May 27, 2015 (by A1C Charles Slack) - Members of the 27th Special Operations Wing gathered to officially retire the final AC-130H Spectre Gunship, tail number #69-6569 “Excalibur,” Tuesday.
USAF AC-130H #69-6569 nicknamed “Excalibur”, flies overhead on May 26, 2015 at Cannon AFB. The gunship has a long and proud history beginning in Southeast Asia over 46 years ago. [USAF photo by SrA Eboni Reece]
Over the last two years, air commandos within the 16th Special Operations Squadron have bid farewell to the entire fleet of this historic aerial asset, as each of the eight aircraft have been one-by-one ceremoniously retired after 46 years of dedicated service.
“Over the last 12 years, the 16th SOS has flown over 6,500 combat sorties, 26,000 combat hours and has been responsible for over 4,600 enemies killed in action, along with over 5,200 enemy captures,” said Capt. Aaron Magger, 16th SOS navigator. “As the AC-130H chapter of gunship evolution comes to a close, the AC-130H is the single deadliest aircraft and flying squadron in the war on terrorism.”
To help celebrate the illustrious accomplishments of the decorated aircraft, Lt. Col. Andrew Koegl, 16th SOS commander, shared his sentiments with Team Cannon.
“Being a part of Spectre is more than what model gunship you fly; it is a culture,” he said. “It is about training hard to become systems and tactics experts. It is about leadership and doing the right thing by knowing when to hang it all out there to protect your teammates on the ground.”
“How can you not develop pride in yourself and your unit when you hear these stories, and you talk with fellow Air Commandos who have served before you?” he continued. “Tomorrow, we are sending off the legacy of the AC-130H and what it has done over the last 46 years. I am honored to be here today; it has been a privilege to have flown this aircraft.”