1st SOS legacy continues with the MC-130J

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Renee Douglas
  • 353rd Special Operations Group

In a unique Change of Command ceremony the 1st Special Operations Squadron gained a new commander and the responsibility for a fleet of MC-130J Air Commando IIs previously assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron on Friday, April 17, 2020.

This event marked a historic moment for the 353rd Special Operations Group, the 1st SOS and the 17th SOS. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic a traditional ceremony gathering the squadrons in formation wasn’t possible so instead the 1st SOS and the 17th SOS flew in formation. A formation flight made up of two MC-130Js, Jakal 01 and Goose 01, flew over Okinawa to symbolically recognize the contributions the 17th SOS has made to U.S. airpower since WWII, and to symbolize the transition of its members and aircraft to the 1st SOS. 

This was the last flight of the 17th SOS in the Pacific Theater. This flight also marked the inaugural MC-130J Commando II flight for the 1st SOS and the squadron’s Change of Command.

When the two aircraft passed in formation over Kadena Air Base the 17th SOS Commander, Lt Col Joshua Jackson, flying Jakal 01, broke off from the formation and landed for the last time. The moment Jakal 01 landed the 1st SOS became the only active specialized air mobility squadron in the Pacific Theater.  Col Michael Thomas then officiated an in-flight Change of Command between Lt Col Joshua Petry and Lt Col Jaefen Thielker in the cargo compartment of Goose 01.

Members of the 1st SOS participated in Operation EAGLE CLAW 40 years ago.  Out of this operation, the 1st SOS earned the motto “With the Guts to Try”.  As is tradition in the 1st SOS, each time a new type of aircraft becomes the primary aircraft, the squadron’s flying callsign changes.  The 1st SOS has flown under the callsign, “Stray” with MC-130E Combat Talon aircraft, and most recently with “Goose” when it flew MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft.  With the MC-130J Commando II aircraft the 1st SOS will now assume the callsign “Guts”. 

“A sincere thank you to the men and women across the SOG who made this unique heritage ceremony possible, and to the many that have served in both squadrons throughout the years,” said Colonel Michael Thomas, Commander, 353rd SOG. “The Batcats will remember there is “No Mission too Demanding” because we will always have “The Guts to Try”.”