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In Memoriam – LtCol Joseph Edward Murphy Jr (USAF, Ret)

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

I just found out about the loss in February of an old friend and mentor. Many knew him as “Two Dogs,” a nickname picked up in his younger days from a bawdy joke. I call him the father of Special Tactics Intelligence. All of the rest of us who served in that community worked in his shadow.

Lieutenant Colonel Murphy was my first boss in the Air Force as a Lieutenant right out of Goodfellow. By that time he was long retired and was DAF Civilian at the 720th Special Tactics Group at Hurlburt Field where he served as Director of Intelligence. I was the second officer he hired for ST and for me, the process started while I was still an NCO in the Army. As soon as I found out I had been selected for USAF Officer Training School I started calling around to units looking for possible assignments as an Intel Officer. Joe and I hit it off and he worked behind he scenes over the next year to steer me towards the 720th while I completed my training. It worked out and I ended up being assigned as Joe’s assistant for intelligence programs, although I spent most of my time on the road going to schools and supporting units. I did a short stint down at the 23rd STS, mostly deployed to Operation Desert Thunder, before Joe had me reassigned to Pope as the Chief of Intelligence for the 21st STS. He steered the careers of quite a few of us, officers and NCOs alike, building the ST Intel community from scratch.

Special Tactics owes a lot to that guy. So do I. He always had the wildest stories of his active duty time and pushed me to produce quality intelligence products. He taught me a great deal and was the most supportive boss I ever had. I will miss him.

My heart goes out to Sally and his kids.

Here is Two Dogs’ obituary…

LtCol Joseph Edward Murphy Jr.

1941 – 2021

Fort Walton Beach – Lt. Col. Joseph Edward “Two Dogs” Murphy, Jr. passed away on February 4, 2021 in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Joe was born September 14, 1941 in St. Louis, Missouri to Joseph Edward Murphy and Evangeline Marie Kelly Murphy both of whom predeceased him. Joe grew up in St. Louis, attended St. Louis University High School and St. Louis University where he was a member of AFROTC and was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force on August 23, 1963. He married his high school sweetheart, Sandra Jean Mason, in St. Louis in May, 1964. Together they embarked on an Air Force career that spanned 3 continents, 10 assignments and 28 years. They welcomed a daughter, Kathi, while stationed at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, and a son, Jay, at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Traveling to and living in countries all over the world was a tremendous thrill for the family. Together, they worked to absorb as much international experience as possible through travel and engagement with local communities.

Joe began his Air Force career as a cartographer, then spent 8 years as a targeting officer followed by more than 15 years as an intelligence officer. Joe Murphy loved his work in the Air Force, especially working with US and allied Special Operations Forces. He was an enthusiastic mentor to many, including young “troops” who were as sharp-minded and as committed to the U.S. and the Air Force as he was. Joe developed a strong affinity for and connection with Special Operations activities and was privileged to work closely with USN SEALs, USAF Special Tactics, USA Special Forces and similar units from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. Over the years, he was given the nickname “Two Dogs” because of an off-color joke he frequently told. His combination of Intel skills and Special Operations interest led to the practice of intelligence-trained operators being inserted into the teams on the ground. This initiative of providing relevant information to operators in the field has undoubtedly saved lives and improved the effectiveness of countless missions. As such and rightfully so, many consider “Two Dogs” to be the “Grandfather of Special Operations Intelligence”. His major awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the AF Commendation Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the AF Achievement Medal, The AF Outstanding Unit Award with Valor Device and Four Oak Leaf Clusters, The Vietnam Service Medal with Three Stars and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm.

Shortly after completing his 28 year active duty service in 1991, Joe returned to Hurlburt Field, where he continued his service to our country for another 23 years as a civilian intelligence expert for a number of AF Special Operations organizations. A patriot and true servant, Joe finally retired from civil service in 2016, after giving a total of 51 years of service to the U.S. Air Force, a record few have ever achieved.

In 1990, Joe was remarried to Maria (Sally) Balaoro from the Philippines who survives him and lives in Mary Esther, Florida. Their son, Joey, provided Two Dogs with many years of enjoyment as a soccer dad and #1 fan of Joey and his friends. Joey lives locally and continues to be involved in soccer.

In addition to Sally and Joey, Lt. Col. Murphy is survived by his daughter, Kathi Heapy and husband, Gary of Shalimar FL, and son, Jay and wife, Terri, of Keystone Heights Florida. He is also survived by sister, Mary K. and husband Mick McGuire of Somerset OH, and sisters-in-law Marisa Lopez and husband Jaime of Ft. Walton Beach, Nimfa and Ramon Bilasano, and Nancy and Gener Baylon of the Philippines. His grandchildren are Nicholas Heapy (Allie), Mary Flores (Daniel), Renee Murphy, and Erin Heapy, and one great- grandson, William Edward Heapy. Joe has several adored nieces and nephews in Ft. Walton Beach, Ohio, and the Philippines. Joe will be missed by all, but most certainly by his very special friends, Sally and Ted Quarles, Chief and Linda Jennings, Sheila and Dennis Quirao, his AF Intel ‘partner in crime’ Jay Clanton, and the worldwide AF SOF and Stray Goose International communities.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park on March 17, 2021 at 2:00pm. This will be an outdoor event which will offer the safest way that we can gather to honor him during this time. Interment of Lt. Col. Joseph Murphy will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia at a future date.

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24th SOW Launches Special Operations Center For Medical Integration And Development

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

The 24th Special Operations Wing launched the Special Operations Center for Medical Integration and Development, a program designed in cooperation between the U.S. Air Force and the University of Alabama-Birmingham to develop and provide advanced standardized training to special operations medics. The training used realistic and innovative techniques including virtual reality, field training exercises and clinical hospital rotations to maintain readiness of Special Operations Surgical Team members, pararescuemen and independent duty medical technicians.

By SSgt Ridge Shan, 24th Special Operations Wing

First There…That Others May Live: Special Tactics History

Sunday, January 10th, 2021

‘A Tribute to Persistence:’ SecAF Presents Air Force Cross to Special Tactics Airman

Monday, January 4th, 2021

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) —

Snapped awake by the sound of belt-fed machine gun fire, then-Senior Airman Alaxey Germanovich, a 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, surveys the compound he had dozed off in after several sleepless days of combat.

“I look around and I don’t see any of my American teammates,” Germanovich said. “(At that moment I said to myself) I need to find my friends right now.”

Grabbing his helmet and rifle, Germanovich bolted out of the compound and into the fight, where he saw several of the Army special forces Soldiers he was embedded with huddling for cover from behind a small rock.

“I knew then that I had to go get to my teammates and help them,” he said.

Germanovich’s base instinct would quickly turn into a grueling battle for survival, but it was those selfless impulses to save and protect his teammates that proved to be the difference between life and death for many of his teammates on that fateful day.

SecAF commends combat controller for valor

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett presented the Air Force Cross to now-Staff Sgt. Germanovich during a ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base Dec. 10.

Germanovich was awarded the medal, second only to the Medal of Honor, for his actions April 8, 2017, during combat operations against enemy forces in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

“This Air Force Cross is a tribute to your persistence (Staff Sgt. Germanovich),” Barrett said. “You risked your life and weathered blistering enemy fire to save the lives of others.”

In attendance were Col. Matthew Allen, 24th Special Operations Wing commander, the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) team Germanovich was attached to during the combat operations, and Germanovich’s family and friends.

Following the ceremony, Germanovich led those in attendance in memorial pushups to commemorate the event, the firefight and the ultimate sacrifice paid during the clash by Army Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, a special forces Soldier assigned to 7th SFG (A) and a member of the team Germanovich was assigned to.

“This battle was a case study in toughness and extraordinary competence,” Allen said. “But it was also a case study in love. The type of love that demands teammates fight for one another and give everything they have.”

Germanovich’s actions as the air-to-ground liaison for his special operations forces team were credited with protecting the lives of more than 150 friendly forces and the lethal engagement of 11 separate fighting positions.

Facing hell, calling for fire

A native of Boiling Springs, South Carolina, Germanovich enlisted into the Air Force in November, 2012, with two goals in mind.

“I always knew I wanted a challenge,” Germanovich said. “I wanted to have a direct impact on the battlefield wherever I went.”

Five years later, both of those wishes would be granted when he deployed to Afghanistan and embedded with 7 SFG (A) Soldiers and their Afghan partners.

During his tour, the joint force was tasked with clearing several valleys in Nangarhar of fighters. As the multi-day operation progressed and the coalition forces pushed the insurgents closer to the Afghan border of Pakistan, the fighting became more and more violent. It reached a head as Germanovich sprinted through heavy enemy fire to help the Special Forces Soldiers on that fateful day.

After reaching the rock his teammates were pinned down behind, Germanovich began to call in airstrikes to try and suppress the attack.

“It was working to a degree,” Germanovich said. “But we were still receiving extremely effective fire, and one of our partner force members had gotten shot.”

To evacuate the wounded Afghan commando, Germanovich began to call for strikes extremely close to their position in order to create more separation between the coalition forces and the insurgents.

“As the bombs were falling out of the sky, I started screaming at everybody to run for cover,” Germanovich said.

After the partner force member was evacuated, the special operations forces team launched their counter-attack. A separate unit from across the valley was able to pinpoint a key enemy bunker during the firefight, and Germanovich’s element, led by De Alencar, crawled their way towards the position.

Once the fire team reached the top of the bunker, Germanovich and De Alencar dropped grenades into its entrance. Then, as Germanovich secured the opening and De Alencar and the other Special Forces Soldiers began to breach the bunker, insurgents ambushed the team from hidden positions to the south, mortally wounding De Alencar.

“The situation just became complete and utter chaos,” Germanovich said. “The team and I had expended all of our ordnance engaging enemy targets. We expended all of our grenades, there was no more pistol ammunition, and we were out of ammo completely.”

Lying prone with no cover from the attack, Germanovich put out a call to an AC-130W Stinger II gunship aircraft that was leaving the area in order to refuel.

“As they were leaving, I said ‘if you don’t come back, we’re dead.’” Germanovich said.

The gunship did return and began to fire on the enemy fighters, which gave Germanovich and the soldiers the opportunity to move away and evacuate De Alencar.

“All the while, we’re still taking effective fire from the enemy,” Germanovich said. “We began dropping ordnance and basically bombing up this mountainside until we got to safety.”

Germanovich’s actions proved decisive on that battlefield and demonstrated the enormous impact of Air Force Special Operation Command’s precision strike mission, which provides ground force with specialized capabilities to find, assess and engage targets.

“You (Germanovich) told me earlier that you did what any one of your teammates would have done in the same situation,” Allen said. “But we don’t know that. We do know what you did that day: face and devastate a numerically superior enemy … this is why America’s enemies do not take us head on.”

Germanovich’s ability to enable precision strike operations and his bravery in the face of hostile fire are incredibly courageous in their own right, but it was the reason behind his valiant performance that makes him an unquestionable hero.

“It was 100% my teammates,” Germanovich said. “If I’m in danger, I know without a doubt in my mind that my teammates are going to do everything in their power to make sure that I come back, and I would do everything that I could possibly do to make sure that they come back.”

Article by SrA Maxwell Daigle, 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Photos by SSgt Michael Washburn and A1C Drew Cyburt

AFSOC’s SOF DT Undergoes Transformation

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —

As Air Force Special Operations Command drives towards transformation to the “AFSOC of Tomorrow” by developing its human capital, the Special Operations Forces Developmental Team instituted a more rigorous evaluation and scoring process to give SOF officers more specific feedback and purposeful career development. This enhanced process kicked off this year with the Apr. 20-24, 2020 SOF DT.

 “Over the last five to seven years, development team scoring hasn’t changed,” said Maj. Brandon Webster, Chief, Command Force Development. “There was no clear path on how we wanted to develop an individual, and we wanted to give officers more options and transparency on the future of their career.”

Historically, the DT only scored records for officers who were being considered for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. The new process now incorporates scoring to begin with Captains, allowing for feedback and mentorship at a much earlier point in an officer’s career.

“Looking at an officer earlier on allows us to be intentional,” said Webster. “We now have the ability to look at a Captain’s records and tell him or her where they stand against their peers, and what their career pathway could look like five to ten years down the road based on where they’re at right now.”

DT record scoring provides objective data for more informative assignment placement, hiring for special duty positions, flying assignments outside of an officer’s normal aircraft, and the addition of sub-developmental pathways.

 “Overall, we’ve revamped the entire DT process. We’re focusing a lot more time on the individual to provide substantial feedback and mentor our officers at all levels, beginning at the rank of Captain,” said Webster. “It is the DT’s responsibility to ensure the right officer is placed in the right job at the right time, with the right training, education, and experiences.”

The fall DT, held Oct. 19-23, consisted of group scoring for Captains, Majors, and graduated squadron commanders. Each officer’s developmental vector will follow a percentile format, giving members direct feedback on where they fall among their peers.

“Synchronizing our efforts provides senior leadership the ability to manage officers and strengthen our future force,” said Webster. “The transformation of the SOF DT is one-step closer to building the SOF officers we need for tomorrow.”

Story by Capt Savannah Stephens, AFSOC Public Affairs

Photo by SSgt Rose Gudex

Special Operations Terminal Attack Controller Course

Monday, November 30th, 2020

The Special Operations Terminal Attack Controller Course (SOTACC) is hosted by the 24th Special Operations Wing, which allows trains SOF from all branches and partner nations to receive their Joint Terminal Attack Controller certification. Students conduct special operations focused close air support missions from several types of aircraft.

(U.S. Air Force photos by Tech. Sgt. Rose Gudex, ST Combat Camera)

Special Warfare Preparatory Course Changes the Way Airmen Train

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas – The Air Force’s Special Warfare Training Wing has refined its training program for Airmen attempting to enter the Tactical Air Control Party, Special Tactics or Guardian Angel weapons systems, in an effort to create more well-rounded future operators.

Following graduation from Basic Military Training, new enlisted Airmen interested in becoming a candidate for a career in special warfare must complete the eight week Special Warfare Preparatory Course (SWPC). In this course, training coaches, dieticians, counselors and other staff members expose Airmen to the tools needed to become successful within the various special warfare training pipelines. Upon completion of SWPC, Airmen enter into the course of initial entry for their particular career field.

“Our course is meant to better develop operators,” said Master Sgt. Michael Blout, Special Warfare Preparatory Course superintendent. “We are providing better, more well-rounded training, which provides the Air Force with more capable operators straight out of the training pipeline.”

This deliberate approach to training takes a more holistic edge involving multiple disciplines and modalities consisting of strength & conditioning, mental toughness, nutrition, sleep hygiene and active recovery. Additionally, the SWPC staff incorporates Human Performance monitoring to track conditioning throughout the 8 week course. This Human Performance capability informs the staff on the level of effectiveness for each of the SW candidates.

“In the past, candidates arrived unprepared both mentally and physically for the rigors of the special warfare pipeline, which drove historical levels of high attrition,” said Chief Master Sgt. Todd Popovic, Special Warfare Training Wing command chief. “However, this course provides a firm foundation to educate and prepare each Airmen for what’s ahead and has proven to decrease attrition in the follow-on courses.”

For more information on special warfare career fields visit www.airforce.com/careers/indemand-careers/special-warfare.

By 1st Lt Jeremy Huggins, Special Warfare Training Wing

27 SOCS Tests New Equipment, Supports Special Tactics Training

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. —

The 27th Special Operations Communications Squadron utilized new equipment to provide over 60 special tactics Airmen assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, with network access to ensure that the teams could have full access to the necessary resources to ensure proper training while at Cannon.

The tactical local access network is a piece of mobile tactical equipment that provides the ability for more online services in an isolated area. It is utilized by pairing with a satellite dish network, which normally provides support for five to ten computers, and moves the workload off of the SDN to the TACLAN, which provides access for 75 computers.

“The TACLAN gives us the same capabilities as the base’s network system,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Jara, 27 SOCS non-commissioned officer in charge of the TACLAN team. “Printers, shared drives, we can control everything the base would on the TACLAN. As of right now, Cannon is the only base in the Air Force Special Operations Command and United States Special Operations Command utilizing this model.”

This is the first time that the current TACLAN model has been mobilized to provide mission support. While the team was able to properly operate the system for the 22 STS’s training operations, the TACLAN team is currently planning to receive more training on how to better utilize the equipment.

“We are deployable with this capability, but I want to be better,” Jara said. “While we are able to fix any issues that arise while working the system, I want more people to learn the system so it becomes commonplace.”

While the team maintained the system so it was fully operational, Maj. Emily Short 27 SOCS commander, came by to receive a brief overview on what they were working on.

“The TACLAN team is phenomenal,” Short said. “This training gives them an opportunity to learn more, allow younger Airmen to grow alongside them, and this operation has given us the opportunity to link up with other organizations for cross-utilization which can only lead to further growth for our efforts.”

While the satellite currently used with the TACLAN system allows up to 75 users, the 27 SOCS has access to equipment that would allow over 300 users on the system.

“I think the system absolutely bolsters our capabilities,” Short said. “It helps our users, people like mission planners and members of the 22 STS during this training operation. Speeding up their network gives them better planning control and speeds up the planning process. It all leads to increased lethality in the end.”

By Senior Airman Vernon R. Walter III, 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs