The original premise for the USAFHPA 20th HES web pages were from those of us that participated with the 20th Helicopter Squadron during the Vietnam conflict. More information has subsequently surfaced and written by various authors. This is my attempt to refine our original pages and add additional information in the form of text, photos and links to other websites.
The 20th has gone through several reorganizations over the years, beginning in World War II. Each “unit” has their own unique history. Dale Robinson (USAF retired) has compiled an excellent profile from 1944 to 1994. (See 20thHistory)
The 20th Helicopter Squadron was formed in 1956 to perform traditional helicopter missions with H-21s for the Tactical Air Command. The unit was deactivated in March 1960.
The 20th Helicopter Squadron was again activated in 1965 during the Vietnam War. Sikorsky CH-3C helicopters were assigned to several bases in SEA. These were known as the “Pony Express”. (see Pony Express) In 1966, all 20th CH-3C’s were consolidated at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand.
In July 1967, “E” Flight was added to the 20th Helicopter Squadron with UH-1F “Hueys” from the 606 Air Commando Wing at NKP and assigned to the 14th Air Commando Wing at Nha Trang AB, South Vietnam. They became known as the “Green Hornets”. (see Green Hornets)
Both the Ponies and Hornets had somewhat similar missions but with different strategies in different areas of operation, the Ponies into Laos and North Vietnam and the Hornets along the border of Cambodia and SVN. (Air Commandos)
In August 1968 the squadron designation was changed to the 20th Special Operations Squadron (SOS). In July 1969, the 20th SOS CH-3E’s were absorbed into the 21st SOS at NKP and without ceremony or fanfare the “Pony Express” ceased to exist. (see Death of the Pony Express).
The 20th SOS “Green Hornet” Hueys continued to operate throughout the Vietnam War and was deactivated in 1972. The 20th SOS was reactivated in 1976 at Hurlburt Field, Florida with CH-3 and UH-1 aircraft. In 1980 these were replaced with HH-53s and the Green Hornet saga continued. (hornet30years)
The 20th SOS “Green Hornets” with their own unique and glorious history were to carry on the 20th distinguished legacy even to the present day.
The 20th Special Operations Squadron was deactivated in October 2008.