President John F. Kennedy had a special relationship with the United States Army Special Forces. That relationship was sealed on Oct. 12, 1961, when the President visited Fort Bragg, N.C., to review the troops. At the now-historic meeting between Kennedy and then-Brig. Gen. William Yarborough, Kennedy embraced the iconic Green Beret.
That relationship was celebrated with the dedication of the Kennedy-Yarborough statue at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg.
The statue was created and paid for by Ross Perot, a long-time supporter of special operations. Perot is responsible for a number of statues on Fort Bragg, including the Bull Simons statue on the JFK Plaza and the Dick Meadows statue at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters.
These two memorials, both cast in bronze, preserve the memory of two Special Forces trailblazers. The Simons statue was dedicated in 1999. Simons served as a company commander of the 6th Ranger Battalion in the Pacific during World War II.
After the war, he had a short break in service, before being recalled to active duty to serve in several special-operations assignments. Some of his assignments included deputy commander and chief of staff of the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center, commander of a Mobile Training Team in Laos from 1961 to 1962, and the first commander of the 8th Special Forces Group. Simons is best remembered as the commander of Operation Ivory Coast, or the Son Tay Raid, to free American prisoners of war in North Vietnam.
(Special thanks to a SOFREP reader for this great picture!)
The other statue is dedicated to Maj. Richard “Dick” Meadows. After serving as a combat infantryman in Korea, he joined Special Forces in 1953. Meadows was a highly respected team leader in the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group and is also known for his planning and leadership during the Son Tay raid.
Meadows was a key member in Operation Eagle Claw, better known as the Iran hostage-rescue mission, which ultimately led to the establishment of today’s special-operations forces.
Perot was first introduced to special operations by long-time friend Col. Arthur “Bull” Simons back during the Vietnam era.
“Bull Simons was a very close friend of mine,” said Perot during a recent telephone interview. “He goes all the way back to World War II, where he fought in the Pacific and then on into Vietnam, where he was very successful.”
“I really got to know him during the Vietnam War and worked closely with him over the years at Fort Bragg and with several others there,” said Perot.
In April 2009, Perot was given his own Green Beret when he was inducted as an honorary Green Beret by the members of the Special Forces Regiment.
Read the rest at the official Army website.