The Combat Control Legacy
Combat Control Teams evolved from Army Pathfinders originating in 1943 out of the need for accurate airdrops during airborne campaigns of World War II. These pathfinders preceded main assault forces into objective areas to provide weather information and visual guidance to inbound aircraft through the use of high-powered lights, flares and smoke pots.
When the Air Force became a separate service, Air Force Pathfinders, later called Combat Control Teams, were activated in 1953 to provide navigational aids and air traffic control for a growing Air Force.
In the Vietnam War, combat controllers helped assure mission safety and expedited air traffic flow during countless airlifts. Combat controllers also flew as forward air guides in support of indigenous forces in Laos and Cambodia.
Combat Controllers continue to be the "First There" when they are called upon
to participate in international emergencies and humanitarian relief efforts.