CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
With the upcoming departure of the 524th Special Operations Squadron from here, "We're losing the last squadron that has original ties to the 27th when it was formed," said Steven Frank, 27th Special Operations Wing historian.
The 27th SOW celebrated the history and heritage of the 524th SOS and the C-146 Wolfhound
at an end-of-mission ceremony May 31, 2017, here.
Frank uttered these words as he reviewed a slide show on the impact the unit had. Since World War II -- when it received five distinguished unit citations or how it’s been a staple of Cannon Air Force Base ever since the base began -- the 524th Special Operations Squadron has had a staggering history with the 27th SOW.
The 524th SOS will continue, just no longer at Cannon, AFB. The unit is transferring to Duke Field, Florida. Once there, it will fall under the 492nd SOW
The 524th has a long and varied history dating back to 1941. At the time it was the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron, flying B-18 Bolo Bombers. Later in the year, the squadron was re-designated the 91st Bombardment Squadron and was assigned directly under the 27th Group. A couple of years later, the 91st Bombardment Squadron was re-designated the 524th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, flying A-36 Apache dive bombers.
Since then, the squadron continued to change throughout the years, with only its numerical designation staying constant.
The squadron’s mission continuously evolved along with the aircraft they were utilizing. They evolved from the Fighter-Bomber Squadron to the Fighter Squadron, Fighter-Escort Squadron, Strategic Fighter Squadron, Tactical Fighter Squadron, Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, and finally to the 524th Special Operations Squadron of present day.
The number of different aircraft platforms the squadron has flown in it's 76-year history is equally varied: the B-18 Bolo, A-20 Havoc, A-24 Banshee, A-36 Apache, P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, F-82 Sabre, F-84 Thunderjet, F-101 Voodoo, F-100 Super Sabre, F-111 Aardvark, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the squadron’s current C-146 Wolfhound.
This move to Duke Field was a long time coming. According to Lt. Col. Derick Steed, 524th SOS commander, the first discussions happened over four years ago. Steed, who has been in the Air Force for 20 years and most of it in special operations, says the movement of people has been incremental.
“We intentionally spread the move over an entire year to ensure we were able to move the squadron members and their families to Duke Field without causing major disruptions to our downrange operations,” Steed said.
Steed says the squadron will be located at Duke Field because they will be a classic association total force integration effort with the 859th SOS of the 919th SOW
of Air Force Reserve.
“The move allows us to co-locate with our total force integration partner unit, the 859th SOS,” he said. “We will continue to fly and deploy alongside reserve component members around the globe and at home station just as we have been doing since 2015. (The integration) increases the capability we bring to the table every day, any time, any place, anywhere.”
For Steed, the position of commander for a unit with such a wealth of history is not lost on him. “It’s been a great honor to serve in this position,” he said. “Members of the 524th were in the Philippines when World War II started, and they have fought in the air and on the ground in every major conflict since. We continue today in five theaters across the globe every day. We fly, on average, 63 hours a day moving U.S., allied, and partner nation special operations forces to further national objectives.”