Cast in Bronze

Combat Control - Air Force Cross Recipients

In the Eye of the Storm

Combat Controllers In Direct Action

Humanitarian Missions

Combat Airmen -Delivering Hope and Relief

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Ready Today - Prepared for Tomorrow

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Prepare Today - Lead Tomorrow - First There

Meet the CCSHF

Preserving the Heritage and History, Documenting the Past and Present for Combat Control Warriors

The Combat Control School Heritage foundation is a North Carolina incorporated 501c3 tax exempt organization, and works in concert with the Combat Control School Staff to acquire, refurbish, exhibit and maintain CCT artifacts accessioned by The CMSgt Alcide S. Benini Heritage Center.

The comprehensive Heritage Center displays lineage, artifacts, and equipment used since the inception of Combat Control Teams. The mission of The Benini Heritage Center (BHC) is to educate Combat Control students, to bolster Combat Control Team morale, and to support United States Air Force recruiting and retention goals for Combat Control Team operators.

From Army Pathfinders to the Air Force Special Operations Command, Combat Controllers have created a legacy that has paved the way for today's Special Tactics Warriors, just as each generation of Combat Controllers paves the way for tomorrow's Special Tactics Warriors.

 < Dedicated to the Preservation of our Warrior Heritage >

Combat ControllerMission One

Facing a gauntlet of qualification challenges, training to become a Combat Controller is intensely intellectual, technically and physically challenging.

The Combat Control School provides the Department of Defense, the Air Force Special Operations Command, and the 24th Special Operations Wing with mission ready Combat Controllers.

Advanced skills training produces the highest quality, air-minded, ground combat warriors in the United States Air Force.  We educate, train, qualify and prepare today's Combat Controllers for the diversity of tomorrow's world-wide missions.

The Tip of the Spear

Leading the way for in-theater combat and humanitarian relief operations, any where and any time, living up to Combat Control creed, "First There".

Combat Controllers are among the most technically qualified and highly trained special operations forces anywhere in the world.

Combat Control Teams deploy to perform reconnaissance, and establish air assault and airfield operations while providing command and control, primary air traffic control operations, and ground and air assault operations in support of counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, and humanitarian relief operations.

The Battle Field Game Changer

USAF Special Tactics Officer Capt Barry Crawford“…if you asked what tool of the trade would be the very last thing they would leave behind, you might be surprised at the answer. You would likely hear that it is not a tool that makes one nervous when it isn’t there,  but rather a capability that is not organic to a troop of Delta operators or Navy SEALs...

Arguably 'Combat Controllers' are the best-rounded and most uniquely trained operators on the planet. The initial training “pipeline” for an Air Force Special Tactics Squadron Combat Controller costs twice as much time and sweat as does the journey to become a Navy SEAL or Delta operator.
Before their training is complete someone brainwashes these guys into thinking they can climb like Spiderman, swim like Tarzan, and fly like Superman — and then they have to prove they can, if they plan to graduate. And, that is just to get to a place where they can do the job for which they are really trained, calling in those deadly air strikes.

The life of a combat controller is split between working with Delta and SEALs, with a little moonlighting with the 75th Ranger Regiment now and again.  They carry the motto that would be hard to look another operator in the face and say — if it weren’t true   — ‘First There.’

“Bomb Like There Is No Tomorrow” Kill Bin Laden
Dalton Fury, Delta Force Ground Commander

Never Give Up

Running the gauntlet and crossing the finish line requires physical readiness, mental maturity, emotional stability and a never-quit, never-give-up attitude.

Get prepared, get selected, never quit...

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These links are a mix of official, un-official and social resources for site visitors to explore.

The CCSHF monitors these sites for changes in content and updates.  If you have a site you would like to see posted here, submit a request through the contact page...

The Alcide Benini Heritage Museum

Help the CCSHF Fund
Combat Control Museum Operations

Help us preserve the History, Heritage
and Legacy for all generations

100% of your donations are applied to supporting and documenting the School and Combat Control Historical Record

Alcide Benini, CMSgt, USAF (Ret)
The First Combat Controller
Read the Memorial for the Man who conceived and founded the 1st Combat Control Team

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CMSgt [SEL] during short stint at Forbes AFB, KS in 1973. Base closed within 9 months after his arrival around Thanksgiving 1972. Captain Dan Coonan [RIP] was CCT Commander at the time. By July 1973, Adcock was at Little Rock AFB, AR.

Photo of me at top, at Forbes soon after I arrived from England AFB. Had line number for Chief and put it on soon after arrival. Was already in Chief on-base housing. Wayne Viars was there at the time and lived just down the street from me. So many of the names have faded into the ozone layer. Ceremony was for a retiring LtCol who had been a big CCT benefactor and huge supporter of the team - before I got there. Bill McRae also made the move with me from England AFB, but can't find him in the photo. COMPLETE LIST TO MY RECOLLECTION. L to R Coonan, Adcock, Viars, Frankenberger, UNK, Takach, LtCol, UNK, UNK, Quintis, UNK, UNK, , Hahn, Kilby, Givens. Further assitance appreciated. Known missing Larry Clausen.
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AIRMEN IN THE SHADOWS by W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

***The Air Force is a major player in rooting out terrorists.***

September 17, 2004 - National Review Online - When most Americans think of the U.S. Air Force, the first images that come to mind are of supersonic fighters like the F-15 Eagle or the new F-22 Raptor. Perhaps they think of B-2 stealth bombers, the big lumbering B-52 Stratofortresses, or C-130 and C-141 cargo planes. Some may think of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, reconnaissance satellites, or super-secret subterranean command posts like the one beneath Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain. After all, aircraft, crews, and ICBMs have been the service's raison d'être since breaking free from the U.S. Army and becoming a separate branch of the U.S. armed forces on September 18, 1947.

Few Americans, however, think of Air Force "special tactics" commandos as trained and equipped to fight in a ground combat environment, when, in fact, airmen are often first on the ground during airborne and special operations.

Like Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, and Recon Marines, the missions of these airmen are often classified; their efforts rarely make the papers. They don't duplicate the work of other "shooters": Instead they bring a number of unique features to the special-operations mix, including men, aircraft, and battle-field wizardry.

"The Air Force has always prided itself on things like high-tech information systems and space technologies, and that has carried over into its approach to special operations," Maj. General William W. Hoover (a retired two-star who currently serves as an advisor to NASA) tells NRO. "Our ability to precision-locate things, to insert people and weapons systems, and to communicate has simply been devastating to the enemy."

Beyond the science is the art. And that's where the operators come in.Air Force special-tactics units are comprised of three elements (not including the pilots, aircrews, and support personnel). These include combat controllers, pararescuemen, and combat weather teams.

Combat controllers are specially trained paratroopers who jump in advance of large-scale airborne assaults—like the one conducted by the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade over northern Iraq in March 2003—in order to set up, secure, and provide on-ground navigational assistance on landing or drop zones for inbound pilots and paratroopers. As the title suggests, the combat controller's specialty is establishing and maintaining air-traffic control in a combat zone. But as highly skilled air commandos who are almost always outnumbered by enemy forces on the ground, they often find themselves performing tasks outside the box.

Isolated, behind enemy lines or far out in front of advancing friendly armies, a combat controller might be tasked with coordinating an air strike on an enemy air-defense position. Equipped with special range-finding binoculars, a palm-top computer, a GPS (global positioning system) receiver, and a rifle, the airmen can clandestinely spot the target, direct an attacking pilot to it, and then leap on a motorcycle and race toward another target where he will repeat the process.

On another mission, combat controllers might be tasked with making a high altitude/low opening (HALO) parachute jump onto a field slated to be assaulted by larger airborne forces. There, the airmen will silently land, overwhelm and kill and any defenders who discover them, and prepare the way for inbound planes and paratroopers.

In the hours before the 1983 invasion of Grenada, a handful of combat controllers and SEALs conducted an open-water parachute drop off Point Salinas on the southern tip of the island. The SEALs were responsible for reconnoitering the airfield, determining the condition of the runway, then locating and determining the strength of nearby enemy forces. The airmen were tasked with positioning radar beacons on the airfield so that parachuting Army Rangers and other airborne forces would be able to find the drop zone. Unfortunately, four SEALs drowned in heavy seas, and the others were ordered to withdraw before completing the mission.

Nevertheless, the invasion was a "go," and just over 24 hours later, a team of combat controllers made the first parachute jump over the island's heavily defended Point Salinas Airport. Weighed down with nearly 100 pounds of equipment, the airmen jumped from an altitude of only 500 feet. A malfunctioning main parachute would have killed them. On the ground and under constant fire from Cuban forces, the airmen then directed transport aircraft ferrying two parachuting battalions of the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment over the airport. At Point Salinas, the combat controllers and the Rangers encountered the toughest overall resistance of the operation.

Air Force combat controllers trace their lineage to the U.S. Army's pathfinders of World War II. During some of the earliest American airborne operations, paratroopers were inadvertently dropped several miles short of their drop zones by pilots then utilizing crude methods of navigation. As a result, the Army began training pathfinders—scouts who parachuted over the target drop zone before the main airborne assault, secured the field, and then guided the aircraft in over the target. As a means of signaling the pilots, the pathfinders used all manner of "visuals" from smoke pots to flares to flashlights and small fires. They also used crude radio homing devices that the pilots could follow.

When the war ended in 1945, pathfinder units were some of the first to be disbanded (the Army reestablished its pathfinder program in 1955). In 1947, the National Security Act was passed, which, among other things, established the Air Force as a separate arm of service. Soon thereafter, pathfinder responsibilities were assumed by the Air Force's new Air Resupply and Communications Service—the direct predecessor organization to the modern Air Force combat-control teams.

Today, the scarlet beret of a combat controller is highly sought by many young Air Force recruits, but not all pack the mental or physical gear to win it. The Air Force wants "men [women are currently barred from serving in special operations] between the ages of 18 and 27 who are athletic enough to enter the ranks" and tough enough to remain there.

All applicants for combat-controller slots must pass a rigorous Physical Abilities and Stamina Test, including swimming, running, pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, and flutter kicks. The test is followed by a grueling ten-week indoctrination course, affectionately referred to as "Ironman 101."

The course is characterized by constant running and calisthenics. But the most difficult portion is the "pool work." During pool work, students must demonstrate the ability to swim with a weight belt, tread water, drown-proof, and work closely with a "buddy" swimmer. The course is meant to enhance the water confidence of those who have what it takes and eliminate those who don't.

Following "Ironman 101," combat-control hopefuls must attend a variety of special-operations-related schools including the Army's combat-diver school, Navy underwater-egress training, Army parachute training, Air Force survival training, and field-tactics training. Additionally, students are trained in the use of ropes, skis, and motorcycles.

Upon successful completion of the combat-training programs, the students must earn the second part of their title, "controller." To do so, they attend the Air Force's air-traffic-control school, where they ultimately become certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

To suggest that their training is tough is an understatement. In fact, only seven men out of a total of 130 candidates in Combat Control class 02-04 stayed the course and graduated in December 2002.

The second element of Air Force special tactics is pararescue. These airmen, recognizable by their maroon berets, are trained to save lives by jumping, swimming, or fighting their war overland into enemy-held territory in order to rescue wounded American soldiers or downed pilots. Like combat controllers, pararescuemen are all parachute, dive, and survival qualified, but they also undergo a demanding medical course followed by a recovery-and-rescue course.

The third special-tactics element is the combat weather team. A unique force, a combat weather team is comprised of parachute-qualified meteorologists armed with pistols and assault rifles for personal protection on the ground. The mission of the gray-bereted "weathermen" is to gather and update real-time weather data during special operations.

Like all special-operations forces, members of Air Force special tactics are usually deployed with the "bare minimum" supplies and equipment needed to complete their mission: just the basics that will sustain them for up to 72 hours without being re-supplied. Beyond that time, the airmen will find themselves in dire need of "consumables"—food, water, batteries, vehicle fuel, and additional equipment that may not have been factored into the needs of the original mission.

Today, 57 years after its establishment as a separate service, the Air Force maintains approximately 370,473 men and women in uniform (not counting the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard). Counting special-operations pilots, crews, and special-tactics airmen, there are 12,735 active-duty personnel assigned to Air Force special operations. It's a number that will increase as the special-operations community continues to expand.

During the early days of the war on terror, airmen were among the first to see action. In one instance, according to General Hoover, a special-tactics team jumped into Afghanistan, secured a tower at a deserted airport, and from there, coordinated air strikes on Taliban forces less than a mile away. "This kind of capability was a new dimension the bad guys had not experienced with the Soviets," he says. "The marriage between technology and special operators is one of the reasons we've been so successful against the enemy in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the world." And it's why we will continue to be.

A former U.S. Marine infantry leader and paratrooper, W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a freelance journalist and the author of four books, including the Alpha Bravo Delta Guide to American Airborne Forces. -- The article was reprinted with permission granted by Mr. Smith in an email sent to Gene Adcock, EOS author on November 13, 2009.
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