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42nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron [42nd ACCS]

The 42nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron inactivated on September 30, 2002, after 34 years of existence. Air Force officials determined the unit's mission could be successfully accomplished with several other aircraft, including the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft and the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft, and by ground systems.

The 42nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron (42nd ACCS) is a one-of-a-kind unit that provides unified and theater commanders with an Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC) that controls and directs friendly air forces against enemy ground targets. ABCCC works closely with friendly ground units and other command and control warfare assets to prioritize and allocate fighter aircraft and weapons to protect our ground forces and destroy or disrupt enemy ground forces.

The squadron was formed as the 7th ACCS in September 1965 at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, and moved to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, in 1966 and remained there until moving to Thailand in July 1967. It was also stationed at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base (July 1967-April 1972), Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base (April 1972-May 1974), Clark Air Base, Republic of Philippines, (May 1974-August 1975), and Keesler Air Force Base, MS (August 1975-July 1994).

The 7 ACCS played an extremely important role in the conduct of air operations during the conflict in Southeast Asia (SEA) from 1965 through the cessation of operations in Cambodia in 1972. During the action in SEA, the squadron had a minimum of two aircraft airborne 24 hours a day directing and coordinating the effective employment of tactical air resources as an extension of the 7th Air Force Tactical Air Control Center (TACC) at Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam.

Immediately before leaving Clark AB, Republic of Philippines (August 1975), for Keesler AFB, MS, the squadron acted as the Airborne Mission Commander for the evacuations of Phnom Penh and Saigon, the recovery of the merchant ship Mayaguez and its crew, and the US Marine assault on Koh Tang Island.

In July 1981 the 3380th Organizational Maintenance Squadron was created. Together with the 7th ACCS they were responsible for eight WC-130 aircraft in the 53 WRS, seven EC-130 aircraft, along with seven AN/USC-15 ABCCC capsules in the 7th ACCS; all training devices used by the 3380 Technical Training Group, and the largest Type II PMEL laboratory in the CONUS.

Other accomplishments of ABCCC as 7th ACCS include the American student rescue operation in Grenada, Operation URGENT FURY (November 1983), the recovery efforts of Texas Congressman Mickey Leland (August 1989), and the invasion of Panama, Operation JUST CAUSE (December 1989).

As hostilities developed in the Middle East in August 1990, the 7th ACCS and 3380th Maintenance squadrons deployed nearly 9000 miles in a matter of days in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD. While operating from the United Arab Emirates, the 7th ACCS ( Deployed ) maintained a 24-hour alert posture, and participated in several multi-national force joint exercises including Night Cannon, Night Camel, and Imminent Thunder in preparation of anticipated hostilities.

Just prior to the start of Operation DESERT STORM, the squadron was conducting Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) on the ABCCC III capsule, which was used during the conflict. Throughout the deployment, 7th ACCS missions directly supported the overall destruction of Iraqi ground units, SCUD missile sites, and other targets of interest, including the Republican Guard Forces.

On 1 July 1991, approximately 300 members from the Operational Maintenance Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Squadron were assigned to the 7th ACCS.

In July 1993 the 7th ACCS deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy, in support of the United Nations ground forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Operation DENY FLIGHT. During the summer of 1994, the men, women, aircraft and equipment of the ABCCC relocated to Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. On 20 July 1994, the unit was redesignated as the 42nd ACCS. The 42nd ACCS operates as an airborne extension of the Combined Air Operations Center, Vicenza, Italy. ABCCC members have directed NATO's tactical air to ground operations over Bosnia-Herzogovina in which members of the unit were directly involved in operations to halt aggression against UN-declared safe havens such as Sarajevo, Gorazde, and Bihac. ABCCC was also involved in the precision air strike on Ubdina airfield in Serbian-held Croatian territory. As of March 1996, the unit has flown over 1000 missions, controlled more than 23,000 sorties and has been utilized as an Airborne Mission Commander for three Search and Rescue efforts. The squadron is still there today participating in Operation Joint Endeavor.

The 42nd ACCS itself was initially activated at Smokey Hill Airfield, KS, as the 42nd Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range Photographic, on 7 November 1945. They trained to serve with European occupation forces but didn't leave the U.S. since they were inactivated the following summer, in August 1946. The squadron finally reached Europe at Spangdahlem AB, Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), as the 42nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Electronics and Weather, activating on 11 December 1953. The squadron maintained surveillance for hostile electronic activity and their weather reconnaissance was vital to the safety of aircraft transiting the Atlantic, Europe, and North Africa. Gradually, their weather mission was de-emphasized and disappeared altogether as monitoring Warsaw Pact activities took priority for many U.S. forces. Up to their inactivation in August 1966, they were a primary electronic support unit, gathering electronic intelligence daily during the height of the Cold War.

In December 1967, the 42nd Electronic Warfare Squadron began its distinguished service in Southeast Asia. It was activated once again in Thailand, flying from Takhli and then Korat until its inactivation on 15 March 1974. During these five years, the unit earned a Presidential Unit Citation, four Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. The squadron was involved in every Vietnam campaign from Phase II of the air offensive to the cease-fire earning the right to fly 13 combat campaign streamers.

As the 42nd Electronic Combat Squadron, the unit returned to Europe at Royal Air Force Upper Heyford, United Kingdom in active service from 1 July 1983 to 1 July 1992. During this time, the 42 ECS participated in Operation EL DORADO CANYON (Libyan bombing raid), and Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM.

On 20 July 1994, the 7th ACCS stood down and became the 42nd ACCS under the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ, as an integral part of Air Combat Command's Theater Air Control System. During the following months, the 42nd ACCS moved 500 tons of equipment and supplies to Davis-Monthan AFB while flying combat support missions over Bosnia-Herzegovina every day. While these two events were ongoing, the 42nd ACCS deployed in support of Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY (restore the legal government in Haiti). Ninety- six hours after return from UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, the unit deployed again to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR (to deter a second invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces). Within 72 hours after arrival, the unit flew its first operational mission over Kuwait.

The mission of the 42nd ACCS is to provide unified and theater commanders an airborne battlefield command and control center (ABCCC), with capability for combat operations during war, contingencies, exercises, and special classified missions. organizes and maintains a highly trained force of mission ready crew members and specially equipped EC-130E aircraft to support worldwide combat operations. The 42nd ACCS provides worldwide responsiveness in the employment of its airborne command and control platform for managing tactical air operations in limited or general war, contingencies, exercises, and special emergency reaction missions.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:13:20 ZULU