June 30, 2017 (by Capt. Jessica Tait) - The 17th Special Operations Squadron observed its annual ‘Day of the Jakal’ with a mass launch of five U.S. Air Force Special Operations MC-130J Commando IIs, June 22, 2017, at Kadena Air Base and Ie Shima Range, Okinawa, Japan.
USAF MC-130J Commando IIs from the 17th SOS line up in a five-aircraft formation during a mass launch training mission June 22, 2017 off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. [USAF photo by SrA John Linzmeier]
“It’s a great way to showcase the abilities of both the 353rd Special Operations Group and 17th Special Operations Squadron,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Dube, 17th SOS operations officer. “To get out and put mass on objective. It shows how we can meet the emerging mission sets for both SOCKOR and SOCPAC out here in the Pacific theater.”
Five MC-130Js flew in formation from Kadena Air Base to Ie Shima Range to practice mass on objective training to include airdrops, aircraft landings, and rapid infiltration and exfiltration of equipment.
“Lots of training and planning goes into ‘Day of the JAKAL’,” said Dube. “First off you have five pieces of iron that weight about 140 thousand pounds flying in formation 500 feet apart. Additionally, aircrews need to drop bundles right on the mark where they need to resupply troops. It’s a good training evolution for these guys.”
In addition to the 17th SOS, the 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron and 353rd Special Operation Support Squadron had a role in supporting the event.
“This day is all about building cohesion and comradery within the 17th SOS and rest of the group that are a part of the team,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Kade Bollinger, 17th SOS instructor loadmaster. “We executed multiple events that we do downrange. It was great to have a competitive training event amongst, not just the aircrew, but encompassing maintenance and enablers as well. The JAKALs are one big family and we wanted to get everybody involved.”
The 17th SOS proudly exemplifies their motto, ‘no mission too demanding’ in both training and real-world contingencies.
“There is no mission too great for the JAKALs,” said DuBe. “I have the utmost faith in the guys that I fly with and work with every day. They are the best trained and I’d put them up against anybody in the world.”
The 17th SOS traces its heritage back to World War II when the unit was activated as the 17th Observation Squadron (Light) on March 2, 1942. The squadron flew the HC-130P/N, later re-designated MC-130P/N, to provide covert aerial refueling for special operations helicopters. Its other missions included infiltrating, exfiltrating and resupplying special operations forces.
The 17th SOS currently operates six MC-130J Commando II aircraft.