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One of two 16th Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre AC-130H gunships taxis onto the flightline at Cannon AFB, NM
A PC-12 Pilatus parks on Cannon's flightline
The 27th Special Operations Group (27 SOG) is the flying component of the 27th Special Operations Wing, assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The group is stationed at Cannon Air Force Basemarker, New Mexicomarker.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 27th Bombardment (later Fighter) Group fought in the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean, Middle East and African theatres. Its ground personnel fought as infantry in the 1941-1942 Battle of Bataan with the survivors being forced to march as prisoners in the Bataan Death March. Its air echelon went on to be awarded five Distinguished Unit Citations and a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. The Airmen of the 27th were among the most decorated USAAF units of the war.

Overview

The 27th Special Operations Group accomplishes global special operations taskings as an Air Force component member of the United States Special Operations Command. It conducts infiltration/exfiltration, combat support, helicopter and tilt-rotor aerial refueling, psychological warfare, and other special missions. It directs the deployment, employment, training, and planning for four squadrons that operate the MC-130W Combat Spear, MQ-1B Predator, PC-12 aircraft, and provide operational support to flying operations.

Components

There are four squadrons within the group.

MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at Nellis Air Force Basemarker, Nevadamarker and Cannon AFBmarker, New Mexicomarker
  • 73rd Special Operations Squadron, MC-130W Combat Spear
  • 318th Special Operations Squadron, Pilatus PC-12


History

See 27th Special Operations Wing for additional history and lineage information

Lineage

  • Established as 27 Bombardment Group (Light) on 22 Dec 1939
Activated on 1 Feb 1940
Redesignated: 27 Fighter Bomber Group on 23 Aug 1943
Redesignated: 27 Fighter Group on 30 May 1944
Inactivated on 7 Nov 1945
  • Activated on 20 Aug 1946
Redesignated 27 Fighter-Escort Group on 1 Feb 1950
Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952
  • Redesignated: 27 Tactical Fighter Group on 31 Jul 1985 (Remained inactive)
  • Redesignated: 27 Operations Group on 28 Oct 1991
Activated on 1 Nov 1991
Redesignated 27th Special Operations Group on 1 Oct 2007


Assignments

Ground echelon attached to: V Interceptor Command, 24 Dec 1941-8 May 1942
Air echelon under operational control of American-British-Dutch-Australian Command, c. Mar-4 May 1942


Attached to XII Tactical Command, 20 Sep-2 Oct 1944
Attached to First Tactical Air Force [Provisional], 21 Feb 1945


Components



Stations

Ground echelon at: Fort William McKinley, Luzonmarker
: Assigned as ground forces as 27th Bombardment Group Provisional Infantry Regiment (Air Corp), Bataanmarker, on 24 Dec 1941-8 May 1942
Air echelon diverted to: Archerfield Airportmarker, Australia, 24 Dec 1941- Mar 1942




Aircraft assigned





Operational History

On 1 February 1940, the United States Army Air Corps activated the 27th Bombardment Group (Light) at Barksdale Army Airfield marker, Louisianamarker and equipped it with the Douglas B-18 Bolo Light bomber aircraft. The group consisted of the 15th, 16th and 17th Bombardment Squadrons. In October of that year the group moved to Hunter Army Airfieldmarker, Georgiamarker, less the 15th Bombardment Squadron, which was reassigned to V Air Support Command on 14 October. On 21 October the group was ordered to the Philippine Islandsmarker in response to the growing crisis in the Pacific.

World War II

South West Pacific Theatre

Philippine Campaign (1941-42)
Arriving at Fort William McKinley in the Philippines on 20 November the 27th BG (L) readied itself for delivery of its A-24 Dauntless aircraft. Concern grew as days turned into weeks and still the planes had not arrived. When the Imperial Japanese Army attacked the Philippines on 9 December 1941, the situation had not changed. Unknown to the 27th BG (L) Airmen, to avoid capture or destruction, the ship carrying the planes was diverted to Australia when the war escalated.

On 18 December Major John H. Davies, 27th BG (L) commander, and an aircrew of 20 flew from Clark Fieldmarker on Luzonmarker in two B-18s and one Douglas C-39 of Transport Command to Tarakan Islandmarker in the Dutch East Indiesmarker to Darwinmarker Australia arriving on 22 December. Flying from Darwin, the group arrived in Brisbanemarker on 24 December to pick up their A-24s off the ship USAT Meigs. However, as a swift Japanese advance prevented his group from returning to the Philippines, the air echelon of the 27th was ordered to operate from Brisbane.

The ground echelon of the 27th still in the Philippines was evacuated south from Luzon on 25 December to the Bataan Peninsulamarker, arriving to form the 2nd Battalion (27th Bombardment Group) Provisional Infantry Regiment (Air Corp). For the 99 days following the attack on Pearl Harbormarker until their surrender to the Japanese after the Battle of Bataan, the men of the 27th BG became the only Air Force unit in history to fight as an infantry regiment, and were the only unit to be taken captive in whole. After surrendering, they were forced to endure the infamous Bataan Death March. Of the 880 or so Airmen who were taken, less than half survived captivity.

However, a number of officers and enlisted men of the 27th Bomb Group were evacuated out of the Philippines in five U.S. Navy submarines just before it was overrun by the Japanese during April. The USS Seawolf, USS Seadragon, USS Sargo, USS Swordfish and lastly the USS Spearfish, on the night of the 3 May 1942 managed to sneak into Manila Baymarker and evacuate American personnel from Corregidormarker to Java and Fremantle, Western Australiamarker.

Dutch East Indies and New Guinea Campaigns (1942)
Unidentified 1941 serial Douglas A-24-DE Dauntless Dive Bomber, ex 27th Bombardment Group (Light), reassigned to the 8th Squadron of the 3rd Bomb Group, Charters Towers Airfield, Queensland, Australia, 1942.
In Australia, the escaped airmen and aircraft of the 27th Bomb Group reformed into a combat unit. In early 12 February pilots of the 91st Sqdn flew their A-24's with gunners from Brisbane to Malangmarker Javamarker in the colonial Dutch East Indiesmarker to defend the island. The group participated in an attack on the Japanese invasion fleet landing troops on Balimarker. The attacks, carried out during the afternoon of 19 February and throughout the morning of 20 February, caused little damage and all air operations that day failed to halt the landings. The group was credited with the sinking of a Japanese cruiser and a destroyer. From 27 February through 1 March, three A-24's of the 91st Sqdn participated in Battle of the Java Sea. The remaining pilots & gunners of the 27th Bomb Group were flown out to Australia in early March, consolidating with the 16th and 17th Squadrons which had moved from Brisbane to Batchelor airfield in the Northern Territorymarker.

For their heroic efforts in the Philippines and the Southwest Pacific during late 1941 and early 1942, the 27th Bombardment Group (Light) received three Distinguished Unit Citations (DUC).

On 25 March, Major Davies, and the surviving 27th Bomb Group personnel consisting of 42 officers, 62 enlisted men and 24 A-24s were assigned to the 3rd Bombardment Group at Charters Towers airfieldmarker in Queensland, Australia. Davies would take over as CO of the 3rd BG while three other senior pilots from the 27th would become CO's of the 8th, 13th and 90th Squadrons. The officers and enlisted men were assigned to the four squadrons of the 3rd BG. The remaining A-24 aircraft were added to the 8th Bomb Squadron. Over the next 21 months these men would fly combat missions to the Philippines, New Guinea and Rabaul as well as play a leading role in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

On 4 May the unmanned and unequipped 27th Bomb Group was inactivated in place, and transferred administrativeley back to the United States.

European-African-Middle Eastern Theater

North African Campaign
On 4 May the 27th Bombardment Group (Light) was reactivated without personnel or equipment at Hunter AAF Georgia. At Hunter, the group was re-manned and re-equipped with the Douglas A-20 Havoc light bomber. After additional training in Mississippimarker and Louisianamarker, on 26 December the group was transferred to Ste-Barbe-du-Tlelat Airfieldmarker, Algeriamarker to enter combat in North Africa with Twelfth Air Force.

Maintenance and support personnel went by sea to North Africa while aircrews and the A-20s flew to South America then across to North Africa, In North Africa, the A-20s were sent to other groups and the 27th Bomb Group was redesignated as the 27th Fighter-Bomber Group and reequipped with the North American A-36 Invader dive bomber. Assigned to Korba, Tunisiamarker, the 27th FBG flew its first combat missions of the war on 6 June 1943.

The 27th served in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) until the end of the war. It was redesignated the 27th Fighter Group in May 1944 when the group converted first to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, then to the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft.

Sicilian/Italian Campaigns
During the Sicilian Campaign, operations included participation in the reduction of Pantelleriamarker and Lampedusamarker Islands and supporting ground forces during the conquest of Sicily. In the Italian Campaign the 27th covered the landings at Salernomarker and received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for preventing three German armored divisions from reaching the Salerno beachhead on 10 September 1943. In addition, the group supported the Fifth Army during the Allied drive toward Rome.

Southern France
The group took part in the invasion of Southern France and assisted Seventh Army's advance up the Rhône Valleymarker, receiving a second DUC for helping to disrupt the German retreat, 4 September 1944.

The 27th took part in the interdiction of the enemy's communications in northern Italy, and assisted in the Allied drive from France into Germany during the last months of the war, eventually being stationed at Biblismarker, Germany on V-E Day.

With five Distinguished Unit Citations and a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, the Airmen of the 27th were among the most decorated USAAF units of World War II.

Cold War

Postwar era
27th FW North American F-82E Twin Mustangs, (Serial 46-354 identifiable) along with a Boeing B-29 Superfortress at Kearney AFB Nebraska.
: 27th Fighter-Escort Group F-84Gs at Hickam AFB, October 1952.
In the immediate postwar drawdown of the USAAF, the 27th Fighter Group was returned to the United States in October 1945, then inactivated on 7 November at Camp Shanks, New York. Within a year, the group was reactivated in Germany on 20 August 1946, being assigned to Fritzlarmarker Air Base, flying P-47 Thunderbolts.

The group stayed in Germany for a year performing occupation duty until being transferred, without personnel or equipment, to Andrews AAFmarker, Marylandmarker, in June 1947. The 27th was assigned to Strategic Air Command and reactivated at Kearney AAFmarker Nebraskamarker as the 27th Fighter Wing, with the 27th Fighter Group as its operational component. Fighter Squadrons of the 27th were the 522d, 523d and 524th.

The 27th was initially equipped with the North American P-51D Mustang, and in 1948 was upgraded to the new North American F-82E Twin Mustang. In June 1948 the designation "P" for pursuit was changed to "F" for fighter. Subsequently, all P-51s were redesignated F-51s. The mission of the 27th Fighter Wing was to fly long-range escort missions for SAC Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers. With the arrival of the F-82s, the older F-51s were sent to Air National Guard units.

The first production F-82Es reached the 27th in early 1948, and almost immediately the group was deployed to McChord AFBmarker, Washingtonmarker, in June where its squadrons stood on alert on a secondary air defense mission due to heightened tensions over the Berlin Airlift. It was also believed that the 27th would launch an escort mission, presumably to the Soviet Union, if conflict broke out in Europe. From McChord, the group flew its Twin Mustangs on weather reconnaissance missions over the northwest Pacific, but problems were encountered with their fuel tanks. Decommissioned F-61 Black Widow external tanks were found at Hamilton AFBmarker, Californiamarker that could be modified for the F-82 which were fitted on the pylons of the Twin Mustang that solved the problem. With a reduction in tensions, the 27th returned to its home base in Nebraska during September where the unit settled down to transition flying with their aircraft.

Four F-82s were deployed to Alaska from McChord where the pilots provided transition training to the 449th Fighter (All Weather) Squadron which used Twin Mustangs in the air defense mission. They remained in Alaska for about 45 days, returning to rejoin the rest of the group at the beginning of November 1948.

In January 1949, Eighth Air Force planned a large celebration at Carswell AFBmarker. All of its assigned units were to participate in a coordinated flyover. Most of SAC's bombers were to participate, along with SAC's only "Long Range" fighter group, the 27th. The weather in Nebraska in January that year was especially horrible, with most airports in the Midwest weathered in the day of the display. At Kearney AFB, the base was socked-in with a blizzard. Nevertheless, the crews had an early morning mission briefing, the aircraft in the hangars were preflighted and prepared for the flyover mission. Paths were cut though the snow for the aircraft to taxi and somehow the F-82s got airborne, with the 27th's Twin Mustangs joining up with SAC bombers over Oklahomamarker on schedule. The flyover by the Twin Mustangs was a tremendous success, with SAC leadership being amazed that the F-82 was truly an "all weather" aircraft and the 27th being able to carry out their mission despite the weather.

In early 1949, the 27th began carrying out long-range escort profile missions. Flights to Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Bahamasmarker and nonstop to Washington D.Cmarker were carried out. For President Truman's 1949 inauguration, the 27th FEW launched 48 aircraft to fly in review, along with several other fighter units, in formation down Pennsylvania Avenue. Another flyover over the newly -dedicated Idlewild Airportmarker in New York City soon followed, with the aircraft flying non-stop from Kearney AFB.

With the tight defense budgets in the late 1940s, the decision was made by Strategic Air Command decided to close Kearney AFB in 1949. The 27th Fighter Wing was transferred to Bergstrom AFBmarker Texasmarker on 16 March.

At Bergstrom, the 27th transitioned to jet aircraft with Republic Aviation F-84E Thunderjet in 1950, and was redesignated the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing on 1 February. The wing won the Mackay Trophy for successful deployment of 90 F-84s from Bergstrom AFB, to Furstenfeldbruck Air Basemarker West Germany, in September 1950, via Labrador, Greenlandmarker, Icelandmarker, and England. This was the Second (the first being the 20th FG flying 64 F-84Ds on 20 Jul 1950 during Operation "READY" from Shaw AB, SC to RAF Manston, UK) long-range mass flight of jet aircraft in aviation history.

Korean War
Moved to the Far East in 1950 for temporary duty with Far East Air Forces during the Korean War. Operating from bases in South Korea and later Japan, flew missions in support of ground forces, earning another DUC for missions between 26 Jan and 21 Apr 1951. Among these missions was close support of the largest paratroop landing in the Korean War and escort for B-29 bombers on raids over North Korea, including combat with enemy MIG-15 fighters. Returned to the United States in Jul 1951. Not operational after Aug 1951, when its squadrons were attached for operational control to the wing as part of the Air Force tri-deputate reorganization. Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952.

Modern era

General Dynamics EF-111A AF Serial No.
67-0035 of the 429th/430th Electronic Combat Squadron.
Aircraft sent to AMARC on 28 April 1998.
General Dynamics Block 40B F-16C of the 524th Fighter Squadron, AF Serial No.
88-0416.
This was the first F-16 delivered to the 524th FS.
The group was reactivated in on 1 November 1991 as the 27th Operations Group and assigned to the 27th Fighter Wing as part of the "Objective Wing" concept adapted by the Air Force. The 27th OG was bestowed the lineage, honors and history of its predecessor history and honors of the 27 Tactical Fighter Group and its predecessor units. The 27 OG took control of the wings fighter squadrons upon activation.

From September 1992 to July 1993, 27 OG F-111 aircrews and support personnel rotated to Incirlik Air Basemarker, Turkeymarker, in support of Operation PROVIDE COMFORT.

In 1995 the face of the flightline changed when the wing began its transition to General Dynamics F-16C/D aircraft. The first F-16s to arrive in May were assigned to the 522d Fighter Squadron. Also transitioning were the 523d and 524th Fighter Squadrons.

With the arrival of the F-16s, the F-111s were sent to AMARC. The 428th Fighter Squadron was inactivated in September 1995, and the ECW EF-111A-equipped 429 ECS was deactivated in May, 1998 with the 27th Operations Group officially holding a retirement ceremony in memorial park. The F-111 in various forms had been at Cannon AFB for 29 years. With their retirement, the 430 ECS was deactivated.

On 15 January 1998, the 524th Fighter Squadron ventured to the desert for their first overseas deployment since transitioning to the F-16. The 522d Fighter Squadron deployed to Prince Sultan Air Basemarker, Saudi Arabiamarker in direct support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. They flew missions enforcing UN resolutions of no-fly zone over Southern Iraqmarker. In March, the 523d Fighter Squadron also deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.

These two 27 FW squadrons were the first F-16 unit to replace Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II units performing close air support. In addition, they were the first F-16 unit to maintain the demanding combat search and rescue alert in Southwest Asia. While deployed to the Gulf region in December 1998, the F-16s from the 522d Fighter Squadron provided close air support alert, defensive counter air alert and interdiction in Iraq.

In August, 1998, the 524th Fighter Squadron deployed to Hill AFBmarker, Utahmarker for exercise Combat Hammer. During the exercise, they dropped inert GBU-24 Paveway III laser guided bombs and fired live maverick antitank missiles on Utah test range. The hit rate was one of the highest ever seen in the Air Force, showcasing the lethality of the Block 40 F-16.

In 1998, the governments of the United States and Singaporemarker signed an agreement laying the foundation of the Peace Carvin III program. As a Foreign Military Sales training program for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), Peace Carvin III was designed for the continued training of RSAF in rapid deployment and tactical employment of the block 52 F-16C/D throughout a wide spectrum of missions including air-to-air, joint maritime and precision air-to-ground weapons delivery.

In support of Peace Carvin III, the 428th Fighter Squadron was reactivated on 12 November 1988 and tasked to take the lead in Peace Carvin III. The squadron was a hybrid of USAF and RSAF F-16C/D manned by USAF instructor pilots, Singaporean pilots and combined RSAF and USAF teams of maintenance and support personnel.

In May 1999, the 428th Fighter Squadron participated in its first official major exercise after its reactivation. The squadron deployed to Tyndall Air Force Basemarker, Floridamarker, for exercise Combat Archer. The exercise was designed to test weapons capabilities, tactics and employment. This included the first live firing of radar-guided air-to-air AIM-7 Sparrow by the RSAF.

With the completion of Peace Carvin III, the 428 FS was deactivated on 6 July 2005.

In July 1999, the 522d Fighter Squadron deployed to Keflavik Naval Air Stationmarker, Icelandmarker, to support NATOmarker exercise Coronet Norsemen. They served primarily as the combat air arm of the Iceland Defense Force. In August 1999, the 523d Fighter Squadron relieved the 522d Fighter Squadron from Coronet Norsemen.

During Operation ALLIED FORCE in 1999, the 524th Fighter Squadron was notified for "on-call" duty to augment forces. Quick termination of hostilities precluded the 524th Fighter Squadron from seeing action.

Global war on terror
On 11 September 2001 when terrorists attacked the World Trade Centermarker in New York City and The Pentagonmarker in Washington, D.C.marker, aircraft from the 27 FW went on air defense alert.

In December 2002, the 524 FS deployed to Kuwaitmarker and participated in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, dropping nearly a million pounds of precision guided munitions, more than any other F-16 Block 40 squadron in history.

In September 2007, the 522d Expeditionary Fighter Squadron wrapped up the final deployment for their squadron and, ultimately, the 27th Operations Group.

The 522d Fighter Squadron, known as the Fireballs, were inactivated upon their return to Cannon AFB and the 27 FW became the 27th Special Operations Group on 1 October 2007. Among the units that joined the group were the 3d SOS (MQ-1), 73d SOS (C-130s) and 318th SOS (light transport aircraft) as well as the 20th SOS (CV-22s).

References

  1. Pape 1977, pp. 48–63.
  2. Special Operators Head West - March 2008
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • [823668] Air Force Historical Research Agency, 27th Operations Group
  • [823669] ArmyAirForces.Com 27th Fighter Group
  • [823670] The 27th Bombardment Group (L) in Australia during WWII


Bibliography

  • Martin, Adrian R. and Larry W. Stephenson, Operation Plum: The Ill-Fated 27th Bombardment Group and the Fight for the Western Pacific (Texas A & M University Military History - 2008)


  • May, Mary Cathrin, The Steadfast Line: The Story of the 27th Bombardment Group (Light) in World War II (Privately Published 2003, 2006)


  • Bartsch, William H. 8 December 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor (Texas A&M University Military History Series 87., 2003)


  • Edmonds, Walter D. They Fought With What They Had: The Story of the Army Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific, 1941-1942 (1951, 1982)


External links


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