523rd Fighter Squadron furls colors

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Lt. Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd Fighter Squadron commander, is handed a traditional bottle of champagne from Col. Scott West, 27th Fighter Wing commander, following the squadron's final flight May 10. The "Crusaders" squadron inactivated May 23 after more than 60 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Erik Cardenas)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Lt. Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd Fighter Squadron commander, is handed a traditional bottle of champagne from Col. Scott West, 27th Fighter Wing commander, following the squadron's final flight May 10. The "Crusaders" squadron inactivated May 23 after more than 60 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Erik Cardenas)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Col. Jeff McDaniels, 27th Operations Group commander, receives the guidon from Lt. Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd Fighter Squadron commander, shortly before the squadron's  inactivation in a ceremony on May 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott Mackay)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Col. Jeff McDaniels, 27th Operations Group commander, receives the guidon from Lt. Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd Fighter Squadron commander, shortly before the squadron's inactivation in a ceremony on May 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott Mackay)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Col. Jeff McDaniels (left), 27th Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col Brad Kearney, 523rd Fighter Squadron commander, furl the 523 colors during an inactivation ceremony on May 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott Mackay)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Col. Jeff McDaniels (left), 27th Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col Brad Kearney, 523rd Fighter Squadron commander, furl the 523 colors during an inactivation ceremony on May 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott Mackay)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- A firetruck hoses down an F-16 piloted by Lt. Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd Fighter Squadron commander, on May 10 following the final flight of the squadron. The squadron inactivated on May 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Erik Cardenas)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- A firetruck hoses down an F-16 piloted by Lt. Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd Fighter Squadron commander, on May 10 following the final flight of the squadron. The squadron inactivated on May 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Erik Cardenas)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- More than 60 years of flying and fighting history closed May 23 as the 523rd Fighter Squadron, also known as the Crusaders, inactivated during ceremonies at The Landing . 

The ceremony, begun precisely at 5:23 p.m., also honored and remembered the service and dedication of all Crusader Airmen who served with the unit. 

"This is another watershed day in the history of the 523rd FS," said Colonel Jeff McDaniels, 27th Operations Group commander. "There's a sense of saying goodbye to an old friend." 

The 523rd FS's guidon passed from Lt. Col. Brad Kearney, 523rd FS commander, to Colonel McDaniels one final time. 

The colors were then furled and cased as a final symbol of closure to the squadron's long and storied history. 

"The greatest thing about the 523 is all the great people in it," said Colonel McDaniels. "There's a sense of family and togetherness." 

"Every Crusader knew how important their job was," said Colonel Kearney. "In a blink of an eye, today's followers are tomorrow's leaders." 

Originally activated in February 1940 as the 17th Bombardment Squadron at Barksdale Field, La, the unit was redesignated the 523rd FS on May 30, 1944. 

The squadron received its first jet aircraft, the F-84, in 1950, and nine years later was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base. 

During the course of its history, the squadron has been at 40 different airfields and has had 14 different aircraft. 

During the course of its history, the 523rd Fighter Squadron maintained a continuous ability to rapidly deploy and support unified commanders worldwide with day or night F-16C combat operations. 

The Crusader Airmen committed themselves to decisively employing the F-16C throughout the entire spectrum of offensive and defensive missions, including interdiction, close air support, forward air control, strategic attack and counter-air, with a wide variety of conventional, precision guided and nuclear weapons. 

"When tough times came to America the 523 was there," said Colonel McDaniels. 

The inactivation of the squadron, rather than deactivation, means the 523rd FS can still be reactivated at any later time. 

"We stand ready to be reactivated someday down the road," said Colonel Kearney. 

But in the meantime, "mission accomplished, job well done," said Colonel McDaniels.