During that time, current members of the 20th SOS got to meet with squadron veterans and share experiences.
“It was humbling,” said Col. Michael Conley, 27th Special Operations Wing vice commander, after talking with the veteran Green Hornets. “These guys are heroes. They would never tell you that. They are the forefathers of the mantra that AFSOC [Air Force Special Operations Command] has of ‘quiet professionals.’ They set the stage for what is now current Air Force special operations.”
After the static display, everybody moved into the museum to witness the dedication of the Green Hornets exhibit and diorama depicting a rescue mission in Vietnam on Nov. 26, 1968. At the time, Fred Cook was a staff sergeant and door gunner of the Flying Bell UH-1F/P Huey helicopter. He recalled the intense actions of the day.
“I would almost say that was our norm,” Cook said about the intensity of the mission. “The day before that we had one that was just as hot, and the day after that one of our birds was shot down. These were just the types of missions that we flew.”
On this particular mission, the Green Hornets successfully extracted a six-man Special Forces team that was taking fire from three sides and a much larger force. It took two attempts, demonstrating the Hornets’ determination and not giving up after a first failed attempt due to heavy incoming fire. The rescue mission earned the crew numerous awards and one member, Lt. James P. Fleming, received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
According to Dr. Jeff Underwood, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force historian, only recently have the actions of the Green Hornets become more public since the missions they performed were dangerous and under great secrecy.
Now, with the information attainable, current military members can know the impact the Green Hornets had and the importance of their story.
“They wrote the book,” Conley said. “We are juststanding on their shoulders trying to carry on the legacy.”