JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC –
The 1st Combat Camera Squadron here celebrated its 25th anniversary April 1.
Many combat camera squadrons have existed but 1st CTCS will be the only remaining Active Duty combat camera squadron in the Air Force. While it’s only been 25 years under its current name, 1st CTCS can trace its lineage as far back as 1943 when it was originally activated as the 1st Army Air Force Combat Camera Unit in Culver City, California.
The squadron’s mission is to rapidly provide civilian and military leaders, including the President of the United States, with a direct imagery capability in support of worldwide crises, contingencies and wartime operations.
“Information is critical to any mission,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Anderson, 1st CTCS commander. “The ability to provide key leaders crucial pieces of visual information giving a firsthand perspective of the mission is an invaluable tool in the decision making process.”
1st CTCS Airmen maintain a rigorous training regimen emphasizing physical fitness, weapons proficiency and refining their combat documentation techniques. To prepare for the necessary combat mindset, the squadron often embeds in special operations, tactics and with airborne forces during exercises. Training opportunities have prepared 1st CTCS Airmen to respond to humanitarian relief operations such as the Nepal and Ecuador earthquakes, the Hurricane Matthew devastation in Haiti as well as combat operations supporting Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve in Southwest Asia.
“We are side by side with some of the most elite forces in the military,” said Capt. Carly Costello, 1st CTCS operations flight commander. “Our Airmen are trained to know when to stop shooting their camera and start shooting their weapon.”
Senior Master Sgt. Shane Cuomo, 1st CTCS superintendent, has been assigned to the squadron three separate times throughout his career. During his time there, the 1st CTCS documented and archived many important historical events such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and numerous Iraq and Afghanistan operations.
“Combat camera is located in Charleston because of the strategic airlift capabilities of the C-17 and their ability to go pretty much any place in the world,” said Cuomo.
The importance of combat imagery has led to Joint Base Charleston fostering one of the most dedicated groups of Airmen warriors. Today, combat camera Airmen are on the frontlines with special operations and combat units, and in locations around the globe covering humanitarian relief efforts, and participating in joint and combined exercises honing our skills and mastering our capabilities.