CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, NM (Senior Airman Xavier Lockley) – The 16th Special Operations Squadron stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., conducted its final mission for the AC-130H Spectre gunship Jan. 16 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.
The C-130 began its operational service with the Air Force in 1956. AC-130 development began in the early 1960s. In the Vietnam War the gunships were credited with many life-saving close air support missions. To some, it is a privilege to have flown the Spectre gunship.
“It’s an honor to consider all the Spectre pilots who have come before,” said Capt. John Thompson, 16 SOS assistant operations officer. “You are filled with the truest sense of pride to fly in the last days of an aircraft; this has been a great honor.”
Though the impending retirement of the AC-130H marks the end of an era, the future of the C-130 is bright.
“As we close the books of the C-130H aircraft, we remember how phenomenal this plane was for more than 40 years,” said Lt. Col. James Mott, 16 SOS commander. “Now we transition onto newer models of the C-130 and begin to write new chapters of Air Force history.”
As Air Force Special Operations Command evolves, remembering the past will be vital.
“The best thing we can do for the future AC-130J community is to push forward with tactical principles that the past has taught us,” said Thompson. “From all standpoints we can learn something from previous experiences; be it from a flying, maintenance or operations point of view, the past can be your best teacher.”
In order to get all eight planes up at the same time, the 16 SOS had to put teamwork on display. Pilots, maintainers, loadmasters and other support members had to be in sync for all eight planes to fly.
“Being able to get all eight of the AC-130H aircraft up is remarkably unique and required everyone to play a vital role,” said Mott. “The 16 SOS worked extremely hard to get this mission accomplished and this is truly a testament to the men and women of this squadron. I’m very proud of them; they did a wonderful job.”