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Cannon activates 318th Special Operations Squadron

  • Published
  • By Capt. Mae-Li Allison
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The addition of a second operational flying squadron to the 27th Special Operations Wing was marked by a squadron activation ceremony of the 318th Special Operations Squadron here May 16. 

Taking command of the 318th SOS was Lt. Col. Darren Demers, whose previous assignment was at the Pentagon, working in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low-Intensity Conflict, and Interdependent Capabilities.

The commander of the 27th SOW, Col. Timothy Leahy, described the significance of the event as threefold.

"First, we are going to activate the 318th SOS, whose guidon has been encased for 34 years," said Colonel Leahy. "In and of itself that is a momentous event. Second, we bring a new family of aircraft to our Air Force and a new combat capability to the United States Special Operations Command. And finally, we are going to install a truly gifted officer and pilot as the commander of this remarkable unit."

According to Colonel Leahy, the 318th SOS will fly a variety of light and medium aircraft known as Non-Standard Aviation. The squadron currently has four PC-12 aircraft, the mission of which is intra-theater airlift.

"This squadron will provide battlefield mobility for our special operations forces," Colonel Leahy said. "It will allow us to move the best-trained, best-equipped, and most lethal warriors around the world, arriving where we are least expected when we are least expected to carry the fight to our enemies and assure victory in the Global War on Terrorism."

Colonel Leahy expressed full confidence in the leadership of Colonel Demers, who arrived at Cannon in mid March.

"He has over 4,700 flight hours in a variety of aircraft, a reputation as a warrior in the special operations community and is a proven leader in an unstructured environment," Colonel Leahy said. "He is the right man, at the right time in exactly the right place to lead this group of quiet professionals into combat and safely bring them home again."

Speaking directly to Maj. Gen. Kurt Cichowski, Air Force Special Operations Command vice commander, Colonel Leahy added, "Rest assured, the 318th SOS is in good hands."

Colonel Demers and the members of the 318th SOS are not only making a mark on 27th SOW history, but on Air Force history as well.

"The members of the 318th take great pride in being one of the first two operational flying squadrons at Cannon since the AFSOC transition," said Colonel Demers. "I also feel privileged to be a part of this new squadron that carries with it a long, esteemed legacy."

Before its activation, the 318th SOS was based at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., from Nov. 15, 1971, to June 1, 1974, and was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing. During that time, according to the 27th SOW historian Rick Shea, the squadron provided unconventional C-130 forces to support warfare plans and rescue escapees from safe areas within enemy territory.

Mr. Shea added that the 318th SOS was originally activated on May 1, 1944, at Camp Mackall, N.C., as the 318th Troop Carrier Squadron. Assigned to the 3rd Air Commando Group in the Southwest Pacific, flying C-47 Skytrains, the squadron transported personnel, supplies and equipment in the Southwest Pacific area. The squadron also frequently operated from forward bases and evacuated casualties to Australia, and even participated in the evacuation of allied prisoners of war from Japan. By war's end, with the massive demilitarization/demobilization that followed, the 318th was inactivated on Mar. 25, 1946.

The tenor of the May 16 activation was set with Chaplain (Capt.) Hugh Cottrell's invocation, during which he said, "In the dawn we see the perfect unity of new and old. That is what we celebrate here this morning; we bring together new people, a new mission, and a new airframe and join them with a proud and familiar name."