By Vanessa Kahin
A new squadron at Cannon Air Force Base made a memorable entrance Thursday morning near a base hangar.
The 26th Special Tactics Squadron — the first special tactics squadron to call Cannon Air Force Base home — parachuted from an MC-130J Commando II into its own activation ceremony. The onlookers cheered when they realized a parachuter was waving the American flag, and cheered again when the parachuters reached the ground safely near a base hangar.
Special Tactics airmen are the Air Force’s equivalent of the Army’s Special Forces and the Navy SEALs.
“They’re probably the most highly trained (airmen) in the Air Force,” said Maj. Craig Savage, a public affairs spokesman with the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
“We’re the integration between the air and the ground.”
The squadron has four special tactics operator career fields, according to a CAFB press release. These are combat controllers, pararescue jumpers, tactical air control party and special operations weather team specialists.
The new squadron will be led by Maj. Michael J. Jensen, the former commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group, Detachment 1 at Hurlburt Field.
The 720th Special Tactics Group, Detachment 1 has been converted to the new Cannon squadron.
“I present the plank holders of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron,” Jensen told the crowd at the ceremony.
Plank holder, Jensen explained, is a naval term for someone who is a member of a crew of a ship when that ship is commissioned.
The plank holders of the new squadron are comprised of airmen from bases in Florida, North Carolina and the state of Washington, officials said. Savage said the squadron will grow to include up to 190 airmen.
Col. Kurt W. Buller, commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group, activated the new squadron and placed Jensen as its commander.
“The significance of today’s events is to stand up a unit that is built for worldwide combat — one that is comprised of members prepared to fight and win our nation’s wars,” Buller said.
He offered advice to the members of the squadron.
“I want you to be great,” he said. “I want you to be bold. … Have a keen sense of self.
“I want your moral compass to be straight; and, I want you to be a team. In Special Tactics, no one fights alone.”