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By Clay T. McCutchan Air Armament Center Historian, Eglin AFB, FL


In the summer/fall of 1990 and win-


ter of 1991 AFSOC Total Force warriors left their homes, families and civilian careers to answer the call to arms during Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM. Many deployed and some even shut down small businesses or one person shops at personal loss in order to serve their nation. Many stayed close to the home units without deploying but pro- vided strong and constant support for their deployed wingmen and nation’s needs. The Air Reserve Component oper- ators and maintainers, older than most of their active duty counterparts, deployed and then employed some of the oldest airframes in the USAF inventory. After Saddam Hussein’s forces


invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990, a number of individual personnel of the AFSOC units of the Air National Guard, and the Air Force Reserve, and indi- vidual mobilization augmentees of HQ AFSOC immediately volunteered and left for duty stateside and overseas. On 28 August, the 193rd Special


Operations Group, Air National Guard, at Harrisburg International Airport, PA, self deployed to Saudi Arabia with two EC-130E Volant Solo mission aircraft and two EC-130E en-route support air- craft with 72 unit personnel and 21 personnel from the 4th Psychological Operational Group (US Army). The 193 SOG was designated an AFSOC resource and bedded down at AFSOC’s base at King Fahd International Airport, but it came under USCENTAF control once in place. The 193rd flew its first familiar- ization mission on 2 September and then its first actual psychological operations broadcast mission on 22 November. It aired “Voice of America” into the Kuwait Theater of Operations. This psy- chological operation meant that AFSOC was the first major command to support


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a wartime mission in the area of respon- sibility. Several field modifications to the broadcasting equipment were accom- plished in minimum time using locally redesigned and produced equipment. The 193rd participated in an extensive series of psychological operations broad- casts and other direct support of the air campaign and final ground activity that were major contributors to the over- all success. The ANG Air Commandos flew a total of 1348.8 hours in DESERT SHIELD/STORM, of which 845.6 were logged as combat time with the high- est hours of broadcasting activity over a sixty day period averaging 14.1 hours per day. They were lauded for their par- ticipation by AFSOC Commander MGen Thomas Eggers and CSAF Gen Merrill A. McPeak. The 919 SOG, Air


Force Reserve at Eglin Aux #3, Duke Field, FL, was the parent unit for the 71st Special Operations Squadron and its HH-3 helicop- ters at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. The 71 SOS was activated on 21 December 1990 and began an immediate upgrade in personnel and equipment for combat. Augmented with personnel from active duty air rescue units, the 71 SOS arrived on 12 January 1991, at King Fahd. The older HH-3s of the 71st replaced MH-60s that had to return to the United States for required upgrades and modi- fications. The HH-3s started operational missions on 17 January and totaled 367 hours in 251 sorties by the end of combat. The Reserve Air Commando helicopters pulled alert for night over-water combat rescue, and flew environmental damage assessment and medical evacuation mis- sions. They also performed night NVG water landings and sensitive missions in support of Army and Naval SOF.


The 711 SOS of the 919 SOG was


recalled on 17 January 1991 and five of their AC-130A gunships arrived at King Fahd on 7 February 1991 with five crews. Support staff and an additional three crews also arrived by airlift. Meanwhile at Duke Field, C-130A slicks of the 711 SOS supported a USA east coast airlift with vital cargo and personnel hauling seven days a week, for six weeks without a break. Once in country, the 711 SOS gunships began flying within two days of arrival. Besides providing airborne on call fire support, they also participated in the search for AC-130H gunship “Spirit 03” which had been lost earlier in the war. On the night of 26 February, three of the AC-130As crossed the border and attacked Iraqi vehicles and troops on the


Al Jahra/Basra Road (Road of Death) northwest of Kuwait. Approximately 34 vehicles of all sorts were destroyed and along with a number of personnel. The AFRC Air Commando gunship crews encountered and evaded small arms fire, anti aircraft artillery fire, and surface to air missiles. General Charles Horner, CENTAF commander, later authorized the award of Distinguished Flying Crosses to all members of two crews (30+) and Air Medals (14+) to all members of the remaining crew for the mission. The 711 SOS gunships finished the in country war with 180 hours, and 59 sorties.


Fall 2011 │ AIR COMMANDO JOURNAL │ 35


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