By Charles Richard Smith; United States. Marine Corps
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16 To support it, the chief of staff of the Air Force ordered the transfer of the Pave Lows from the Air Rescue and Recovery Service to the 20th Special Operations Squadron (SOS), a subunit of the 1st SOW at Hurlburt Field. This unit, equipped with HH-3s and UH-1Ns, had a long and distinguished record. Many of its crewmembers were veterans of Southeast Asia and had seen combat at places like Koh Tang and Tchepone. They were among the ﬁrst in any operational unit to ﬂy with night-vision goggles (NVG).
2. The RH-53s were also capable of carrying the heavy loads needed for the mission and operating in desert sand. Initially, Navy pilots were selected to ﬂy the helicopters, but they were replaced when several violated security rules and openly discussed mission details with family members. Evaluators also felt that the pilots lacked the tactical expertise for the mission. 10 The rescue crews in Turkey were not pleased at what they were hearing. They were more than prepared to ﬂy the mission with their HH-53s, regardless of the risk, yet they did not get the call.
7 Within TAC, the special operations units were the lowest priority in funding. Most amazingly, the heavy lift CH-53s that had done some great work inserting and extracting commando teams behind enemy lines in the war had been reassigned to a tactical communications unit. The special operations forces’ MC-130s could insert the teams, but unless adequate airﬁelds were available, they could not extract them. 8 The Pave Low was the answer, but TAC was not interested. Shipman found this disdain very frustrating.
A brief history of the 12th Marines by Charles Richard Smith; United States. Marine Corps