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'On This Day' in SOF History


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A listing of key anniversaries in Special Forces (SF) is provided below.


January 1984. DoD creates the Joint Special Operations Agency to coordinate counterterrorism activities of military units in each of the armed services.

6 January 1961. OTD the 24th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated at Fort DeRussy, Hawaii. It was inactivated 31 January 1966 at Fort DeRussy, Hawaii.






24 April 1980. Operation Eagle Claw. This was a U.S. military attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 embassy staff held captive in Tehran, Iran.


May 1961. President Kennedy sends 400 Green Berets to South Vietnam to advise and train South Vietnamese units.


1 June 1983. The U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance was renamed the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

6 June 1962. President Kennedy outlines his strategic vision for unconventional warfare and Special Forces at the graduation ceremony at West Point.

20 June 1952. The Army's 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was formed at Fort Bragg, N.C. under the command of Colonel Aaron Bank. Bank is referred to as "the father of the Green Berets".


9 July 1941. The First Special Service Force is officially activated.


22 August 1955. The Department of the Army approved the Special Forces Shoulder Sleeve Insignia (SSI) It was designed by Captain John W.Frye of the 77th Special Forces Group (FNBC).

23 August 1968. Attack on Marble Mountain. A large enemy force it a MAC-V SOG FOB and mission launch site on Marble Mountain in Da Nang. The 100+ strong attacking North Vietnamese Army force killed over 20 Americans and 40 Montagnards who were part of the Recon Teams or Hatchet Force.


21 September 1961. The 5th SFG(A) activated at Fort Bragg, N.C.

23 September 1961. Special Operations Operational Detachment - Korea was formed. "Det-K" began with a series of TDY assignments from the 1st Special Forces Group based in Okinawa, Japan. In November 1961 the unit was designated "FA 40 Detachment" - part of the Korea Military Assistance Group. It was redesignated as the 39th Special Forces Operational Detachment on October 16, 2005.

25 September 1961. The Department of the Army designated the Green Beret as the official and exclusive headgear of the Army Special Forces.


1 October. SOCCENT established.

3 October 1993. Operation Gothic Serpent, Battle of Mogadishu.

4 October 2017. Four soldiers of 3rd SFG die in an ambush in Niger.

9 October 1967. Che Guevara excuted in Bolivia. 8th SFG personnel trained up the Bolivian unit that engaged Guevara's guerrilla unit.

12 October 1961. Brigadier General William Yarborough meets with President John F. Kennedy at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

29 October 1963. On this day CPT James “Nick” Rowe was captured by the Viet Cong. He was a Special Forces officer who escaped 5 years of captivity during the Vietnam War. He would later help establish the SERE program taught to high-risk military personnel


20-21 November 1970. Operation IVORY COAST was conducted in an attempt to rescue U.S. POWs at a prisoner-of-war camp (Son Tay) located 23 miles west of Hanoi, North Vietnam. 56 U.S. Army Special Forces took part in the raid.

22 November 1963. Hiep Hoa Special Forces Camp, Long An Province, Republic of South Vietnam, was overrun by 500 Viet Cong soldiers. Four Americans went missing. One of them, Isaac Camacho, would later be the first American to escape from a Viet Cong POW camp. This was the first CIDG camp to be overrun during the war.


1 December 1989. The U.S. Army established the Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) at Fort Bragg, N.C.

5 December 1944. The U.S.-Canadian First Special Service Force paraded one final time at camp near the town of Menton, France on Dec 5, 1944. U.S. Army SF groups trace their “official” lineage to the FSSF. Menton Day is an occasion when SF honors its lineal connection to the FSSF.

20 December 1989. Shortly before the U.S. invasion of Panama, members of Delta Force freed Kurt Muse - an American held in a prison in Panama.

31 December 1968. On this date Major J.N. "Nick" Rowe escaped captivity as a prisoner of war. He was held by the Viet Cong. Rowe was a Special Forces officer and only one of 34 American prisoners to escape captivity during the Vietnam War. He would later help establish the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training program at Fort Bragg, NC. In 1989 he was killed by a unit of the New People's Army in the Philippines while serving in the U.S. Embassy.


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