Approximately 100 airmen participated in the 8th annual Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Association’s run, which took place on March 28th in Biggs Park, Texas. But this wasn’t your regular run. Lasting 24 hours, the event was open to all physically fit military and civilian personnel associated with the Fort Bliss base. Rotating in shifts, the combined military-civilian team finished the event and held the TACP flag high.
The purpose of the run was to honor fallen TACP airmen and to raise funds to support their families. The run brought in close to $200,000, which will be invested in creating scholarships for the children of fallen airmen or in direct support of their families.
“All proceeds raised from this run benefit our TACP families,” said Lt. Col. Nicklaus Walker, the 7th Air Support Operations Squadron Commander, in an interview with DVIDS. “The most important part of this run is honoring those that came before us.”
The 7th Air Support Operations Squadron is apportioned to support the Army’s 1st Armored Division at the division and brigade levels. When attached to conventional units, TACPs have a dual role: to advise their Army or Marine Corps comrades about the capabilities and limitation of airpower and to request and coordinate close air support missions.
The Air Force’s Battlefield Airmen designation includes Pararescuemen, Combat Controllers, Special Operations Weather Technicians – soon to be Special Reconnaissance, and Tactical Air Control Party. All of the above career fields are considered Special Operations, whether they fall under a SOF command or not. The Survival Escape Resistance and Evasion and Explosive Ordinance Disposal career fields also fall under the Battlefield Airmen designation but are considered combat support and not SOF.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Matlock, the Commanding Officer of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, said in a statement to DVIDS: “Today we remember the fallen, honor the living, and support our comrades in arms and those in need. This is a great opportunity to support our service members and their families.”
Here is the TACP Association’s statement:
The vision and the focus of the members have since changed; becoming one of helping not only our past and present warriors, but also the communities in which we live. Our community of warriors is small, and TACP has always been one of the smallest careers in the entire scope of the armed services. It is that small size that has created that camaraderie upon which our association is based. The fundamental goal of our organization is to provide support to those members and families in their moment of need and to better the communities in which we reside.”
The Air Force special operations community is known for its honorary challenges. Pararescuemen (PJ) and Drug Enforcement Agency agents recently held their annual Maltz Challenge in memory of Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, a PJ who was killed in action in 2003 in Afghanistan during a combat-rescue mission. Earlier this year, 20 operators from across the Special Tactics community rucked a joint-aching 830 miles in memory of 20 Special Tactics airmen who paid the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11.