As a 22-year-old medical laboratory technician seeking to earn his Expert Field Medical Badge, then-specialist Bruce Holmes first arrived at the All American entrance to Fort Bragg.
“That was my first assignment to Fort Bragg, and as you enter the gate at all American, it says Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces. Well, that meant a lot to me and inspired me,” said, now Sgt. Maj. Holmes, command sergeant major of 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).
During his EFMB experience, Holmes met four Green Berets who made a lasting and life-changing impression.
“There were four Green Berets that were also going through testing and their extraordinary skills, I mean they were exquisite … their mastery of the basics,” said Holmes.
According to Holmes and Sgt. First Class Alex Martinez, station commander, Special Operations Recruiting Center, it is through interactions like this that SOF gains some of their most successful recruits.
Special Operations Recruiting Battalion and 3rd SFG (A), in a combined effort, sought to facilitate this kind of interaction with conventional active duty Soldiers and Green Berets on Feb. 15.
A 3rd SFG (A), 3rd Battalion, Operation Detachment Alpha opened their doors to Soldiers and their Families interested in learning a little bit more about life as a Green Beret.
The 3rd Bn., 3rd SFG (A) showcased tactical vehicles, weapons and advanced skills equipment. These items represent the unique opportunities and advanced training available to 3rd SFG (A). It is training that allows special forces teams to conduct real-world missions across the globe.
Attendees visited the ODA’s team room and ate pizza during an abridged briefing about becoming an SF Soldier.
“We (SORB) can only expose these prospects to so much. This right here is a perfect collaboration … the Soldier gets to engage with a Green Beret operator and the operator … shows them what that life is like,” said Martinez. “That has more substance than ‘hey man, you should go SF.’ This is a live brief.”
But, it is not just about the potential Soldier-recruit, 3rd SFG (A) is a Family-focused outfit, says Holmes.
“We are a Family organization, and when we are back home, we maximize our time with our Families,” said Holmes. “They are the back bone and the driving force. They keep the lights on when we are gone.”
Angela Abernathy, U. S. Special Forces Command spouse, was on hand to explain what about the SOF community is so valuable to Families.
“The natural thing to do is compare SOF to your conventional army, I don’t want to do because being an Army wife is hard,” she said.
“The (SOF) circle is smaller … Where ever you go, if there is a SOF Family, they are your Family. No questions asked. It’s smaller, it’s more meaningful,” explained Abernathy.
For Master Sgt. Brown, Family was also part of the equation when making the decision to become a Green Beret. Brown enlisted in 2001, motivated to serve his country after the September 11th attacks. He has been a Green Beret for nine years, and said it has been the right choice for his Family.
“It gives you stability for your Family, wife and kids,” said Brown. “It’s not like your typical Army where you have to deploy or go to a different (duty) station every year.”
However, Family was not the only reason Brown volunteered for SF.
Brown wanted his job to remain operationally relevant, see more of the world and work as part of a motivated force.
The 3rd SFG (A) certainly helps him meet those goals. Currently, 3rd SFG (A) is about 2,600 Soldiers strong, 1,100 of those Soldiers are Green Berets, around 400 of which are currently in between 17 to 22 countries at any given time.
“I am a weapons guy at heart so playing with guns constantly is obviously a huge perk for us, but I would say the next thing is working with a bunch of people that want to be here,” explained Brown.
According to Holmes, it is with good reason that Green Berets remain motivated.
“I heard this saying from a Green Beret before I went to Special Forces … My worst day in the Special Forces is still better than my best day in the conventional army, and I, having been affiliated with Special Operations for about 18 years now, I still stand firm with that statement,” explained Holmes.
“It’s a decision I made in my military career that I won’t regret.”
Those interested need only apply. SOF does not discriminate, according to Holmes
“I am not the very picturesque Green Beret,” said Holmes. “I am a lot smaller.”
“We don’ discriminate. You can be any color, you can be male, female … and we take any MOS (military occupational specialty) in the Army,” said Holmes.
For information on briefings or Special Forces Recruitment, call 432-1818.