NDU Honors Special Operations Community
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2012 During a dinner gala here Nov. 15, the National Defense University Foundation honored members of U.S. Special Operations Command for their service and sacrifice in the war against terrorism.
The American Patriot Award, according to the NDU foundation, recognizes exceptional Americans who have demonstrated a profound and abiding love of country. The award also honors those who have provided inspirational leadership and selfless dedication to national security and world peace, significantly advancing national ideals, values and democratic principles.
Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of Socom, accepted the 2012 award on behalf of the men and women he leads, as his unit celebrates its 25th birthday. The command was established by an act of U.S. Congress in 1987.
“What an honor it is to be here this evening representing the men and women of the special operations force,” he said, before introducing each service's top officer and enlisted leader.
“These men represent the 66,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that make up the U.S. Special Operations Command,” McRaven said.
The admiral also acknowledged former Socom commander, Army Gen. Bryan “Doug” Brown, as well as five recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, five Navy Cross recipients and one Air Force Cross recipient as “modern-day SOF heroes.”
“In addition to these men, since 9/11, SOF warriors have been the recipients of another 10 service crosses and four Medals of Honor, including Ranger [Army] Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry and three posthumous awards, to Green Beret [Army] Staff Sgt. Rob Miller and [Navy] SEALs Mike Murphy and Mike Monsoor,” McRaven said.
The SOCOM commander noted the years since 9/11 have highlighted the “unique nature” of special operations, citing events ranging from the capture of Saddam Hussein to current efforts of troops assisting Afghan Local Police.
“From the jungles of the Philippines and Colombia, to the mountains of Yemen, to the deserts of North Africa, to waters off Somalia,” McRaven said, “our special operations forces have been instrumental in protecting American lives abroad and keeping violence from our shores.”
“These operations have captured the imagination of the American public and the attention of the world,” he said.
A theme throughout McRaven's remarks was a question he said he's often asked: “What makes special operations so special?”
“Well I can tell you that, as good as they are, the men and women of special operations are no more courageous, no more patriotic, no smarter or no more committed than any other man or woman in uniform,” he said.
“All of us who have served have been inspired by the uncommon valor of Medal of Honor recipients Sal Giunta, of the U.S. Army, and Marine Staff Sgt. Dakota Meyer,” McRaven said. “We are all moved by the young men and women of all the services who re-enlist at a time when the fighting is the toughest and their sacrifice the greatest.”
The admiral also credited young service members who are “wickedly smart” for their skills and technical abilities.
“We are the sum of the parts of the greatest military the world has ever seen,” McRaven said. “As SOF warriors, we are shaped by our services, forged in the crucibles of training posts like Parris Island, the Great Lakes, Lackland Air Force Base and Fort Benning.”
“It is from the services that we gain our heritage, our tradition, our creeds,” he said. “It is from the long lineage of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that came before us that drive our sense of duty.”
McRaven said special operations forces are a “microcosm of America,” drawing strength from every corner of the United States and the world.
“Not only do we benefit from the strength of our parent services, but we are blessed to be part of a larger interagency organization,” he said, citing the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency and others.
“We have achieved a unity of purpose -- an action that is unparalleled in the history of warfare,” McRaven said.
“So what is it that makes special operations so special?” McRaven asked again. “It is men and women who are steeped in the heritage of their service, bonded by a common purpose, inspired by the nation and who are willing to fight and die for the American people that they love so much.”