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6th Special Operations Squadron Patch – Sew On

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4 inch 6th Special Operations Squadron Patch – Sew On

World War II

1st Air Commando Group P-47 Thunderbolts
The squadron was first activated at Asansol Airfield, India in September 1944 as the 6th Fighter Squadron, Commando and equipped with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. In its first months of operation, it flew from several stations in what are now India and Bangladesh, maintaining detachments at Cox’s Bazar from 15 to 21 October 1944, 2 to 8 November 1944 and 11 to 18 January 1945, and from Fenny Airfield from 1 to 24 December 1944. The 6th flew combat missions in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II starting on 17 October 1944. In 1945, the 6th converted to the North American P-51 Mustang, continuing to fly missions until 8 May 1945. The squadron left India in October 1945 and was inactivated upon arriving at the Port of Embarkation in November.[1][4] In 1948, the Air Force disbanded the squadron along with its other fighter commando squadrons.[1]

Vietnam War

A 6th SOS A-1E Skyraider at Pleiku in 1968–69.
In 1962, the squadron was reconstituted and activated at Eglin Air Force Base Auxiliary Airfield No. 9, Florida, where it was equipped with Douglas B-26 Invaders and North American T-28 Trojans. The 6th trained crews in counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare. It also flew demonstration flights for those tactics. Squadron personnel deployed to Vietnam, where they served as advisors to Vietnamese Air Force personnel at Bien Hoa Air Base. They also trained airmen from Latin America at Howard Air Force Base, Panama Canal Zone in counterinsurgency tactics.[4]

The squadron reduced an all T-28 unit in 1963. Many of the 6th’s personnel formed cadres for new special operations units being formed. By March 1964, the squadron manning had recovered to the point where it could deploy to Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, to train air and ground crews in counterinsurgency operations. In 1966, the squadron was redesignated the 6th Air Commando Squadron, Fighter and moved to England Air Force Base along with its parent 1st Air Commando Wing. At England the squadron began to receive A-1 “Spad” aircraft to replace its Trojans. By December 1967, the last of the T-28s had been transferred.

The unit deployed to Pleiku Air Base, Vietnam, in February 1968, where it was briefly assigned to the 14th Air Commando Wing until the Air Force formed the 633d Special Operations Wing at Pleiku in July, the same day the unit was renamed the 6th Special Operations Squadron. It began flying combat missions on 1 March 1968, including close air support for ground forces, air cover for transports flying Operation Ranch Hand missions, day and night interdiction missions, combat search and rescue support, armed reconnaissance, and forward air control missions. The unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, and two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat “V” Device during its twenty-one month tour in Vietnam.[1][4]

It was inactivated in Operation Keystone Cardinal, the first reduction in United States Air Forces combat forces as ceilings on forces in South Vietnam were reduced. It continued to fly combat until it was inactivated and its Douglas A-1 Skyraiders were transferred to the 56th Special Operations Wing, stationed in Thailand.[1][5]

The squadron returned to England Air Force Base on 8 January 1970 and equipped with Cessna A-37 Dragonfly light attack aircraft. Its mission was replacement training of US Air Force and allied air force pilots on the Dragonfly. The squadron’s training mission was reflected in a name change to the 6th Special Operations Training Squadron in August 1972. At England, the 6th was initially assigned to the 4410th Combat Crew Training Wing. As US activity in Southeast Asia drew down, so did the need to train pilots for the war. The 4410th was reduced to a group, and finally inactivated in July 1973, when the squadron returned to the control of the 1st Special Operations Wing, which had left England for Hurlburt Field in 1969. In January 1974, the squadron was assigned to the host wing at England, the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing until it was inactivated in July.[1][4]

Combat Aviation Advisors

6th Special Operations Squadron and aircraft in 2005
The squadron was redesignated the 6th Special Operations Flight and activated at Hurlburt Field on 1 April 1994, when it absorbed the personnel of Detachment 7, Special Operations Combat Operations Staff, which had been organized in August 1993 to provide an aviation related foreign internal defense capability. Detachment 7, had just made its first major foreign internal defense deployment the preceding month, to Ecuador. By October 1994, the unit had grown and was renamed the 6th Special Operations Squadron once again. Two years later, on 11 October 1996, the squadron became a flying outfit when it received two Bell UH-1N Hueys.[1][4] Since that time, the squadron has operated a number of US and foreign aircraft in its advisory role. Since 1994 the squadron has sent advisers to help US-allied forces employ and sustain their own airpower resources and, when necessary, integrate those resources into joint and multi-national operations.[4] Until the activation of the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron in Iraq in 2007, it was the “sole USAF unit whose primary mission encompassed the training-advising of host nation air forces.” This mission often merged with counterinsurgency and foreign internal defense missions in host countries.[6]

The unit moved from Hurlburt Field to Duke Field in 2012, when the 711th Special Operations Squadron transitioned from the Lockheed MC-130E Combat Talon to the foreign internal defense role, the two units jointly assuming the new mission. “As the only two Air Force operational squadrons performing this mission, their deployment tempo is best described as continuous averaging around one deployment a month.”[7]

In 2015, the 6th shares a building, flightline, PZL C-145 Skytruck aircraft and mission with Air Force Reserve Command’s 711th Squadron at Duke Field.[8] Starting early 2017, the 6th was also flying the Cessna 208 Caravan in an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role.[4]