The “Steel Eagles” of the 11th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) cased their colors on Thursday during an inactivation ceremony that was witnessed by scores of airmen and family members.
Presiding over the ceremony was Col. Aaron L. Ullman, the commander of the 3rd Air Support Operations Group. 11th ASOS commander Lt. Col. Frank A. Biancardi II was also present.
“I have performed countless ceremonies in my career … but I never thought I’d be presiding over the closing of such a storied unit,” Ullman said. “To paraphrase Shakespeare, we come here not to mourn the loss of the 11th ASOS, but to celebrate its existence.”
The airmen will be absorbed by the 9th Air Support Operations Squadron and their mission will remain unchanged. Biancardi assumed command of the 9th ASOS on Friday.
“Lt. Col. Biancardi, I know you took a chance coming here to command a squadron designated to close at some point during your tenure,” Ullman stated. “I am glad to have you on the team and look forward to putting the guidon for the 9th ASOS in your capable hands tomorrow.”
According to Biancardi the mission will remain unchanged.
“We are currently aligned with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment and will continue to be aligned with that unit,” Biancardi said. “There is no change or impact in how we support the Army.”
The enhanced 9th Air Support Operations Squadron will continue with the current mission of providing tactical air support to align with the “Brave Rifles” and any U.S. Army unit that needs air support for their scheme of maneuver.
The event marks an official end of a chapter of the unit’s history, which can be traced back to the close interaction of the United States Army Air Force and the Army’s armored forces operations throughout France during World War II. Most recently, the unit provided support for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment during Operation Resolute Support and returned in February 2017 from the ongoing Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve operations against the Islamic State.
The 11th ASOS was inactive for the 49-year period following the surrender of the Nazi regime in Germany until July of 1994.
Campaign streamers for the 11th ASOS for action during World War II include: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. More recent campaign credits in Iraq include: Iraqi Governance, Iraqi National Resolution, Iraqi Surge and Iraqi Sovereignty.
Decorations of the 11th ASOS include Meritorious Unit Awards: June 1, 2002 to May 31, 2004; June 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013; and June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: July 1, 1994 to May 31, 1996; June 1, 1996 to May 31, 1997; June 1, 1998 to May 31, 2000; June 1, 2000 to May 31, 2002; Jan. 25, 2008 to May 31, 2009; June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2010; June 1, 2010 to May 31, 2011; June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012; June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015.
According to Biancardi, the 11th Air Support Operations Squadron’s colors and memorabilia will be placed in the United States Air Force museum system.