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Students see – and hear – end of an Air Force era

Pennsylvania College of Technology students were among those on hand Saturday as their 193rd Special Operations Wing, a unit of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, transmitted its final message to spectators during the Community Days Air Show at the Lancaster Airport in Lititz. The Air Force said farewell to 54 years of military history in celebrating the last flight of EC-130J Commando Solo, used in psychological operations and part of the only flying radio and television broadcast platform in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Representing the 193rd SOW well are (from left) Penn College students Amey, Cordrey, Jackson, Hicks and Thomson.
Representing the 193rd SOW well are (from left) Penn College students Amey, Cordrey, Jackson, Hicks and Thomson.

Representing the 193rd SOW were Penn College students Clayton W. Amey, of Birdsboro, enrolled in automotive technology management: automotive technology concentration; Jade A. Cordrey, of Muncy, nursing; Zachary A. Jackson, of Wernersville, aviation maintenance technology; Kaylin J. Hicks, of Hughesville, paramedic science; and Brent H. Thomson, of Wernersville, applied management.

“Any world event or crisis that our military has responded to in recent history, our 193rd Airmen – and Commando Solo – were likely key components in that response,” said Col. Eric McKissick, 193rd SOW vice commander. “As we prepare to open a new chapter in our history, we thank those who have enabled us to be among the very best wings in the Air National Guard.”

Commando Solo at Lititz on Saturday, the day of its final flyover and transmission
Commando Solo at Lititz on Saturday, the day of its final flyover and transmission

The genesis for the airborne information operations platform can be traced to 1968, when the 193rd Tactical Electronics Warfare Group received its first aircraft: the EC-121 Coronet Solo. In the late 1970s, the aircraft were succeeded by the EC-130E before finally being replaced by the current model in 2003.

Throughout its history, the wing was instrumental in the success of coordinated military information support operations, earning it the moniker of “the most deployed unit in the Air National Guard.”

Those deployments included Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operations Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector in Libya, Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Resolute Support/Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Secure Tomorrow and Operation Unified Response in Haiti.

In the transmission, the wing thanked the local community for its support over the years before broadcasting the Santo and Johnny song, “Sleep Walk,” and closing with the phrase, “Commando Solo, music off.”

Article provided by Airman 1st Class Diana Snyder, 193rd SOW Public Affairs Office;
photos by Jade’s Mom: Kimberly S. Cordrey, Lumley Aviation Center secretary

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