Welcome Home 1st SOW

  • Published
  • By Col. Norman Brozenick Jr.
  • 1st SOW commander
Welcome home 1st Special Operations Wing. The basics of our profession have not changed much since you've been gone. And that's good. 

General Hap Arnold is still our father. The military still refers to us as he did, "Air Commandos." General Arnold resourced our first organization, the 1st Air Commando Group, and some sixty-two years later we're grateful to reclaim the number 1 as part of our wing designation. 

We still consider Lt. Cols. Philip G. Cochran and John R. Allison our first commanders. They developed the basic tactics, techniques, and procedures we've employed throughout our sixty year history...using specialized airpower to infiltrate, exfiltrate, resupply, refuel, rescue, and provide airborne fires for ground forces operating behind enemy lines. 

We utilize the same composite organizational construct as Cochran and Allison. Their aircraft included transports, fighters, utility aircraft, gliders, bombers, and helicopters. 

We've deleted a few types from our ramp, incorporated highly sophisticated technology in our fixed and rotory wing fleets, and added gunships, unmanned aerial vehicles, and space based system enablers. 

Like our early Air Commandos, we're renowned for capability, credibility, and faithfulness in support of allied ground forces. 

Operations remain risky, and not without tragedy. Following a 1944 training mishap Colonel Cochran received a note from the British commander of Soldiers killed in the incident. He wrote "please be assured we will go with your boys anyplace, anytime, anywhere." We've kept that motto, and recorded "Anytime, Anyplace" on our patch and in our hearts. 

We identify with Air Commandos of the 1960s who were reborn to fight insurgents.
Our heritage from the Vietnam War includes capabilities like gunship, places like Sontay, and names like Medal of Honor Winners Maj. Bernard Fisher, Lt. Col. Joe Jackson, Col. William Jones III, Capt. James Fleming, and Airman 1st Class John Levitow. 

And we learned that even when a unit designation changes, say from the 1st Air Commando Wing to the 1st Special Operations Wing, the Air Commando spirit never wavers. 

We continue to study the difficult times following the Vietnam War, when our capabilities were reduced to a three squadron wing. 

And we still celebrate those Air Commandos with "the guts to try" at Desert One, very deeply respecting those who shouldered the stigma of a mission cancelled and the pain of comrades lost. 

We learned from the tough success on the island of Grenada, and remain vigilant when conducting counter drug operations like Operation Bahamas and Turks. 

Our wing continues to benefit greatly from the Congressional legislation of 1986 that gave us prioritized funding for special operations organization, training, and equipment.
A great contributor to success from Panama, DESERT SHIELD and STORM through Kosovo, improvements in joint training, modernized equipment, and a recapitalized fleet are absolutely critical to our fight against terrorists. 

The 1st SOW now boasts a 29-squadron wing, capable of deploying and sustaining a fight anywhere in the world on a moment's notice. 

Though we employ more capability than ever before, we are convinced that speed, stealth, and lethality remain vital to our success. 

Air Commandos still define success the old fashion way-when the joint team wins, we win. Saluting smartly, we last flew the 1st SOW flag on 1 October 1993 just before being redesignated as the 16th SOW. 

Though the numbers changed, the intrepid ways and selfless sacrifices of our Air Commandos and their families did not. 

We expect exactly the same when we case the 16th SOW flag and unfurl the 1st SOW colors today, 16 November 2006. 

So welcome home, 1st SOW, in the midst of another determined fight against insurgents and terrorists. Like teammates throughout our history, our joint and coalition partners in Afghanistan and Iraq deserve nothing less than our heritage's best. No fail.