The 15th Special Operations Squadron (15th SOS), located at Hurlburt Field, Fla., is one of nine flying squadrons within the 1st Special Operations Wing. The squadron flies the MC-130H Combat Talon II. Specially modified to support unconventional warfare and special operations forces worldwide, the Combat Talon II is capable of penetrating a hostile environment at low altitudes and in inclement weather.
The Combat Talon II is a derivative of the C-130H Hercules modified for special operations. The mission of the aircraft involves a global, day and night, adverse weather capability to insert, extract and resupply special operations forces by low or high altitude airdrop or airland operations.
The 15th SOS history begins with the 18th Observation Squadron, activated Feb 5, 1942 at Dover, Del. The unit was redesignated the 15th Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy) Nov 29, 1942, and assigned to the 26th Antisubmarine Wing, Miami, FL. The primary operational aircraft of the 15th was the B-24. The unit distinguished itself by participating in tactical airlift operations in support of selected American and Vietnamese counter-insurgency forces in Southeast Asia, rescue and recovery operations as directed by the Joint Personnel Recovery Center using the Fulton Recovery Systems, and other special operations under the "Combat Spear" program. The unit distinguished itself by accomplishing 30 Fulton recoveries in a reporting period. In one 90-day period, two Silver Stars, 40 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 121 Air Medals and eight Bronze Stars were awarded to unit personnel.
The 15th Bomb Squadron (Very Heavy) was activated June 25, 1944, at Dalhart Army Airfield, Texas. The unit was equipped with specially modified B-29s, stripped of armament, except for tail guns, and fitted with the AN/APQ-7 "Eagle" radar. This new and experimental radar permitted the bombing of targets through zero visibility. The 15th distinguished itself in contributing to the destruction of Japan's oil producing industry, relieving and resupplying the POW camps after World War II, and participating in a fly over of the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay.
The 15th Air Commando Squadron was created Mar 15, 1968, at Nha Trang Air Base, Vietnam, and assigned to the 14th Air Commando Wing. The unit had been known as Detachment 1, 314th Tactical Airlift Wing, since November 1966. The unit was renamed the 15th Special Operations Squadron Aug. 1, 1968. The unit was equipped with four UWC-130Es. However, it was inactivated Oct 31, 1970.
A direction by Congress in 1981 to upgrade and expand the Combat Talon fleet set in motion the Combat Talon II program. Actual flight-testing of the MC-130H began in Sep 1988. The MC-130H arrived at Hurlburt Field in 1991 and was assigned to the 8 SOS.
The 15th SOS was reactivated Oct 1, 1992 at Hurlburt Field. Members of the initial cadre at Hurlburt continued to perform flight tests, deploy and conduct formal school training. The unit has since distinguished itself by supporting more than 24 readiness exercises, eight real world deployments, successfully completing the first around-the-world deployment of a single Combat Talon II, and pioneered the first-ever formation flying techniques under special operations conditions involving both Combat Talons I and II.
The 15th SOS maintains operationally ready combat aircrews on constant alert, responsive to any real world threat "Any Time, Any Place."
The 15th Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy) (constituted 520th Bombardment Squadron [Heavy] on 13 Oct 1942; activated on 18 Oct 1942; redesignated 15th Antisubmarine Squadron [Heavy] on 29 Nov 1942; disbanded on 2 Nov 1943; reconstituted on 19 Sep 1985) consolidated (19 Sep 1985) with the 15th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy (constituted on 28 Mar 1944; activated on 1 Apr 1944; inactivated on 15 Apr 1946; activated in the Reserve on 1 Aug 1947; inactivated on 27 Jun 1949) and the 15th Special Operations Squadron (constituted 15th Air Commando Squadron, and activated, on 13 Feb 1968; organized on 15 Mar 1968; redesignated 15th Special Operations Squadron on 1 Aug 1968; inactivated on 31 Oct 1970). Activated on 1 Oct 1992.
378th Bombardment Group, 18 Oct 1942 (attached to 25th Antisubmarine Wing, 20 Nov 1942-); 26th Antisubmarine Wing, 14 Dec 1942 (remained attached to 25th Antisubmarine Wing to c. Jul 1943); Second Air Force, 17 Oct-2 Nov 1943. 16th Bombardment Group, 1 Apr 1944-15 Apr 1946. 445th Bombardment Group, 1 Aug 1947-27 Jun 1949. Pacific Air Forces, 13 Feb 1968; 14th Air Commando (later, 14th Special Operations) Wing, 15 Mar 1968-31 Oct 1970. 1st Special Operations (later, 16th Operations) Group, 1 Oct 1992-15 Nov 2006. 1st Special Operations Wing, 16 Nov 2006-.
Jacksonville Muni Aprt, 18 Oct 1942 (air echelon operated from Langley Field, VA, 3 Jun-3 Jul 1943 and from Drew Field, FL, Jul 1943); Batista Field, Cuba, 25 Jul 1943; Jacksonville AAFld, FL, c. 1 Oct 1943; Wendover Field, UT, 17 Oct-2 Nov 1943. Dalhart AAFld, TX, 1 Apr 1944; Fairmont AAFld, NE, 15 Aug 1944-7 Mar 1945 (air echelon operated from Boringuen Field, Puerto Rico, c. 9-25 Jan 1945); Northwest Field, Guam, 14 Apr 1945-15 Apr 1946. Hill Field, (later, AFB), UT, 1 Aug 1947-27 Jun 1949. Nha Trang AB, South Vietnam, 15 Mar 1968-31 Oct 1970. Hurlburt Field, FL, 1 Oct 1992-.
O-47, 1942; B-25, 1942-1943; B-34, 1942-1943; B-24, 1943. B-17, 1944-1945; B-29, 1944-1946. C-130, 1968-1970. MC-130, 1992-.
Antisubmarine patrols, Oct 1942-Sep 1943. Combat in Western Pacific, 16 Jun-14 Aug 1945. Combat and combat rescue in Southeast Asia, 15 Mar 1968-31 Oct 1970.
World War II
Antisubmarine, American Theater
Air Offensive, Japan
Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II
Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III
Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV
Vietnam Summer-Fall, 1969
Vietnam Winter-Spring, 1970
Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers
Distinguished Unit Citation
Japan, 29 Jul - 6 Aug 1945
Meritorious Unit Awards
1 Oct 2011-30 Sep 2013
1 Oct 2013-30 Sep 2015
Presidential Unit Citation
1 Jan 1966-15 Nov 1970; 21 Jun 1968-30 Jun 1969
Gallant Unit Citation
6 Oct 2001 - 30 May 2003
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device
15 Mar - 1920 Jun 1968
1 Jul - 31 Oct 1970
1 Jun 1997 - 31 May 1999
1 Jul 2003 - 1 Jun 2005
1 Sep 2006 - 30 Jun 2007
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
1 Oct 1992 - 15 Apr 1994
1 Jun 1995 - 31 May 1997
1 Jul 1999 - 30 June 2001
1 Jul 2001 - 30 Jun 2003
1 Sep 2004 - 31 Aug 2006
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
15 Mar 1968 - 31 Oct 1970
Blue represents the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow signifies the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The globe reflects the worldwide scope of special operations. The winged dagger is symbolic of the squadron's ability to deliver precision operations anywhere and anytime. The flames allude to bomb blasts and recall the squadron's predecessor unit (15th Bombardment Squadron). They also signify the five theater commands to which the squadron provides support and point out the specialized nature of most special operations missions.