History of the 20th TASS
(From the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama)
Supersedes entry contained in Maurer Maurer (ed.), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (1969; reprint edition, Washington: USGPO, 1982), pp. 109-110, and all subsequent updates.
Click on the decoration above to see 20th TASS Awards & Decorations
World War II
Post WWII Era
Post Vietnam era
OPERATIONSThe 20th Transport Squadron activated at France Field, Panama Canal Zone, on 15 Dec 1940, but had only one officer and no airplanes until Feb 1941. The squadron became operational by Mar 1941, hauling cargo on local flights with C-33s. In Apr 1941 the 20th received C-39 aircraft, and on 11 May made its first out-of-country flight, to Managua, Nicaragua. Before the end of the year, the squadron was flying to destinations throughout the Caribbean area, Central America, South America, and sometimes to the United States, transporting passengers, mail, and supplies in support of U.S. forces.
In Nov 1941, the squadron established a flight at Howard Field to handle local missions and a month later, another flight at Waller Field, Trinidad. The Howard Field flight ceased operations when the squadron moved from France Field to Howard Field in Feb 1942, but the Trinidad detachment operated, as did a third detachment established -Ln Puerto Rico in Jun 1942, until Dec 1943. Redesignated 20th Troop Carrier Squadron in Jul 1942. Moved again in Jun 1943, this time to Albrook Field.
The 20th TCS flew many different types of aircraft between 1941 and 1949, several being one of a kind, such as the XC-105, the only four-engined aircraft that it possessed during World War II. It also flew, except for the first half of 1943, OA-10s in emergency rescue missions over the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea from Jun 1942-Aug 1945. In May 1946 the squadron received C-54 aircraft. The 20th TCS moved in Sep 1948 from Panama to Bergstrom AFB, Texas. It left all aircraft and equipment at Albrook, except for a detachment of C-54s that had left Albrook in Jul 1948 to participate in the Berlin Airlift. At Bergstrom, the 20th TCS received C-82 aircraft in Nov 1948 and began transition training. In early Jan 1949, the squadron's air echelon deployed seven C-82s on temporary duty to Kearney AFB, Nebraska, to transport supplies to snowbound ranchers and farmers, while the rest of the squadron moved at the end of Jan to Smyrna AFB, Tenn. The C-82s and aircrews arrived at Smyrna in late Feb 1949. While at Smyrna, the 20th trained with U.S. Army paratroopers in airborne tactics and carried cargo about the United States. The squadron inactivated on 20 Oct 1949.
The 20th Tactical Ai-r Support Squadron organized on 8 May 1965 at Danang AB, Republic of Vietnam. It received its first O-lF aircraft in late May and began operations in Aug 1965. Provided visual reconnaissance and airborne forward air control for tactical offensive operations, and also gave theater indoctrination flight checkouts in assigned aircraft for newly assigned aircrews in Southeast Asia. As the squadron expanded its operations, it established several detachments at forward locations throughout South Vietnam. In Jan 1969, received first OV-10A, and in July transferred its last 0-1. By Oct 1969, the 20th operated from Danang and eleven forward locations, supporting five U.S. Army and six South Vietnamese Army forces locations.
The U.S. Armed Forces gradually withdrew from South Vietnam in 1970-1972, and the 20th discontinued its forward operating locations in 1971 and early 1972. Then, after the North Vietnamese invaded the south in Apr 1972, the 20th again set up forward operating locations. In Jun 1972, it flew three times the missions it had in mar, prior to the invasion. In addition to FAC, liaison, observation, and reconnaissance missions, the 20th, in response to enemy rocket attacks on Danang AB during 1972, provided base defense with the OV-10A aircraft equipped with small bombs, 2.75 inch rockets, and 7.62 mm guns. In Jan 1973, the squadron discontinued its last forward operating location, flew its last mission, turned its 0-2As over to the Vietnamese Air Force and its OV-lOAs to other USAF squadrons in Southeast Asia. On 15 Jan 1973 the squadron moved, without personnel or equipment, to George AFB, Calif, where it remained unmanned until it inactivated on 1 Apr 1973 .
On 1 Oct 1973 the 20th TASS activated at Wiesbaden AB, West Germany, to provide forward tactical air control for U.S. Army, Europe, and Seventh Army operations. The squadron had only three 0-2A aircraft available until Jul 1974, when it began flying OV-10A aircraft. Engaged in close air support training during USAFE, NATO, and U.S. Army exercises, its pilots served as both ground and airborne forward air controllers. During training exercises, the 20th deployed to and flew from bases in Italy, Spain, Denmark, Turkey, England, Belgium, West Germany, and The Netherlands. In Jan 1976, the squadron moved with the 601st Tactical control Wing to Sembach AB, West Germany. In May 1981, it added search and rescue missions to its tasks. In 1984, lost all OV-10 aircraft, squadron aircrews ferrying them to George AFB, Calif, Jun-Aug 1984. squadron inactivated on 30 Sep 1984.
Activated on 1 Apr 1990 at Shaw AFB, SC, as part of the 507th Tactical Air Control Wing.
DescriptionOn a disc divided fesswise nebuly of two, azure (ultramarine) and gules (pimento), the partition line fimbriated argent, overall palewise a flight symbol or, encircled by 20 mullets of the third, all within a diminished bordure of the second fimbriated of the third. Above and below the disc two scrolls edged gules, the one below inscribed with the words FIRST ON TARGET in letters gules.
Significance Ultramarine blue and golden yellow are the official Air Force colors. The blue sky and the color red representing the embattled ground forces protected by the gold flight symbol, all refer to the tactical squadron's mission to provide Air Force-Army interface and close control of tactical air with accurate placement of air delivered ordnance. The 20 stars symbolize the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron's excellence of performance.
FIRST ON TARGET. Approved on 25 Jun 1974.