Friday, February 5, 2010

Spotlight - Special Operations Warrior Foundation

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) began in 1980 as the Col. Arthur D. "Bull" Simons Scholarship Fund. The Bull Simons Fund was created after the Iranian hostage rescue attempt to provide college educations for the 17 children surviving the nine men killed or incapacitated at Desert One. It was named in honor of the legendary Army Green Beret, Bull Simons, who repeatedly risked his life on rescue missions.

Following creation of the United States Special Operations Command, and as casualties mounted from actions such as Operations "Urgent Fury" (Grenada), "Just Cause" (Panama), "Desert Storm" (Kuwait and Iraq), and "Restore Hope" (Somalia), the Bull Simons Fund gradually expanded its outreach program to encompass all Special Operations Forces. Thus, in 1995 the Family Liaison Action Group (established to support the families of the 53 Iranian hostages) and the Spectre (Air Force gunship) Association Scholarship Fund merged to form the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. In 1998 the Foundation extended the scholarship and financial aid counseling to also include training fatalities since the inception of the Foundation in 1980. This action immediately added 205 children who were now eligible for college funding.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation mission is devoted to providing a college education to every child who has lost a parent while serving in Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations during an operational or training mission. The forces covered by the Foundation are some 50,000 miliary special operations and support personnel stationed in units throughout the United States and overseas bases. Some of the largest concentrations of Special Operations forces are at military bases at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Hurlburt Field, Florida; Coronado Naval Station, California; Dam Neck, Virginia; MacDill AFB, Florida; Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Little Creek, Virginia; Fort Carson, Colorado; Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, United Kingdom; and Kadena Air Base, Japan.

The Warrior Foundation is currently committed to providing scholarship grants, not loans, to more than 800 children. These children survive some 700 Special Operations personnel who gave their lives in patriotic service to their country, including those who died fighting our nation's war against terrorism as part of "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan and the Philippines as well as "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

To date, 152 children of fallen special operations warriors have graduated from college. To contribute go to: