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523rd Fighter Squadron Last Flight, Set to Disband

May 10, 2007 (by Jon Somerville) - In preparation of converting Cannon AFB to a special operations base, the 523rd FS, named the Crusaders, is the first squadron at the base to deactivate.

A firetruck hoses down an F-16 piloted by Lt. Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd FS commander, on May 10th, 2007 following the final flight of the squadron. The squadron inactivated on May 23rd. [USAF photo by SrA. Erik Cardenas]

The 27th FW at Cannon AFB, New Mexico is to become a special operations base by October 2007.

The occasion was marked on May 10, 2007 by a flight of two F-16s led by 523rd FS Operations Commander Lt. Colonel Brad Kearney. When the two aircraft landed a celebration was held but the squadron will officially disband on May 23rd, 2007.

Over the past few months the 523rd FS has been distributing its jets amongst multiple other squadrons in the Air Force. Reflecting on the history of the 523rd FS, it was first activated in February of 1940 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana and over the years has been deactivated and reactivated before. Currently there are no plans to establish the squadron again.

The closure is all part of the continued effort of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program which at first saw Cannon AFB, New Mexico closed for good. The reason for removing the F-16s from the 27th is to consolidate the F-16 fleet.

At the same time, the 524th FS begins its process of disbanding with the departure of its block 40s to other units such as the 388th FW at Hill AFB, Utah.

Additional images:

Lt.Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd FS commander, is handed a traditional bottle of champagne from Col. Scott West, 27th FW commander, following the squadron's final flight on May 10th, 2007 when the "Crusaders" inactivated after more than 60 years of service. [USAF photo by SrA. Erik Cardenas]

523rd FS latest version (Jon Somerville collection)

Tail detail of USAF F-16C block 30 #86-0356 of a 523rd FS aircraft. [Photo by Frank Ertl]