Monday, February 10, 2020

Special Forces Team ambushed by rogue Afghan Police Officer - Two KIA, 6 Wounded

Two U.S. troops were killed and six were wounded in an apparent insider attack in Afghanistan according to military officials. Sgt. 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, the senior communications sergeant (18E) on the ODA, and Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rey Rodriguez, a SOT-A soldier. The soldiers were involved in a firefight on Feb. 8 in Sherzad district, Nangarhar province.

SFC Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, leaves behind a wife and four children, ages 4 to 7. SFC Rodriguez, was born and raised in Las Cruces, NM and was deployed 8 times with the 75th Infantry Regiment before his two deployments with 3/7th SFG.

Greens Berets of Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 7313 and the company command team of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (A/3/7) had just finished a Key Leader Engagement (KLE) with local leaders when they were ambushed. The American element, which was accompanied by a partner force of Afghan Special Operations Forces (ANSOF) had moved to a nearby field to wait for extraction by helicopter. While they were in a Pickup Zone (PZ) posture, the rogue Afghan policeman attacked. The individual essentially mowed down the Special Forces operators and their partner force element with a heavy machinegun.

A Green Beret and a Special Operations Team-Alpha (SOT-A) soldier, who was attached to the team, were killed on the spot. The company executive officer was shot in the chest and is in critical condition; the company Sergeant Major was shot in the head. The rest of the American WIAs have gunshot wounds to the legs. All casualties have been evacuated to U.S. medical facilities. SOT-A soldiers are attached to Special Forces ODAs and provide tactical Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities.

“Upon completing a key-leader engagement at the district center, current reports indicate an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun,” Army Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said in an emailed statement. “We are still collecting information and the cause or motive behind the attack is unknown at this time. The incident is under investigation,” he said.

The Green-on-Blue (friendly forces attacking U.S. troops) incident took place in the Sherzad district of Nangarhar Province, which is located in eastern Afghanistan.

The Associated Press reported that a member of Nagarhar’s provincial council said that the gunman was killed, but neither the U.S. military nor the Afghan defense ministry has confirmed to the AP the attacker’s fate. Colonel Sonny Leggett, the spokesperson for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) said that “an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun. The motive behind the attack is unknown at this time. The incident is under investigation.”

Article from SOF Rep

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Doc's Custom - Veteran Owned Wood Plaque Designs

We are highlighting a Disabled Veteran Owned and Operated Small Business - Doc's Custom. Rick Cardosa, known as "Doc" is a former 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper and Special Forces Senior Medical Sergeant with the 5th Special Forces Group. Then Rick went to Flight School and became a Cobra Attack Helicopter Pilot, then a Kiowa Warrior Attack/Reconnaissance Pilot. It was while Richard was serving as a Green Beret that he would receive a request from his Detachment Commander to recreate the Special Forces Crest for an instructional podium.

While Rick was a "A" Detachment Medical Sergeant he was known for his great attention to detail and care of his patients. I should know, I was his team mate and one of his patients - more than once I might add. He takes that same dedication and attention to detail creating wood plaque masterpieces.

Rick’s wood designs can be 2 or 3-dimensional. I have also been a customer of his receiving a SF team plaque and I bought one for a friend of mine who retired after 3 Combat tours in Afghanistan. Rick's work is the best decorative wood work you will find......anywhere. The one Rick made for me is at left. Go to this link to see some of his designs.

Rick donates pieces of his work for charity auctions and he has also sponsored his own charity sales to raise money for military families in need.

The launch of his website opens the door to countless opportunities, not only for Rick, but for other disabled veterans. As business grows, Rick will employ other veterans, and if the possibility to expand his business from his own shop becomes possible, he hopes to help veterans under his tutoring to become successful entrepreneurs and expand his brand of one-of-a-kind solid wood custom designs.

Contact Rick at:

phone: (574) 514-1821

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Five brothers who all served in Vietnam War honored

This story actually came out almost a year ago but we just now were made aware of it. Can you imagine how the parents felt to have five of their son's serving in Vietnam?

Five brothers who all served in the Vietnam War were honored in Alabama on Friday, which is National Vietnam War Veterans Day. News Station WAAY 31 in Huntsville, Alabama talked to the Miller brothers during a recognition ceremony. They said they were never deployed all together, and one after the other they defended their country.

James Miller said three of them volunteered, the other two were drafted. “I went to Vietnam because my brothers went, so I went and volunteered to go to Vietnam, because they were ahead of me, and I couldn’t let them outdo me,” Leo Miller told WAAY.

Sadly, the men said their dad passed away before they all returned home. But they know he was very proud of them. According to WAAY, the Miller brothers said they now travel to different veteran ceremonies together as a family.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Special Operators Are Eying This Machine Gun To Solve A Number Of Problems

Gunmaker Sig Sauer says it has delivered a number of its MG 338 machine guns to U.S. Special Operations Command, along with sound suppressors and ammunition for them, after the weapons passed an important safety certification. Two years ago the Command, in cooperation with the U.S. Marine Corps, first announced it was looking to buy new machine guns chambered for the .338 Norma Magnum cartridge, typically used in sniper rifles, to fill a gap in capability between existing 7.62mm and .50 caliber types.

Sig Sauer announced that the MG 338 had successfully met U.S. Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) safety requirements on Jan. 15, 2020. In May 2019, SOCOM said it would begin a limited user evaluation of prospective .338 Norma Magnum machine guns in October of that year. That testing, which may include limited combat trials, is supposed run through May of this year, after which the command will make a formal decision about whether it wants to proceed with the program, which it has officially dubbed the Lightweight Machine Gun-Medium, or LMG-M. SOCOM has also begun acquiring new "assault" machine guns in the 6.5mm Creedmoor caliber that will meet a similar requirement for a weapon better suited to engaging targets beyond the range of existing 5.56mm types and traditional 7.62mm designs.

"For the first time in decades the U.S. Military certified a new machine gun, ammunition, and suppressor at the same time, bringing new innovation, portability, and increased lethality to our ground forces, with all components coming from one company,” Ron Cohen, Sig Sauer's President and CEO, said in a statement. "This certification was achieved following the outstanding performance of the complete MG 338 system through the rigors of the extensive function, durability, and safety tests set forth by USSOCOM."

Sig Sauer says its new .338 caliber machine gun weighs around 20 pounds, making it lighter than even the L variant of U.S. military's standard 7.62mm M240 machine gun, which uses titanium components to reduce its weight. This would also make it lighter than the Mk 48 machine gun, which SOCOM previously led the development of as a lighter-weight alternative to the M240-series. It is also substantially lighter than the M2 .50 caliber machine gun.

Despite its lightweight design, the MG 338 will also be able to effectively engage targets significantly further away than existing 7.62mm types. SOCOM has set its effective range requirement for the machine guns at between 6,500 and 8,200 feet. By comparison, the maximum effective range of the M240L is around 5,900 feet, according to the manufacturer.

To help handle the strain of firing the more powerful ammunition in a lighter-weight package, the MG 338 also features a recoil mitigation system that includes a barrel that shifts backward with each shot to absorb some of the force. It also has a relatively slow rate of fire of around 600 rounds per minute to help keep it controllable.

Sig Sauer says that the MG 338's controls, such as the charging handle and safety lever, are ambidextrous and that it can be configured to feed its belted ammunition from the left or the right side of the gun. This could help allow it to be mounted in various positions on ground vehicles and watercraft, including on mounts designed to hold multiple guns at once. It could also readily serve as a helicopter door gun.

The MG 338 can be converted to fire 7.62mm ammunition, as well. This would allow special operators to conduct various types of general training, such as basic familiarization with the gun and its controls, without having to use more expensive .338 Norma Magnum ammunition.

SOCOM plans to decide in June whether or not to proceed with its plans to actually acquire machine guns in this caliber. If it does move ahead with the program, a formal request for proposals would go out later this year. Sig Sauer would not necessarily be alone in that formal competition.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems was among the first to propose the idea of a .338 caliber machine gun and has been working on prototypes of what it calls the Light Weight Medium Machine Gun, or LWMMG, since at least 2009. It introduced a new, improved version just last year as part of its own submission to SOCOM's limited user evaluation.

Whatever design wins the final LMG-M contact, which SOCOM says it could award in 2021 and could result in the purchase of as many as 5,000 of the guns, could lead to additional immediate sales. As noted, the U.S. Marine Corps has been involved in this project since at least 2017. Sig Sauer has said that it might look to pitch the gun to the U.S. Army, too, which is in the process of testing a slew of new small arms as it looks to replace various existing systems, such as the M4 carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The winner of the LMG-M deal would also be well poised to market their winning design overseas to any country with similar requirements.

Sig Sauer has already been making significant inroads in the U.S. military, most notably winning the contract to produce the new standard issue pistol for the U.S. Army, a design now slated to become the default sidearm across all the services. The company is also competing in the Army's competition to replace the M4 and M249.

In addition, Sig Sauer has already secured a different SOCOM contract for a new personal defense weapon, called the Rattler, which is derived from its increasingly popular MCX rifle line. You can read about in more detail about that gun in this past War Zone story. Hopefully, as SOCOM's limited user evaluation continues, we will get more details about special operators' experiences with the MG 338, as well as any other competing designs, which could give them valuable longer-range firepower in the coming years.

Article from The Drive, 15 January 2020

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

RIP Chapter IX Chaplain John Szilvasy

It is with great sorrow that Special Forces Association IX reports the passing of Chapter Chaplain John Andrew Szilvasy on 16 January 2020.

Born 6 December 1936, the son of Hungarian Immigrants, John Szilvasy was enlisted in the Army from 1954 to 1957. Following the Lord's light, he was Ordained by the Hungarian Reformed Church and rejoined the Army as a Chaplain in January 1966. He served during the Vietnam War and was stationed in Vietnam, Fort Bragg, NC; Germany; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Fort Hood, TX; Seoul, Korea; William Beaumont Medical Center at Fort Bliss, TX; and, Yuma, AZ.

John’s lifelong companion was his wife Linda, and they had one son, Kevin. John earned two Master’s Degrees and a Doctorate. He attended Yale for special training as a Hospital Chaplain. He was an Ordained Minister and Member in Good standing with the Evangelical Association of Reformed and Congressional Christian Churches.

John served with the 3rd Special Forces, JAN – AUG 1966; Special Forces Training Group SEP-DEC 1966; 3rd BDE, 25th INF Division Vietnam 1967; 14th Armored Cav Regt Germany 1968-1971; 1st Cavalry and the 2nd Armored Divisions 1971-1973; Engineer Command Fort Leonard Wood, MO 1974-1978. Army Hospital, Korea, 1978-1979 then William Beaumont Army Hospital, Fort Bliss, TX 1979-1983; Military Intelligence Command, 1984; Headquarters, Fort Bliss, TX 1985-1989; and finally, serving at Yuma Providing Ground, AZ in 1990 before retiring in June 1990.

His medals and awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal w 4 OLC, Purple Heart, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry w/ Palm, Army Commendation Medal, w/ OLC, Army Achievement Medal w/ OLC, Special Forces Tab, Parachute Badge & Physical Fitness Badge.

John served as Chaplain for SFA Chapter 9 for 30 years. In that time, virtually all the marriages that took place in the El Paso SF Chapter and many from the Benavidez-Patterson 82nd All Airborne Chapter were performed by John. He also wrote a near monthly column for years titled "Chaplains Corner" which proved by the huge number of readers to be the overwhelming favorite of Chapter IX website visitors.

On 11 September 2014 John was interviewed by the American Red Cross at Fort Bliss, Texas for the Library of Congress American Folklife Center’s Veterans History Project. A DVD was made and is still available. At the 2018 El Paso SFA National Convention, John shared Chaplain duties for the week with COL (RET) Vahan Sipantzi.

To send a memorial in John’s name, there is a legal group that works for defending Christian religious freedom. It was John's favorite cause.

Alliance Defending Freedom/ADF Foundation
15100 N. 90th St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
480 388-8023

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A little Texas History

In late 1834, Jose Antonio Navarro was appointed to serve as a Senator in the Mexican Congress, just reconstituted by President Santa Anna. He sought the advice of his uncle Jose Francisco Ruiz. This was his response:

"I will give you my advice in a few words, remembering the favorite expression of your worthy father, Bread is Bread, Wine is Wine. The die is cast, and in a few months will begin the revolution that will forever separate Texas from the Republic of Mexico."

"I feel a lump in my throat when I say this. I spent the flower of my life and freely shed my blood for the Independence of Mexico, and I would willingly do so again, though I am now old, could I see any evidence that unfortunate Mexico was capable of governing herself, or upholding the honor of her flag and her nationality; but I have lost all hope of remedy, and see nothing in the future but her inevitable ruin and degradation."

"I have military honors (you know it well), and receive a pension from the Government of Mexico. I will lose it all rather than go to Mexico and unite myself to the ranks of that oppressive army. Do not go to the Senate of Mexico, for you will only go to assist in quenching the dying embers of Mexican liberty; let us rather stay in Texas, and throw in our lot with our native State, which can never be worse than now. This is all I have to say."

Navarro took his uncle's advice and a year later, these two and Lorenzo de Zavala were the only native Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

RIP - Master Sergeant Nathan Goodman

Master Sergeant Nathan Goodman, age 36, died in a military freefall training event on January 14, 2020. The incident took place during a MFF training exercise near Eloy, Arizona. Eloy is the site where advanced parachute training takes place for special operations personnel.

Goodman was born in Pasadena, California and grew up near Chicago, Illinois. At the time of his death he was stationed with the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and lived nearby in Hope Mills.

He enlisted in the Army in July 2002 – completing Basic and Advanced Individual Training and Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon completion of his training he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

He then left active duty and joined the Army National Guard in 2005.He attended the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course and then the Special Forces Qualification Course where he graduated as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant in 2007. He was then assigned to 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group.

In 2010 he returned to active duty and was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. In 2016 he worked at the 1st Special Warfare Training Group as a Senior Instructor and then as a Chief Instructor. In July 2018 he returned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. In July 2019 he was promoted to Master Sergeant and became an Operations “Team” Sergeant on an SF operational detachment alpha.

Goodman completed four deployments to Afghanistan, one to Iraq, two to Africa, and one to Kyrgyzstan.

Goodman graduated from the Basic, Advanced, Senior, and Master Leader Courses; Army Special Operations Forces Senior Noncommissioned Officer Fundamentals Course; Basic and Small Group Instructor Training Courses; Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance, Target Analysis and Exploitation Techniques Course; Basic, Jumpmaster and Advanced Tactical Infiltration Military Free Fall Courses; Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course; Advanced Special Operations Techniques Course; and the Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operator Course.

Goodman’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (2OLC); Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal (3OLC); Army Achievement Medal; Valorous Unit Award (1OLC); Meritorious Unit Citation (2OLC); Army Good Conduct Medal (3OLC); National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal (four campaign stars); Iraq Campaign Medal (two campaign stars); Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 3); Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Mobilization device; NATO Medal (1OLC); Special Forces Tab; Combat Infantryman Badge; Expert Infantryman Badge; Parachutist’s Master Rated Military Free Fall Badges.

“Nathan was a beloved member of 3rd Special Forces Group and an exceptional leader in the special operations community. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family during this difficult time and our priority now rests with taking care of them and our soldiers”. Colonel Nathan Prussian, 3rd Special Forces Group Commander.

He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Information from USASOC

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

One Of The Last Living Female WWII Veterans

Ruth “Buttercup” Sparks was 11 when her family made the voyage from Denmark in 1926. For 10 days, the young girl sat in wait for that first look at the New York horizon. Finally, a little over a week since the ship set off, Lady Liberty’s torch pierced up from the horizon and welcomed Sparks to the U.S. There, her family laid their foundations to start a new life as Americans. But Sparks’s journey was far from over and would see her become a celebrated member of the Navy, involved in keeping the country persisting through a dark period in human history. Today, she is one of the last living female WWII veterans.

The U.S. Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) branch recruited women into the Navy during WWII. 1945 saw her officially join the Navy in this capacity. “I was the second class of WAVES,” she recalled. From there, she worked as a mechanic and a secretary. Later, a stern hatred for the snow drew her to request relocation. This set her on the course to Texas. She ended up at Corpus Christi, and it was there that she met her husband.

After meeting her husband, this female WWII veteran moved with him to San Antonio. There, she continued to enjoy the warmth—and the resulting absence of snow—and celebrate birthday after birthday. This Sunday, she turned 104. When asked what her secret was, Sparks cited exercise as a primary factor in her longevity. Though, she added, drinking from time to time was also part of her secret.

Each day brings humanity further from the years that marked WWII and the devastation it wreaked on the world. More and more veterans are being laid to rest as the years pass. Sparks is one of the last living female WWII veterans from this historic time.

American women and the war

Prior to the creation of WAVES, women could only be nurses in the Navy. Because men were needed for intense combat, it became necessary to have other spots filled by women. As a result, females took up support roles, leaving the men available for combat. Like today, such a move towards female involvement in the armed forces had its proponents and opponents alike. This was particularly the case in America, because other countries, though still wrestling with sex-based equality, had women actively fighting opposing forces.

Despite the tricky navigation leading up to WAVES, women in this branch were given full military status. This also provided them with full benefits. Though not directly fighting the Axis, women in WAVES were integral to success against them. Their roles included intelligence agents, aviation instructors, scientists, and engineers. As one of the last living female WWII veterans, Ruth Sparks was a direct contributor to victory against the Axis Powers.

Article from

Friday, January 3, 2020

Green Beret Killed in Afghanistan - RIP SFC Mike Goble

Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Goble, 33, a senior intelligence sergeant assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group died 23 December 2019 from injuries sustained during combat operations the day prior, Army Special Operations Command said in a statement. This was his third deployment to Afghanistan, in addition to deployments to Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia and South Korea.

“Sgt. 1st Class Goble was more than just a member of the 7th Special Forces Group, he was a brother to us, and a beloved family member to the Northwest Florida community,” said Col. John W. Sannes, 7th Group commander, in a prepared statement. “We will honor our brother’s sacrifice and provide the best possible care to his family. We ask that you keep his family and teammates in your thoughts and prayers," Sannes added.

SFC Goble was on an operation seizing a Taliban weapons cache when he was killed. He was with his unit when its members discovered an undisclosed amount of Taliban weapons in Kunduz province, said Eric Pahon, a spokesman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Pahon said Goble and others were clearing out the cache when an explosion happened. Pahon said the Taliban wrongly claimed that the service members were in a convoy and targeted by a roadside bomb during a raid.

There have been 17 American service members killed in combat in Afghanistan this year, of which 14 belonged to the Army, according to Defense Department figures. The number of wounded in action exceeds 180. U.S. and Taliban representatives are engaged in ongoing peace negotiations, which President Donald Trump previously ended in September following another Taliban attack that killed an Army paratrooper near Bagram Air Base. The talks were restarted earlier in December.

Goble was born on Jan. 13, 1986, and raised in Westwood, New Jersey, according to the Army. He enlisted directly into the service as a Special Forces candidate in July 2004. After completing basic training and Airborne School, Goble attended and later graduated from Special Forces Qualification Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in February 2007. Goble also deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. During those deployments, he served as a weapons sergeant. Goble then served as a sniper instructor from 2012 through 2016, before returning to 7th Group as an intelligence sergeant.

Over the course of his career, Goble attended a variety of Army schools, including Special Forces Sniper Course, basic and advanced Military Freefall Course, Military Freefall Advanced Tactical Insertion Course, Joint Armorer Course, Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant Course and Special Operations Force Surveillance Operator Course. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor device, the Valorous Unit Award, the Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Basic Airborne and Military Free Fall Jumpmaster badges.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ambushed, wounded — and fighting back: Two Para Rescuemen awarded Silver Stars for Afghanistan heroism

Two Para Rescue men who rallied their teammates in separate incidents in Afghanistan and fought back against Taliban ambushes — despite each being wounded by rocket-propelled grenade blasts — were awarded the Silver Star for their bravery Friday. Tech. Sgt. Gavin Fisher of the 350th Special Warfare Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen of the 58th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada were both presented with the nation’s third-highest decoration for heroism in combat during a ceremony at Nellis, the Air Force said in a Friday release.

Fisher was honored for his actions during a battle in Ghazni province on Aug. 11 and 12, 2018, and Swensen fought alongside an A-team of Army Green Berets Sept. 13 and 14 of this year in Farah province.

At the ceremony, Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Charles Brown compared their actions to those of comic book heroes, and noted how rare such true heroism is today. “We can become so absorbed by the tales and the characters and their abilities that we can lose sight of our real-life heroes — heroes like Tech. Sgt. Gavin Fisher and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen,” Brown said. “Only 1 percent of our service men and women, representing 1 percent of the population, have received this Silver Star. So, these gentlemen are in a very exclusive club.”

In Ghazni, Fisher’s actions helped save the lives of 10 critically injured soldiers, medically evacuate 20 casualties and kill 118 Taliban fighters. The combined joint special operations task force, of which Fisher was a part, was in the midst of a 10-day mission to help drive more than 500 Taliban fighters away from Ghazni city. Fisher was serving as the rear gunner for the lead vehicle of the task force’s convoy, when an ambush erupted. Taliban forces opened fire on the armored vehicles with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, the release said.

Fisher was hit by grenade shrapnel, but kept fighting back by returning fire at the Taliban and guiding his vehicle away from the danger. He cared for two critically injured soldiers, stopping their massive bleeding and giving them blood transfusions — all while continuing to fight off two Taliban fighters. He kept those soldiers stable until a medical evacuation team arrived, the release said. Even though Fisher was wounded, the Air Force said, he still refused to leave with the patients.

Then, a second ambush erupted. Five more partner force teammates were critically injured, and Fisher treated them and requested another evacuation. The battle raged on as the Taliban continued to attack, and they struck the mission support site, wounding 12 more teammates. “Without hesitation or regard for his safety,” the Air Force said, Fisher made his way through 75 meters of heavy machine gun and small arms fire to treat five of those troops.

He then jumped back into the rear gunner seat of his vehicle and manned the heavy machine gun as the team continued clearing the city. Then, another RPG struck his vehicle and wounded Fisher again. “However, he refused to falter while on guard,” the Air Force said. He returned fire and steered his team to safety, before finally agreeing to be treated for his multiple wounds. “Getting this medal is important because it lets people know the war is still going on, and valiant efforts by men and women are still going forth,” Fisher said. “People are still out there dying and fighting for each other, and it needs to be recognized.”

The battle in Farah province. During Swensen’s battle earlier this year, the A-team with which he was embedded conducted a helicopter assault to drive the Taliban out of the Anar Darah district center and police headquarters. Meanwhile, Swensen led a ground assault team through a compound. That’s when the Taliban sprung an ambush.

The Taliban poured heavy machine gun fire and RPGs at the compound, from less than 100 meters away. An RPG hit the wall behind Swensen, wounding him and five other troops. “Injured, trapped and separated from the support fire team, Swensen remained vigilant as he fired back at the Taliban and directed his partner forces to safety,” the release said.

Swensen ran through intense Taliban fire to rescue a severely wounded soldier, whose life-threatening injuries had incapacitated him. He treated that soldier’s wounds and moved him out of danger, all while gunfire struck overhead. While ignoring his own injuries, Swensen gathered the casualties and got them ready to be extracted, the release said. He directed the team to the helicopter landing zone 800 meters away — while carrying one injured soldier on his shoulders.

While they waited for the helicopter, a second ambush erupted. Swensen found cover for the casualties, and then continued treating the critically injured troops, all while remaining exposed to enemy fire. The helicopter arrived and flew the injured to safety, but Swensen remained behind. He led the rest of the team back through the city to retrieve four other casualties before finally allowing his own wounds to be treated.

Swensen helped save the lives of nine American and partner force special operations troops, the release said. “It’s weird to receive so much attention for something that I feel anyone else would’ve done on the battlefield that night,” Swensen said. “I’m honored my peers think I deserve this medal.”

Article from Air Force Times

Monday, December 23, 2019

SFA_Rest in peace Edgar "Ed" Britt: Green Beret CSM, Son Tay Raider

The Special Forces Regiment lost a great link to its past when retired CSM Edgar Britt passed away on December 14, 2019. Ed Britt was born in 1931 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He was 10 as World War II started for the United States when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Ed's older brothers went off to serve and fight in World War II, but Ed had to wait until 1949 to enlist. After basic combat training at Fort Dix, NJ, he served in the air defense artillery (ADA) in the conventional military.

During the Korean War, he served as an automatic weapons crewman in the ADA. He re-enlisted for Airborne training and graduated with his jump wings in August 1955. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division where he served for nearly five years in the 80th AAA (Anti-aircraft artillery). He re-enlisted for Special Forces in May 1960 and found his calling.

He was on the field when President John F. Kennedy made his now-famous visit to Ft. Bragg on October 12, 1961, when he authorized the Green Beret to the troops and would later say it was “A symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom.” Britt would serve the next 13 years in Special Forces groups (1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th SFGs) and would become a Detachment Intelligence Sergeant before becoming the Operations (Team) Sergeant of a Special Forces A-Team. He served two tours in Vietnam, as well as the Dominican Republic and four classified deployments with SF.

In 1970, then Master Sergeant Britt, was chosen to be a member of the Son Tay Raid, where Colonel Bull Simons would lead a raid to free American POWs from a North Vietnamese prison camp at Son Tay just outside of Hanoi. The men trained at Duke Field on Eglin AFB and built mockups of the prison camp using a very detailed model, built by the CIA, which was known as Barbara. Britt was an alternate for the assault team, known as “Blueboy Element.”

The task force flew to Udorn, Thailand and then to a secret CIA compound for their jumping-off point into North Vietnam. It was only then that they were briefed on where their exact mission was to take place. “After the hundreds of hours, the hard training, hours of rehearsals, studying and planning, we knew where we were headed, and why,” he said in an interview a few years ago. To get the North Vietnamese attention off of the Son Tay area, they needed a diversion. “The Navy Task Force Group 77 flew 59 sorties, with 200 aircraft dropping illuminations to draw fire over Haiphong Harbor to the east,” Britt said. “And it worked.”

The actual raid on Son Tay raid went off almost exactly as it was planned and rehearsed - Gunships destroyed the guard towers, while miniguns blasted the barracks where enemy soldiers were billeted. The assault elements fulfilled their tasks with lightning precision, accomplishing everything within 28 minutes. But there were no POWs. Unknown to the task force, a recent flood had forced the Vietnamese to move the prisoners a few miles down the road to another camp.

The raiders were devastated believing they had let down their comrades. They flew back to Thailand in total silence. From there it was back to the United States. By Thanksgiving, everyone was back at Fort Bragg. “Joy should have been in our hearts,” Britt said. “But it was very sad for our comrades we left behind.”

It wasn’t until years later, when the POWs were released, that they learned that several of the prisoners watched from a distance as the raiders hit Son Tay prison. Their spirits were buoyed by the realization that they were not forgotten and their country was actively trying to get them out. As a result, conditions for the POWs improved.

Britt earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachutist’s Wings and the Combat Diver’s Badge. He was HALO qualified in the era before HALO wings were issued. During his career he received medals and commendations as follows: Bronze Star Medal (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Dom Rep), National Defense Service Medal (1st Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Civil Action Medal 1st class, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster), Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, Germany Army Marksman Award in Silver, Vietnam Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal (10th Award), Legion of Merit, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and Non-Professional Development Ribbon.

Ed was a member of the Special Forces Association (Life Member), 82nd Airborne, Son-Tay Raid , American Legion Post 189, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1038 (Life Member), and a member of St. Sebastian Catholic Church, Sebastian, Florida.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Story of US Paratrooper Sgt Joe Beyrle

Joseph Beyrle was a paratrooper from Muskegon, Michigan. He was born in 1923, graduated high school in 1942, and turned down a baseball scholarship to the University of Notre Dame and instead joined the army to serve in the parachute infantry.

Beyrle served in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Division, also called the Screaming Eagles. He specialized in radio communications and demolition.Prior to the start of the Normandy invasions, Beyrle jumped twice into occupied France to coordinate, provide arms, and money to several French resistance units. He then jumped into France on D-Day, destroyed a enemy gun emplacement, was captured, escaped, and captured again. He was beaten nearly to death, his uniform and dog tags were taken from him. A German soldier attempted to infiltrate US lines dressed in Beyrle's uniform and was killed.

The US War Department believed Beyrle had been killed in combat and notified his parents. His mother refused to believe her son was dead and continued to ignore the calls from the family to accept his death.

Beyrle was then placed in the POW camp Stalag-III C in Alt Drewitz, in Western Poland. Here, Beyrle made his third bid for freedom in January 1945. This time, he made it. As he snuck East, the Soviets advanced West and Beyrle ran into a Russian tank battalion in the 1st Guard Tank Army. Photo at left is Beyrle as a POW. You can tell from his look that he was likely highly uncooperative with the German Camp Guards.

Beyrle waved a pack of Lucky Strike Cigarettes and called out the only Russian words he knew, “Amerikansky tovarishch!” (American comrade). Alexandra Samusenko (the same age as Beyrle, 22), the only female Russian tank commander, would soon be convinced by the American soldier she saved to let him fight by her side on their advance to Berlin—a common enemy for two young soldiers in anything but common positions.

Beyrle spent a month fighting alongside his new battalion. On what must have been an incomparably cathartic day, they liberated Stalag-III C, the last prison camp Beyrle was held in. In early February, Beyrle was wounded in an attack from German bombers and transported to a hospital in Poland. There, Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov, interested in, obviously, the only American in the hospital, came to speak with him and learn his story. He soon gave Beyrle official papers to locate and rejoin U.S. troops.

From the hospital in Poland, Beyrle hopped into a convoy back to Moscow, to seek out the American embassy. Unfortunately, his story had already taken a dark turn that would make the rest of his journey home difficult.

Beyrle’s dog tags had been found in Normandy soon after D-Day, on what is now presumed to be a dead German soldier. His family, back in Muskegon, Michigan, had been informed of the death of their brave volunteer in September 1944.

Needless to say, the American embassy didn’t believe he was who he claimed to be. After persistence and insistence, Beyrle managed to get the embassy to take his fingerprints and his identity was indeed confirmed. On April 21st, 1945, Beyrle returned home to Michigan. World War II and his long journey were coming to an end.

In 1994, to mark the 50th anniversary of D-Day, Beyrle was honored at the White House by both U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. For the next ten years, Beyrle received a lot of publicity in both the U.S. and Russia for his amazing journey and the symbol of cooperation he was for the post-Cold War countries. He died in 2004, at the age of 81.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Prisoner of War - The movie

Back in May of 2015, the Havok Journal wrote about the upcoming movie Prisoner of War, a collaboration by Blackside Productions, Hand Crank Films, and the veteran charity Gallant Few. This month marks a year since the movie was officially released.

Several big names in the veteran community were involved in this film both in front of and behind the camera, giving it the kind of credibility and authenticity that most military-themed movies lack. The 13-minute production stars former Ranger Josh Kelly, who gives an astonishing and completely believable performance as a veteran dealing with self-doubt, survivor’s guilt, and PTSD; issues very familiar to many within the veteran community. Actually, Josh Kelly gives two great performances in this film, but you have to be looking for the second role.

The veteran involvement in Prisoner of War extended behind the camera as well. Director Matt Sanders and producer Marty Skovlund were both Army Rangers, and the musical score was provided by Air Force TACP Jarred Taylor. Many of the other actors and film crew were vets as well. At the end of the movie, Gallant Few’s Karl Monger, himself a former Ranger, delivers a heartfelt public service announcement.

So what is “Prisoner of War?” It’s neither fiction nor documentary; it’s something in between, something that has to be experienced more than simply watched. his movie is disturbing. It’s dark. It’s raw. It’s going to “trigger” the hell out of people. And it is an absolute “must-watch” for veterans and those who care about veterans’ issues, especially PTSD and veteran suicide.

If you care about veterans or issues that are important to veterans, watch this movie. If you don’t get the “plot twist” towards the end of the film, watch it again.

You don’t have to be a veteran to “get” Prisoner of War. You don’t have to be a veteran to relate to Josh Kelly’s unnamed character in the movie. While the issues addressed in the movie are presented through the experiences of one combat veteran, they are certainly not unique to the veteran community. That “relatability,” and the raw, non-judgmental honesty with which the movie is presented, make it a must-watch for everyone who has ever struggled with guilt, shame, or self-doubt… which, is everyone really.

Article from the Havok Journal

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade and the Secret War in France

The below article was written by Rick Ledgett and posted on the Cipher Brief. Ledgett served as the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency from January 2014 until his retirement in April 2017, culminating a nearly 40-year career in cryptology at NSA and in the U.S. Army. He previously led the Media Leaks Task Force, the Agency’s response to the Snowden leaks and was the first National Intelligence Manager for Cyber at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and he directed NSA’s 24/7 cyber threat operations center.

The most effective leader of the French Underground, who ran the largest and most productive spy ring working against the Nazis, was not a man. It was Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, who at 31 years old, left her life of privilege in Paris to fight against the German invaders in 1941. Her story is told by Lynne Olson in her New York Times bestseller, Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, published in 2019. It is an enthralling read, filled with tension, drama, and stories of humanity during the most difficult of times. Ms. Olson is an experienced storyteller who has written and co-written a number of World War II histories, and in her prologue says that she ran across Madame Fourcade’s story while writing another book and felt compelled to tell it on its own.

In reading the book, one wonders how Madame Fourcade and her network, called the Alliance, survived. Anyone with a smidgeon of knowledge about intelligence tradecraft will wince when they read of their large group meetings, writing and storage of incriminating documents, and repetitive moves in what we now call “pattern of life” activities. But, despite losses in personnel that sometimes rendered entire sections of France dark to the Alliance, they kept coming back. In large part, that was because of the fierce loyalty and respect in which the resistance agents held Madame Fourcade. Although a woman in what was very much a man’s game, and additionally encumbered by her beauty and youth, she had a fierce will and great charisma. She did not hesitate to put her life on the line, particularly in support of those she recruited; on several occasions she skirted capture by the Gestapo in order to warn her agents. She earned the respect of all those in her network, as well as of British Intelligence, who funded them and provided requirements and other support.

The Alliance became a major thorn in the side of the Gestapo, who exerted great efforts to capture them. The Germans recruited informants, used direction-finding gear to locate Alliance clandestine transmitters, terrorized towns in which Alliance members were believed to be located, and tortured many of those arrested, before shipping them off to death camps.

Because the Alliance used animals as code names for their personnel, the Germans referred to the group as Noah’s Ark. Madame Fourcade chose Hedgehog as her nom de guerre.

The Alliance made contributions to British knowledge throughout France, but nowhere was it more important than along the coast. In the early part of the war it was intelligence on the disposition and defenses of the U-boat fleet that was based on the French coast that was key to Allied efforts to slow their depredations on American ships carrying military material to England. Later in the war, the Alliance was a – if not the – principal source of detailed intelligence on the coastal terrain and German defenses along the coast of Normandy, critically important in the run-up to D-Day. One of the Alliance products was a 55-foot-long, extraordinarily comprehensive map of the beaches used by the Allies for the invasion.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rebranding the Legendary Royal Marines

The Royal Marines are to undergo a complete rebrand, with a new maritime role and fresh combat uniform as it embraces the future by returning to its Second World War roots. It comes as commanders of the 350-year-old Corps seek to end the blurring with Army counterparts and adopt a more "commando raid" approach, with smaller units using hi-tech kit. Future Commando Force plans will see the green berets provide more direct support to Special Forces and be based onboard pre-positioned motherships, ready to strike in areas such as the Mediterranean and the Gulf. Other moves include the wider integration of autonomous platforms, such as remote controlled vessels and drones, while, at the tactical level, they are to be issued with a new digitally-enhanced camouflage combat uniform which will be distinctive to them.

Though only some Royal Marines now have access to the superior Colt C7 rifle, the move will see it rolled out to all members and mark the Corp’s ditching of the standard-issue SA-80. As part of the push to return to its maritime role, discussions are currently underway to change officers' rankings to match those of the Royal Navy, rather than British Army, though this is still under review.

What has been decided, however, is that they will retain their iconic green beret and cap badge. “The scale and ambition of our transformation is significant. Nothing is off-limits and we aspire to be at the cutting edge of defence,” said Royal Marines Commandant General Major General Matt Holmes.

Senior sources confirmed that the new “force distribution” policy was inspired by recent US Marine Corps guidance. Ironically, however, it will mark the green berets’ return to their original “commando” roots. Currently the regiment uses concentrated force to pit its strength against an enemy’s weakness.

Under the new plans, to be phased in over three years, it will adopt a more “special operations” approach by using more and smaller units, complimented by technology such as the use of remote controlled boats to set up a decoy while another unit speeds ashore with a remote-operated UAV to help identify their targets.

As part of this the basic Royal Marines unit, a Troop, will be reduced from 30 commandos to 16. The regiment currently operates one specialist maritime unit, 42 Commando, which is deployed in small groups in areas such as the Gulf and mounts maritime interdiction operations against piracy and to protect shipping from potential Iranian attacks in the Strait of Hormuz.

But now Maj-Gen Holmes wants the entire 3 Commando Brigade - the Royal Marines' main fighting arm - to become a special operations force, similar to its USMC counterpart. It means more Royal Marines are to be based on new Littoral Strike ships - announced by former defence secretary Gavin Williamson - and placed on high readiness in areas of tension to mount rescue operations and assaults.

The Ministry of Defence has already dedicated £35m to developing two new vessels, one to be based East of Suez and the other covering the Mediterranean, which are to be rolled out in five years. Each will contain a company - or strike force - of 120 commandos and up to six helicopters, possibly three “heavy lift” Chinooks, a Wildcat and two Apache gunships.

In the meantime a new amphibious task force, headed by Commodore James Parkin, has just been launched. Until the Littoral Strike ships arrive, it will operate from the amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, as well as the fleet's Bay class landing ships.

There are still several challenges to work out, sources say. These include securing communications in a hostile environment, especially at long range; resupplying troops on the ground, possibly using the experimental Malloy Aeronautics delivery drone (currently already undergoing U.S. trials); developing ship-to-shore connectors to cross a water gap and overcoming enemy action faced by an insertion team on a 150 nautical mile at a fast 60 knots.

Maj-Gen Holmes said that the future operational environment will demand more persistent forward deployment resulting in “constant competition”’ from potential adversaries from the Arctic to the Middle East, and rapid response to crises. “The new littoral strike force will be active, not just ready," he said. “I need agile, robust commandos able to operate an array of systems to win the fight, if necessary, in a denied (hostile) environment.”

A Royal Marines spokesperson said: “The Royal Marines are a distinct but integral part of the Royal Navy and work is ongoing to reinforce their role as an effective maritime fighting force. “The Future Commando Force will harness cutting edge technology to be an effective maritime infantry force using innovative, potent, elite fighting capability. They are and will remain a distinct but integral part of the Naval Service. “There are no plans to change anything that denotes the strong history and identity of the Royal Marines, including the Green Beret.”