In January 2019, the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) inducted 20 special operators and Medal of Honor recipients into its prestigious Commando Hall of Honor.
The honorees represent military personnel from all branches except the U.S. Coast Guard. The actions that led to their induction span across decades of American small and large military engagements. There are, for instance, inductees who fought in World War II, Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Today we recognize Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Ashley, Jr., the
first African-American Special Forces Soldier to receive the nation’s highest
award for valor, the Medal of Honor. Ashley assisted in the rescue of SF Soldiers trapped at Camp Lang Vei during the Tet Offensive, FEB 1968. pic.twitter.com/0EmmLTGRCn
— USASOC (@USASOCNews) February 4, 2019
“Only those who have earned the Medal of Honor know how deep one has to reach to find the strength to perform such acts of extreme valor,” said retired Navy Adm. Eric Olson, the keynote speaker at the ceremonies in Tampa, Florida. “Those who wear the medal live under a very public spotlight, know what it takes to be the highest role model for the rest of their lives. None of them sought to be in the public eye. They always look good, Stand tall. Speak well. They go the extra mile and if you look at them tonight, you see what I mean.”
Admiral Olson served as the eighth commander of USSOCOM. He received a Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat, for his actions during the October 1993 Black Hawk Down battle in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Here are the latest inductees in the Commando Hall of Fame:
- Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, U.S. Army
- 1st Class Eugene Ashley, U.S. Army
- Sgt. Gary Beikirch, U.S. Army
- Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez, U.S. Army
- Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Edward Byers, U.S. Navy
- Master Sgt. John Chapman, U.S. Air Force
- Gen. William Donovan, U.S. Army
- Gen. Merritt Edson, U.S. Marine Corps
- Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, U.S. Army
- Robert Howard, U.S. Army
- William Jones, U.S. Air Force
- Sgt. John Levitow, U.S. Air Force
- Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell, U.S. Army
- Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, U.S. Army
- 1st Class Melvin Morris, U.S. Army
- Gary Rose, U.S. Army
- 1st Class Randall Shughart, U.S. Army
- Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II, U.S. Army
- Petty Officer 1stClass James Williams, U.S. Navy
- Sgt. Gordon Yntema, U.S. Army
Ceremony attendees included David Donovan, the grandson of Maj. Gen. William Donovan, creator and commander of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. OSS is credited as the predecessor of both the CIA and USSOCOM. Major General Donovan received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War I.
“What an incredible experience Teresa [David Donovan’s wife] and I had assisting with the induction of my grandfather and other Medal of Honor winners into the Hall of Fame,” said Donovan. “We are still trying to absorb being at the nerve center of the world’s only hyper-power along with the Medal of Honor recipients from the past and present.”
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