492nd SOW activation completes circle of Air Commando history

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Katherine Holt
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center was inactivated, and the 492nd Special Operations Wing was activated during a ceremony here, May 10. Simultaneously, the 492nd Special Operations Group and the 492nd Special Operations Training Group were activated under the 492nd SOW.

The activation ceremony bridged Air Force Special Operations Command’s lineage to its present and future.

“It is a pleasure to be here on this historic day. A day which formally links our storied past with our exciting future,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, the commander of AFSOC. “As we officially inactivate [AFSOAWC] and activate the 492nd [SOW], I’m reminded of an old military adage, ‘History makes you smart-heritage makes you proud.’ And I'm certainly proud today. Proud of where we have been, proud of where we are, and especially proud of where we are going.”

The designator for the 492nd SOW dates back to WWII when the 801st Bombardment Group was established at Harrington Field, England, in September 1943. Almost a year later, it would be redesignated as the 492nd Bombardment Group, a cover for their secret mission—Operation Carpetbagger. The Office of Special Services, a predecessor to the CIA, used the 492nd BG to secretly arm the French. During the war, the 492nd BG helped deliver more than 5,000 tons of supplies including 18,535 containers, 10,700 packages, 662 spies and approximately one million gallons of fuel.

Three members of the 492nd BG, known as Carpetbaggers, were present for the activation ceremony that honored their performance, professionalism and heroism.

“Intrepid men like Capt. [Eugene] Polinsky, 1st Lt. [Hewitt] Gomez and Sgt. [Bill] Becker, who flew heavily-modified B-24s deep into Germany’s Fortress Europe. And, so started some of the most relevant, aviation special operations in WWII,” Webb said. “With Carpetbagger missions designated as special flights, the 492nd Bombardment Group is rightfully among the first, certainly in Europe, who can claim the title of being special operators.”

Col. Nathan Green assumed command of the newly activated 492nd SOW which provides commands with education through the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School, flight testing of AFSOC’s entire fleet of aircraft, aircrew enhanced ground training and more.

“General Webb, thank you for your vision, guidance and belief in us,” Green said. “You’re tasking this Wing to carry out the test, train, educate, and innovate missions in our training group; as well as the non-standard aviation and combat aviation advising in our irregular warfare group. The growth that is happening in all of these efforts has led us to the point to standing up a new Wing today.”

As supporters of the resistance movements throughout Europe, the 492nd BG was the first Air Force unit to support irregular warfare. A legacy the 492nd SOW will continue to uphold.

“We are incredibly humble and dedicated to our purpose of turning Airmen into Air Commandos, keeping innovation going and providing irregular warfare capability whenever and wherever it is needed,” Green said. “We, in the new 492nd, are proud to be a part of your group and heritage, and we will carry it on proudly.”

During the ceremony, Green activated the 492nd Special Operations Support Squadron, appointing Lt. Col. Craig Swierzbin as commander, and the 492nd Special Operations Advanced Capabilities Squadron, appointing Lt. Col. Matthew Laurentz as commander.

Col. George Hock was appointed as the commander of the 492nd SOG, and Col. Michael Lee was appointed as the 492nd SOTG.