Saturday, March 2, 2024

FWB Chamber Honors the Horse Soldiers of ODA 595

 "FWB Chamber Honors the Horse Soldiers of ODA 595"

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
December 2022--Article 37 (2022-12-037)


(Picture is ODA 595 and they let me jump in the middle with them)

September 11th, 2001: the first enemy attack upon American soil since Pearl Harbor. World attention immediately focused on the innocent victims of the attack and the first responders who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Until recently, another heroic part of the story remained classified and hidden from public view. The release of a Warner Bros. movie called “12 Strong” gave the world a glimpse into the Secret missions that took place in the aftermath of 9/11. The film depicts the true story of the retaliatory attack by the first Special Forces soldiers entering Afghanistan.

These soldiers were tasked with a broad mission: defeat the Taliban; eliminate the terrorist haven in Afghanistan. The Special Forces team chosen to lead the offensive was the Operational Detachment-Alpha 595 (ODA 595). The mission, expected to take several years, toppled the Taliban in just a matter of months. ODA 595 led an unconventional warfare campaign by partnering with indigenous forces to topple the terrorist-supporting Afghan government. The Western media appropriately labeled ODA 595 “The Horse Soldiers.” 

The Greater FWB Chamber of Commerce, with Ted Corcoran at the helm, celebrated history by making history. The Ft. Walton Beach gathering was the first time the Horse Soldiers reunited. Remarkable as that is, the Chamber is the only organization in the world to host the FINAL Reunion of the Doolittle Raiders in 2013 and the FIRST reunion of the ODA 595 Horse Soldiers.

Backstory: conflicts have raged in Afghanistan for more than 100 years. Ethnic factions have been continuously at war. The ODA 595 operation was aptly described as a 19th Century Afghan military using horse cavalry with 20th Century weapons systems. When ODA 595 arrived, it added 21st-century technology and the might of the most powerful nation to eradicate the threat. The mission brought devastating air power with the full force of the United States military’s advanced weapon systems. The mission of ODA 595 was not accomplished with tanks or mechanized vehicles, but horseback with only one man experienced with horses. Horseback riding lessons started as the men traveled through the treacherous terrain.

ODA 595 was inserted about 100 miles from Mazar-i-Sharif, which linked up with ethnic Uzbek fighters under General Abdul Rashid Dostum. They had to earn Dostum’s trust and help him capture Mazar-i-Sharif, opening a beachhead into the rest of the country.

Ted Corcoran stated that the FWB Chamber is no stranger to honoring our brave military heroes. Earlier this year, the Chamber held the Final Goblet Ceremony honoring the Doolittle Raiders. Just like the goblets for the Raiders, the Horse Soldiers will have silver canteen cups, the Army equivalent of goblets. The Chamber commissioned these mementos with the local business community's support, which were unveiled at the banquet.

 “The United States of America has been attacked twice,” said Ted Corcoran, President/CEO of Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, “Pearl Harbor, with the first group to retaliate being The Doolittle Raiders. September 11, 2001, with ODA 595 being the first in Afghanistan to defend OUR Country. Brave Bombers. Heroic Horsemen.” The Green Berets advised Afghan commanders for two months and directed a massive air campaign to rout the Taliban from power. This retaliatory mission is considered modern history's most successful unconventional warfare campaign. It is hard to describe what it was like to meet ten soldiers together in the room.

New York City erected a statue near Ground Zero. It depicts a Special Forces soldier on horseback honoring the special operations teams who headed into Afghanistan in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks. Now America has the Silver Canteen memorabilia to serve as a reminder, never to be forgotten. This is only the beginning of a historic story yet to be finished. 

 Read the newspaper (page 1,2,6)

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