Sixty-four years ago PFC Richard Simonian and SFC Clyde J. Sincere Jr., were among the original 600 Special Forces from the newly formed 10th Special Forces Group that boarded the USNS General A.W. Greely in Wilmington, N.C., for a transatlantic voyage to Bremerhaven, Germany – the first Special Forces unit to deploy to Europe. They boarded a train in Bremerhaven, rode to a train station outside the ancient German city of Bad Tolz – the training site for SS officer candidate school during WWII. They were the first of an aggregate strength of 1,700 personnel to be shipped to Germany as the Cold War heated up.
Then the 600 Special Forces soldiers marched into Bad Tolz, Bavaria Germany where they set up the first operational headquarters for Special Forces commanded by OSS Legend Col. Aaron Bank, ending a long and tedious process of forming the 10th Special Forces Group that officially began June 19, 1952 at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
“I’ll never forget that march into Bad Tolz,” said Simonian, 84, “There was still a lot of bomb damage from World War II, and to be honest, when many of the Germans saw that we were paratroopers, they weren’t too thrilled about that…at that time, we didn’t think about the historic aspect of Special Forces, we just did our duty and continued to march.” As they moved into barracks at Bad Tolz, a detachment of 99 men from 10th Group at Ft. Bragg were assigned to the 8240th Army Unit training anti-communist North Koreans while the remaining personnel at Ft. Bragg formed the core of the 77th Special Forces Group, thus setting the foundation for today’s Green Berets.
In commemoration of the formal June 19, 1952 formation, the command at today’s 10th Grp. Headquarters in Ft. Carson, CO, hosted a week-long series of events in conjunction with the local Special Forces Association Chapter 4-24, the SFMC Chapter 10 and other organizations. The week included everything from a briefing by author James Stejskal on the Special Forces Berlin Detachment A that was formed in 1956 for clandestine Cold War operations in Europe, to many children and family events to motorcycle rides, a series of athletic and martial arts competitions between battalions, a “Grey Beards” alumni gathering and a formal military ball.