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352d Special Operations Group
352d Special Operations Group.png
Emblem of the 352d Special Operations Group
Active 1944-1945; 1959-1961; 1970-1992; 1992-Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Air Commando
Part of USAF Special Operations Command
Garrison/HQ RAF Mildenhall

The 352d Special Operations Group (352 SOG) is an operational unit of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command. It is stationed at RAF Mildenhall, England. Its heritage dates back to 1944 as an air command unit.

The group serves as the focal point for all U.S. Air Force special operations activities throughout the European theater, including Africa and the Middle East. The 352d SOG is prepared to conduct a variety of high priority, low-visibility missions supporting U.S. and allied special operations forces throughout the European theater during peacetime, joint operations exercises, and combat operations. It trains and performs special operations in the European Command area of operations, including establishing air assault landing zones, controlling close air support by strike aircraft and gunships, and providing trauma care for wounded and injured personnel.

The group's origins date to 1944 as the 2d Air Commando Group. The unit was assigned to Tenth Air Force in India, whose elements operated in Burma flying a mixture of fighters, bombers, transports, military gliders and small planes performing operations behind the Japanese lines, and providing close air support for the British Fourteenth Army in the Burma Campaign.

Contents

History

The group's lineage and honors have to be traced not just through its own history, but through the history of three earlier organizations, the 2d Air Commando Group (1944-1945); the 702d Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Snark) (1959-1961) and the 39th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery (later Special Operations) Wing (1969-1992).

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Lineage

  • Established as 2 Air Commando Group on 11 Apr 1944
Activated on 22 Apr 1944
Inactivated on 12 Nov 1945
Disestablished on 8 Oct 1948
  • Reestablished and consolidated (31 Jul 1985) with the 702 Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Snark)
Established on 17 Jun 1958
Activated on 1 Jan 1959
Discontinued, and inactivated on 25 Jun 1961
  • Redesignated as: 352 Special Operations Wing on 31 Jul 1985 (Remained inactive)
  • Redesignated as: 352 Special Operations Group on 21 Sep 1992
Activated on 1 Dec 1992
  • Consolidated (17 Aug 1998) with the 39 Special Operations Wing
Established as the 39 Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing on 20 Oct 1969
Activated on 1 Jan 1970
Redesignated as 39 Special Operations Wing on 1 Mar 1988
Inactivated on 1 Dec 1992
  • Consolidated group retained designation of 352 Special Operations Group
Activated on 1 Dec 1992

Assignments

  • III Fighter Command, 22 Apr 1944
  • Army Air Forces, India-Burma Theater, c. 12 Nov 1944
  • Tenth Air Force, 10 Jul 1945
  • Army Air Forces, India-Burma Theater, c. 18 Aug-Oct 1945

Components

  • 1 Fighter, Commando: 22 Apr 1944-12 Nov 1945
  • 2 Fighter, Commando: 22 Apr 1944-12 Nov 1945
  • 7 Special Operations: 1 Feb 1987-. 9 Special Operations: 1 Mar 1988-18 Apr 1989
  • 21 Special Operations: 1 May 1988-31 Oct 2007
  • 37 Air Rescue and Recovery: 1 Jul 1978-1 Feb 1987
  • 38 Air Rescue and Recovery: 1 Jul 1978-8 Jan 1981
  • 40 Air Rescue and Recovery: 1 Jul 1978-31 Dec 1987
  • 41 Air Rescue and Recovery: 1 Jan 1970-1 Sep 1975
  • 42 Air Rescue and Recovery: 1 Jan 1970-15 Jun 1973
  • 43 Air Rescue and Recovery: 1 Jan 1970-1 Jun 1974
  • 44 Air Rescue and Recovery: 1 Jan 1970-15 Jun 1973
  • 48 Air Rescue and Recovery: 15 Sep 1972-1 Jan 1976; 1 Oct 1985-31 Dec 1987
  • 54 Air Rescue and Recovery: 1 Jan 1970-15 Jul 1974
  • 55 Air Rescue and Recovery (later, 55 Special Operations): 1 Jan 1970-18 Apr 1989
  • 56 Aerospace Rescue and Recovery: 1 May 1988-1 Apr 1989
  • 67 Aerospace Rescue and Recovery (later, 67 Special Operations): 17 May 1973-Present
  • 71 Aerospace Rescue and Recovery: 8 Mar 1970-1 Jul 1974
  • 127 Liaison, Commando, 1 May 1944-27 Jul 1945
  • 155 Liaison, Commando, 1 May 1944-27 Jul 1945
  • 156 Liaison, Commando, 1 May 1944-27 Jul 1945
  • 317 Troop Carrier, 1 May 1944-12 Nov 1945
  • 556 Strategic Missile: 1 Apr-16 Jul 1959.

Stations

Aircraft and missiles

World War II

  • P-51, 1944, 1945; L-5, 1944, 1945; C-64, 1944, 1945; C-47, 1944-1945; CG-4 gliders, 1944, 1945; F-6, 1945; L-1, 1945; L-4, 1945; C-46, 1945.

Cold War

  • Snark, 1959-1961. CH/HH-3, 1970-c.1988; CH/HH-53, 1970-c.1988; HC-130, 1970-c.1990; HH-43, 1970-1973; UH-1, 1970-1988; HH-1, 1978-c.1988; TH-1, 1978-c.1988; UH-60, 1982-c.1988

Modern era

  • MC-130, 1987-Present
  • MH-53, 1989-2007
  • C-130, 1994-Present

Operations

World War II

The Air Commando Groups were born out of a simple need. That need was to support via light airplanes the evacuation and resupply requirements of British Long Range Patrol (LRP) groups, or Chindits, as they were affectionately called. Carrying the lethal firepower of both bombers and fighters combined with the logistical tentacles of a gamut of transports, gliders, and light aircraft, this organization would reach deep behind enemy lines to do battle.

The group trained for operations with North American O-47s, P-51 Mustangs, C-47 Skytrains and L-5 Sentinel aircraft as part of Third Air Force and trained at the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics in Florida. Moved to India, Oct-Dec 1944: the troop carrier squadron flew their C-47s to India, arriving by late Oct; a group advanced echelon arrived mid-Nov; and the majority of the group arrived mid-Dec.

Moved to India, Sep-Nov 1944 assigned to Tenth Air Force. Between Nov 1944 and May 1945 the group dropped supplies to Allied troops who were fighting the Japanese in the Chindwin Valley in Burma; moved Chinese troops from Burma to China; transported men, food, ammunition, and construction equipment to Burma; dropped Gurka paratroops during the assault on Rangoon; provided fighter support for Allied forces crossing the Irrawaddy River in Feb 1945; struck enemy airfields and transportation facilities; escorted bombers to targets in the vicinity of Rangoon; bombed targets in Thailand; and flew reconnaissance missions.

After May 1945 the fighter squadrons were in training; in Jun the group's C-47's were sent to Ledo to move road-building equipment; during Jun—Jul most of its L-5's were turned over to Fourteenth Air Force. The group returned to the US during Oct-Nov 1945.

Cold War

Emblem of the 702d Strategic Missile Wing (1959-1961)

As the only SM-62 Snark missile wing in the USAF, the 702d Strategic Missile Wing performed intercontinental missile test operations from Patrick AFB, Florida, Apr-Jun 1959, and from the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, c. Dec 1959-Jun 1961. Its operational component was the 556th Missile Squadron. On 27 May 1959, the wing received its first operational missile at Presque Isle AFB, Maine. Ten months later, on 18 March 1960, the Snark missile officially went on alert status. Thirty are known to have been deployed.

The 702d was not declared fully operational until February 1961. In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared the Snark "obsolete and of marginal military value" and on 25 June 1961 the 702d was deactivated.

The 39th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing flew numerous rescue sorties and from Jan 1970 until mid-1971, and supported Strategic Air Command missile silos. After moving to Eglin AFB, Florida in Jun 1971, wing assumed responsibility for numerous rescue detachments in the Western Hemisphere and Europe.

Later, the 39 Special Operations Wing (SOW) trained and participated in special operations exercises, as well as flew rescue sorties. Wing headquarters and one squadron moved to Germany in May 1989 and became the air component of Special Operations Command Europe.

Modern era

Emblem of the 39th Special Operations Wing (1988-1992)

In response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on 2 Aug 1990, the majority of the 39 SOW personnel deployed to Turkey (12-17 Jan 1991), and operated as part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) ELUSIVE CONCEPT.

The wing moved to England effective 1 Jan 1992 and served as the air component for Special Operations Command Europe. Trained for and performed special operations airland and airdrop missions in the European Command area of operations, including establishing air assault landing zones, controlling close air support by strike aircraft and gunships, and providing trauma care for wounded and injured personnel. Deployed elements participated in PROVIDE COMFORT II. During the 1990s, the group supported numerous humanitarian and combat operations in Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia, including Operations PROVIDE PROMISE, DENY FLIGHT, and Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia, and PROVIDE COMFORT and NORTHERN WATCH over northern Iraq.

The unit rushed troops to Dubrovnik, Croatia, when an Air Force CT-43 carrying Commerce Secretary Ron Brown crashed into a mountain. Arriving in a nasty rainstorm, 21st SOS Pave Lows inserted the first search-and-rescue teams, followed by a 67th SOS MC-130P. Mildenhall crews remained on scene until the last body was removed.

In 2002 the Group took part in Operation AUTUMN RETURN, the non-combatant evacuation of American citizens from Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.[1]

Today the 352d SOG develops and implements peacetime and wartime contingency plans to effectively use fixed wing, helicopter, and personnel assets to conduct infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of U.S. and allied special operations forces. It is made up of the:

Notes

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN-10: 0892010924.

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