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31st Special Operations Squadron [31st SOS]

The 31st Special Operations Squadron, which fell under the 53rd Special Operations Group, Kadena AB, Japan, was inactivated in April 2001 during a ceremony at Osan Air Base, South Korea, officially ending the Air Force Special Operations vertical lift mission in the Pacific.

The inactivation of the Black Knights is the first step in preparation for the arrival of the CV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. The squadron was scheduled to fly its five MH-53J helicopters through June, which are to be reassigned to Kirtland AFB, NM.

The ceremony was called an inactivation, rather than a deactivation, because a tilt-rotor squadron that might eventually stand-up in the Pacific could bear the 31st SOS' unit designation.

The 31st Special Operations Squadron's mission consists of day or night, all-weather, low-level penetration of denied territory to provide infiltration, exfiltration, resupply, or fire support for elite air, ground, and naval forces. The unique capabilities of the MH-53J the squadron operates permit operations from unprepared landing zones.

The 31st Special Operations Squadron traces its lineage to the 31st Air Rescue Squadron which was constituted on 17 October 1952. It activated on 14 November 1952 at Clark AB, Philippines, assigned to the 2nd Air Rescue Group. The squadron was reassigned to the Air Rescue Service on 24 June 1958. It relocated to Naha AB, Okinawa, on 12 September 1960, before being discontinued on 18 September 1960. During that period, the squadron had flwon the SA-16 (1952-1960); H-19 (1952-1955); SH-19 (1955-1960).

The 31st reorganized on 8 July 1963 at Clark AB, Philippines, under Air Rescue (later, Aerospace Rescue and Recovery) Service (though attached to Pacific Air Rescue [later, Pacific Aerospace Rescue and Recovery] Center, from 8 July 1963-31 March 1967) and was tasked with providing combat rescue in Southeast Asia, from 1965 to 1966.

Redesignated as the 31st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron on 8 January 1966, the squadron was reassigned to the Pacific Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Center (later, 41st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing), on 1 April 1967, operating the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) for Thirteenth Air Force. It inactivated on 1 July 1975, having flown the HH-19 (1963-1964); HC-54 (1964-1965); HH-43 (1964-1970, 1971-1972); HC-97 (1965-1966); HC-130 (1966-1975); HH-3 (1968-1975).

The 31st reactivated on 8 January 1981 at Clark AB under the 41st Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing, flying the HH-3 and CH-3.

It was redesignated as the 31st Special Operations Squadron on 6 April 1989, upong its reassignment to the 353d Special Operations Wing, (later, 353d Special Operations Group). The 31st SOS transitioned to the MH-53 in 1990, conducting disaster relief missions in the Philippines, taht same year from 16-31 July.

The 31st SOS relocated to Osan AB, South Korea, on 31 March 1993. There, the unit participated in major contingency operations including the evacuation of Clark following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, several sea and land rescues of downed flyers, and combined and joint training events throughout the theater.



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