73rd SOS reactivates with new aircraft after 45 years
By Jamie Haig, 16 SOW Public Affairs
/ Published October 20, 2006
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla --
The 73rd Special Operations Squadron reactivated Tuesday after being dormant since 1961, and is charge with flying the Air Force Special Operations Command's newest weapons system, the MC-130W.
"When a squadron inactivates, the Air Force preserves the history, honor and heritage of that squadron," said Col. Mark Alsid, 16th Operations Group commander. "When a squadron reactivates, it inherits that heritage and history. The 73rd SOS is reopening the book."
Colonel Alsid received the sheathed guidon from Tech. Sgt. William Borg, 73rd SOS first sergeant, re-moved the cover and officially activated the squadron. He then handed the guidon to Lt. Col. Tom Markland, 73rd SOS's newest commander. The squadron had previously been aero and bomb squadrons and the 3rd Strategic Support Squadron.
"We have a rare opportunity to write the history of an AFSOC squadron," Colonel Markland said. "We anticipate the challenges of tomorrow. The MC-130W, in the capable hands of the men and women of the 73rd SOS, will be in high demand by our joint teammates."
Colonel Markland, a former MC-130E Combat Talon 1 pilot, AFSOC MC-130 program manager and 16th OG, Detachment 2 commander, is looking forward to the future with his new squadron.
"There's not a more unique opportunity in the Air Force," Colonel Markland said. "We have the right people with the right skills at the right time."
The squadron started as the 16th OG, Det. 2 five months ago with only 14 people, all of which were aircrew members. These 14 people were responsible for initiating every detail of a squadron stand-up from scratch.
"That included completing the DASH 1 (the aircraft's manual) in just five months, 18 months ahead of the Air Force standard," Colonel Markland said. "But we had great support from other squadrons, from typing orders to life support, it was a big team effort."
The newest aircraft in the AFSOC inventory is the MC-130W, which conducts infiltration, exfiltration and re-supply of U.S. and allied special operations forces in direct support of unified and theater special operations commands.
It's also capable of refueling special operations rotary wing assets, forward arming and refueling, ordnance de-livery, psychological operations support through airdrops, and to some extent, command and control functions.
Colonel Markland and Maj. Rich Dyer were the pilots who flew the first MC-130W from Robins Air Force Base, Gato, Hurlburt Field in July. By fiscal year 2009, the squadron will be at full strength. The squadron now has two fully-qualified crews, who developed the training that will be used by future crewmembers.
"This is one of the most unique experiences in my career," Colonel Markland said. "But it was because of everyone else in the squadron, they did it all. The 73rd is truly fortunate to have such a wealth of enthusiasm and combat experience."
The squadron will move into their permanent quarters inside the completely converted Oasis Café within two weeks.