FORT BRAGG, N.C. - After more than a year of grueling training, 121 Soldiers of the 253rd Special Forces Qualification Course donned Green Berets for the first time during the regimental first formation held July 8 at the John F. Kennedy Plaza.

The newest Special Forces Soldiers vigorously trained over the past year to become worthy of wearing the Green Beret, learning individual specialty skills such as unconventional warfare methods as well as language and cultural skills to aid in their future endeavors as Special Forces officers, medics, engineers, communicators and weapons experts.

Sergeant Eric Paul said he was very relieved to finish the course, and said it was surreal to officially join the Special Forces community. Paul, a native of Dallas, is now a Special Forces communications sergeant and will be assigned to 1st Special Forces Group in Okinawa, Japan.
"The tempo there is extremely high-paced. It will be the optimum Special Forces experience," Paul said.

As the newly appointed Special Forces operators stood in formation, fellow Soldiers, Family members and civilian supporters cheered their accomplishment. Jerry Moss, a guerilla group role player during Robin Sage, said he considers it an honor to have been a part of these Soldiers' culmination exercise. This was the first regimental first formation ceremony Moss has
attended, but he has attended five graduations to celebrate the success of the Soldiers he has become so proud to know.

"These men have become like sons and brothers to me; I try to follow up with them." said Moss.
Sergeant 1st Class Leslie Johnson, an Operational Detachment Alpha instructor at the SFQC, had been with the 253th group every day since April.

"They're ready to go and contribute to our community," Johnson said.
Nine, of the 22 Soldiers under Johnson's guidance, earned their Green Beret, with three more medic candidates still in training.

Also honored at the ceremony were Brig. Gen. Joseph S. Stringham and Sgt. Maj. Morris G. Worley, who were inducted as distinguished members of the Special Forces Regiment.

Stringham served more than 31 years in the U.S. Army, during which time he was assigned as the first deputy commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Worley was recognized for 21 years of service including being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his service on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, Cambodia.

Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Sekelsky welcomed the new Special Forces regiment at the graduation ceremony for the 253rd class of Special Forces Soldiers, held at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville on July 9.

With the intense training and graduation completed, these Soldiers will move forward to serve their country with one of the Army's seven active Special Forces groups.

Page last updated Thu July 22nd, 2010 at 16:10