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Archive for the ‘Memorial’ Category

In Memoriam – SMSgt Ron Kellerman (USAF, Ret)

Monday, March 30th, 2020

We just received this tragic news from our friends in the Grey Beret Association. What a senseless loss of a great man who served for many years in the Special Tactics community. He will always stand as a shining example for present and future members of Air Force Special Warfare.

May He Rest In Peace

Brothers & Sisters ~

With great sadness I am informing all of you about the recent death of our Special Tactics/SOWT Friend, Teammate, Mentor, Leader and true BROTHER

Ron Kellerman – RHK

RHK was killed on 29 March 2020 at his home on Roatan island in Honduras – Details are still being compiled

Ron was a key leader in SOWT for many years, serving at Fort Bragg, Rhein-Main, and Hurlburt Field. He was a Master Parachutist, Military Freefall Jumpmaster, and recognized communications expert. He was a plank holder Detachment and Team NCOIC with the 10th Combat Weather Squadron, and later served at both the 720th Special Tactics Group and HQ AFSOC. Following a full and illustrious military career, he transitioned to a civilian GS position at AVTEG and served the nation in a highly critical role there for over 15 years until recent retirement just a few months ago.

It’s fair to say he directly influenced everyone in the SOWT specialty. The tributes we are seeing to him are overwhelming. The word “Mentor” is woven in to nearly every single post. I’ve known him since 1986 and I have never heard even one negative word said about him. He was one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet and was loved by all who knew him.

Ron’s influence and expertise extended far beyond the borders of the SOWT community, and his significant accomplishments and contributions to Air Force Special Operations as a whole were recognized in 2005 when he was inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame.

His wife Maria is currently in Spain with her Mother – Efforts are in progress to get all the pieces and parts squared away with her movement, security of their house, etc. I have spoken with Maria, and I let her know we loved Ron and we love her – And will do everything we can to assist her however possible.

More to follow as we learn it – This is a very sad day for all of us.

-USAF Grey Beret Association

Special Tactics Airman Involved In Fatal Swim Training Incident Identified

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – Airman First Class Keigan Baker, 24, an Air Force Special Tactics combat controller assigned to the Special Tactics Training Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, was found unresponsive after he went missing during a surface training swim at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Florida, Thursday.

Baker was taking part in the Air Force Combat Dive Course run by Air Education and Training Command’s Special Warfare Training Wing headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

“This is devastating loss to the entire Special Tactics community,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Allen, commander of the 24th SOW. “We are very grateful for Keigan’s willingness to serve our nation and vow to honor his memory.”

The agencies that contributed to the search and recovery efforts include: The Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City, Bay County Sheriff’s Office, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other sister service dive units.

Baker enlisted in the United States Air Force in June 2018 and was recognized as an Honor Graduate at Basic Military Training. After BMT, he immediately entered the two-year combat control training program. Shortly after being assigned to STTS he left to attend the Special Warfare Pre-Dive course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, followed by the Air Force Combat Dive Course at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Florida.

The Air Force Combat Dive Course teaches students diving fundamentals through open circuit self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) training and closed circuit underwater breathing apparatus (UBA) training. Students learn basic diving, advanced rescue diving principles and advanced combat diving fundamentals. Upon completion of the course, students are certified Special Operations Command (SOCOM) combatant divers.

“Keigan’s loss is felt across the entire training wing, where the safety of our trainees is our top priority,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Parks Hughes, commander of the Special Warfare Training Wing. “We are grateful to all the agencies that assisted with the search and recovery effort.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Keigan’s family, friends and teammates.”

The Longview, Washington native was a graduate of Mark Morris High School. He then received his Bachelors of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Eastern Washington University. 

His awards and decorations include: Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon, The Air Force Training Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

As a Special Tactics combat controller apprentice, Baker was training to deploy into combat zones to conduct reconnaissance, global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.

The incident is currently under investigation. For further queries on the incident and training please reach out to the Special Warfare Training Wing at

Welcome to Chapman Training Annex, Home of Air Force Special Warfare Training

Friday, March 6th, 2020


A parachute slid off the wall, revealing the text behind it, “Welcome to Chapman Training Annex, home of Air Force Special Warfare Training.” The life and legacy of a Special Tactics combat controller will forever be cemented into history with an installation renaming that serves to inspire not just Special Warfare trainees, but all Airmen that come through the gates of the annex.

The Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Medina Training Annex was renamed the Chapman Training Annex in honor of Special Tactics combat controller Master Sgt. John A. Chapman March 4, 2020. The ceremony, held on the 18th anniversary of his death, was attended by family, friends and fellow Airmen.

In August 2018, Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor nation’s highest honor for his selfless actions in Afghanistan during the Battle of Takur Ghar on March 4, 2002 in support of Operation ANACONDA.

“With the renaming of this training annex, the Air Force will fittingly memorialize Master Sergeant Chapman at the location where all Air Force enlisted Airmen receive their initial combat skills training and all Air Force Special Warfare Airmen begin their journey,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Michael Herrera, squadron superintendent of the 350th Special Warfare Training Squadron.

Chapman paid the ultimate sacrifice when he selflessly sacrificed his life to fend off a rocket-propelled grenade attack on an incoming MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying a quick reaction force of U.S. Army Rangers and Air Force Special Tactics Airmen.

In a valiant attempt to rescue U.S. Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts, Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted themselves into immediate danger. Upon exiting the helicopter, Chapman immediately charged uphill through the thigh-deep snow, directly engaging enemy combatants, clearing the position.

With no regard for his own life, Chapman intentionally moved from cover and was struck by enemy machine gun fire. Despite severe, mortal wounds, Chapman continued fighting relentlessly before paying the ultimate sacrifice.

Chapman was posthumously promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant on Aug. 22, 2018 by General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force.

“John Chapman was a great warrior, a steadfast friend, a selfless patriot, and above all—a man of unquestionable character,” said U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen W. Wilson. “I think it’s important to never forget his sacrifices, so that this Chapman Annex might stand as an enduring reminder to all about the ideas of selfless service—about an unwavering commitment to duty, and to fellow men, so that we can aptly characterize what John Chapman did and his service to our nation.”

Chapman is one of four enlisted Airmen in the U.S. Air Force to have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

“The heroism and valor of the number of special operators are particularly well chronicled. While there were a number of extremely high awards presented in the aftermath of this battle, the story of John Chapman’s gallantry simply stands above them all,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command. “All Airmen who pass through this gate, for BMT as well as Special Warfare, will gaze upon this welcome sign to the Chapman Annex, and know that they may be called upon to be the next Chappy.”

Chapman’s family members attended the ceremony including his wife, Valerie Nessel and his daughter Brianna Chapman; his mother, Terry Chapman; sister Lori Longfritz and brother Kevin Chapman.

“During training, there will be days when one is pushed beyond physical limitations. Days of little sleep, cold, hunger, pure exhaustion. You’ll feel defeated, and thoughts of quitting creep in often. The operator has to want with every fiber of their being to become an operator,” said Ms. Valerie Nessel, spouse of Master Sgt. John Chapman. “This is where John’s story of heroism and legacy come into play. When doubts enter, one must remember John on that mountain top. You will learn about him through this annex training facility.”

“There is a quote by Arthur Ashe that defines heroism and that is the one word that defines John to the fullest. The quote goes like this, ‘True heroism is remarkably sober, at times undramatic. But it is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.’ I wish all the trainees the best in their pursuit and challenge them to train and operate as John lived and died. Thank you for always remembering John,” Nessel said.

Following the ceremony, Chief Master Sgt. Jaime Clark, command chief of the Special Warfare Training Wing, led Airmen, teammates and family members in performing memorial push-ups in honor of Master Sgt. Chapman, a Special Tactics tradition to honor fallen comrades.

The Special Warfare Training Wing selects and trains the Air Force’s conventional and special operations ground combat forces to meet the demand of the future battlefield.

The Special Tactics community was well represented with leaders from the 24th Special Operations Wing including former 24th SOW commander, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Claude Tudor and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, 24th SOW command chief.

“We’re welling with pride seeing this dedication that will cement John Chapman’s valor and sacrifice for future generations of Special Tactics Airmen following in his footsteps,” said Guilmain.

Special Tactics is U.S. Special Operation Command’s tactical air-ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force, leading global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.

Story by Bridget Donovan , 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Photos by photo by Sarayuth Pinthong

Fallen Special Tactics Airman Honored with Hometown Bridge Dedication

Friday, March 6th, 2020

ROCHESTER, Pa. – The Special Tactics community will forever honor the lives and legacies of the fallen and ensure their names will not die twice.

Family, teammates and local community members commemorated the life and legacy of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, a Special Tactics combat controller, with a bridge dedication at the Veterans of Foreign War Post 128, Rochester, Pennsylvania, Feb. 29, 2020.

The Vanport Bridge traversing the Ohio River was renamed, “USAF Combat Controller Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin Memorial Bridge.”

Elchin, while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, gave the ultimate sacrifice on Nov. 27, 2018, when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.

Ron Bogolea, grandfather of Elchin, and local community leaders unveiled the USAF Combat Controller Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin Memorial Bridge.

“On Nov. 11, 2012, Veterans Day, [Dylan] wrote on Facebook, ‘I want to thank all of those who pay for our freedom, which some take for granted.’ Little did he know, six years later, he would pay that price,” said Bogolea. “Dylan’s life of duty, courage, sacrifice, and love of country reminds us what is good in ourselves and it teaches our children what is great about America.”

Pennsylvania State Senator Elder Vogel Jr. and other local representatives spearheaded the efforts in introducing the bill to have the bridge renamed in Elchin’s memory.

“Legacy is what gathers us here today.” said Vogel. “It is my hope that this bridge will encourage future generations to emulate the manner in which Dylan lived. Live for others as Dylan lived for his brothers in arms, his family and his community.”

Elchin was a recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, the Army Commendation With Valor, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Combat Action Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the NATO Medal.

 “Today this community gets to honor Dylan in a bridge renaming ceremony” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matt Allen, commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing. “It’s my fervent hope that those who pass across this bridge next week, next month, and in the years to come, to take a moment to remind themselves and reflect on the extraordinary service, sacrifice and commitment of one of the sons of this community, Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.”

Members of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, attended the ceremony to honor their fallen teammate.

“No matter what training we were doing he was always smiling and having a great time,” said Tech. Sgt. Adam Lollar, member of the 26th STS. “Whether it was a 1,600 mile off-road trip through the New Mexico backcountry or 100 plus degrees in the Nevada desert shooting.”

“I find it amazing to have the opportunity to witness the legacy and memory of Dylan being carried on, especially by his local community…seeing Dylan’s hometown uniting through his memory, especially someone like Dylan who gave everything for that community and this nation, is awesome,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Marty Bouma, a flight commander with the 26th STS. “Dylan was one of the most selfless individuals I’ve met, but I know the way the community has come together in this would make him proud.”

As a Special Tactics combat controller, Elchin was specially trained and equipped for immediate deployment into combat operations to conduct global access, precision strike, and personnel recovery operations. He was skilled in reconnaissance operations, air traffic control and terminal attack control operations.

Special Tactics is U.S. Special Operation Command’s tactical air-ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force, leading global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.

By 1st Lt. Alejandra Fontalvo 

24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

USAF To Rename Lackland AFB’s Medina Annex in Honor of MSgt John Chapman

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

On Wednesday, the JBSA-Lackland (Medina) Training Annex will be renamed in remembrance of Medal of Honor recipient, MSgt John A. Chapman.

The renaming ceremony will be held at 10:00 AM CST on March 4, 2020, and is open to all DoD cardholders. It will also be live-streamed on several venues.

In Memorium – Benchmade Founder Les deAsis

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

We received this note from the deAsis family last night.

Benchmade friends and family – 

I have some very sad news to share with you. My father, Les, passed away today following a stroke he suffered earlier this week.  

No words can properly express the sadness of our loss. Our family has lost our beloved husband, father, and grandfather. Benchmade has lost our founder, friend and visionary who built one of the greatest knife brands in the world. 


My father loved all customers, employees, suppliers, friends, and the storied list of knife makers who influenced him and the world of knives since his humble beginnings in the 70’s. He was especially passionate and proud of the knife and shooting sports industries and always hoped they would thrive well beyond his years.


His commitment to enriching education, growing local communities, and creating a better future for knife owners around the country is unparalleled.


The values, culture, and essence of our brand are all thanks to his lifelong pursuit of making great knives even better, and providing users with products they can depend on every day, no matter the circumstance.


His personality and character extended far beyond business, creating fun friendships and relationships that brought him tremendous joy day after day. He always cherished interactions with people from all walks of life; from folks in law enforcement and military, to those who love  hunting and fishing, and also those who simply like to “smoke cigars, bullshit and eat good food” – in his own words!


We will host a celebration of Les’ life and accomplishments and will share details when they are available.


Please help honor my father by continuing your dedication to the company that he loved and cared for so much.

 -Jon deAsis 

In Memorium – Major Mike Hoare, 5 Commando

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

This was shared on Facebook earlier today. Like many of my generation, I grew up reading of Hoare’s adventures in the pages of Soldier of Fortune. It was with some glee that my address was 5 Commando Ave while stationed at Pope AFB.

“It is with a heavy but accepting heart that I announce that my father, Mike Hoare, died in his sleep and with dignity at a care facility in Durban today, 2 February 2020, aged 100 years.

He was an adventurer, soldier, explorer, yachtsman, motorcyclist, safari leader, author, hiker, raconteur, last of breed, and legend. Charming, enigmatic, fearless, proper, and a brilliant leader, ‘Mad Mike’ was an officer and a gentleman – with a bit of brigand thrown in.

But Mike described himself as ‘a genuine adventurer’. He identified with Sir Francis Drake, and liked the idea of going out sailing, and bringing Spanish booty back for the queen who would make you a knight. ‘You were respectable – even though you were a thief,’ he said.

Mike Hoare became world famous when his ‘Wild Geese’ saved southern Africa from the Reds when they crushed the Simbas in the Congo in 1965. And world infamous when his attempt to overthrow the socialist government of the Seychelles failed.

Rest in eternal peace, Colonel. We salute you”

-Chris Hoare-

In Memorial – CISO Founder Conrad “Ben” Baker

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Former US Army Civilian Conrad “Ben” B. Baker has passed away. During the Vietnam War he supported Studies and Observations Group as a founder of the Counter Insurgency Support Office on Okinawa which purchased or created specialized weapons, clothing and equipment for SOG.

Between 1963 and 1972, he served as CISO’s Deputy Commander and made more than 80 TDY trips to Vietnam, occasionally accompanying SOG personnel into the field to check on the men and equipment.

For his service, he was later made an honorary member of the SF Regiment.

Read about his exploits here.