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24th Special Operations Wing
24th Special Operations Wing insignia.jpg
Active 1942–1999, 2012–
Country United States
Branch Air Force
Role Special Operations
Part of United States Special Operations Command Insignia.svg U.S. Special Operations Command
Shield of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command.svg Air Force Special Operations Command
Garrison/HQ Hurlburt Field
Engagements War in Afghanistan
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Col. Robert Armfield[1]

The 24th Special Operations Wing (24 SOW) is a United States Air Force active-duty wing that was activated on 12 June 2012.[2] Its headquarters is at Hurlburt Field, Florida and it has component groups located in North Carolina, Georgia and Washington. It is the third special operations wing in Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

The 24th SOW is a reactivation of the 24th Wing, previously assigned with the Twelfth Air Force, stationed at Howard Air Force Base, Panama. It was inactivated on 1 November 1999. The inactivation of the 24th Wing and the closure of Howard Air Force Base ended an 82-year United States Air Force presence in Panama, which began with the formation of the 7th Aero Squadron on 29 March 1917.


A 24th TASS O-2A and an Illinois ANG OA-37B over Honduras, 1984.

Legacy emblem of the 24th Composite Wing prior to 16 Aug 1994

It was activated on 25 December 1942 to control all USAAF units on Iceland. Disestablished in June 1944. From August 1946 until replaced by the Antilles Air Division in July 1948 the wing supervised large numbers of major and minor bases and Air Force units in the Caribbean area from Puerto Rico to British Guiana.

It was organized once more in November 1967 in the Panama Canal Zone, replacing the 5700th Air Base Wing. The wing assumed operation and maintenance responsibilities for Howard and Albrook Air Force Bases and a special operations mission that included air transport, paramilitary operations, exercise participation, civic actions in Central and South America, search and rescue missions, humanitarian operations, mercy missions, aeromedical evacuation, and support of Army Special Forces, U.S. military assistance units, and training of Latin American air forces. From its activation in 1967 until mid-1972, the 24th Wing operated the USAF Tropic Survival School at Albrook. It also controlled various rotational detachments from 1967–1987. The wing lost UH–1 helicopters and control of search and rescue missions in the area after 1 March 1983. The wing inactivated on 31 January 1987, its subordinate components reassigned directly to the USAF Southern Air Division.

The 24th was reactivated on 1 January 1989, as the 24th Composite Wing assuming responsibilities for Howard AFB and Albrook AFS. The wing flew combat sorties in the Invasion of Panama, December 1989 – January 1990. The wing trained foreign and domestic pilots in forward air control. It again flew search and rescue, aeromedical airlift and disaster relief missions in the Latin American region from 1989–1990. Members of the wing deployed to Southwest Asia to provide air liaison support between ground forces and air operations from 1 October 1990 – February 1991. When the 24th Composite Wing inactivated in 1991, its assets were placed under Air Forces in Panama.

On 11 February 1992 the wing again reactivated as the 24th Wing and became the senior USAF organization in Panama and replaced the previous command and division-level Air Force host units. In June 1992, it began operating the only C–21, CT–43, C–27 and special mission C–130s in Air Combat Command. The wing provided control and support to multi-service units directed by United States Southern Command and United States Southern Air Force from 1992–1999. Missions included counter-narcotics operations, aerial command and control, intratheater airlift, security assistance and defense of the Panama Canal. The wing operated both Howard Air Force Base and Albrook Air Force Station.

On 1 April 1997 the 310th Airlift Squadron was reassigned to Air Mobility Command's 21st Air Force. The 24th Wing was inactivated on 1 November 1999 with the closure of Howard AFB and its turnover to the Panamanian government.

When the wing was reactivated in June 2012 it comprised the 720th Special Tactics Group and the Special Tactics Training Squadron based at Hurlburt Field, the 724th Special Tactics Group based out of Pope Field and 16 recruiting locations across the United States.[2][3] The Special Tactics Squadrons are made up of Special Tactics Officers, Combat Controllers, Combat Rescue Officers, Pararescuemen, Special Operations Weather Officers and Airmen, Air Liaison Officers, Tactical Air Control Party operators, and a number of combat support airmen which comprise 58 Air Force specialties.[3]


Azure, a stylized square-rigged ship of three mast sails set, flag and pennants flotant sailing to sinister above an arced olive branch to dexter and an arced lightning flash to sinister conjoined in base Or, all within a diminished bordure of the like. Motto: LOS PROFESIONALES—The professionals. Approved on 16 Aug 1994; replaced emblem approved in 1968 (KE 35833).


  • Established as 24th Composite Wing (Special) on 19 Nov 1942
Activated on 25 Dec 1942
Disestablished on 15 Jun 1944
  • Reestablished as 24th Composite Wing on 5 Aug 1946
Activated on 25 Aug 1946
Inactivated on 28 Jul 1948
  • Activated on 30 Oct 1967
Organized on 8 Nov 1967
Redesignated: 24th Air Commando Wing on 15 Mar 1968
Redesignated: 24th Special Operations Wing on 15 Jul 1968
Redesignated: 24th Special Operations Group on 30 Jun 1972
Redesignated: 24th Composite Group on 15 Nov 1973
Redesignated: 24th Composite Wing on 1 Jan 1976
Inactivated on 31 Jan 1987
  • Activated on 1 Jan 1989
Inactivated on 15 Feb 1991
Redesignated 24th Wing on 1 Feb 1992
Activated on 11 Feb 1992
Inactivated on 1 Nov 1999
Redesignated 24th Special Operations Wing, 2012




  • 342d Composite: 25 December 1942 – 18 March 1944
  • 134th Anti-Aircraft Artillery: attached 1 November 1943 – 15 June 1944
  • 143d Air Commando: attached 8 February – 9 March 1969
  • 130th Special Operations: attached 30 January 1971 – 27 February 1971; attached 5–14 Feb 1973
  • 24th Operations: 11 February 1992 – 1 November 1999
  • 720th Special Tactics Group, Hurlburt Field, FL: 12 June 2012 – present
  • 724th Special Tactics Group, Pope Field, N.C.: 12 June 2012 – present


  • 33d Fighter: 18 March 1944 – 15 Jun3 1944
  • 91st Reconnaissance: 12 January 1948 – 26 July 1948
  • 330th Transport: 25 August 1946 – 15 October 1946
  • 24th Air Transport: 15 March 1968 – 30 June 1971
  • 605th Air Commando (later, 605 Special Operations): 8 November 1967 – 30 April 1972
  • 24th Special Operations (later, 24th Composite; 24th Tactical Air Support): 18 March 1969 – 1 July 1975; 1 January 1976 – 31 January 1987; 1 January 1989 – 15 February 1991
  • Special Tactics Training Squadron, Hurlburt Field, FL: 12 June 2012 – present


  • Det A, Fighter Command (IBC, US Army Forces, Iceland): attached 12 Feb – 15 Jun 1944
  • Det, 314 Troop Carrier Group: attached 1 Oct 1946 – 26 Jul 1948
  • TAC A-7 Rotational Element (various detachments): attached 13 Nov 1972 – 30 Sep 1978
  • ANG A-7 Rotational Element (various detachments): attached 1 Oct 1978 – 31 Jan 1987
  • ANG A-10 Rotational Element (various detachments): attached Feb–Apr 1985
  • TAC C-130 Rotational Element (various detachments): attached 8 Nov 1967 – 30 Nov 1974
  • MAC C-130 Rotational Element (various detachments): attached 1 Dec 1974 – 30 Sep 1977
  • AFRES and ANG C-130 Rotational Element (various detachments): attached 1 Oct 1977-c. 1 Dec 1984.




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

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