7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
The 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was first constituted as the 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Service Force on July 9, 1942 at Camp William Harrison, Montana. This specialized Canadian-United States unit was organized and trained to conduct commando raids against Nazi Germany's fledging nuclear weapons capability in the the Scandinavian region of occupied Europe. However, the unit was diverted to the campaign in the Aleutian Islands, where they were confronted by not only Japanese, but the brutal arctic climate.
Upon successful culmination of the Aleutian Campaign the Special Service Force was transferred to the European theater where they fought with distinction in both southern France and Italy, where they earned the nickname of "The Devil's Brigade". The Special Service Force was disbanded in France in 1945. It was reactivated on 25 September 1953 at Fort Bragg as the 77th Special Forces. In 2005, DoD recommended in its BRAC Recommendations that the 7th relocate to Eglin AFB, FL.
In 1960 the Group was recognized and designated as the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. The Group colors carry six combat streamers from World War II and one from Panama. In addition, the 3rd Battalion is entitled to the Army Superior Unit Award Streamer, embroidered "LATIN AMERICA 1985-1986".
Although the 7th Special Forces Group is not the oldest Special Forces Group on the active roles, it is referred to as the building block from which Special Forces expanded during the term of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Throughout the early 1960's the request for Mobile Traing Teams far exceeded the US military capability, therefore the 7th Special Forces Group was called upon to assist in the organization and activation of other similar units. The 7th Special Forces Group provided the cadre for the 3rd and the 6th Special Forces Groups which were oriented on the Middle East and Africa.
In 1961, the 7th Special Forces Group was given the mission of advising the South Vietnamese Army. The 7th Special Forces Group was also actively involved in Laos and Thailand. The first Medal of Honor earned in the Republic of South Vietnam was awarded to Captain Roger Donlon, a member of the 7th Special Forces Group.
At the same time Special Forces were expanding into Latin America. In May 1962, the advance party from Company D, 7th Special Forces Group departed for Fort Gulick, Panama Canal Zone, to establish what was later designated the 8th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. The 8th Special Forces Group was deactivated in 1972 and the unit redesignated as the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group.
When President Reagan took office in 1980, communism was spreading rapidly throughout Latin America. Nicaragua was controlled by a Communist regime, and with the support of Cuba, they were working hard to export their revolution to El Salvador and Honduras. The 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group drafted the initial plan for US Military trainers in El Salvador that was accepted by SOUTHCOM and the Reagan Administration.
Throughout the decade of the 80s, soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group palyed a critical role in helping the Salvadoran military grow form a constabulary force of 12,000 to a counter-insurgency force of 55,000 men under arms.
The 7th Special Forces Group also played a very important role in preparing the Honduran Military to resist and defeat an invasion from Nicaragua. The extensive 7th Special Forces Group operations throughout Honduras in the 80s not only prepared them for the threatened invasion, but also assisted the Honduran forces in conducting their own counter insurgency operations and ultimately defeating the Honduran communist-supported insurgency.
During the last half of the 80s, the 7th Special Forces Group became involved in counter narcotics operations in thr Andean Ridge countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. The purpose was not only to reduce the flow of drugs in the United States, but also to help control and reduce the violence that has resulted form the flow of illegal and uncontrolled dollars into South America.
From December 19, 1989 to January 31, 1990, elements of the 7th Special Forces Group participated in Operation "Just Cause" to restore democracy to Panama. On D-Day and over the next ten days the 7th Special Forces Group conducted many reconnaissance and Direct Action missions in support of the operation and the "Ma Bell Take downs" of five Panamanian cartels located in rural areas throughout the country.
Over the next six months, both 2nd and 3rd Battalions played key roles in "Operation Promote Liberty", which transformed Panama from a military dictatorship supported by a corrupt military, into a legitimate democratic government, protected by a police force.