Fort Bragg warrior inducted into Army Ranger Hall Of Fame
July 16, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "Take anyone off the street, shave his head, put dog tags on him, get him to raise his hand and he's a Soldier, but it takes a different kind of person with heart to be a warrior," said retired Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer Gary O'Neal.
O'Neal's dedication to his country was recognized last Friday when he was one of 14 "warriors" inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga.
O'Neal's military career began with him being drafted in 1969. "My first assignment was a combat tour in Vietnam," he said. While there, O'Neal served with several elite units to include the 173rd Airborne Brigade Line Company, Company C, 75th Ranger Regiment and the 5th Special Forces Group.
During his first tour in Vietnam, O'Neal spent the majority of his time conducting hazardous missions that included prisoner of war rescues and sniper operations.
"We lost 60,000 troops, but we killed over eight million," O'Neal said. "That's almost a nine to one ratio."
Shortly after his return home, in 1972, O'Neal attended Ranger School before returning for a second tour in Vietnam. O'Neal received both the Silver and Bronze Star medals for his service in Vietnam.
"The Rangers are the toughest and best light infantry unit in the world," O'Neal said.
Up next, O'Neal went to the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course where he completed all the training to earn his green beret.
"There wasn't a mission we couldn't do as Special Forces and Rangers," O'Neal said. "That's the attitude that I've had as a team member, team sergeant and a team leader."
After earning his green beret, O'Neal went on to complete scuba and sub-operations training as well as high-altitude, low-opening parachute jump school.
Besides attending schools, O'Neal spent more than 15 years training and fighting with American and Latin American forces in Central and South America.
"Gary is one of the finest field Soldiers I have ever met in my entire life," said Gary Dolan, O'Neal's platoon leader while he was in Company C, 75th Ranger Regiment. "His ability to track the enemy soldier was the best I have ever seen."
Additionally, O'Neal was an instructor for the Army HALO School and spent two years as a Golden Knight on the Army parachute team.
"I will be the first Golden Knight to be inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame," O'Neal said.
He was also handpicked to help develop the first survival, evasion, resistance and escape course at Fort Bragg.
"SERE is everything a Special Forces Soldier needs to survive," O'Neal said. "It is one of the most important schools he will ever go through."
In 1996, after an impressive military career, O'Neal retired from the Army. However, in 2004, the Army again called him to active duty. This time, it was to be a master trainer in the world's largest unconventional warfare field exercise - Robin Sage.
"Being a former Soldier, I will continue to train Soldiers until my body no longer physically allows me to," O'Neal said.
O'Neal currently teaches seminars on his own developed fighting style, American Warrior Free Fighting System, where he is a 10th degree black belt.
He travels throughout the United States to teach the AWFS fighting style.
"When in combat, you don't have time to take your opponent to the ground and try all the submissions and moves mixed martial arts teaches," O'Neal said. "You have to get in and kill the enemy quickly so that you can continue on with the mission."
All things considered, O'Neal is a true example of a warrior living by his motto, "Glory has a price. Honor is priceless. Integrity covers it all."