Special Operations by National Security Info

Main Menu

NSI Home

SOF Menu

SOF Home
Foreign SOF
SOF History Timeline
SOF Site Map


This website is an Amazon Associate
and earns money for qualifying purchases.

US National Security




Home > SOF > SOF History Timeline

SOF History Timeline

A chronological timeline of historical events relating to special operations.

Yearly Event Anniversaries

Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec


1 - On January 1, 1992, the first SEAL teams were established by President Kennedy. The OSS Maritime Unit was the precursor to the SEALs. Learn more in the book First SEALs. https://bookshop.org/a/753/9780306824142

15 - On January 14, 1946, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) was dissolved by Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

15 - On January 15, 1951, the Army established the Office of the Chief of Psychological Warfare (OCPW) as a special staff division under the Deputy Chief of Staff and supervisory control of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, headed by Brigadier General Robert A. McClure.

18 - On January 18, 1991, Iraq launched SCUD missiles into Israel. The Coalition quickly deployed ground 'SCUD Hunter teams" to find the mobile missiles for aircraft to strike. Read more in "Desert Storm - SOF SCUD Hinting Mission in Iraq" (SOF News).

22 - On January 22, 1946, President Truman directed the establishment of Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of CIA.

24 - On January 24, 1964, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was established. It was a highly classified, multi-service U.S. special operations unit that conducted operations during the Vietnam War in Indochina. It conducted reconnaissance missions, capture of enemy soldiers, rescued downed pilots, and rescued POWs throughout Southeast Asia. Individuals assigned to MACV-SOF came primarily from U.S. Army Special Forces. However members of the U.S. Navy SEALs, Air Force, Marine Corps, and CIA were present in the organization as well.


25 - On January 25, 1974, General Creighton Abrams directed the activation of the first battalion-sized Ranger unit since World War II. HQ U.S. Army Forces Command issued General Orders 127 directing the activation of the 1st Ranger Battalion 75th Infantry with the effective date of January 31, 1974. The battalion was to be an elite, light, and very proficient infantry unit. (USASOC)

30 - On January 30, 1945, over 500 prisoners of war were rescued at the Cabanatuan prisoner of war camp during WWII in the Philippines by a combined force of 6th Ranger Battalion, Alamo Scouts, and Philippine guerrillas.

31 - On January 31, 1974, the 1st Ranger Battalion was activated. General Order 127, issued in the fall of 1973, directed the the activation. The unit was to consist of highly motivated Airborne Ranger qualified personnel. Selection of personnel and cadre training took place in early 1974 at Fort Benning, Ga.The battalion moved to Fort Stewart, Ga where it was stationed until moving to Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., September 1978.

31 - On January 31, 1991, 33 years ago, an AC-130, Spirit 03, was shot down during the Persian Gulf War. All crew members lost.


Return to Top of Page


2 - On February 2, 2023, the 193rd Special Operations Wing received its first MC-130J Commando II. This signaled the wing's transition to a new aircraft and a new mission.

6 - Battle of Lang Vei. Beginning the night of February 6, 1968, and concluding on February 7, 1968, the Lang Vei Special Forces camp close to the Laotian border came under attack and was captured by North Vietnamese Army forces.

16 - On February 16, 1945, members of the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team (PRCT) dropped onto Corregidor in an effort to recapture the island from the Japanese. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Corregidor_(1945)

19 - On February 19, 1968, a Special Forces NCO, Fred Zabitosky, was with his recon team on the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. He would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions that day.

21 - On February 21, 2008, Robin Moore, the author of The Green Berets, died. He attended the Special Forces Qualification Course and would later deploy to South Vietnam where he spent time with the 5th Special Forces Group.

24 - On February 23, 1991, SOFDA 525 was inserted by helicopter at night and moved to a hide site to conduct a recon mission deep behind enemy lines in Iraq. On the next morning, the 24th, this 5th SFG(A) team would find itself fighting for survival against an overwhelming enemy force.

24 - On February 24, 2006, the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) was officially activated at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

24 - On February 24, 1944, Merrill's Marauders began a campaign in northern Burma. The mission of the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional) was to disrupt Japanese supply and communications lines.

26 - On February 26, 1945, the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team (PRCT) secured the island fortress of Corregidor after two weeks of fighting. The 503rd had parachuted onto the island on February 16th. It was assisted by the 34th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 24th Infantry Division that made a seaborne assault, as well as other smaller units.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Corregidor_(1945)

27 - On February 27, 1944, a five-man team from the OSS parachuted into Malo Ticevo, Yugoslavia to establish a weather station. Operation Bunghole consisted of members of the OSS and USAAF specialists. Yugoslavia was occupied by the Germans at the time. https://codenames.info/operation/bunghole-ii/

Return to Top of Page


In March 1981, Special Forces personnel arrived in El Salvador to train government soldiers in their war against leftist rebels. The mission lasted until February 1992. (Some sources indicate the arrival of SF advisors and trainers was in January 1981) https://specialforcestraining.info/history/el-salvador.htm 

1 - On March 1, 1961, the 11th Special Forces Group was activated. It was a part of the U.S. Army Reserves and had units based in Eastern United States from Florida to Massachusetts and inland. It was deactivated in 1995 and some members were rolled into the 19th and 20th SFG(A)s.

2 - On March 2, 1966, "The Ballad of the Green Berets" topped the U.S. music charts. It was named Billboard's #1 single for the year 1966. The song was written by then Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler during his time in Special Forces medic training.

2 - On March 2, 1971, 1LT Robert Howard was presented the Medal of Honor by President Nixon for his actions in Vietnam on December 30, 1968. He was wounded 14 times over 54 months of combat.

3 - On March 3, 1943, the Morale Operations Branch of the OSS was formed. It utilized psychological warfare to sap morale, induce confusion, and sow distrust within the populations of Axis countries and within the ranks of their armed forces.

3 - On March 3, 1971, the 5th Special Forces Group departed South Vietnam. The Green Berets were withdrawn as part of the U.S. troop reductions in Vietnam.

3 - On March 3, 2023, COL (Ret.) Paris Davis (Special Forces) received the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House for his actions in Vietnam in June 1965. Although wounded, he refused medical evacuation to remain on the battlefield and rescue fellow soldiers.

4 – March 4, 2002, was a deadly day for American troops on a mountaintop in Afghanistan. Several men lost their lives. Two earned the nation’s highest honor – the Medal of Honor. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Britt Slabinski and Air Force Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman.

5 - On March 5, 1966, Barry Sadler's "The Ballad of the Green Berets" made #1 on the music charts, a hit song by favored by music fans at the height of the Vietnam War.

9-12 - During March 9-12, 1966, the A Sahu Valley Special Forces camp was attacked by a large North Vietnamese force. One Green Beret, Bennie Adkins, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the four-day fight.

13 - On March 13, 1981, the United States sent 15 Special Forces personnel to El Salvador as military advisors. (NYT, 14 Mar 1981)

16 - On March 16, 1967, Operation Bright Light was initiated. During the Vietnam War when a down pilot, Hatchet Force, or Recon Team was in trouble a MACV-SOG Brightlight team was formed and inserted into the fight to find, locate, assist, and exfiltrate the entity in trouble.

19 - On March 19, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) began. Special operations forces played a big role in the invasion of Iraq. SOF elements conducted CTBM in the West and UW in the South. Elements of the 10th SFG(A) linked up with Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.

19 - On March 19, 2003, attack helicopters of the 160th SOAR struck Iraqi targets along the southern and western borders. The MH-60 "Black Hawk" Direct Action Penetrators (DAPs) and AH-6M "Killer Egg" attack helicopters eliminated over 70 Iraqi observations posts, crippling the enemy's ability to effectively gauge the size and scope of the incoming ground assault.

21 - On March 21, 1967, SFC Charles Hosking Jr., U.S. Army Special Forces, lost his life after he took the blast of a hand grenade to save the lives of his fellow Americans and members of the Vietnamese CIDG Reaction Force. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

21 - On March 21, 1962, the 22nd Special Warfare Aviation Detachment was activated at Fort Bragg, NC to support the 5th and 7th SFG(A), the 1st and 13th Psychological Warfare Battalions, and the US Army Center for Special Warfare. In June 1962 it was reorganized and designated the 22nd Aviation Detachment (Special Forces). The detachment was inactivated on December 3, 1963.

22 - Operation Ugly Baby. On March 22, 2003, JSOAD-N would successfully insert 19 U.S. Army Special Forces teams along with 4 Company Headquarters elements onto landing zones in northern Iraq. https://sof.news/iraq/ugly-baby/

24 - On March 24, 1961, the 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated.

24 - On March 24, 1969, SFC William M. Bryant, a Green Beret assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group, was killed while engaged in a fierce firefight with the enemy in Vietnam. He was the commander of a company of the 3rd Mobile Strike Force that was surrounded by the enemy. For his heroic actions that day he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

25 - On 25 March 2011, the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne) was provisionally activated as a new HQs under USASOC to provide the Commanding General with an element that serves both as a command and staff entity to advocate aviation issues for USASOC. It was created out of the need to separate the combat role of Army Special Operations Aviation (ARSOA) from the resourcing responsibilities.

29 - On March 29, 1911. The United States Army adopted the M1911. This is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States military for over 75 years, from 1911 to 1986.

Return to Top of Page


April 1938 – SIS (MI6) creates Section D.

1 - The fight for Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom began in the beginning of April 2003. An Army University Press film describes the battle for the capital city.
"Objective: Baghdad", August 14, 2020, YouTube, 50 minutes.

1 - On April 1, 2004, Colonel Aaron Bank died. He was one of the founding members of the U.S. Army Special Forces. He is know for his daring missions with the OSS during WWII and the establishment of the Green Berets in the early 1950s.

2 - On April 2, 1961, the 14th Special Forces Operational Detachment (Area) was activated. Its 'cover designation' was the 8251st Army Unit that was activated at Fort Bragg, NC. Its mission was to operate as a command and control unit within a denied area. The 14th SFOD would be the cadre for the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). It would move from Fort Bragg to Fort Shafter, Hawaii, and then on to Fort Buckner, Okinawa.

6 - On April 6, 2008, Operation Commando Wrath took place in Afghanistan. Members of the 3rd Special Forces Group were engaged in a fierce hours long fire fight with an overwhelming number of Taliban.

9 – On April 9, 1987, the Special Forces Branch was established. While the first Special Forces unit was formed on June 11, 1952, the official branch was not established until 35 years later.

10 - On April 10, 1952, The Psychological Warfare Center was established at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. "It's origins can be found in the Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) Division of the Army General School, Fort Riley, Kansas in 1950. In 1952 the center was formed on "Smoke Bomb Hill" at FBNC. The PSYWAR Center consisted of the Pschological Warfare School, the 6th Radio Broadcast & Leaflet Group, and the 10th Special Forces Group."

12 - On April 12, 1963, the 8th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was established at Fort Gulick, Panama Canal Zone. The unit was responsible for special operations and counterinsurgency training for the Latin America region.

13 - Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq begins on April 13, 1991.

13 - On April 13, 1987 President Reagan approved the establishment of the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

14 - On April 14, 1942, Detachment 101 was activated for service in India-China-Burma. It was formed under the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) just weeks before the COI became the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

14 - On April 14, 1965 the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered the deployment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade from Okinawa to South Vietnam. They were the first major conventional U.S. Army ground combat unit committed to the war. After six years of continuous combat, paratroopers of the 173d suffered 1,744 KIA's and 9,027 WIA's. They had 13 MoH recipients, the most of any conventional unit (per capita) of the war, second only the 5th SFG who had 16.

21 - On April 21, 1989. Col James N. “Nick” Rowe was assassinated in the Manila, Philippines. He was an American prisoner of war that escaped captivity during the Vietnam War after being held for five years. He helped establish the US Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training program at Fort Bragg. He was killed by a unit of the New People’s Army in the Philippines.

24 – Operation Eagle Claw. Failed hostage rescue attempt on April 24, 1979 in Iran.

25 – ANZAC Day is observed on April 25 each year. This day recognizes the Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations around the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day

28 - On April 28, 1965, the U.S. invaded the Dominican Republic.

30 – Operation NIMROD. The Iranian Embassy siege took place from April 30 to May 5, 1980. A group of six armed Arab men stormed the Iranian Embassy in London. They took 26 hostages – demanding safe passage out of the United Kingdom and the release of Arab prisoners in Khuzestan Province, Iran. On the sixth day the armed men killed a hostage and threw his body out of the embassy. Shortly afterward the elite Special Air Service conducted Operation Nimrod to rescue the remaining hostages.

30 - On April 30, 1972, MACV-SOG was disbanded.

30 - On April 30, 1945, Col Darby was killed in action.

Return to Top of Page


May 1940. British Security Coordination office established in New York.

May 5, 1941. First successful SOE infiltration into France; George Begue sets up circuit and meets follow-on agents.

17 May 1944. Battle of Myitkyina Begins. In the spring of 1944 the Allies were on the offensive in the liberation of Burma. The 5307th Composite Unit, a reinforced U.S. Army regiment known as “Merrills Marauders”, had circled and began attacking Myitkyina. The Japanese defenders were caught completely by surprise. While GALAHAD’s 3d BN feinted toward the north, the 1st Bn seized the Irrawaddy ferry terminal at Pamati on the right, a Chinese regiment overran the airstrip and probed toward Myitkyina itself, but was repulsed.

19 May 2002. 50 Green Berets, from the 10th Group, commanded by Lt. Col. Robert M. Waltemeyer, land at Tbilisi, Georgia, a former Soviet republic. The SF Soldiers trained 2,000 elite Georgian troops as part of a counterterrorism effort that sent thousands of allied and partner nation troops to Afghanistan.

19 - On May 19, 1935, T.E. Lawrence died. He was one of the first practitioners of modern unconventional warfare during World War I and is referred to in the history books as 'Lawrence of Arabia'. He was a British archaeologist, diplomat, writer, and military officer. He played a crucial role as a liaison during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign and Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

20 May 1960. The 7th Special Forces Group was activated. It was reorganized from the 77th Special Forces Group.

29 May 1997. “On this day in U.S. Army SF history, 29 May 1997, Green Berets pave the way for U.S. marines and the evac of thousands of civilians in Operation Noble Obelisk.

In April 1997, ODA 334 (3rd SFG) deployed to Freetown, Sierra Leone, for Joint Combined Exchange Training. Their mission was to train and promote a professional, apolitical military, one supportive of the elected government. On 25 May 1997, rebel forces and military members toppled the government. Once shooting erupted at their training site, U.S. Green Berets manned security positions inside their compound, communicated with SOCEUR and EUCOM, and established intermittent contact with the military.

The next day, the detachment moved to Freetown, 20 miles away. The SF Soldiers had to pass through two rebel roadblocks and near an army post, but the rapport with their former trainees enabled the Americans to proceed to the safety of the Embassy.

In Freetown, the detachment commander divided his team to secure the two Embassy compounds, and team members performed advance force operations, including reconnoitering the helicopter landing zone on the coast. They also defused a tense situation during a meeting of senior ambassadors and rebel forces at the British High Commission residence. All of these activities required movement through a town riven by looting and indiscriminate gunfire.

On 29 May, team members conducted an early morning patrol through rebel-held areas to secure the landing zone for the marines from the 22nd MEU. They established sniper positions, security and coordinated with the Nigerians before the marine helicopters arrived. The next day, the NEO began, and after escorting official U.S. personnel to the landing zone, SF Soldiers served as a buffer by establishing two blocking positions between the U.S. marines and the marauding rebels. They succeeded in turning back rebel forces to reach the landing zone. The NEO evacuations ran from 30 May through 03 June, and a total of 2509 people (including 454 U.S.) were evacuated.” https://sof.news/history/operation-noble-obelisk/

Return to Top of Page


1 - June 1, 1983. The US Army Institute for Military Assistance was renamed the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

4 - June 4, 1944. Jedburgh teams jump into France to link up with French resistance. Lucien Stervinou was one of them -  Frenchman who fled to England to join the French preparing for war against the Germans.

6 - On June 6, 1944, the allies conducted D-day - the storming of the beaches of Normandy, France to establish beachheads from which to attack into the interior of France.

7 - On this day in U.S. SOF history.......07 June 2006: Special Operations Forces, commanded by Lt. Gen. Stan McChrystal, led the hunt ending in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Zarqawi (Aḥmad Faḍīl an-Nazāl al-Ḫalāyla), was a Jordanian jihadist who ran a paramilitary training camp in Afghanistan. He became known after going to Iraq and being responsible for a series of bombings, beheadings, and attacks during the Iraq War, reportedly "turning an insurgency against US troops" in Iraq "into a Shia-Sunni civil war". He was sometimes known as "Shaykh of the slaughterers". MUD

13 - On June 13, 1942, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) replaced the COI. It was placed under the Joint Chiefs of staff (JCS). The Office of the Coordinator of Information was an intelligence and propaganda agency of the United States government founded on July 11, 1941 by President Roosevelt.

14 - The Army’s birthday is celebrated on June 14th. The U.S. Army was founded on June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized enlistment of expert riflemen to serve the United Colonies for one year.

17 - On June 17, 1983, The Department of the Army authorized a Special Forces tab for wear by qualified soldiers. The tab bore the same colors as those used for Special Forces Shoulder Sleeve Insignia. The Special Forces Tab is one of four permanent individual skill/marksmanship tabs authorized for wear by the U.S. Army.

19 - On June 19, 1942, the 1/75th was established in World War II.

19 - On June 19, 1952, the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

22 - June 22, 1955. “On this date in U.S. Army SF history (according to some sources)....22 June 1955 – The first authorized appearance of the Green Beret took place. Another more detailed description from Richard Hayse is provided below:

"The Green Beret was originally designed in 1953 by SF Major Herbert Brucker, a veteran of the OSS. Later that year, First Lieutenant Roger Pezelle adopted it as the unofficial headgear for his A-team, Operational Detachment FA32. They wore it whenever they went to the field for prolonged exercises. Soon it spread throughout all of SF, although the Army refused to authorize its official use. Finally, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy planned to visit Fort Bragg. He sent word to the Special Warfare Center commander, Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, for all SF Soldiers to wear their berets for the event. President Kennedy felt that since they had a special mission, SF should have something to set them apart from the rest. Even before the presidential request, however, the Department of the Army had acquiesced and teletyped a message to the center authorizing the beret as a part of the SF uniform.

When President Kennedy came to Fort Bragg Oct. 12, 1961, General Yarborough wore his Green Beret to greet the commander-in-chief. The president remarked, “Those are nice. How do you like the Green Beret?” General Yarborough replied, “They’re fine, Sir. We’ve wanted them a long time.”

A message from President Kennedy to General Yarborough later that day stated, “My congratulations to you personally for your part in the presentation today … The challenge of this old but new form of operations is a real one, and I know that you and the members of your command will carry on for us and the free world in a manner that is both worthy and inspiring. I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead.”

In an April 1962 White House memorandum for the U.S. Army, President Kennedy showed his continued support for SF, calling the Green Beret “a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom.”

24 - On this day, June 24, 1957, the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated. On of its first missions was the deployment of training teams to South Vietnam. https://www.specialforceshistory.info/groups/1sfga.html

25 - On July 25, 1957, the Australian 1st Special Air Service Company was established at Campbell Barracks in Perth. On September 4, 1964, it was reestablished as the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) when the company became a regiment.

27 - June 27 – PTSD Awareness Day.

28 - June 28 2005 – Operation Red Wings.

29 - On June 29, 1990, the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) was reactivated to cover Special Forces operations in EUCOM’s African region.

30 - On June 30, 1972, the 8th SFG (A) was redesignated as the 3rd Bn 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), in Panama.

Return to Top of Page


July 1940. General Headquarters Auxiliary Units created for UK Home Defence.

2 - On July 2, 1959, detachments of the 77th Special Forces Group began Project HOTFOOT in Laos. Special Forces personnel, wearing civilian clothes and assuming the role of contracted civilian technicians, trained Laotian Armed forces units on U.S. weapons and individual soldier skills. At the time, Laos was a Cold War 'hot spot' facing threats from the Communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese Army troops operating inside Laos. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Hotfoot_(Laos)

4 - July 4 – Independence Day, Rescue at Entebbe.

4 - On July 4, 1968, The Green Berets, a film loosely based on a book by Robin Moore, was released starring John Wayne as a Special Forces colonel in Vietnam and David Janssen as a newspaper correspondent who questioned the war’s wisdom. Much of the film was shot in the summer of 1967 (before the Tet Offensive).

Thematically, The Green Berets is strongly anti-communist and pro-Saigon. It was released at the height of American involvement in the Vietnam War, the same year as the Tet offensive against the largest cities in South Vietnam. John Wayne, concerned by the anti-war atmosphere in the United States, wanted to make this film to present the pro-military position. He requested and obtained full military cooperation and materiel from President Johnson. To please the Pentagon, who were attempting to prosecute Robin Moore for revealing classified information, Wayne bought Moore out for $35,000 and 5% of undefined profits of the film. The film was a critical failure, but succeeded financially.

8 - On July 8, 1961, the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated in Birmingham, Alabama.

9 - On July 9, 1941, the First Special Service Force was officially activated.

9 - On July 9, 1961, teams of Green Berets began organizing and training tribesmen in the Central Highlands of Vietnam into the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG).

The CIDG program was devised by the CIA in early 1961 to counter expanding Viet Cong influence in South Vietnam's Central Highlands. Beginning in the village of Buon Enao, small A Teams from the U.S. Army Special Forces moved into villages and set up Area Development Centers. Focusing on local defense and civic action, the Special Forces teams did the majority of the training.

Another unit, Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs), fell under the Phoenix Program and was set up later. The PRUs became probably the most controversial element of Phoenix. They were special paramilitary forces that were originally developed in 1964 by the government of South Vietnam and the CIA. Initially, they were known as Counter-Terror Teams.

Eventually numbering over 4,000 and operating in all of South Vietnam's 44 provinces, the PRUs were commanded by US military officers and senior NCOs until November 1969, after which they were transitioned to CIA advisers. ---Mud”

11 -  On July 11, 1941 the Coordinator of Information (COI) was established. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed William J. Donovan to head a new civilian office attached to the White House. The office was an intelligence and propaganda agency of the U.S. government. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_the_Coordinator_of_Information

17 - On July 17, 2007, the RSTB was established.

20 - On July 20, 1942. First Special Service Force officially activated.

22 - On July 22, 1940. SOE Charter approved, formed from Section D, MI(R), and EH.

27 - On July 27, 1953, the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed, ending the Korean War. About 37,000 Americans lost their lives, 92,000 were wounded, and 8,000 missing. DoD News.

Started in July 1943, the 7th Amphibious Scouts trained in jungle survival, unarmed combat, reconnaissance, and shoreline sketching.


Return to Top of Page


2 - On August 2, 1990, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. President Bush order the U.S. military to begin Operation Desert Shield on August 7, 1990. In January 1991, Operation Desert Storm was launched - the liberation of Kuwait and invasion of southern Iraq.

2 - On August 2, 1962, Co D, 7th Special Forces Group (A) departed Fort Bragg for Panama.

6 - On August 6, 1756, General Howe authorized Robert Rogers to raise a battalion of Rangers for service with the British Army.

August 6, 2011. A U.S. Chinook helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was shot down by the Taliban resulting in 38 deaths (30 Americans and 8 Afghans). There were no survivors. Of the U.S. fatalities were Navy SEALs who were part of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). Five U.S. Army helicopter crewmen also perished. One U.S. military working dog also died in the crash.

August 10, 1944. Lt. John “Jack” Singlaub parachuted behind German lines (Jedburgh teams) to work with the French Resistance fighters or Maquis groups that had swelled the resistance ranks after the D-Day invasion.

16 - On this day, August 16, 2001 the 43rd United States President, George W. Bush and the United States Congress created and designated this day, every year, as National Airborne Day to honor the nation's airborne forces. Today also marks the anniversary of the first official Army parachute jump at Ft. Benning, Georgia. "The successful jump validated the innovative concept of inserting United States ground combat forces behind a battle line by parachute. These sky soldiers represent some of the most prestigious and effectively trained forces in the United States Army."

17 - On August 17-18, 1942, the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion conducted a raid on Matin Island in the central Pacific Ocean. They inserted by submarine, destroyed the Japanese installation and radio station, and then withdrew from the island. The force suffered 30 deaths but attained a morale boost for the U.S. military and American public. https://sof.news/history/raid-on-makin-island/

17 - On August 17, 1955, the Civil Affairs / Miltary Government was established as an Army Reserve Branch. It was subsequently redesignated as the Civil Affairs Branch on October 1959. The expansion of Civil Affairs in the Regular Army led to Civil Affairs being established as a basic branch of the Army effective October 16, 2006 by Department of Army General Orders (AGO) No. 29, 12 January 2007.

22 - August 22, 1955, marks the anniversary of the Department of the Army approving the Special Forces (SF) Shoulder Sleeve Insignia (SSI). The SSI, or ‘unit patch,’ with the arrowhead shape and three lightning flashes, was designed by Captain John W. Frye, 77th SF Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The arrowhead shape honored Native Americans and was similar to the SSI worn by the WWII Canadian-American First Special Service Force, the lineage unit of SF. The SSI’s dagger represents the unconventional nature of SF operations, and the three lightning flashes, the ability to strike by air, water or land. In November 1958, the airborne tab was added to the SSI. The SF SSI remains a highly recognizable symbol of SF history and lineage. For more information on the history of SF insignia visit: http://spr.ly/6184GmmCM

August 23, 1968. On this day in U.S. Army SF history.......23 August 1968: Worst Day in Special Forces history. A large force hit a MAC-V SOG FOB and mission launch site on Marble Mountain in Da Nang. The attacking NVA numbered at least 100 and were armed with AKs, grenades, satchel charges, and RPG-2 launchers (or B-40s as they were called in Vietnam).

Most of the attacking NVA died in the three-hour attack, but they killed over two dozen Americans and over 40 Montagnards who manned the Recon Teams or the Hatchet Force alongside Americans.

The best accounting of the attack to date is in the book On The Ground: The Secret War in Vietnam by John S. “Tilt” Meyer, himself a SOG veteran. The fact of August 23rd is that SF was small in 1968. Some of the killed were first-term troops; others had been around a very long time, like Secor and Norris. But almost every man in SF personally knew someone who’d bought it beneath Marble Mountain.

25 - On August 25, 1961, the first Finnish conscript paratrooper course graduated with a parachute jump in Utti, Finland. Since then, first the Finnish Defence Force Paratrooper School and now the Special Jaeger Battalion (Erikoisjaakaripataljoona) have celebrated this day as their anniversary / tradition day.

26 - On August 26, 2021, thirteen U.S. service members and almost 200 Afghans died in a terrorist bombing at Abbey Gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Kabul airlift (NEO) was in the final days of execution.

28 - On August 28, 2013, SSG Earl D. Plumlee while serving as a weapons sergeant assigned to C Co, 4th Bn, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), at Forward Operating Base Ghazni, distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while engaging with the enemy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. For his heroic actions he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Congressional Medal of Honor Society. https://lnkd.in/emQVxaBr See also an article by Military Review published September 2023.

Return to Top of Page


7 - On September 7, 2004, the Special Operations Combat Diver Device was approved for issue and wear. On September 14, 2004, the Scuba Diver Badge was discontinued in lieu of a new Special Operations Diver Badge. In addition, the Special Operations Diving Supervisors Badge was authorized.

10 - On 10 September, 2000, 1 PARA, the RAF, and the SAS conducted Operation Barras to free five British soldiers held captive in the war-torn West African country of Sierra Leone. They were held by the West Side Boys. Lynx, Chinook, and Hind helicopters took part in the successful operation.

14 - On September 14, 1962, HQ Detachment (Provisional) 5th Special Forces Group (Abn) arrived in Vietnam. In October 1964 the 5th Group assumed control of all Special Forces operations in Vietnam.

16 - On September 16, 1953, the 77th Special Forces Group was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The group was formed with personnel not forward based with the 10th Special Forces Group sent to Bad Tolz, Germany. Later, the 77th SFG(A) was consolidated on May 20, 1960, with the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

17 - On September 17, 1969. On September 17, 1969, Melvin Morris, a Green Beret that was part of the IV Mobile Strike Force, was in a fierce firefight. His heroic actions that day in Vietnam would be recognized years later when he received the Medal of Honor.

18 - On September 18, 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency was formed. The CIA was formed just two years after President Truman signed Executive Order 9621 disbanding the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on September 20, 1945.

20 September 1945. Executive Order 9621 abolishes the OSS.

21 - On September 21, 1961, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was officially activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

23 - On September 23, 1961, Special Forces Operational Detachment – Korea was formed. “Det-K” began with a series of TDY assignments from 1st SFG(A) in Okinawa. By November 1961 they became “FA 40th Detachment”, under the operational control of the Korea Military Assistance Group. It was redesignated on October 16, 2005 as the 39th Special forces Operational Detachment (Airborne).

24 - On Sept. 24, 1943, the 7th Amphibious Force Special Service Unit #1, a top-secret scout unit in the Pacific made up of American and Australian military and natives from Papua New Guinea and other Pacific islands, began the reconnaissance of Cape Gloucester.

25 - On September 25, 1961, Department of Army Message 578636 designated the Green Beret as the official and exclusive headgear of the Army Special Forces.

26 - On September 26, 1972, GSG 9 of the German Federal Police was founded.

28 - On September 28, 2018, Maj. Gen. (Ret) Sidney Shachnow died at age 83. He served 39 years in the U.S. Army; much of it in Special Forces.

Return to Top of Page


1 - SOAC. On October 1, 2012, the Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOAC) was activated at Fort Bragg.

1 - 75th Ranger Regiment. On October 1, 1974, the 2 Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment was established. On October 3, 1984, the 75th Ranger Regiment and 3/75th was established.

3 - Merrill's Marauders. On October 3, 1943, the 5307 Composite Group - Merrill's Marauders was established.

3 - On October 3, 1993 – Operation Gothic Serpent, Battle of Mogadishu took place. It would end on October 4. https://sof.news/history/operation-gothic-serpent/ At the end of the battle a U.S. helicopter pilot was missing which would prompt a days-long search for until he was released by Somali insurgents. https://sof.news/conflicts/gothic-serpent-super-64/

4 - On October 4, 2017, four soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Group died in an ambush in Niger.

6 - On October 6, 1964, Project DELTA (B52) was formed. The progam was initially known as Project LEAPING LENA which was established on May 15, 1964. LEAPING LENA was a program for the Green Berets to train LLDB teams for missions into Laos. Project DELTA was the first of the three special reconnaissance units with a Greek letter fromed by U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV).
Project DELTA

7 - On October 7, 2001 – The U.S. involvement in the Afghan conflict began shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

9 - On October 9, 1967, Che Guevara was executed in Bolivia. 8th SFGA trained the counter-guerrilla force that tracked down Che's small guerrilla group.

10 - On October 10, 1951, the Ranger Course was conceived during the Korean War and was known as Ranger Training Command. “The Ranger Training Command was inactivated on this day in 1951 and became the Ranger Department, a branch of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga. Its purpose was, and still is, to develop combat skills of selected officers and enlisted men by requiring them to perform effectively as small unit leaders in a realistic tactical environment, under mental and physical stress approaching that found in actual combat.”

12 - On October 12, 1961, Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, as commander of the Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, NC, met with President Kennedy to visit Fort Bragg. The meeting resulted in increased funding for Special Forces and the authorization of the Green Beret for wear as the official headgear of Special Forces. The President further showed his unfailing support for Special Forces in publishing an official White House Memorandum to the US Army dated April 11, 1962, which stated in part that “The Green Beret is again becoming a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom."

12 - On October 12, 1966, the 46th Special Forces Company was activated in Thailand.

12 - On October 12, 1981, the 160th Special Operations Air Regiment (SOAR) was established.

15 - On October 15, 1984, the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group was activated on Torii Station, Okinawa, Japan, under the command of Lt. Col. James L. Estep. 1st SFG(A) had previously been stationed on the island from 1957 until being inactivated in 1974 as part of an Army reduction in Special Forces strength.

15 - On October 15, 2017, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and IRGC proxies attack the Kurdish city of Kirkuk.

16 - On October 16, 2006, the Psychological Operations branch was established.

16 - On October 16, 1991, 2nd Battalion, 3rd SFGA was activated with HQs company, 2 SF companies, and a forward support company.

18 - On October 18, 1965, Special Forces Captain Larry Thorne was killed in Vietnam. A Finnish soldier who fought the Soviets in WWII, Thorne, eventually joined the U.S. Army Special Forces. He died in a helicopter crash in SE Asia in 1965 while assigned to MACV-SOG. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauri_T%C3%B6rni

19 - On October 19, 2001, two SF detachments infiltrate into northern Afghanistan to link up with the Northern Alliance. They were the first two U.S. Army teams inserted into Afghanistan to work with Northern Alliance Forces.

The first of several SF elements infiltrated Afghanistan. Eleven members of ODA 555, onboard MH-47 Chinook helicopters, arrived late in the evening at the Astaneh camp in Panjshir Valley and received their initial briefing. Within a few days, ODA 555 would link up with NA’s General Bismullah near Bagram. That same night, the 12 men of ODA 595 infiltrated the Darya Suf Valley on MH-47s to join General Dostum’s forces in Dehi, some 60 miles south of Mazar-e Sharif. Not long after the team split into two sections, one accompanying Dostum to his headquarters, the other remaining at Dehi. Mud”

19 - On October 19, 2001, Operation Rhino took place in southern Afghanistan. The 3rd Ranger Battalion conducted an airborne operation to seize Objective Rhino. This was part of a highly publicized U.S. effort to show that the United States could put boots on the ground anywhere in the world whenever it wanted.


19 October 1994.

“On this day in U.S. Army SF history.......19 Oct 1994 – Honorary Special Forces LTC Martha "Maggie" Raye died.

During the Vietnam War, she was made an honorary Green Beret because she visited United States Army Special Forces in Vietnam, and she helped out when things got bad in Special Forces A-Camps. Because of those actions, she came to be known affectionately by the Green Berets as "Colonel Maggie." She continued her relationship with the Green Berets for the rest of her life. She built a guest house for Green Berets on the grounds of her home in Los Angeles and made many trips to Fort Bragg and other Special Forces Posts throughout her life. In 1988, the Special Forces Association Convention held in Fayetteville, NC carried the theme of "Honoring COL Maggie".

Maggie died of pneumonia on October 19, 1994, after a long history of cardiovascular disease. Martha Raye was 78 years of age, and residing in Los Angeles at the time of her death.

On November 2, 1993, Martha Raye was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Bill Clinton, for her service to her country.

The patriotism she showed in her tours during World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam Conflict earned her the nickname "Colonel Maggie."

Because of her work with the USO during World War II and subsequent wars, special consideration was given to bury her in Arlington National Cemetery upon her death. At her request, she was ultimately buried with full military honors in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Martha has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

One for motion pictures and one for television.

Credit: http://www.war-veterans.org/Maggie.htm . Mud”


19 October 1965.

“On this day in U.S. Army SF history......19 Oct 1965 – ODA A217, 5th Special Forces Group (A) fought in the Battle of Plei Me, Vietnam. The Siege of Plei Me (Vietnamese: Bao vây Plei Me) (19–25 October 1965) was the beginning phase of the first major confrontation between soldiers of the communist North Vietnamese Army (PAVN) and the U.S. army during the Vietnam War. The lifting of the siege by South Vietnamese forces and American air power was followed by the pursuit of the retreating North Vietnamese from 28 October until 12 November, setting the stage for the Battle of Ia Drang. Plei Me was an isolated U.S. Army Special Forces and Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) camp in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam defended mostly by Montagnard tribesmen. ---Mud”

23 - Early on a Sunday morning, October 23, 1983, two terrorist truck bombs struck buildings in Beirut, Lebanon, housing American and French service members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon (MNF). The attack killed 307 people. (Wikipedia)

25 - On October 25, 1983, Operation Urgent Fury took place in Grenada. Several special operations units took part in the mission.

29 - On October 29, 1963, Captain James “Nick” Rowe was captured by the Viet Cong. He was a Special Forces officer and one of only 34 American prisoners of war to escape captivity during the Vietnam War. He would later help establish the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program taught to high-risk military personnel. In 1989, Rowe was killed by a unit of the New People's Army in the Philippines while serving in the U.S. Embassy in Manila. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_N._Rowe

29 - On October 29, 1963, Captain Humbert R. Versace was captured by the Viet Cong. He was held as a prisoner of war until September 26, 1965, in the Republic of Vietnam – the day of his death while in captivity - executed by the Viet Cong. He was serving as an Intelligence Advisor while assigned to the Military Assistance Advisory Group. In 2002 he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush for his actions during captivity. https://www.thenmusa.org/biographies/humbert-r-versace/

31 - On October 31, 2020, U.S. Navy SEALs (DEVGRU) parachuted from 352nd SOW aircraft into Northern Nigeria to rescue an American held hostage by armed gunmen. Philip Walton, age 27, was a Christian missionary who worked in Niger. No military personnel were injured during the operation. Several of the hostage takers were killed.

Return to Top of Page


9 - On November 8, 1962, HQ US Army Special Forces Command – Vietnam was established.

8 - November 8 is the annual JFK Wreath Laying Day at Arlington National Cemetery. This event, conducted by Green Berets, has taken place since the burial of John F. Kennedy after his assassination.

9 - On November 9, 2001, the Taliban held city of Mazar e-Sharif fell to Northern Alliance forces led by warlords Dostum and Atta. They were advised by U.S. Army Green Berets. USAF Combat Controllers, attached to the Special Forces teams, were key to coordinating for air support.

11 - On November 11, 1953, the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) deployed to Bad Tolz, Germany.

13 - On November 13, 2001, Kabul fell to the Northern Alliance. Green Berets would enter the city the next day. The Northern Alliance were also advised and assisted by other SOF elements such as the 49th Public Affairs Detachment (ABN) out of Bragg, Psychological Operations elements, and 1st Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment out of Ft. Drum, NY. The initial operation name was Operation Stronghold Freedom and these U.S. service members made up the Joint Special Operations Task Force-North (JSOTF-N).

19 - On November 19, 1969 the 'Bronze Bruce' statue was dedicated at Fort Bragg, NC. The statue memorialized Special Forces soldiers and was the first Vietnam memorial in the United States. https://www.specialforceshistory.info/culture/bronze-bruce.html

21 - On November 21, 1970, Operation Ivory Coast was conducted. This was a joint operation led by Air Force General LeRoy J. Manor and Army Colonel Arthur D. “Bull” Simons. The operation was conducted by 56 U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers who infiltrated by helicopter into the Sơn Tây prisoner-of-war camp, located 23 miles (37 km) west of Hanoi, North Vietnam. The objective was to rescue 61 American prisoners of war assessed to be at the camp. Unfortunately, the prisoners were moved to another camp shortly before the mission. https://sof.news/history/son-tay-raid/

24 - On November 24, 1963, Camp Hiep Hoa, Republic of South Vietnam, was overrun by the Viet Cong. It was the first CIDG camp to be overrun during the Vietnam War. A Special Forces soldier, Isaac Camacho, one of four missing Americans, later became the first American to escape from a Vietcong POW Camp. In the battle, an estimated 500 Viet Cong fighters took the Hiep Hoa Special Forces Camp, resulting in four American personnel MIA. South Vietnamese commando units and the American Green Berets resisted but were overwhelmed.

28 - On November 28, 1943, the Alamo Scouts was activated by the U.S. 6th Army. This special reconnaissance unit was employed in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. The unit is known for its role in liberating American prisoners of war from a Japanese POW camp near Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines in January 1945. A movie called the Great Raid was produced about this action.

28 - On November 28, 1970, the first combat HALO jump was conducted by CCN, MACV-SOG. The nighttime parachute jump took place over Laos from C-130 blackbird flying at 17,000 feet. (Coffee or Die Magazine, June 17, 2021)

Return to Top of Page


In December, 1941. First successful OSS infiltration into Europe (Corsica).

1 - On December 1, 1989, the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) was activated as a major Army command.

5 - On December 5, 1944, the combined U.S.-Canadian First Special Service Force (FSSF) paraded one final time at their Villeneuve-Loubert camp, near the town of Menton, in southeastern France on December 5, 1944. The 1st Special Forces Regiment and all U.S. Army SF groups trace their “official” lineage to the FSSF. Commemoration of Menton Day is an occasion when U.S. SF honors its lineal connection to the FSSF.

5- On December 5, 1963, the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated.

6 - On December 6, 1941, Camp X (STS 103) opened in Canada.

7 - On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

13 - On December 13, 2003, Iraq President Saddam Hussein was captured hiding in a hole at a farmhouse in Adwar, Iraq. Task Force 121, a joint special operations team, conducted the operation. The TF was assisted by elements of the 4th ID.

20 - On December 20, 1989, more than 3,600 Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) soldiers participated in Operation Just Cause (Panama). Parachute assaults were conducted onto Panamanian airfields. Read more at USASOC History Office:


Return to Top of Page

Home> SOF > SOF History Timeline


Related Pages




SOF News Book Shop

Books about Special Operations Forces

Books about Special Operations - SOF


We are an affiliate of Bookshop.org and will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

All external sites open up in new window.
Please report broken links or inaccurate content to webmaster at john @ north-point.org
© Copyright 2020-2024