8th SOS, MC-130 last deployment
US Air Force 8th Special Operations Squadron completed last flights with the MC-130E Combat Talon and began transition to the CV-22B Osprey
US Air Force, July 21, 2006 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla by Jamie Haig, 16th SOW Public Affairs - The 8th Special Operations Squadron returned to Duke Field from Southwest Asia in the MC-130E Com-bat Talon I for the last time July 14.
As the plane approached the airfield Lt. Col. Ted Corallo, 8th SOS commander, distinguished visitors, family and squadron members watched the sky as the aircraft did a low approach, broke west and came in for its final landing.
"The Talon has brought tremendous capability to the fight, flying our toughest missions," said Colonel Corallo. "It's served the nation well after 41 years of active-duty service."
The squadron and the Talon I led the assault on the Vietnamese Son Tay prisoner of war camp in 1970 and worked as an airborne jammer and command post for mission aircraft.
The aircraft and its crew of 8th SOS Airmen took part in the 1980 attempt to rescue Americans held hostage in Iran.
In December of 1989, it was the Talon I that flew Gen. Manuel Noriega back to the United States to stand trial. The flight maps used by the pilots are on display in the squadron.
During operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the 8th SOS and the Talon I played essential roles assisting the coalition forces in liberating Kuwait.
They left their signature by dropping the BLU-82 bombs and more than 23 million leaflets.
Over the next several years, the 8th SOS participated in operations Provide Promise, Deny Flight, Assured Response and Southern Watch in the specialized C-130 aircraft.
After Sept. 11, 2001, the MC-130E deployed to support special operations forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, re-fueling helicopters and re-supplying troops.
During 2005, the 8th SOS and the Talon I were simultaneously supporting real-world contingency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, South America and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
On one night, five Talon Is were flying at the same time in four areas of responsibility.
The Talon I was the first aircraft to land at the New Orleans airport immediately after Hurricane Katrina.
It supplied more than 12,000 pounds of fuel to rescue helicopters and flew more than 35 life-support missions.
In a four-month time frame during the Global War on Terrorism, the MC-130E and the 8th SOS handled more than 41 airdrops, provided 21 helicopter air-refuelings, carried 40,000 pounds of fuel, delivered 814,000 pounds of cargo and distributed more than 300,000 leaflets.
Capt. Christian Helms, 8th SOS, was one of the members who re-turned from deployment July 14.
He has more than 1,000 hours in the Combat Talon I and will start his new adventure as one of the CV-22 pilots.
"It's been an absolute honor working with this squadron the past few years," said pilot Captain Helms. "It's been a challenging mission."
On its last deployment as an active-duty aircraft with the 8th SOS, the Talon I continued to amaze squadron members.
"On every single mission, it performed brilliantly," said Captain Helms. "It's like it knew it would be its last deployment."
The 8th SOS will start another chapter in its history with a new mission and a new aircraft in its new home at Hurlburt Field starting in September.