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4th Space Operations Squadron
4th Space Operations Squadron.png
4th Space Operations Squadron emblem
Active 19??-present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Satellite Operations
Role Combat Support
Part of USAF Squadron
Garrison/HQ Schriever Air Force Base
Motto(s) Linking the Forces
Engagements World War II

World War II Squadron emblem

SAC 4th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron emblem

The United States Air Force's 4th Space Operations Squadron (4 SOPS) is a satellite operations unit located at Schriever AFB, Colorado. 4 SOPS controls the Milstar communication satellite constellation.


The mission of 4th SOPS is to ensure the Milstar system provides survivable, enduring, critical essential command and control communications through all levels of conflict for the president, the Secretary of Defense, and war fighting combatant commanders worldwide. 4th SOPS operates the $31 billion Milstar system executing communications management, satellite command and control, and ground segment maintenance for the Milstar constellation. 4th SOPS' motto "Linking the Forces" reflects Milstar's responsibility to enhance the nation's secure communications capability for today's military forces.[1]


Established under the 1st Photographic Group in May 1941. Performed aerial mapping primarily over the southwestern United States prior to the Pearl Harbor Attack using P-39 Aircobra sub-variants (F-2) which were equipped for the ground-attack and reconnaissance roles. After the United States entry into World War II, flew aerial mapping missions over Western Canada and the Alaska Territory, mapping uncharted territory to support the building of the Alaska Highway. Deployed to South America in 1942–1943; mapping locations in British Guiana and Brazil for locations of emergency airfields as part of the development of the South Atlantic Transport Route.

Reassigned to 13th Air Force in late 1944; engaged in long-range mapping and reconnaissance over combat areas in support of seaborne landings in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) and the liberation of the Philippines. Remained in the Pacific Theater after the Japanese Capitulation performing reconnaissance mapping flights over Japan, Korea and China. Unit largely demobilized on Okinawa. Inactivated in early 1946.

Reactivated in 1947 as part of Strategic Air Command. Mission was to gather intelligence on a global scale. Squadron operated RB-47H Medium bombers refitted for aerial reconnaissance and mapping mission. Flew day and night strategic reconnaissance missions over a global scale. Inactivated due to budget reductions in 1958.


  • Constituted as 4th Photographic Squadron on 15 May 1941
Activated on 10 June 1941
Redesignated: 4th Mapping Squadron on 13 January 1942
Redesignated: 4th Photographic Mapping Squadron on 9 June 1942
Redesignated: 4th Photographic Charting Squadron on 11 August 1943
Redesignated: 4th Reconnaissance Squadron, Long Range, Photographic, on 15 June 1945
Redesignated: 4th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Photographic, on 20 November 1945
Inactivated on 14 April 1946
  • Redesignated 4th Reconnaissance Squadron, Photographic, on 5 September 1947
Activated in the Reserve on 20 September 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
  • Redesignated 4th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, on 9 May 1952
Activated on 28 May 1952
Inactivated on 1 July 1958
  • Redesignated 4th Space Operations Squadron on 1 April 1992
Activated on 30 April 1992.


Attached to: Thirteenth Air Force, c. 7 November 1944
Attached to: 4th Photographic Group, December 1944
Attached to: 6th Reconnaissance Group, 3 May 1945
Attached to: 308th Bombardment Wing, 22 October 1945 – 14 April 1946


  • Moffet Field, California, 10 June 1941
  • March Field, California, 10 December 1941
Detachments operated from various bases in Alaska, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, 1942–1944)
  • Peterson Field, Colorado, 4 January 1944
  • Buckley Field, Colorado, 1 July – 14 October 1944
  • Hollandia Airfield Complex, Netherlands East Indies, 7 November 1944
Detachment operated from: Wama Airfield, Morotai, Netherlands East Indies, December 1944 – January 1945
Detachment operated from: Australia, January–May 1945
Detachment operated from: San Roque Airfield (Moret Field), Zamboanga City, Mindanao, Philippines, April–June 1945
Detachment operated from: Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines, June–August 1945

  • Tacloban Airfield, Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines, 11 July 1945
Detachment operated from: Okinawa, August–October 1945
  • Seoul Airport, South Korea, 25 October 1945 – 14 April 1946
  • Niagara Falls Municipal Airport, New York, 20 September 1947
  • Buffalo Airfield, New York, 3 May 1948 – 27 June 1949
  • Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, 28 May 1952 – 1 July 1958
  • Falcon (later, Schriever) AFB, Colorado, 30 April 1992–present



  • Lt Col Charles Thompson (March 1992 to June 1993)
  • Lt Col Kimber McKenzie (June 1993 to January 1995)
  • Lt Col Michael Mantz (January 1995 to August 1996)
  • Lt Col Philip Fitzjarrell (August 1996 to March 1999)
  • Lt Col Allan Kirkman (March 1999 to February 2001)
  • Lt Col Roger Teague (February 2001 to June 2003)
  • Lt Col Ronald Huntley (June 2003 to June 2005)
  • Lt Col John Shaw (June 2005 to June 2007)
  • Lt Col Tommy Roberts (June 2007 to June 2009)
  • Lt Col Doug Schiess (June 2009 to June 2011)
  • Lt Col Scott Trinrud (June 2011 to present) [2]


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

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