The 27th SOW is part of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).
The 27th SOW also is responsible for Melrose Range, an air training range near the neighboring town of Melrose, New Mexico.
27th Special Operations Group (27 SOG)
27th Maintenance Group (27 MXG)
27th Mission Support Group (27 MSG)
27th Medical Group (27 MDG)
The United States Air Force 27th Fighter Wing was established on 28 July 1947 at Kearney Army Airfield Nebraska. It was redesignated the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing on 1 February 1950. In 1952, the wing was bestowed the USAAF World War II honors and history of the 27th Bombardment (later Fighter) Group. It was redesignated the 27th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 1 July 1957; 27th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 July 1958 and the 27th Fighter Wing on 1 October 1991. The wing was again redesignated the 27th Special Operations Wing on 1 October 2007.
The 27th has been assigned to the following Major Commands:
On 18 December Major John H. Davies, 27th BG (L) commander, and an aircrew of 20 flew from Clark Field on Luzon in two B-18s and one Douglas C-39 of Transport Command to Tarakan Island in the Dutch East Indies to Darwin Australia arriving on 22 December. Flying from Darwin, the group arrived in Brisbane 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 Peninsula, arriving to form the 2nd Battalion (27th Bombardment Group) Provisional Infantry Regiment (Air Corp). For the 99 days following the attack on Pearl Harbor 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 Bay and evacuate American personnel from Corregidor to Fremantle, Western Australia.
In Australia, the escaped airmen and aircraft of the 27th Bomb Group reformed into a combat unit. On 5 February, the group moved from Brisbane to Malang Java in the colonial Dutch East Indies to defend the island. The group participated in an attack on the Japanese invasion fleet landing troops on Bali. The attacks, carried out during the afternoon of 19 February and throughout the morning of 20 February, caused considerable damage but 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, the 27th participated in Battle of the Java Sea but achieved only insignificant results. The elements of the 27th Bomb Group in Java was withdrawn and transferred back to Australia, consolidating with other surviving elements of the group which had moved from Brisbane to Batchelor airfield in the Northern Territory.
In addition, the 27th Bomb Group saw action over New Guinea, flying thirteen A-24s to Port Moresby. However, the group suffered heavy losses while in New Guinea. They were withdrawn from New Guinea after it was realised that they were not suited for their intended role without adequate fighter protection and they were desperately in need of adequate workshop facilities and spares backup.
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 airfield in Queensland, Australia. Its Personnel and A-24 aircraft were assigned to the 8th Bomb Squadron and participated in raids on the Philippines 12 and 13 April.
On 4 May the unmanned and unequipped 27th Bomb Group was inactivated in place, and transferred administrativley back to the United States.
From Australia, the airmen of the inactivated 27th Bomb Group were transferred first to Fort Dix New Jersey, then to the United Kingdom, arriving first at RAF Grafton Underwood on 12 May, then to RAF Molesworth on 9 June. Under Eighth Air Force the airmen were organized as the 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light) and equipped with the British Boston III light bomber, receiving their aircraft from No. 226 Squadron RAF.
After a few weeks of familiarization training with the new aircraft, on July 4, 1942, six American crews from the 15th Bomb Squadron joined with six RAF crews from RAF Swanton Morley for a low-level attack on Luftwaffe airfields in the Netherlands, becoming the first USAAF unit to bomb targets in Europe. The 4th of July raid had been specifically ordered by General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold and approved by President Roosevelt. Arnold believed that the 4th of July would be an ideal day for the USAAF to open its strategic bombing campaign against the Nazis, but General Carl Spaatz did not have any of his heavy Eighth Air Force bomb groups ready for operatonal missions. Two of the 15th's planes did not return from the mission, along with one RAF aircraft. The squadron commander, Capt. Charles Kegelman, plane was shot up badly and almost did not return.
Spaatz considered the mission a "stunt" triggered by pressure in the American press who believed the people of both the United States and Great Britain needed a psychologial boost. However, Kegleman was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and its British equivalent for his valor on that Fourth of July mission--the first Eighth Air Force airman to receive the nation's second highest combat decoration.
The 15th flew most of its missions from Molesworth in its British Bostons, and did not receive USAAF Douglas A-20 Havoc aircraft until 5 September. The squadron was transferred to RAF Podington on 15 September where it flew a few missions before being transferred to Twelfth Air Force for support of Allied landings in North Africa on 15 October.
In North Africa, its crews were assigned to the 47th Bombardment Group (Light), at Mediouna, French Morocco and the 15th was inactivated. Nevertheless, the 15th Bombardment Squadron had earned a unique but sometimes forgotten place in Air Force history.
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 Mississippi and Louisiana, on 26 December the group was transferred to Ste-Barbe-du-Tlelat, Algeria 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, Tunisia, the 27th FBG flew its first combat missions of the war on June 6, 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.
During the Sicilian Campaign, operations included participation in the reduction of Pantelleria and Lampedusa Islands and supporting ground forces during the conquest of Sicily. In the Italian Campaign the 27th covered the landings at Salerno 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.
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 Biblis, 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.
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 Fritzlar 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 AAF, Maryland, in June 1947. The 27th was assigned to Strategic Air Command and reactivated at Kearney AAF Nebraska 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.
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 AFB Texas 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 Base West Germany, in September 1950, via Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, 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.
The Korean War began in June 1950 and by November the wing was transferred with the advance echelon landing at Taegu AB, South Korea on 5 December and the rear echelon at Itazuke AB, Japan on 1 December. Combat operations in support of the United Nations ground forces began immediately and continued after the advance echelon was transferred to Itazuke in late January 1951.
The 27th Fighter Escort Wing was one of the first F-84 units to see combat action in Korea and earned numerous honors and awards for their combat record during the Korean War.
On 21 January 1951, Lt. Col. William Bertram, commander of the 523rd Fighter-Escort Squadron, shot down the first MiG-15 for the wing and became the first F-84 pilot with a confirmed MiG kill. Two days later, on 23 January, the 27th FEW participated in the raid on Sinuju Air Field in North Korea and shot down four more MiG-15s. By the time the group rotated back to the United States, they had flown more than 23,000 combat hours in more than 12,000 sorties.
For its Korean War service, the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing received the Distinguished Unit Citation, covering the period of 26 January through 21 April 1951, for their actions in Korea.
The 27th was relieved of its duties supporting U.N. forces in Korea and returned to Bergstrom on 31 July 1951, but was redeployed to Misawa AB, Japan during 6 October 1952 - 13 February 1953 to provide air defense.
Wing pilot Capt Forrest W. Wilson, in an F-84G, won the Allison Trophy jet aircraft race of the National Aircraft Show at Dayton, Ohio, on 6 September 1953, flying the 110.3-mile course at an average speed of 537.802 mph in 12:17.2 minutes.
From June 1953 - June 1957 the 27th had air refueling as an additional mission, with the 27th Air Refueling Squadron flying the KB-29P aerial tanker.
On 1 July 1957, the 27th was redesigned the 27th Fighter-Bomber Wing and was assigned to Tactical Air Command along with Bergstrom AFB. The wing also received the new McDonnell F-101A Voodoo. Consisting of the 481st, 522d, and 523d Fighter-Bomber squadrons, the mission of the 27th FBW was to deliver a centerline nuclear bomb to a target. The F-101A was capable of little else and although designated as a fighter aircraft, it had poor aerial combat capabilities and would not have fared well in any air-to-air combat against enemy aircraft. Maj Adrian E. Drew, wing F-101 project officer, broke the world speed record on 12 Dec 1957 when he flew an F-101A over a Mojave Desert course at 1,212.8 mph in one direction and 1,207.5 mph in the opposite direction.
On 18 February 1959, the 27th was deactivated in place, as SAC reacquired Bergstrom as a B-52/KC-135 base. The 27th was immediately transferred and reactivated at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, being equipped with the North American F-100 "Super Sabre", replacing the 312th Tactical Fighter Wing.
During the Vietnam War, the 27th TFW deployed individual F-100 squadrons to Southeast Asia, which included Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Units from Cannon deployed the first F-100 squadron to Thailand in 1962-1963, and South Vietnam in 1964. Beginning in 1964 and throughout the Vietnam War years squadrons from the 27th TFW were deployed and detached to Air Force units and bases around the world. The 27th did not recombine as a cohesive wing until 1973.
In December 1965, with most of its operational squadrons deployed, the mission of the 27th changed from a Tactical Fighter Wing to a replacement training unit. The 27th Tactical Fighter Wing became the largest such unit in TAC. The 4585th Student Squadron was initially activated on 1 January 1966 to perform this mission. Later, the 4429th Combat Crew Training Squadron was activated on 15 May 1968 as a 2d training squadron, replacing the deployed 523d TFS.
Many F-100 pilots that flew in the Vietnam War were trained at Cannon AFB. From Cannon, the aircrews were transferred to the F-100 bases in South Vietnam - Phù Cát Air Base (37th TFW); Phan Rang AB (35th TFW) and Tuy Hoa AB (31st TFW).
The 27th also trained forward air controllers and air liaison officers in Lockheed T-33 Shooting Stars from 1969 to 1976. The 4468 Tac Control Squadron initially performed this mission in 1969, being replaced by the 609th Tac Control Squadron. The 609th TCS was inactivated on 15 June 1976.
With the withdrawal of the F-100 from Vietnam in 1970, and the phaseout of the aircraft from the active Air Force inventory, the 27th TFW began conversion to the General Dynamics F-111D "Aardvark". In July 1969, on loan from Nellis AFB Nevada, 10 F-111As facilitated training while the wing waited for its own planes. F-111Es began arriving in October 1969, but their stay was short. In the summer of 1971 wing aircrews ferried the last of them to RAF Upper Heyford England. In 1971, the 27th TFW received the first of its F-111Ds, and in July 1972, the last operational active duty Air Force F-100s were transferred from the 27th TFW to the Air National Guard.
The mission of the 27th TFW expanded in 1988 as a result of decisions made by the Secretary of Defense’s Commission on Base Realignment and Closures when the 27th was equipped with the F-111G. (The "G" model was a conversion of the SAC FB-111A all-weather strategic bombing version of the F-111, which was originally intended as an interim successor to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and Convair B-58 Hustler.) These aircraft, less their nuclear delivery capability, were transferred to Cannon following the disbandment of SAC's 509th Bomb Wing at Pease AFB New Hampshire and the 380th Bomb Wing at Plattsburgh AFB, New York.
The F-111Gs were used primarily for training, but was scheduled to be supplanted in the training role by the F-111E. This made the F-111G surplus to USAF requirements, and the F-111G began to be transferred to AMARC for storage in 1991 with the arrival of the "E" models with the 428th TFTS. The last G model was sent to AMARC in 1993.
Personnel of the 27th TFW played a role during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Aircrews and aircraft of the 27th did not deploy to the region, but support personnel and a combat support group element of the wing's 27th Combat Support Group, commanded by Colonel David Benson, deployed to Taif. On 16 January 1991, when the U.S. led coalition force initiated the Desert Storm air campaign against Iraq, the 27th TFW had 325 personnel serving in the Persian Gulf region in combat support roles.
On 1 November 1991, the 27 TFW was re-designated the 27th Fighter Wing as part of an Air Force-wide reorganization. In June 1992, the 27 FW became part of a new major command - Air Combat Command. ACC was created when SAC, TAC, and the Military Airlift Command merged to form two commands, ACC and the Air Mobility Command.
In addition, 27 FW replaced its F-111D models for the upgraded F-111F model. The F-111F differed from the F-111D in having more advanced electronics which were nevertheless simplified and more reliable, along with improved landing gear. From September 1992 to July 1993, 27 FW F-111 aircrews and support personnel rotated to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, 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 Fighter Wing 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 Base, Saudi Arabia in direct support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. They flew missions enforcing UN resolutions of no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. 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 AFB, Utah 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 Singapore 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 Base, Florida, 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.
In July 1999, the 522d Fighter Squadron deployed to Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland, to support NATO 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.
In December 2002, the 524 FS deployed to Kuwait 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 Fighter Wing.
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 Wing on 1 October 2007. Among the units that will join the new 27th SOW are the 3rd SOS (UAVs), 73rd SOS (C-130s) and 318th SOS (light transport aircraft) as well as a squadron of CV-22s.