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The 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron

The 961st Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron was activated 18 December 1954 at Otis AFB, MA. Flying the EC-121 Constellation aircraft, the squadron provided airborne early warning and control operations within the Eastern Air Defense Identification Zone. The squadron was deactivated 31 December 1969 and reactivated at Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan, 1 October 1979 as the 961st Airborne Warning and Control Support Squadron. The unit was redesignated the 961st Airborne Warning and Control Squadron in January 1982 and on 1 August 1994 received it current designation of 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron.

Two E-3s were first deployed to Okinawa 23 May 1980 in response to political unrest in South Korea. This Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)-directed deployment came 6 weeks ahead of the aircraft's scheduled arrival in Japan.

The unit's first deployment in the Pacific from Okinawa occurred in September 1980, when the squadron represented the United States in PACIFIC CONSORT, a joint multinational exercise held in Australia. The squadron has since taken part in other 961.jpg (117484 bytes)exercises and system demonstrations throughout the Pacific Theater. Some of them include: TEAM SPIRIT, a JCS exercise involving allied forces in the defense of South Korea; COPE THUNDER, held in Alaska, is the largest exercise with the Japan Self Defense Forces, emphasizing air defense operations integration into the Base Air Defense Ground Environment (BADGE) system; COPE TIGER and COBRA GOLD, both held in Thailand, are joint exercises with the Royal Thai Air Force which simulate air combat in a tactical environment. Additionally, the squadron exercises regularly as an integral part of the 18th Wing team, the first composite wing in the USAF, to improve the unit's capability as a force multiplier and enhancing fighter effectiveness.

From September to November 1983, the 961st Airborne Warning and Control Squadron supported the salvage operations that followed the Soviet destruction of Korean Airlines Flight 007. The unit provided surveillance and command and control for the multitude of aircraft and surface ships taking part in the search for the airliner's flight data recorder. More than 100 additional crewmembers from Tinker AFB, OK joined Kadena-based crews in flying 53 missions in the 3-month operation.

961 stan.jpg (34533 bytes)Since April 1990, the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron has participated in the JCS-directed surveillance mission in support of the President's National Drug Council Strategy. In support of this enhanced drug operations mission, the 961st deployed to NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, from April 1990 through February 1992. Beginning in March 1992, the squadron made its first deployment to Howard AFB, Panama until the relocation of operations to MacDill AFB, FL due to scheduled closure of Howard AFB. Other deployment locations in support of this mission included sites in Bolivia, Peru, and they were the first United States Air Force asset to be deployment to Uruguay in August 1992.The 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron is proud to be known as "Eyes of the Pacific"

Lee Gene Maj 552 ACW/CCE


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