CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, NM – The 27th Special Operations Wing celebrated a momentous occasion when it welcomed home its last deployed AC-130H Spectre gunships on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 20.
Dozens of Air Commandos and joyful family members gathered outside the squadron eagerly waiting for their friends and loved ones to de-board the aircraft and join them in celebration.
The 16th Special Operations Squadron and their historic gunship have been continuously deployed in combat overseas since 2001. This marked the first occasion since then that the entire fleet has been home stateside.
“This is the first time in more than eight years that we welcome all of our aircraft and squadron members home,” said Lt. Col. James Mott, 16 SOS commander. “This is the first time since then that we will be able to celebrate the holidays with our entire squadron.”
“I was part of the first group that deployed to Afghanistan back in my days as a captain,” he said. “Standing here watching everyone come home as the squadron’s commander is an inspiring moment.”
The squadron and the AC-130H Spectre gunship came to the 27 SOW in 2009. Despite an entire unit and fleet of aircraft being moved from the 1st Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla., the 16 SOS never missed a single deployment rotation.
Hugs were given and tears were shed as troops made their way from the aircraft through an unconventional gauntlet of familiar faces.
“It’s fantastic to have all of our troops back, especially during this time of year,” Mott added. “This will be a really nice break for our troops.”