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Hurlburt’s first active duty MQ-9 squadron activated

Hurlburt’s first active duty MQ-9 squadron activated

Story by SrA Rachel Yates on 03/08/2019

Air Commandos witnessed a piece of history as the 1st Special Operations Group activated the 65th Special Operations Squadron during a ceremony, Dec. 18, making it the first active-duty Air Force Special Operations Command MQ-9 Reaper squadron at Hurlburt Field.

Although assigned to the 1st SOG, the 65th SOS is geographically separated from the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft it operates. The squadron’s mission is to provide combatant commanders intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and precision strike capabilities to the warfighter.

“The aircraft they are operating are slightly different than the bombers of old,” said U.S. Air Force Col. James Mott, commander of the 1st SOG. “The MQ-9 Reaper is truly a lethal instrument.”

The 65th SOS began as the 65th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, on Nov. 20, 1940, officially activating on Jan. 15, 1941. Over the course of nearly 80 years, the squadron has been inactivated, reactivated and re-designated as other variations of squadrons, such as bombardment, strategic, and now, special operations.

In January 2017, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AFSOC, directed the stand up of an active-duty MQ-9 Reaper unit at the 1st SOG. The following month marked the beginning stages of the 27th SOG, Detachment 1, assigned to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, standing up at Hurlburt Field, with an official activation ceremony in October 2017.

“While RPAs are not new to AFSOC, or even to Hurlburt Field, they are new to the 1st SOG and as such, the men and the women of the 65th will face unique challenges,” said Mott. “As you go about your mission of delivering weaponized ISR and precision strike, you will do so from home station something that no other flying squadron in the 1st SOG does.”

As the new squadron stands up, Mott assured Air Commandos that even as a new era of combat ISR and precision strike is being ushered in, the 65th will keep true to its roots the robust heritage and combat lineage of the 65th Bombardment Squadron.

“Scientia fortuna iuvat what that means is fortune favors the bold,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Blair, commander of the 65th SOS. “Fortune favors the wise. Fortune favors the prepared and what we are doing now is preparation.”

The ceremony continued tradition as Mott and Blair cased the 27th SOG, Det. 1 guidon and unfurled the 65th SOS guidon. A brief exchange of the first salute between Blair and his new squadron concluded the ceremony.

“We do so much of our fighting in the shadows we don’t realize who’s standing in front of us,” said Blair. “You roll the best odds even if they’re hard odds and we have to place our faith somewhere for what is coming, and I place my faith in [the 65th SOS].”

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