1st Combat Camera Squadron [1st CTCS]
Cameras first appeared in combat during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1847, and were then used extensively during the American Civil War of 1861-1865. Combat photography's early pioneers gave the viewing public a chilling glimpse of warfare previously unseen.
When the United States entered World War I, aerial photography was used for reconnaissance, while motion picture coverage captured the war on the ground and in the air. During World War II, fourteen US Army Combat Camera Units provided still and motion picture coverage of the war in every theater of operation. The visual record was used for operational analysis, training, public information and as a permanent historical record.
The Air Force lacked a centralized pictorial service when the Korean War began in 1950. The Air Pictorial Service was activated April 1951 in Washington, DC and aligned directly under the USAF Chief of Staff. Air Force combat documentation has undergone many changes, designations, and locations since its inseption.
Modern day Combat Camera personnel trace their roots to the activation of the Aerospace Audiovisual Service (AAVS) in January 1966. One of their first missions was to manage all photographic functions, except reconnaissance, in Southeast Asia.
"Project Combat Pix" began October 1966, expanding the AAVS mission to include all base photo labs, combat documentation and armament recording photography. AAVS Headquarters was relocated to Norton AFB, CA in July 1968.
By the late 1980's, AAVS adopted the unofficial name "Combat Camera." Battlefield commanders, planners, media outlets and historians rely on combat camera personnel imagery for reconnaissance work, and as a visual record for use in operational analysis, training, public information, and as a permanent historical record. Combat camera personnel are an integral part of all excercises, contingency operations, humanitarian relief efforts, and disasters of every kind.
In recent years, Combat Camera crews have recorded Operations Desert Shield/ Desert Storm, Provide Hope, Provide Promise and Deny Flight. In April 1992, AAVS was designated the Air Combat Camera Service (AirCCS) with the 1st and 2nd Combat Camera Squadrons located in Charleston AFB, SC and March AFB, CA respectivley. AirACCS led in the technical development of electronic imagery for the Air Force and the DoD.
In July 1994, the 1st and 2nd Combat Camera Squadrons were transferred to their respective Air Mobility Operations Groups (AMOG). AirACCS was inactivated on 30 September 1994 ending 43 years of outstanding duty to the USAF. By late 1996, the 2nd Combat Camera Squadron located at Travis AFB, CA was inactivated leaving the 1st Combat Camera Squadron at Charleston AFB, SC as the only active duty Combat Camera Squadron in the Air Force.
1st Combat Camera Squadron personnel have documented operations Joint Endeavour/Joint Forge, Southern Watch, Provide Comfort, Sustain Hope, Restore Hope, Shining Hope and Allied Force.
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