Army recognizes top ten operators from across its special operations community

On June 7, the Army Special Operations Command recognized ten soldiers and civilians from across its special operations units for their distinguished service.

Brig. Gen. Harrison Gilliam, the deputy commanding officer of the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and School, inducted five soldiers into the Special Forces Regiment, two soldiers into the Civil Affairs Regiment, and three soldiers into the Psychological Operations Regiment as distinguished members.

The induction ceremony is held twice every year. According to the local newspaper, The Fayetteville Observer, General Gilliam said he always looks forward to the ceremony, and particularly the reading of the inductees’ biographies, “because they talk about the valor, and the jobs, and the tremendous effort that goes into supporting our soldiers and what they’ve done.”

Here are the five new distinguished members of the Special Forces Regiment:

  • Former Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II. A former Green Beret and Medal of Honor recipient, Shurer trained and served as an 18 Delta (medic). He received the Silver Star for his actions in a six-hour firefight in Afghanistan when he was key to the survival and success of a combined American-Afghan force. His medal was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in October. Shurer is currently a Secret Service agent on a Counter-Assault Team.
  • Retired Col. David McCracken. A West Point graduate and Green Beret, during his career, Colonel McCracken fought in Operation Just Cause (the 1989 invasion of Panama), commanded the 3rd Special Forces Group, and was the head of the Special Operations Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Upon retirement, he served in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.
  • Retired Lt. Col. Albert Manning. Colonel Manning fought in the Second World War and the Korean War. In the latter conflict, he worked with the CIA to establish and train guerrilla forces to operate behind Communist lines. He later commanded the 1st Special Forces Group and the 1st Psychological Warfare Battalion. He died in 1984.
  • Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Koenitzer. During his illustrious career as a Special Forces operator, Sergeant Major Koenitzer deployed to Haiti, Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. His last assignment was as the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group. Since his retirement in 2010, Sergeant Major Koenitzer has served twice as the president of the Special Forces Association (SFA).
  • Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Zets. Sergeant Major Zets earned the Green Beret in 1979 and deployed to Africa, Central and South America, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is currently a civilian contractor training Green Berets at Fort Bragg. Sergeant Major Zets is also a founding member of the Green Beret Foundation.

Here are the three distinguished members of the Psychological Operations Regiment:

  • Retired Special Forces operator Pat O’Brien. After serving 20 years in the Army, O’Brien worked as a civilian contractor at the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), developing and managing a number of classified programs focusing on the Army Reserve PSYOP capabilities.
  • M. A. Thomas. Although a civilian, Thomas was selected for and completed the PSYOP officer course in 1994. He specializes in nuclear non-proliferation, political-military relationships, and counterterrorism, with a focus on South Asia.
  • Jared M. Tracey. After six years in the Army, Tracey worked as a research historian and collections manager at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. In 2010, he became the PSYOP branch historian for SOCOM.

Here are the two distinguished members of the Civil Affairs Regiment:

  • Retired Lt. Col. Truman Smith. Colonel Smith fought in both World Wars and was pivotal in the creation of the Civil Affairs Regiment.
  • Retired Sgt. Maj. James Lane. Sergeant Major Lane currently works as a civilian contractor with the 3rd Civil Affairs Battalion, coordinating operations and planning.

Feature image courtesy of the 75th Ranger Regiment

This article was written by Stavros Atlamazoglou at NEWSREP