Blackbirds return to Hurlburt nest, await new wings

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The 8th Special Operations Squadron ran its flag the 26 miles back to Hurlburt Field Wednesday after running it to Duke Field in February 2000.

The run marked the beginning of festivities celebrating the squadron's return to Hurlburt Field and the beginning of its transition from the MC-130E Combat Talon I to the CV-22 Osprey.

The squadron, originated in 1917, was based at Hurlburt Field from March 1974 until its move to Duke Field in 2000.
Airmen gathered at Freedom Hangar Thursday morning to witness the ceremony that re-established its place on Hurlburt Field. Following the ceremony, the Combat Talon I took its final active-duty flight. The plane will continue to be flown by the Air Force Reserves.

A ceremonial passing of the flag took place to signify the historical transition from the last flight of the Combat Talon I to the home of the 8th SOS squadron flying the CV-22.

The hand-off of the 8th SOS guidon went from the 16th Special Operations Wing Commander Col. Norman Brozenick Jr. to 16th Operations Group Commander, Col. Mark Alsid to 8th SOS Commander Lt. Col. Theodore Corallo to Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Marston to complete the transition home.

"As we say good-bye to the Talon I and prepare for the arrival of the CV-22 in November of this year, the traditions of the 8th SOS will carry on," Lt. Gen. Michael Wooley, Air Force Special Operations Command commander said at the ceremony Thursday.

The squadron will be Air Force Special Operations Command's first operational CV-22 Osprey squadron.

"It's very exciting," said Colonel Corallo about flying the CV-22. "We have a lot to look forward to. This unit (8th SOS) has always performed tremendously and we will continue to do so."

The guest speaker for the active-duty Combat Talon I Farewell dinner Wednesday evening was Gen. Norton Schwartz, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command and the highest ranking Talon "crew dawg".
"This is a reunion of a team who is devoted to mission and precision, who few outside of special operations know," said General Schwartz.

"This past year, the 8th SOS and the Talon have simultaneously supported operations in South America and Afghanistan. They're al-ways poised to execute missions anytime, anywhere, helping make the world a better place by defending the innocent."