Military Wiki
21st Special Tactics Squadron
21st Special Tactics Squadron insignia.jpg
Active 1 July 1984 - 1 October 1993[1]
1 May 1996 - Present[1]
Country United States
Branch Military service mark of the United States Air Force.png United States Air Force
Type Special Operations Forces
Role Special Operations
Part of Shield of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command.svg Air Force Special Operations Command
24th Special Operations Wing insignia.jpg 24th Special Operations Wing
720th Special Tactics Group insignia.jpg 720th Special Tactics Group
Garrison/HQ Pope Field
Engagements Persian Gulf War
War in Afghanistan
Iraq War

The 21st Special Tactics Squadron (21st STS) is one of the Special Tactics units of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It is garrisoned at Pope Field, North Carolina.[2]

Special Tactics Squadrons are organized, trained and equipped specifically for various special operations missions facilitating air operations on the battlefield. They conduct combat search and rescue missions, collect intelligence, as well as call in close air support or airstrikes against enemy combatants and are often parterned with other U.S. special operations forces overseas.[2]


  • Designated as the 1721st Combat Control Squadron and activated on 1 July 1984
Redesignated 624th Combat Control Squadron on 1 June 1992.
Inactivated 1 October 1993.
  • Redesignated 21st Special Tactics Squadron on 1 May 1996 and activated.[1]



  • Pope Air Force Base, NC, 1 July 1984 - 1 October 1993
  • Pope Air Force Base, 1 May 1996 - Present (Pope AFB was renamed Pope Field on March 1, 2011)

Unit awards

Ribbon Award Dates Notes
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1985 - 30 June 1987[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device 20 December 1989 - 9 January 1990[1]
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 August 1995 - 31 July 1997[1]
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 August 1997 - 31 July 1999[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device 1 September 2001 - 31 August 2003[1]
Air Force Meritorious Unit ribbon.svg Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 July 2006 - 31 May 2008[1]

Notable members

Rhyner on patrol with an Army Special Forces team in Afghanistan.

  • Senior Airman Dustin Temple, a Combat Controller, was the most recent recipient of the Air Force Cross during a 48-hour battle September 27–29, 2014 against Taliban forces in the Kajaki district of Helmand province. He was attached to U.S. Army Special Forces team from the 7th Special Forces Group with two other 21st STS members and accompanied by Afghan commandos. Temple called in dozens of airstrikes from various aircraft, among them, F-16s, AH-1s, AC-130s and an MQ-1. Over the course of the battle he controlled 28 helicopters and 20 fixed wing aircraft in a total of 26 engagements. After 45 hours of fighting a resupply helicopter dropped critically needed ammunition to the U.S. and Afghan forces. Temple and two other teammates braved enemy fire across open terrain multiple times to recover the ammunition. The Army team-leader Captain Evan Lacenski He carried a critically wounded Green Beret over 300 meters in open terrain to the MEDEVAC helicopter. He was credited with saving 80 lives as a result of his actions. Along with Temple receiving the Air Force Cross, the other two STS members received the Silver Star for their actions during the battle.[6][7][8]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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