Combat Control School Heritage Foundation (CCSHF)

A North Carolina incorporated 501c3 tax exempt organization, the CCSHF works in concert with the Combat Control School Association (CCSA)to acquire, refurbish, exhibit and maintain CCT artifacts accessioned by The CMSgt Alcide S. Benini Heritage Center (BHC). The BHC mission is to educate CCS students; bolster CCT morale; support United States Air Force recruiting and retention goals.

Monday, April 19, 2010


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'ĂȘtre 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 preceeding article was reprinted with permission granted by Mr. Smith in an email sent to Gene Adcock, EOS author on November 13, 2009.


     “...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 is 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.
     Just because you are the best of the best does not mean you are the best at everything.  Any Delta operator can vouch for the capabilities of the air force combat controllers, and very rarely goes on a "hit" without the men who wear the scarlet berets.
     Arguably they are the best-rounded and 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 do so 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 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."
     In Tora Bora, we counted ourselves lucky to have the Admiral and Spike, and their capability...”
Dalton Fury
"Bomb Like There Is No Tomorrow." Kill Bin Laden
St. Martin's Press. New York. 2008. Pages 236-237


As I recall, it was the summer of 2002 when I had the privilege of awarding the Purple Heart to MSgt Alan Yoshida, USAF, for the severe wounds he sustained in combat as a Combat Controller in Afghanistan. He was to go on to receive many medals for his outstanding performance of duty against the Taliban, all well deserved. But, he was also to do something very different; to be a very key part of a team of Airmen in understanding the new technology needs of Combat Controllers in special operations like those employed in Afghanistan. This informal team consisted of civilian and AF scientists, acquisition experts, and combat tested CCT’s. Over the next three years, this team, but especially Alan, focused on identifying capability gaps, surveying American industry for possible solutions, and trying out candidate solutions. Even though it unnerved some in the acquisition community, Alan’s intense focus and, to be honest, the dedicated top cover and resources provided by my partner, (CSAF, General John Jumper) and me made this happen. We didn’t want to wait until the normal bureaucracy “got around to it.” We wanted to make a difference in this conflict, not just the next.

This was the first war where airmen on the ground could call in dramatically precise high explosives from bombers and AF, Navy and Marine Corps fighter aircraft orbiting overhead. Based on ideas already under consideration by the Special Tactics leaders and my own experience with GPS devices, we postulated that we could tie together laser range-finding binoculars, a small computer, a GPS receiver, and a radio to provide fast, relevant and highly accurate targeting data to aircraft. We wanted to replace the “nine line” being written by a pilot on the inside of his canopy with a grease pencil. The initial systems would have to be strung together with the airman being the mini-systems integrator. By using commercial subsystems, we could deploy capability much faster, but we risked unintended consequences.

In Alan’s case, he was controlling aircraft in support of friendly Afghan forces when his colleague came forward to relieve him so that he, Alan, could grab a cup of coffee. His colleague continued the mission, but noticed that the batteries in the GPS unit were dying, and so he replaced them with fresh ones. What he didn’t realize was that the device would reset to its current location, and not to where the cursor had been before. This mistake resulted in Alan’s injures when a 2000 pound bomb fell near their own location. Luckily, Alan was low to the ground because he bent over to get some coffee off the fire.

So, the first goal of the innovative team was to organize a Battlefield Airman’s Operations kit which had the separate components integrated together, and to make it smaller, lighter, and safer. We also found that the individual Combat Controller carried about 135-150 pounds of gear, so the second goal was to lighten this load. By using composite stands for the optical equipment instead of metal, as well as getting smaller versions of other equipment, we were able to reduce the average carrying weight down to 105 pounds, with a longer term goal of getting it down to 85 pounds. Batteries are heavy and something we really didn’t want to scatter about the countryside. So, we experimented with various fuel cells (including one which did just fine burning vodka), thin-film photovoltaic panels, as well as tapping the natural heat of a person’s body. But, in the short run, there was no efficient substitute for batteries. Attention was then turned to searching for subsystems which used less power.

Another innovation we sought was to find a way that Combat Controllers who are separated and not visible to each other, but operating together, could not only communicate with each other, but could sense the relative location of each voice. Alan’s team developed a system that transmitted the GPS location of an individual so that a small computer could compare it to the receiver’s location and reproduce the sound with a spatial effect akin to stereophonic music. If your colleague was to your left, the sound in your headphones gave you the sense of his direction.

In another case, I wanted to increase the situational awareness of small units. To do this, we devised the concept of a small UAV which could fit into a CCT’s rucksack, be launched by hand, be GPS guided, fly for about a half an hour with at least one optical sensor streaming video to the CCT’s computer, be able to circle a target of interest as directed by the CCT, and land at a predetermined point. We did this, and even I could fly it (I tested each of the innovations which made Alan’s cut.) Unfortunately, almost immediately after I relinquished my position as SecAF in 2005, the acquisition community took control of this and other of Alan’s programs. It was not until the summer of 2007 that the lumbering process made its choice. The UAV was different to a small degree, but better (you can have either an EO or an IR sensor depending on time of day.) However, Alan and his team had more than an “80% solution” years earlier. General Mike Ryan used to refer to the Air Force’s “acquisition tyranny” and this was a case to prove him right. The whole sad story is contained in a MIT doctoral dissertation done by an Air Force Systems Engineer.

Why my interest? A number of years before I became the Secretary, during a visit to Israel, I had had a lengthy discussion with a retired Israeli Air Force general who set up a small “think tank” which he named “Longbow.” His thesis was that, like the British at Agincourt, we would be well advised to devote R&D funds to make the individual ground troop (of any variety) as militarily powerful as possible in combat. He would need sensors and weapons and other systems to exploit the remarkable brain that a free man could bring to the fight. Then, the duty of commanders was to devise integrating technologies and systems which permitted these superbly equipped and trained fighting men to operate in concert as a highly integrated team. His belief was that such fighting teams would be incredibly effective in combat.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“At Agincourt many centuries ago, noblemen and peasants alike witnessed the might of a small group of men who brought death and destruction from above against enemy foot soldiers and armored knights. These dedicated and well-trained men with their Longbows were the key to Henry V’s defeat of the French that day, even though he was greatly outnumbered.”

“Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controllers are today’s Longbow fighters. Individually, they are specially selected, specially trained, and, in support of special operations, almost daily bring American airpower to bear on our nation’s enemies. Indeed, they are very remarkable warriors, and this book will help many understand why so many of us hold our Combat Controllers in such incredibly high regard.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I was convinced that he was right, and once I understood the remarkable talent contained in Special Tactics, I recognized that there were such teams in our Air Force. The question, then, was how to make them even better. I did my best to bring my belief to anyone in the leadership of the U.S. Air Force who would listen, and in Generals John Jumper and Paul Hester I found kindred spirits. My determination that airmen like Alan Yoshida should have the very best in technology to match their superlative training and culture drove me, as did my heart-wrenching duty to join John Jumper in presenting two Air Force Crosses to the widows of a Combat Controller and a Special Tactics Pararescueman.

I have been privileged to work with Alan and other wonderful airmen to make Special Tactics even better. I also am proud that, in cooperation with some wonderful AFSOC Commanders, we have been able to build a new Combat Control School and a separate Special Tactics School.

Special Tactics is a significant addition to the Special Forces of the United States, as is AFSOC more generally. These unique warriors permit small units to operate very effectively without having to haul massive firepower with them. They need only turn to the Combat Controller in their team; not long thereafter the Heavens will rain down precise and dramatic firepower on the enemy.

Can you imagine my sorrow, then, to see some of our best cadets at the Air Force Academy switch Services to join Navy SEAL teams because most of them knew nothing about our Air Commandos? But, on one trip to the Academy, my aide, Major (now Colonel) “RA” Armfield was approached by a Cadet and asked questions about what he was and what he did. RA “saved” this Cadet, and he now also proudly wears the red beret. The stories of our fellow airmen who make up AFSOC and Special Tactics should be required reading for every cadet in Colorado Springs and at every AFROTC unit!

James G. Roche
Twentieth Secretary of the U.S. Air Force
CCA Honorary Life Member #4

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CCT War Memorial


THE EYE OF THE STORM (EOS), seen in the first photograph above, is the title given to a group of three, larger-than-life statues proposed for future installation at the Combat Control School (CCS) at Pope AFB, North Carolina. When completed, the EOS War Memorial (aka Combat Control War Memorial) will be a monument to combat controllers past, present and future. Plans call for the new War Memorial to be placed near the existing flag pole and CCT Fallen Warrior Memorial, shown in the circular drive in the CCS drawing above.  Double click photograph to enlarge.

The EOS War Memorial is a grouping of three, individual combat controllers, shown is an idealized formation at the control point of a drop zone. One (left) is the air traffic controller; the second (center) is operating long-haul communications; a third (right) is providing team security and standing ready to step into either control position. Each statue is individually cast and will be set in a formation in the vicinity of the CCS Memorial Walkway.

The eye of the storm refers to the center of a hurricane - a relatively quiet zone - around which scores of turbulent forces are violently churning and - in some cases - raining death and destruction. In the CCS EOS scenario, the combat controllers are depicted at the center of air operations - a location known as the air-head, air traffic control point. It is the job of combat controllers to integrate, synchronize and control air power at the targeted objective.

In many operations, the EOS is at the center of relatively mundane aerial delivery operations – either by parachute or air landing assault. However, today’s combat controllers are fully capable bring destructive forces to bear on hostile formations; directing airstrikes against enemy forces. It is these airmen, their skills and their dedication to the Air Force mission that will be memorialized by the Eye of the Storm war memorial.

The Combat Control War Memorial will be placed in front of the Combat Control School. Preliminary plans calls
for placement in the area adjacent to the existing Fallen Combat Controller Memorial, shown above..

Estimated cost of the Combat Control War Memorial project is $250,000.00.

Target completion date will be established when funding is secured.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

WWII Combat Control Team

USAAF Combat Control Team #1 - First CCT prepares for airborne invasion of Germany during OPERATION VARSITY in March 1945.  (Double click photo to enlarge.)


23 January 1945

SUBJECT: Troop Carrier Combat Control Teams.

TO: 1ST Lt Norman C. Wilmeth, O-400455

1. You men gathered here today have been hand-picked from twenty-five hundred (2,500) glider pilots of this command to do your part in a special project for the Commanding General of the IX Troop Carrier Command
2. This project is the formation and training of eight (8) Troop Carrier Combat Control Teams.
3. The following nine (9) officers who have a minimum of 500 hours of power time and two (2) combat missions will take a course in flying control procedures. This will complete your qualifications for assignment as operations officers in command of the team. Your project officer is Captain Maurice M Orovitz, Command Flying Control Officer.
• 1st Lt. Norman C. Wilmeth O-400455
• 1st Lt. Richard K. Fort, Jr. O-559714
• 2nd Lt. Milton Linn O-525168
• 2nd Lt. Charles L. Mann O-1998292
• 2nd Lt. Frank E. Luckenback O-1996314
• 2nd Lt. Burdette E. Townsend O-1996169
• 2nd Lt. L. J. Cordier O-1999632
• 2nd Lt. T. M. Brown O-5422779
• 2nd Lt. C. A. Jensen O-543857

*Editor’s Note: From information found in the USAF Historical Research Center, (Maxwell AFB, Alabama) “Guide to Stations where USAAF personnel served in the United Kingdom during World War II” complied by Captain Barry Anderson, dated 31 January 1985. The station listed as APO-133 was also identified as AAF # 472 and was located at Ascot (Cunninghill Park), Berkshire. The report listed principal units as Headquarters, 9th Air Force and Headquarters, IX Air Force Service Command.

4. The following twenty-six (26) glider pilots will be trained in code, ciphers, maintenance, operation of 299, 183 and 522 sets, cryptographic and air coordination procedures. Your project officer will be Capt G. W. Powell of the Communications Section.
• 1st Lt. Raby W. Padgett O-533029
• 2nd Lt. Donald R. Nelson O-1999569
• 2nd Lt. William D. Fasking O-1996130
• 2nd Lt. Thomas J. Kilker, Jr. O-1996149
• F/O Chester E. Brooks T-121411
• F/O R. W. Corin T-121045
• F/O Basil S. Stafford T-857
• F/O James L. Sindeldecker T-121098
• F/O Paris L. Guy T-122345
• F/O Lawrence E. Moyer T-131776
• F/O L. V. Rounds T- 120460
• F/O G. T. Knight T-123412
• F/O Robert L. McGee T-128177
• F/O Eugene J. Kay T-125120
• F/O C. J. Kiel T-125120
• F/O Arthur J. Naughtin T-128182
• F/O R. R. Feuerstein T-121144
• F/O H. P. Ullrich T-128195
• F/O Donald G. Secor T-128190
• F/O R. E. Williams T-132190
• F/O Charles V. Miller T-122953
• F/O J. M. Haley T-128166
• F/O J. B. Harry Jr. T-128167
• F/O I. E. Rhoads T-121094
• F/O J. K. Gangloff T-122343
• F/O B. T. Hayes T-128168

5. The ranking officers of each group will be in command and responsible for the control of all personnel in his training class.
6. It cannot be overemphasized at this time that all members of Combat Control Teams must devote their efforts 100% to learning all they can while they are here. It will be too late to try to learn on the battle field. Absenteeism will not be tolerated.
7. All personnel will report to Billeting Officer in BuildingB-26 for assignment to quarters at this station.
8. The Troop Carrier Command Officers Club is available for your use and bus transportation is provided each night between 1800 and 2300 hours.
9. Mess facilities are provided on this base at the Officers’ Mess.


Glynne M. Jones
Colonel, GCS
Asst C/S, A-3


Document 2
Undated but probably March 1945



General WILLIAMS was informed that enough A-5 containers modified for C-46 use had been obtained for the initial lift. A total of 425 already had been delivered to the 313th Group and another 500 were on the way.

Following the conference, Colonel JONES (A-3) requested all parties concerned to remain for a discussion on training. It was decided that first priority would go to combining training of Troop Carrier and airborne troops.

Glider Infantry Trained as Unit

A limitation of 16 gliders was placed on each lift owing to the condition of airfields and the necessity for transferring large numbers of motor-less craft from England to France. A lift total of 16 were agreed upon since it enabled an entire glider infantry company to train as a unit.

In addition, an extensive air program was set up for Troop Carrier units with a view to solving the individual problems of each airfield in the limited time remaining before the operational deadline. Units were urged to utilize all flyable weather to the greatest extent possible when not committed to combined training.

For training in loading and lashing, 80 glider fuselages from the Eindhoven area were made available to the 17th and 13th Airborne Divisions.

Full Dress Rehearsal Inadvisable

A 100 per cent dress rehearsal of VARSITY was considered inadvisable in the few remaining weeks of training since airborne units would be unable to replace possible losses incurred. It was decided to set up a mock operation on a reduced scale approximately 10 days before D-Day to test communications, operational suitability of airfields, timing, navigational aids and related problems.

Upon completion of the rehearsal, all training would cease to permit proper staging of troops and necessary maintenance of aircraft. 20 March was established as a tentative date for terminate of training.

It was further decided that a pair of Troop Carrier Glider Combat Control Teams would accompany each Airborne Division. A glider pilot control would follow procedure to be laid down in the new Memorandum 50-21A, Headquarters, IX Troop Carrier Command, subject: “SOP for the Tactical Employment of Glider Pilots”, dated 11 March 1945.

General WILLIAMS strongly emphasized the need for continued training of airborne personnel in C-46 aircraft. He stressed, that two Regiments, one from each American Division, be selected for C-46 lifts and be moved immediately to the area adjacent to Achiet* (B-54) to facilitate training and to have these troops in position for actual staging.

Conferees were informed that VARSITY control would center at the Brussels headquarters of Lieutenant General LEWIS H. BRERETON and Air Chief Marshal CONINGHAM to FAAA** (Main) to IX Troop Carrier Command (FWD) and 38 Group. Overall plans would be drawn to at FAAA (Main) by representatives of IX Troop Carrier Command and the Airborne Divisions***.

* AAF Station in France
**First Allied Airborne Army
***American 13th, 17th for Operation Varsity; American 82nd, 101st for Operation Arena.


On 8 March General WILLIAMS reported to General BRERETON that eight Glider Combat Control Teams had been specially equipped and trained to perform the duties carried out by air coordination parties during the Normandy and Holland operations. Operationally, each team could function as a completely self-sustaining unit.

General WILLIAMS stated that two such teams would be assigned to each Airborne Division to insure reliable communications. He pointed out that in Normandy two out of four air coordinated parties were lost due to enemy action, while the Holland battle saw six out of eight parties suffered casualties and damage with three units completely knocked out.

A further reason for employing a spare team was the fact that all control personnel could not be carried in a single glide; this factor caused a dispersal of team members. Under such conditions, an extra control team would permit reshuffling of personnel on the spot and accomplish necessary communication in a minimum of time.

In addition to combat drill, the control teams had been thoroughly trained in the use of codes and ciphers and the maintenance of their radio equipment.

Under the plan outlined by General WILLIAMS, two Combat Control Teams were scheduled for assignment to XVIII Corps (Airborne) during Operation Varsity.

Normally two gliders would be adequate to lift the necessary personnel and equipment of each team, but in this case an additional two gliders would be required to haul special pickup apparatus of both teams, bringing the total number of gliders to six. Every effort was being made to insure the operational success of the control teams, General WILLIAMS stressed.

Responsibility Delegated to Teams

A broad range of responsibility was delegated to the teams which were to establish themselves with XVIII Corps headquarters for the purpose of coordinating all outgoing messages through the Corps or Division commander. Further coordination was to be established with Corps G-3 to arrange glider pickups from combat landing zones if emergencies dictated such measures. In preparation for such a contingency, necessary pickup ropes and stations would be sent in with the control teams. Both IX Troop Carrier Command and XVIII Corps had agreed upon the desirability of such action if permitted by the tactical situation.

In line with this procedure, 16 gliders committed for the movement of a medical Battalion also were equipped with litter straps in the event it was considered practicable to evacuate patients by glider. Decision to make such a pickup was reserved by General WILLIAMS. In case the method was to be employed, the glider pickup location would be designated by the grid coordinate system.

Three Hour Weather Reports

The control teams were further directed to effect radio contact with the headquarters of both IX Troop Carrier Command and FAAA in order to facilitate the transmittal of three hour weather reports to D-Day serials and later to resupply formations. UCO code was stipulated as the medium of communication.

Information was to be relayed by the teams to IX Troop Carrier Command concerning known strength of resistance points that could be circumvented enroute to and surrounding DZ’s and LZ’s. Hazards in glider LZ’s and methods of eliminating were to be pointed out, if possible. Necessary changes were to be recommended in locations of LZ’s and resupply DZ’s.

Teams were to maintain contact with Troop Carrier serial leaders and to supply necessary pertinent information over VHF. They were responsible for setting up pickup stations, if called upon to do so, and transmitting coordinates together with timing and any other information applicable to such a task.

In addition, control teams would transmit all messages directed by the Commanding General, XVIII Corps relative to concentration of enemy troops, enemy air activity and any other necessary information.

Familiarization with Units

Preliminary to VARSITY, Troop Carrier Combat Control Teams No. 1 and 2 would be placed on five days detached service beginning 12 March with XVIII Corps for the purpose of familiarizing themselves with the units with which they would serve. Then they would proceed to marshalling areas.

The Glider Combat Control Teams of IX Troop Carrier Command were molded in the crucible of combat on the fields of Normandy and Holland. Their development was in answer to the acute need for on-the-spot reconnaissance from DZ’s and LZ’s during an operation and speedy communication to oncoming serials and operations leaders at headquarters.

Faulty relay of information under extreme pressure of fluid battle lines during previous operations resulted in continuous improvements that culminated in the formation of eight combat control teams to participate in VARSITY.

Two Teams per Division

Colonel JONES (A-3) pointed out that eight teams were formed in order to provide two for each of the American Airborne Divisions in the European Theater – the 82nd, 101st, 17th, and 13th.

A wide range of versatility was demanded for the four glider pilots and single enlisted man who comprised each team. One GP, with a minimum of 500 hours as a power pilot in addition to at least two combat missions, served as flying control operator, while each of the remaining three glider pilots doubled as radio operators. The enlisted man functioned as radio operator and mechanic. All personnel were qualified to drive a jeep and trailer.

In addition to possessing special skills in the use of radio and cryptographic equipment, each man was given infantry training with the airborne unit in which he was intended to serve.

Since control teams were to operate from airborne landing areas, often inside enemy lines under the most fluid battle conditions, their ability to survive was the only guarantee of a workable communications system. The paramount importance of combat training was obvious.

Jeep and Trailer

A single team’s equipment included a jeep and a one-quarter ton two-wheeled trailer with special rebuilt body to provide adequate space for radio apparatus and an operator. Standard jeep trailer could not accommodate an SCR-339 or SCR-499 radio and still permit an operator to work efficiently.

Either an SCR-399 or SCR-499 radio could be employed along with a PE-75 power unit substituted for the PE-95.

Also included in the trailer was the SCR-622 VHF radio to provide an auxiliary channel of communication to aircraft in flight. This set could be mounted in the jeep, but such an installation would require additional power equipment which was listed as a critical item and difficult to procure.

No Space Inconvenience

Although the team could function without the SCR-VHF, the set added less than 100 pounds to the total load without imposing any space inconvenience and therefore was considered a highly valuable aid.

Each team carried a set of documents to include three M-209 converters with special settings to provide approximately 32-hour security for any message; special code similar to air support request code but with vocabulary to fit the type of messages to be handled and assuring a longer period of security than the M-209; and air-ground authentication.

NOTES ON THE KEYSTONE DOCUMENTS AND EDITINGThe keystone documents were transcribed from the two (2) “original documents” sent to the author by Mr. Norman C. Wilmeth, PO Box 577, Guymon, OK 73942 - on November 13, 2009. (See his story on Page 4, of CCT - The Eye of the Storm.) Included in the Wilmeth’s second document are four photographs. Although only marginally suitable for printing, they are included in the author's file copy for coordination purposes. The author is working with the Glider Pilots Association (Silent Wings Museum) to obtain better copies of the photographs.
Reformatting: The author has taken some liberty in reformatting the documents for clarity. Beyond the reformatting and the addition of notes, the document remains unchanged.
Why was eight CCTs, plus one spare, commissioned by the USAAF in 1945?
For the invasion of Germany, a total of four American Airborne Division drops were planned. A reinforcing Operation Varsity drop was planned, along with two more - Operation Arena drops - 100+ miles deep into Germany. The three follow-on drops were cancelled by General Eisenhower, crediting the first Varsity drop as a resounding success. (Editor)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

FREE - CCT @ The Eye of The Storm

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CCT @ The Eye of the Storm

CCT @ The Eye of the Storm was born online as a history project; a labor-of-love begun by the author after his full retirement in 2005. Over time, the online history grew to the point where it became viable as a manuscript for the book.
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