History of the 58th: So others may live

Col. Michael N. Farage, second from the right assumes command of the 58th Special Operations Wing from Lt. Gen Eugene E. Habiger, presider of the ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Aug. 30,1994. Col. Farage served as the first full commander of the 58th SOW under the Air Education and Training Command umbrella. (Courtesy Photo)

Col. Michael N. Farage, second from the right assumes command of the 58th Special Operations Wing from Lt. Gen Eugene E. Habiger, presider of the ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Aug. 30,1994. Col. Farage served as the first full commander of the 58th SOW under the Air Education and Training Command umbrella. (Courtesy Photo)

On January 23, 2017, Air Education and Training Command celebrates its 75th anniversary — a date much more important in our nation’s heritage than a simple mark in time. January 23, 1942, proved to be the birth of a professional Air Force – men and women precisely selected and trained to fly, fight and win our nation’s wars. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Michelle Deleon)

On January 23, 2017, Air Education and Training Command celebrates its 75th anniversary — a date much more important in our nation’s heritage than a simple mark in time. January 23, 1942, proved to be the birth of a professional Air Force – men and women precisely selected and trained to fly, fight and win our nation’s wars. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Michelle Deleon)

Members of the 58th Special Operations Squadron take a group photo in front of a Sikorsky SH-3 at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. In January 1993, the 377th Air Base Wing activated becoming the host unit for Kirtland while the 542nd became a tenant. The following year, the 542nd deactivated and the 58th SOW activated, becoming the wing we know today. (Courtesy Photo)

Members of the 58th Special Operations Squadron take a group photo in front of a Sikorsky SH-3 at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. In January 1993, the 377th Air Base Wing activated becoming the host unit for Kirtland while the 542nd became a tenant. The following year, the 542nd deactivated and the 58th SOW activated, becoming the wing we know today. (Courtesy Photo)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- As part of Air Education and Training Command’s 75th anniversary, Kirtland Air Force Base takes a look back on the 58th Special Operations Wing and its 23-year history in the command.

In February 1976, the 1550th Aircrew Training and Test Wing, the predecessor to the 58th SOW, moved to Kirtland from Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

The unit’s mission was to operate a combined Air Force helicopter training school along with a specialized school for the Lockheed HC-130 crewmembers and pararescue qualification training.

With the arrival of the 1550th, the Albuquerque community immediately benefitted from the wing’s ability to conduct search-and-rescue missions leading nine missions in the first six months on station.

Almost two decades later, on Oct. 1, 1991, the 1550th Combat Crew Training Wing merged with the 1606th Air Base Wing to create a "super-wing," the 542nd Crew Training Wing. This merger added the special operations training mission to the existing schoolhouse.

In January 1993, the 377th Air Base Wing activated, becoming the host wing for Kirtland, while the 542nd became a tenant unit. The following year, the 542nd deactivated and the 58th SOW was born.

Shortly after its activation, the 58th SOW replaced Air Mobility Command as its MAJCOM with AETC, becoming the wing we know today.

Under AETC, the squadron continues its mission of producing undergraduate, graduate, and refresher aircrew training for Air Force special operations, combat search and rescue, missile site support and distinguished visitor helicopter airlift.

In doing this, the wing operates eight different fixed-wing, rotary-wing and tilt-rotor weapon systems, with more than 67 stationed assigned aircraft, and teaches more than 100 courses in 18 different crew positions.

The 58th SOW provides a variety of specialized mission rehearsal simulator training courses, including high altitude, low-visibility dust-out, along with visual threat recognition and avoidance training for special operations Airmen and rescue crews.

Through AETC, the 58th SOW is responsible for survival, evasion, resistance and escape training. Headquartered at Fairchild AFB, Wash., this training is the US Air Force’s survival training school for Air Force, joint and international students. SERE school prepares combat warriors in all environments -- including arctic, water, desert and mountainous wilderness.

Since 2001, the wing has deployed more than 200 personnel in support of Overseas Contingency Operations through the guidance of AETC to insure that trained personnel succeed in the mission and hold true to the 58th motto, “These things we do, so that others may live.”

*Editor’s note-this article is part of a series focused on the roles AETC’s wings have played in the command’s first 75 years.