DUKE FIELD, FL (Lt. Col. James R. Wilson) – The 859th Special Operations Squadron, formerly Detachment 1 of the 919th Special Operations Group, was activated in a ceremony here April 1.
The ceremony was significant in that it marked a new chapter in the Non-Standard Aviation mission that members of the special operations community here have performed since 2012.
More recently, those efforts have been performed in conjunction with active duty Air Commandos from the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. Approximately 30 members of the unit from New Mexico braved inclement weather throughout the Florida Panhandle to attend the ceremony.
“The 27th SOW has supported the [Non-Standard Aviation] mission proudly and we are honored to join them in this effort as a Total Force Integration partner,” said Col. Kurt Matthews, 919th Special Operations Group commander. “Their leadership has worked with us from the very beginning to ensure the foundation of this TFI initiative was built the right way.”
Non-Standard Aviation refers to operations performed by a fleet of aircraft used by Air Force Special Operations Command to support austere and remote locations not serviced by reliable and safe commercial aviation runway environments.
With the activation of the 859th SOS, the Air Force Reserve will provide unmatched mobility, logistical and medical support on behalf of joint special operations forces in five theaters around the globe.
“Today, we proudly become part of the Non-Standard Aviation mission,” said Matthews. “This is the beginning of a great relationship, and I look forward to seeing the partnership build on the outstanding efforts that made the activation of the 859th possible.”
After expressing confidence in the unit’s leadership, Matthews unfurled the 859th SOS flag, activated the unit and placed Lt. Col. Timothy Rowley in command.
“I truly believe we have established one of the best TFI relationships,” said Rowley to Lt. Col. Derrick Steed, his counterpart from the 524th SOS at Cannon AFB who was in attendance for the historic event. “It’s an honor to [activate the 859th] and lead a squadron with such experienced professionals who serve Air Force Special Operations Command both from the active duty and Reserve side of the house.”
Rowley concluded his remarks by praising and challenging members of his unit to continue their efforts to make the 859th a superior unit capable of exceeding AFSOC’s requirements for the Non-Standard Aviation Mission.
“Your dedication to the NSAV mission and this squadron is why the 859th flag stands here today,” said Rowley. “I’m excited about our future and I’m honored to be your commander. Congratulations and welcome to the 859th Special Operations Squadron. You’ve earned and now you own it.”