Apr 1967, 7 Jun-2 Aug 1967, and 26 Sep-21 Nov 1967); 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, 15 Jan 1968 (attached to 405th Fighter Wing, 15-17 Jan 1968); 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, 15 Nov 1969; 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, 30 Sep 1970 (attached to 315th Tactical Airlift Wing, 16-30 Jul 1971); 315th Tactical Airlift Wing, 31 Jul 1971; 377th Air Base Group (later, 377th Air Base Wing), 15 Jan 1972 (attached to 6251st Air Base Squadron, 1-14 Sep 1972; Detachment 2, 377th Air Base Wing, 15-30 Sep 1972); 405th Fighter Wing, 1 Oct 1972; 1st Special Operations (later, 834th Tactical Composite; 1st Special Operations) Wing, 1 Mar 1974; 1st Special Operations (later, 16th Operations; 1st Special Operations) Group, 22 Sep 1992-.

Camp Kelly, TX, 21 Jun 1917; Selfridge Field, MI, 8 Jul 1917; Garden City, NY, 28 Oct-22 Nov 1917; Winchester, England, 8 Dec 1917; Dartford, England, c. 24 Dec 1917 (detachments at Thetford, Wyton, and Northolt, England); Thetford, England, 1 May-11 Jul 1918; Amanty, France, 30 Jul 1918; Ourches, France, 31 Aug 1918; Toul, France, 29 Sep 1918; Saizerais, France, 23 Oct 1918; Colombey-les-Belles, France, 11 Feb 1919; Fargues-St Hilaire, France, 22 Feb-18 Apr 1919; Mitchel Field, NY, 3 May 1919; Kelly Field, TX, 25 May 1919 (flight at McAllen, TX, after 25 Jul 1919); McAllen, TX, 13 Aug 1919 (flight operated from Laredo, TX, 15 Aug 1919-3 Aug 1920, and from Pope Field, NC, after 13 Aug 1920; detachment of flight operated from Laredo, TX, after 3 Aug 1920); Kelly Field, TX, 2 Jul 1921 (flight at Pope Field, NC, to 26 Nov 1921); Ft Crockett, TX, 30 Jun 1926; Barksdale Field, LA, 27 Feb 1935; Savannah, GA, 8 Oct 1940-19 Jan 1942; Brisbane, Australia, 25 Feb 1942; Charters Towers, Australia, c. 17 Mar 1942; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 31 Mar 1942; Charters Towers, Australia, c. 9 May 1942; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 28 Jan 1943; Dobodura, New Guinea, c. 10 Apr 1943; Nadzab, New Guinea, 1 Feb 1944; Hollandia, New Guinea, 16 May 1944; Dulag, Leyte, 15 Nov 1944; San Jose, Mindoro, c. 30 Dec 1944; Okinawa, c. 7 Aug 1945; Atsugi, Japan, c. 26 Oct 1945; Yokota AB, Japan, c. 20 Aug 1946; Johnson AB, Japan, 14 Mar 1950; Iwakuni, Japan, 1 Jul 1950; Kunsan AB, South Korea, 18 Aug 1951; Johnson AB, Japan, 5 Oct 1954; Yokota AB, Japan, 17 Nov 1960 (deployed at Clark AB, Philippines, 9-23 Apr 1964); Clark AB, Philippines, 24 Apr 1964 (deployed at Bien Hoa AB, South Vietnam, 5 Aug-3 Nov 1964; Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, 18-28 Jun 1965; Da Nang AB, South Vietnam, 28 Jun-15 Aug 1965, 16 Oct-16 Dec 1965, 15 Feb-18 Apr 1966, and 15 Jun-15 Aug 1966; Phan Rang AB, South Vietnam, 12 Oct-12 Dec 1966, 11 Feb-12 Apr 1967, 7 Jun-2 Aug 1967, and 26 Sep-22 Nov 1967); Phan Rang AB, South Vietnam, 17 Jan 1968; Bien Hoa AB, South Vietnam, 15 Nov 1969; Clark AB, Philippines, 1 Oct 1972-1 Mar 1974; Eglin Air Force Auxiliary Field No. 9 (Hurlburt Field) FL, 1 Mar 1974; Eglin Air Force Auxiliary Field No. 3 (Duke Field), FL, 18 Feb 2000-8 Aug 2006; Eglin Air Force Auxiliary Field No. 9 (Hurlburt Field) FL, 9 Aug 2006-.

DH-4, 1918-1919, 1919-1926; GAX (GA-1), 1923; O-2, 1926-1928; in addition to A-3, 1928-1934, and A-12, 1934-1936, included A-8 and O-19 during period 1932-1936; in addition to A-17, 1936-1940, and B-18, 1939-1941, included A-18 during period 1937-1941; A-24, 1941, 1942; A-20, 1941, 1942-1943, 1943-1945; B-25, 1943; A-26 (later designated B-26), 1945-1956; B-57, 1956-1969; A-37, 1969-1972; C/MC-130, 1974-2006; AC-130, 1975, CV-22, 2007-.

Combat as observation unit with IV and VI Army Corps, c. 25 Aug-11 Nov 1918. Mexican border patrol, Aug 1919-Jun 1921. Trained in attack aviation and participated in field exercises and army maneuvers, 1921-1941. Antisubmarine patrols, Dec 1941-Jan 1942; Combat in Southwest and Western Pacific, 1 Apr-29 Jul 1942 and 24 May 1943-12 Aug 1945; Korea, 27 Jun 1950-27 Jul 1953; Southeast Asia, Apr 1964-Sep 1972. Participated in Iranian hostage rescue attempt, Apr 1980. Combat in Grenada, 24 Oct-3 Nov 1983; Panama, 20 Dec 1989-14 Jan 1990; Southwest Asia, 16 Jan-17 Mar 1991. Routinely deployed personnel and aircraft to contingency operations in the Balkans and Southwest Asia, 1991-2001. Combat in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, Oct 2001-, and IRAQI FREEDOM, Mar 2003-.


World War I
St Mihiel
Afghanistan: Liberation
Consolidation I
Consolidation III
Iraq: Sovereignty

World War II
Antisubmarine, American Theater
East Indies
Air Offensive, Japan
New Guinea
Bismarck Archipelago
Western Pacific
Southern Philippines

UN Defensive
UN Offensive
CCF Intervention
First UN Counteroffensive
CCF Spring Offensive
UN Summer-Fall Offensive
Second Korean Winter
Korea Summer-Fall, 1952
Third Korean Winter
Korea, Summer 1953

Vietnam Advisory
Vietnam Defensive
Vietnam Air
Vietnam Air Offensive
Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II
Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III
Vietnam Air/Ground
Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV
TET 69/Counteroffensive
Vietnam Summer-Fall, 1969
Vietnam Winter-Spring, 1970
Sanctuary Counteroffensive
Southwest Monsoon
Commando Hunt V
Commando Hunt VI
Commando Hunt VII
Vietnam Ceasefire

Southwest Asia
Defense of Saudi Arabia
Liberation and Defense of Kuwait

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer
Grenada, 1983
Panama, 1989-1990

Distinguished Unit Citations
Papua, 23-29 Jul 42
New Guinea, 17 Aug 43

Meritorious Unit Award
1 Oct 2011-30 Sep 2013
1 Oct 2013-30 Sep 2015

27 Jun-31 Jul 50
22 Apr-8 Jul 51
1 May-27 Jul 53

Presidential Unit Citations
Southeast Asia
12 Oct-12 Dec 66
11 Feb-10 Apr 67
6 Jun 67-18 Jan 68
15 Nov 68-31 May 69

Gallant Unit Citation
6 Oct 01-30 May 03

Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device
19 Feb 65 - 19 Feb 66
8 Jul - 15 Aug 65
16 Oct - 16 Dec 65
15 Feb - 18 Apr 66
15 Jun - 15 Aug 66
2 Apr - 12 Apr 67
7 Jun - 2 Aug 67
26 Sep - 21 Nov 67
15 Jan - 2 May 68
1 Oct 68 -13 Apr 69
14 Apr- 15 Nov 69
15 Nov 69 - 20 Jan 70
21 Jan - 1 Sep 70
1 Dec 70 - 25 Jun 71
21 Aug - 6 Dec 71
5 Apr - 7 Jul 72
8 Jul - 1 Oct 72
1 May 82 - 30 Apr 84
1 Jun 97 - 31 May 99
1 Jul 03 - 1 Jun 05
1 Sep 06 - 30 Jun 07

Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards
1 Jun 58-30 Jun 60
1 Jul 60-31 Mar 62
5 Aug 64-31 Mar 65
1 Jan 76-31 Mar 77
15 Jul 79-15 May 80
16 May 80-30 Apr 82
1 May 85-30 Apr 87
1 May 88-30 Apr 90
16 Apr 92-15 Apr 94
1 Jun 95-31 May 97
1 Jul 99-30 Jun 01
1 Jul 01-30 Jun 03
1 Sep 04-31 Aug 06

Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
World War II

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
27 Jun-31 Jul 50

Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Crosses with Palm
1 Apr 66-1 Oct 72
1 May-30 Sep 70
24 Feb-30 Mar 71
31 Jul 71-8 Jan 72

Emblem Significance
Ultramarine blue and Air Force yellow are the Air Force colors. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The stylized blackbird conveys movement and flight. The flight direction is indicative of the squadron's low-level mission. The body of the stylized blackbird reinforces the squadron's unconventional warfare role and the operations during darkness. The wings symbolize the squadron's unique CV-22 mission and the twin prop-rotors of the Osprey's tiltrotor design.