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551st Special Operations Squadron

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551st Special Operations Squadron

551st Special Operations Squadron
Insignia of the 551st Special Operations Squadron.
Active 1971 – 2007, 2009 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Size 92 active duty personnel and 66 civilian contractors
Part of Air Force Special Operations Training Center, Hurlburt Field, Florida
Garrison/HQ Cannon AFB, NM
Motto One MInd, Any Weapon
Mascot Owl
Equipment previous MH-53J Pave Low III
Commander Lt Colonel Douglas J. Distaso[1]

The 551st Special Operations Squadron (551 SOS) is a squadron of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center and based out of Cannon AFB, New Mexico. The 551st had previously been based at Kirtland Air Force Base from 15 March 1976 until its inactivation on 10 May 2007.[2] It was reactivated in 2009 and currently is assigned to the AFSOC and trains aircrews on the MC-130 and AC-130.


  • Lineage 1
  • Operations 2
  • Stations, Assignments, & Aircraft 3
  • Decorations 4
    • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 4.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6


  • Designated 1551st Flying Training Squadron on 1 April 1971.
  • Organized 1 April 1971.
  • Redesignated 551st Flying Training Squadron on 1 October 1991.
  • Redesignated 551st Special Operations Squadron on 1 April 1994.
  • Inactivated on 10 May 2007.
  • Reactivated on 25 Jul 2009.


The 551st was originally designated the 1551st Flying Training Squadron, and was assigned to the 1550th Aircrew Training and Test Wing, 1550th Combat Crew Training Wing. In 1994, it was redesignated the 551st Special Operations Squadron, and was reassigned to the 58th Special Operations Wing.

The 551st conducted helicopter training until it was inactivated in 2007. It is also responsible for special operations contingencies, exercises, and humanitarian rescue missions. The Squadron conducted training on the Pave Low helicopter, but suspended these operations due to the looming retirement of the helicopter.[3]

Stations, Assignments, & Aircraft

Date Base Assignment Aircraft
1 April 1971 Hill AFB, Utah 1551th Aircrew Training and Test Wing HH-43 Huskie 1971 – (1975)
HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant (1971–1987)
HC-130 Hercules (1973–1987)
HH-3 Jolly Green Giant (1971–1992)
UH-1 Iroquois (1987–1994)
HH-60 Pave Hawk (1990–1994)
1 October 1991 Kirtland AFB, New Mexico 542d Operations Group
1 April 1994 Kirtland AFB, New Mexico 58th Operations Group MH-53J Pave Low III
2009 Cannon AFB, New Mexico 551st Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre
MC-130W Combat Spear
MQ-1 Predator
2010 Cannon AFB, New Mexico 551st Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre
AC-130W Stinger II
MC-130J Combat Shadow II
MQ-9 Reaper
Dornier 328
Pilatus PC-12
M-28 Skytruck


Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

  • 1 April 1974 – 31 May 1976
  • 1 April 1976 – 31 March 1978
  • 1 July 1985 – 30 June 1987
  • 1 July 1987 – 30 June 1989
  • 1 January 1993 – 30 June 1994
  • 1 July 1994 – 31 December 1995
  • 1 July 1996 – 30 June 1998
  • 1 July 1998 – 30 June 2000
  • 1 July 2001 – 30 June 2002
  • 1 July 2002 – 30 June 2003
  • 1 July 2009 – 23 May 2011


  1. ^ Fact Sheet: 551st Special Operations Squadron. Air Education and Training Command. Accessed: 4 November 2007. [4]
  2. ^ "551st Special Operations Squadron [551st SOS]." Accessed: 4 November 2007. [5]
  3. ^ S. Rupp. "Special operations squadron halts Pave Low student training." Kirtland Air Force Base. Accessed: 4 November 2007. [6]

External links

  • The PAVE Cave (unofficial PAVE LOW website)
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