15th SOS rests its wings after four years
By Airman 1st Class James Dickens , Editor
/ Published January 27, 2006
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --
After more than four years, Hurlburt Field finally welcomes home the 15th Special Operations Squadron.
Since Sept. 11, at least 25 percent of the squadron has been deployed, other than a two-month break in June of 2003.
The squadron flies the MC-130H Combat Talon II, which is specially modified to support unconventional warfare and special operations forces worldwide. The Talon II is capable of penetrating a hostile environment at high and low altitudes and inclement weather to insert, extract and resupply special operations forces by airdrop or air land operations.
“Everybody really appreciates their time back home after being gone so much,” said Tech. Sgt. Steve Marks, loadmaster.
“This reconstitution is going to give the squadron a chance to all meet and get to know one another again,” said Lt. Col. Rob Toth, 15th SOS commander.
The squadron had its highs and lows during the string of deployments, but the leadership and members tried their best to take care of their Airmen.
“We try to give them at least a six-month notice for deployments, but most of the time they know a year in advance,” said the commander. “It gives them a chance to plan for everything. Also, during the hurricanes, we got together and went and helped spouses clean up and fix their homes,” said the commander.
The spouses also got together to send care packages to the crews while they were deployed.
Training for current missions and the emerging mission of helicopter refueling will be the squadron’s primary focus.
Over the past two years the 15th SOS has implemented Special Operation Command's number one acquisition program, the MC-130 Aerial Refueling System.
The new $240 million program provides the ability to refuel helicopters at slow speeds and CV-22’s at higher speeds. The squadron reached initial operational capability nearly four months ahead of major command expectations despite having only 30 percent of their aircraft available for training. The next task will be bringing the other three MC-130H squadrons online.
This force extending capability will not only support Air Force Special Operations Command, but will also help meet significant growth in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the Army’s elite helicopter unit. Together the crews of the 15th SOS and their receivers will take the fight to the terrorist’s doorstep.
"We are doing missions daily as complicated as those done in the past,” said Colonel Toth. “The skills possessed by my crews are impressive, and make me proud to be their commander.”