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USSOCOM Inducts 18 New Members into Commando Hall of Honor

Sunday, April 21st, 2024

U.S. Special Operations Command inducted 18 former special operators to include 9 Medal of Honor recipients into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor located at the USSOCOM headquarters, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, April 17, 2024. More than 100 people attended the ceremony and watched as each inductee received a medal from U.S. Army Gen. Bryan P. Fenton, USSOCOM commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Shane Shorter, USSOCOM command senior enlisted leader.

The Commando Hall of Honor was established in 2010 by former USSOCOM Commander Admiral Eric T. Olson and the award recognizes individuals who have served with distinction within the special operations forces community. The inductees join the storied ranks of those who preceded them.

This year’s Medal of Honor inductees were Vice Adm. John Duncan Bulkeley, Lt. j.g.  (SEAL) Joseph R. Kerrey, Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor, LT. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, Lt. (SEAL) Thomas R. Norris, Seaman David G. Ouellet, Lt. Cdr. Arthur M. Preston, Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Britt Kelly Slabinski, and Lt. (SEAL) Michael E. Thornton.

The special operators inductees were Air Force Col.. Stephen L. Baker, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lewis H. Burruss, U.S. Army Col. Jerry M. King, U.S. Marine Corps Col. Craig S. Kozeniesky, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Wesley H. Rice, U.S. Navy Capt. William M. Shepherd, U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Peter Stalik, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William P. Tangney, and U.S. Air Force Lt Gen. Marshall B. Webb.

“Today for us is historic. This ceremony is about our people and really reflects our first SOF truth that humans are more important than hardware,” Fenton said. “Today we will reach 8 decades inducting 18 heroes into the Hall of Honor who took on some of the toughest missions in special operations.”

Buruss is a Vietnam veteran who conducted frequent cross border operations against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army and was also heavily involved in sensitive activities. For his numerous valorous acts and courage under fire, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal, four Bronze Star Medals with valor, the Air Medal and three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry.

“It’s just a real honor to be inducted to the Commando Hall of Honor,” Buruss said. “I know there are so many more deserving, but I am still honored and proud.”

Webb had a myriad of assignments over his 38 years of dedicated service to special operations. He participated in the search and recovery effort of United States Commerce Secretary Ron Brown who was on an official trade mission in Bosnia, when the Air Force CT-43 he was traveling in crashed into a mountainside near Dubrovnik, Croatia. Immediately following that mission, Webb participated in Operation Assured Response, the noncombatant evacuation operation of the United States Embassy located at Monrovia, Liberia. During both events, in recognition of his extreme fortitude, airmanship, and devotion to the humanitarian effort, he earned the 1996 Cheney Award. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he commanded a contingent of three Pave Low helicopters, crews, and support personnel to assist with recovery, search and rescue, and provided critical assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he led a flight of seven Pave Low helicopters that inserted several teams of United States SEAL teams and British Royal Marines in the al Faw area to safeguard oil platforms to prevent an ecological disaster. During the operation to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, he coordinated and facilitated the real-time video feed in the White House Situation Room as the United States President, Vice President, and members of the national security team looked on.

“This induction ceremony is so unique to SOCOM because it reached back 8 generations inducting people from World War II. You could see pride in the face of the families seeing their relatives inducted into the hall,” Webb said. “For me personally, it is an honor to be in the company of these heroes.”

The newest members will join other recognized warriors in the Commando Hall of Honor, which includes such legendary names as Aaron Bank, Charles Beckwith, Ted Lunger, Sidney Shacknow, William Darby and Army Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr.. Their contributions and legacies to the special operations community and this country have been unquestionably influential and are truly inspirational.

By: Michael Bottoms

USSOCOM Public Affairs

April 19th, Paul Revere’s Ride and a Battle at Lexington and Concord

Friday, April 19th, 2024

You’ve probably heard about Paul Revere’s ride and the ‘shot heard round the world’. April 19th, Patriot’s Day, marks the actual beginning of the American Revolution, well over a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

The night before Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott, members of a fledgling continental intelligence service rode west from Boston to warn of the impending arrival of British troops intent to siege arms and black powder from the local townships. When Lt Col Francis Smith’s Redcoats arrived the next day, the militia was ready for them.

Each Patriot’s Day, I remember those men at Concord and consider what it must have been for them to stand there in the face of the world’s greatest army and take up arms in the defense of their colony from oppression. It’s a heroic act. The local militia came together on that morning to protect their arms from seizure by an oppressive government. That is fact.

“Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
-John Parker
Captain of Militia

A new nation would ultimately spring forth from those words and the actions of the men under Captain Parker’s charge. As the initial volleys of fire were exchanged near daybreak on Lexington Green, colonial volunteers fell back in the face of over 500 occupying British troops. But as the battle moved on to Concord the tide turned, and the redcoats were routed as more and more colonists joined the fray.

As the British troops withdrew through Concord they were reinforced. Now boasting a strength of 1700 men, they remained no match for the determined colonists who forced them to retreat to the safety of Charlestown in Boston. The militiamen continued their pursuit which transformed into the Siege of Boston.

Today, join me in remembering those American warriors who pledged their lives to give us our hard fought freedoms and this great land.

Dark Shores to New Horizons

Monday, April 15th, 2024

QUANTICO, VA, UNITED STATES —

The corporal dragged his body up the obsidian sheet of sand speckled with other water-logged Marines. He clambered over the peak of an incline, only to find one of his comrades was missing something: his head.

“That kind of woke me up to what we were getting into,” said the nearly 100-year-old Cpl. Donald Raasch, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Raasch, one of the few men still with us today who fought on the island, shared his 14-day experience battling on the black sands of Iwo Jima.

His journey began after he graduated Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in 1943. He was then assigned to 26th Marine Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Division on Hawaii, where preparations were made to take Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army. It was on Feb. 19, 1945, Marines began landing on the eight-square-mile island, coming to full strength at 70,000, but the Japanese outnumbered U.S. forces more than three to one.

Although, when Raasch landed, he said he didn’t see many Japanese. They “scurried” to conceal themselves in caves and underground tunnels to observe U.S. forces approach on the volcanic island. Even so, contact was imminent.

“And then I had a little play-catch with a Japanese in a bunker,” he said.

Raasch explained how he slipped a grenade off his belt and threw it into a bunker. He waited for some sort of explosion but heard nothing. He took a chance to peer over the peak, only to see that same grenade hurling back at him. Thankfully – in this case – he had a habit of taping the ignition latch to prevent unintended explosions. Raasch had forgotten to remove the tape before tossing the grenade. As that grenade rolled toward him, he picked it up, peeled the tape off, and threw it back.

“All I saw was his hat flying off in the distance,” he said. “So, I figured his head must be up with it.”

Sometime later, while biding their time on one of the island’s steep ridges, Raasch and the other Marines heard a whistling from the sky. He and his team instinctively jumped to the ground as mortar fire rained down and the Marines found themselves caught in a pitched battle with the cacophony of screams, explosions, shouts, and gunfire.

“It exploded behind me, and it knocked me out,” he said. “I guess what woke me up was somebody hollering ‘corpsman, corpsman!’”

The yelling came from Cpl. Brown, a Marine who Raasch credits for saving his life, but one he never saw again after leaving the island.

“He’s the one that got the corpsman to come over,” Raasch stated simply.

The almost century-old Marine explained that as the corpsman was taking care of him, he saw Brown leaning against one of the nearby ridges, noticing that the corporal also needed some medical attention as his leg had been blown off. Raasch was shocked Brown still called for his aid.

“I do still go through my old books with some of my brothers’ children and talk about that with them”

-Donald Raasch

Raasch was eventually transported back to California to recover from his injuries. He received treatment for his left arm, the only part of which he could move was his thumb, he said. Surgery and recovery took over a year, and he was awarded a purple heart.

Soon after, he found himself leaving the military and trying to acclimate to civilian life in Nebraska. For the next 15 years, he worked for a local power company as a lineman and engineer “climbing polls,” as he said it.

“I just put [Iwo Jima] in the back of my mind,” he said somberly. “You know, when you get back to civilization again, you have to find yourself a job like anybody else to make a living.”

To this day, he continues to share his 14-day story of Iwo Jima with his family members and others.

“I do still go through my old books with some of my brothers’ children and talk about that with them,” he explained. “They like to know that kind of stuff.”

Raasch’s story gives us insight of the battle from his point of view, but taking a step back shows us how significant his experience is. Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. Marine force were killed or wounded during the 36-day battle; about 6,000 were killed and another 20,000 were wounded.

Raasch counts himself among one of the few who had the luck to make it home alive.

As the toll U.S. forces were severe, the Marines officially seized the island on March 26, 1945, boomed by acts of uncommon valor. Symbolic as it was to raise the flags on the volcanic island, taking Iwo Jima also laid a path for the U.S. to destroy Japanese airfields, aiding in the outcome of World War II.

Now, it’s been almost 80 years after the Battle of Iwo Jima, and Raasch is one of the very few men alive today to tell first-hand experiences of the bloodiest battle in Marine Corps history.

By Lance Cpl David Brandes and Lance Cpl Ethan Miller | Marine Corps Base Quantico

Blast From The Past – Detachment B-52 (Project Delta) Reconnaissance Tips Of The Trade

Wednesday, April 10th, 2024

This is a repost of a story from a few years ago. I was reminded of it based in a TTP you’ll see later today.

When I joined the Army in 1985, most of my senior NCO leadership had served in Vietnam. They were men who had seen combat and we hung on their every word as we trained.

In the late 80s, I served in a LRSD in Germany. We turned to photocopies of a document produced by the Vietnam-era Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group’s Det B-52 aka Project Delta called ‘Reconnaissance Tips Of The Trade.’

IMG_7201

We poured over its 32 pages which were gold to us, offering guidance on how to configure equipment and conduct ourselves on patrols. Some of the information was outdated due to equipment changes, other data was not applicable because we faced a different foe, on different terrain. However, the basics remained the same.

Around the same time, 1st Bn, 7th SFG(A) were gathering their own lessons learned from operations in Central America which would not be released formally until the mid-90s. This update was entitled “Combat Recon Manual: Tips of the Trade” but is often referred to as the “ODB-720 Tips.” Unfortunately, it was much more difficult to share information pre-internet and I never saw a copy until I was about to leave a 3rd Group SOT-A for the Air Force.

The original B-52 Manual is available on the web from Chapter 31 of the Special Forces Association at www.sfa31.org/deltarecontips. Whether you’re reading from a historical perspective or a professional one, there are still a few gems in there. You can find the ODB-720 Tips here.

Retired Army Ranger Receives the Silver Star Medal

Friday, April 5th, 2024

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Almost 31 years after conducting various missions and operations during the Battle of Mogadishu, retired Army Maj. Larry Moores received the third highest military decoration for valor in combat — the Silver Star Medal.

Gen. Gary Brito, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, presented Moores with the Silver Star during a ceremony in front of family and friends March 25.

“Mr. Moores, I personally salute you for your tenacity, your toughness in a crucible combat, and your commitment to our Army, and your fellow Soldiers,” Brito said. “Your actions in Somalia were for them, your brothers in arms, and are a living tribute to the Ranger Creed, which I know that you hold dearly. Thank you so much for your selfless service. I am honored to present to you today the Silver Star.”

Moores enlisted in the U.S. Army on his 18th birthday. After basic training, he was assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger for his first assignment. Within a few months, he was ready to accept the Ranger School test and headed straight to the school at Fort Benning, Ga., now called Fort Moore.

“Ranger School was very difficult and definitely a great challenge, but I think coming from the battalion to become a ranger student was more of a validation process,” he said. “I was in the first class after the invasion of Grenada, so I was a young Soldier who had already been in a combat experience in the early 1980s.”

In the summer of 1993, then-President Bill Clinton deployed Task Force Ranger comprised of Rangers, Special Operators and TF-160 Special Operations Aviators to Mogadishu, Somalia, to capture Somali warlord Mohammed Farah-Adid. The majority of that task force was composed of American Rangers from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

“When I was in Somalia as part of Task Force Ranger, it was my third tour with the unit, so I understood their capabilities and how prepared we were to execute the mission,” Moores said. “We conducted a series of missions before that, so we knew the environment and the threat. Knowing how well trained your people were and the mission made it easier to lead.”

On Oct. 3, 1993, Task Force Ranger became embroiled with Somalia militiamen in an overnight gun battle, the intensity of which was likened, at the time, to the most intense firefights in Vietnam. That afternoon, Task Force Ranger boarded Army helicopters for what was expected to be a textbook raid to capture two of Adid’s lieutenants.

Using rocket-propelled grenades, Somalia militiamen shot down two U.S. Blackhawk helicopters, turning a planned raid into an unexpected rescue mission.

Although this particular battle was very challenging for Moores, and the 75th Ranger Regiment unit, due to the number of Soldiers who were killed or were wounded, Moores said it was astonishing to be able to demonstrate their capability during that operation.

“We lost 18 [Soldiers] in battle and had more than 70 Rangers wounded. That was a tough experience because we were overwhelmed — with the odds against us. But it was amazing to watch the young Rangers still execute under very difficult circumstances,” he said.

Moores hard work and leadership during that operation resulted in him being inducted as a Distinguished Member of the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2005 and into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 2017.

“I was honored to serve with the Rangers, so whenever I went to those ceremonies as a young Soldier, I was always in awe of the people who were being inducted,” he said. “Then to be inducted myself was an amazing honor. But for me it was a team effort. It wasn’t Larry who was inducted, it was the whole unit.”

Retired Army Col. Larry Perino, a fellow Ranger platoon leader who served with Moores during the Battle of Mogadishu, attended the Silver Star ceremony, and emphasized how important it was for him to be there to witness it.

“I would not have missed this event for the world. This is long overdue and well deserved,” Perino said. “Larry is deserving because he chose to go back to that street to try and break us out. Despite going out there and getting riddled with bullets time and time again and losing Rangers, he had the intestinal fortitude to lead his men to help us.”

Moores credits the entire regiment for him being able to receive the honor of the Silver Star Medal.

“This Silver Star Medal is about those types of units and all of the months and months of hard work,” he said. “It was an amazing opportunity to be a part of those special operations. I feel so blessed to have worked with the people that I did over all of these years. I never would have thought that I would have been able to do all of the things that I did, and meet and work with so many amazing people along the way.”

Moores currently works as a contractor within the TRADOC G2 (Intelligence).

By Katisha Draughn-Fraguada, TRADOC Communication Directorate

Kickstarter’s Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War Is In Its Final Week!

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024

Written by Vlad Besedovskyy of Safar Publishing, “Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War” chronicles the arsenals that the Soviet Union developed and deployed to Afghanistan.

“Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War” is a meticulously researched and visually captivating book that dives deep into the arsenal that played a pivotal role in the conflict. Unlike other books on firearms, we are not focusing on the characteristic tables and manufacturing details, but instead we write about the practical use of the weapons. A substantial amount of effort was devoted to the examination of memoirs and conducting interviews with veterans in pursuit of the completion of this publication.

Get yours on Kickstarter before they are no longer available.

HSP Presents: Battle of Najaf 20TH Anniversary Event & Limited Edition Print

Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the battle of Najaf, Haley Strategic Partners is holding an open house from 9AM to 9PM. Additionally, beginning on Thursday, April 4th and ending Sunday April 7th, 2024, they will be celebrating by offering 20% Off Site Wide as well as at their Headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

April 4th, 2024 will mark the 20th Anniversary of the Battle of Al-Najaf, Iraq. It was on that day in 2004 that a small team of coalition forces and Blackwater Contractors faced off against the overwhelming force of the Mahdi Army. In spite of the many obstacles stacked against them, acts of courage, duty, and perseverance enabled the defending coalition and Blackwater Contractors to hold off the Mahdi Army while Blackwater Air Teams provided critical sustainment equipment and life saving evacuation efforts. The Battle of Al-Najaf represents one of the largest insurgent attacks during the Iraq War, we stand together on 4/4 in remembrance of the brave men who selflessly risked everything to save their brothers.

HSP has something else up their sleeve as well. Black Powder Red Earth‘s Creative Director, Jon Chang, and Artist, Josh Taylor, created an original piece of art to remember and honor those who answered the call for help without hesitation on that day.

This one of a kind piece of art which will be offered in three sizes/mediums: 13”x13”, 30”x30”, and a custom 60”x60” Dibond® Aluminum print.

Full details here.

“Filming Under Fire: John Ford’s OSS Field Photo Branch” from the OSS Society

Wednesday, March 13th, 2024

Hollywood director John Ford, who commanded the Off ice of Strategic Services Field Photographic Branch, received six Academy Awards, including four for Best Director.

His WWII service is the subject of the OSS Society’s new short documentary, “Filming Under Fire: John Ford’s OSS Field Photo Branch”

vimeo.com/osssociety/filmingunderfiretrailer