The USAF established the USAF Special Air Warfare Center (SAWC) and assigned it to Tactical Air Command. Located at Eglin AFB, Florida, it gained the 1st Combat Applications Group (1 CAG), a unit previously assigned directly to TAC. At the same time, TAC activated the 1st Air Commando Group (1 ACG) as part of the Special Air Warfare Center, discontinued the 4400th Combat Crew Training Group, and reassigned the 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron to the 1st Air Commando Group while simultaneously redesignating it as the 4410th Combat Crew Training Squadron (4410 CCTS). In addition to the 4410th Combat Crew Training Squadron, the 1st Air Commando Group also received the 6th Fighter Squadron, Commando, the 319th Troop Carrier Squadron Commando, and the 1st Air Materiel Squadron Commando.
Combat Controller’s Close Air Support (CAS) history began during clandestine operations conducted in Laos and Cambodia where CCTs were the only enlisted personnel conducting CAS while working with other government agencies. Technical Sergeant Richard L. Foxx became the first CCT killed in action while performing forward air controller duties in a U-10 aircraft. The Gaffney, South Carolina native was a pioneer in the enlisted forward air guide program. During the Southeast Asia [Vietnam] conflict, 22 combat controllers were awarded the Silver Star.
As a captain in 1963, Grimes helped establish Detachment 75, 2nd Weather Group, at Hurlburt Field, to support the Air Force’s COIN program known as Jungle Jim.
Twenty-two streets on Hurlburt Field were renamed in honor of air commandos who died in Vietnam. A command review with more than 1,000 officers and airmen and a fly-by of eight Douglas A-1 Skyraiders highlighted the ceremony. The streets were renamed for Major James R. O'Neill; Captains John P. Bartley, Robert D. Bennett, Herbert W. Booth, Jr., Jerry A. Campaigne, Howard R. Cody, Edward K. Kissam, Jr., Bernard F' Lukasik, John H. McClean, Andrew C. Mitchell, Howard P. Purcell, Robert L. Simpson, and Condon H. Terry; First Lieutenants Arthur E. Bedel, Stanley G. Hartson, Jack D. LeTourneau, Atis K. Lielmanis, and William B. Tully; Technical Sergeants Richard L. Foxx and Floyd M. Frazier; Staff Sergeant Raphael Cruz, and Airman First Class Robert L. Westfall.
At Eglin AFB, FL, the Air Force completed the first live skyhook recovery of Capt Nelson Gough by a modified C-123H.
Two F-4C aircrews downed two MiG-17 jet fighters over North Vietnam to score the first Air Force air-to-air victories in the Vietnam War.
The USAF activated the 14th Air Commando Wing in South Vietnam. The wing performed combat operations in Southeast Asia from March 1966 to September 1971, operating from numerous locations in South Vietnam and Thailand. Operations included close and direct air support, interdiction, combat airlift, aerial resupply, visual and photographic reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency operations, psychological warfare (including leaflet dropping and aerial broadcasting), forward air control (FAC) operations and escort, search and rescue, escort for convoy and defoliation operations, flare drops, civic actions, and humanitarian actions. The wing also operated Nha Trang AB, South Vietnam, Mar 1966-Oct 1969, and provided maintenance support for a number of tenants. Trained South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) personnel in AC-119 operations and maintenance, Feb-Aug 1971, and transferred some of its AC-119s to the VNAF, Aug-Sep 1971 as part of a phase-down for inactivation. Today, the unit serves as the 14 Flying Training Wing at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, with responsibility for undergraduate and other types of flying training.
Operation Junction City - the first recorded joint-service (US Army/USAF CCT) combat jump was during Operation Junction City. The purpose of the operation was to drive the Viet Cong away from populated areas and into the open, where superior American firepower could be more effectively used. In the largest operation of the war to date, four South Vietnamese and 22 U.S. battalions were involved - more than 25,000 troops. The first day's operation was supported by 575 aircraft sorties, a record number for a single day in South Vietnam. The operation was marked by one of the largest airmobile assaults in history when 240 troop-carrying helicopters descended on the battlefield. There were 2,728 enemy casualties by the end of the operation on March 17.
Activated (November 8, 1967) and re-designated as the 24th Air Commando Wing (March 15, 1968) in the Panama Canal Zone where it assumed operation and maintenance responsibilities for Howard and Albrook Air Force Bases and special operations mission that included air transport, paramilitary operations, exercise participation, civic actions in Central and South America, search and rescue missions, humanitarian operations, mercy missions, aeromedical evacuation, and support of Army Special Forces, US military units, and training of Latin air forces. From activation in 1967 until mid-1972, the 24th Wing operated the USAF Tropic Survival School at Albrook.
The Air Force redesignated the Special Air Warfare Center (SAWC) as the Special Operations School. The 1st Air Commando Wing received the new designation of 1st Special Operations Wing while the assigned squadrons: 8th, 317th, 319th, 603rd, 930th, and 71st Air Commando Squadrons all became Special Operations Squadrons.
Re-designated the 24th Special Operations Wing.