52nd OSS: Griffins feed the fight

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany - -- Four squadrons fall under the 52nd Operations Group, and each has their own unique history. For the 52nd Operations Support Squadron, its history dates back to the 1940s.

According to the 52nd OSS fact sheet, the unit constituted Jan. 25, 1943, as the 52nd Airdrome Squadron. The 52nd AS activated in February 1943 to help support the 2nd Air Force during World War II. The squadron disbanded, before being reactivated half a century later as a part of the 52nd Operations Group.

"It is a great honor to be given the opportunity to command a Combat Air Force squadron," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Benjamin Busch, 52nd OSS commander, "Especially one as diverse and talented as the OSS."

The 52nd OSS hosts six flights: airfield operations, intelligence, wing weapons and tactics, weather, current operations, and aircrew flight equipment. 

As part of the 52nd OSS's versatility, the squadron's mascot, the mythological Griffin represents being in control of the air and of the land, because the animal is half lion, half bird according to Busch.

The airfield operations flight manages the airfield, taxi ways, all controlled areas and all air traffic in support of the 52nd Fighter Wing's flying operations.

"The responsibility placed on such young Airmen is to keep the airfield safe," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Monica Nelson, a 52nd OSS control tower watch supervisor, from Washburn, Wis.

Busch said the wing weapons and tactics flight is responsible for overseeing the tactics, the weapons expenditures, large force employment, mission planning cells for combat operations and integration between the 480th Fighter Squadron and the 606th Air Control Squadron.

The next flight under the 52nd OSS is the current operations flight, which manages flight records, wing scheduling, wing training, and the F-16 simulators.

"They are the ones who drive our flying schedule," Busch said.

It's also through this flight the squadron helps the 52 FW build partnership capacity with allied nations.

"Since we are a guest here, we have to work with our host nations to schedule airspace and ranges," Busch said. "We have good allies, good partners and our current [operations] professionals work with them to make it work."

None of the training and mission planning would happen without the help of the 52nd OSS weather flight.

The weather flight provides the eyes forward for the wing's flying mission.

"The 26th Operational Weather Squadron hub does the computer modeling," Busch said. "Our guys brief the aircrews on what the weather is looking like for their specific mission."

After the pilots are briefed, they receive assistance from members of the 52nd OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment flight.

The AFE flight serves as two different shops. The main shop in AFE provides parachutes and survival kits to the pilots. The fighter squadron shop maintains the pilots' helmets, gravity suits and survival vests.

"We make sure that the life and blood of the jet is good to go - we are saving lives," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Sisler, a 52nd OSS AFE technician from Somerset, Wis. "The other side of our job with packing parachutes is definitely saving lives."

If AFE ensures the life and blood of the aircraft, the intelligence provides the oxygen for the brain.

The intelligence flight provides current intelligence to senior leaders on base. Busch said that they also provide targets and threats for mission planning in order to put bombs on target during wartime.

"I asked the squadron what qualities we hold most dear, and they said 'hard work, professionalism, dependability, and honesty'," Busch said. "If you're an operations support squadron, your job is to make operations happen. If people can't depend on you, then you fail."