FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- An award created in honor and recognition of retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub's courageous actions on and off the battlefield as well as his significant contributions to U.S. Army Special Operations Forces, was presented to a deserving operator during the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Red and Black Ball, on Feb. 20, 2016.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 George A. Valdez, a team sergeant with 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was recognized as the first recipient of the award during the inaugural presentation ceremony.
"Valdez distinguished himself during six combat and two operational deployments spanning Iraq, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and other locations. During his most recent deployment to Afghanistan, Valdez successfully led his Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha through more than 15 firefights and the disarming of 82 IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) without the loss of a single Soldier," Horton said.
This award will be presented annually to deserving recipients who exemplify the Army Special Operations Forces Next traits, the ARSOF promise, and demonstrate an unwavering commitment to bettering ARSOF.
"The award recipient receives a rosewood plaque with a two-dimensional medallion bearing the raised likeness of Maj. Gen. Singlaub, donated by the Special Operations Association, and a USASOC certificate recognizing him as this year's Maj. Gen. Singlaub Award winner," said Capt. Kenneth T. Horton, USASOC DCS G-1 Personnel Operations Division. "In addition his name will be engraved on a command plaque displayed in the USASOC Headquarters building commemorating all future winners of the award."
Among his many accomplishments listed during the USASOC Ball, Valdez is described by Horton as a "Dynamic, innovative, and adaptive leader that serves as an outstanding representative of the entire Army Special Operations Community."
Regarded as the most significant event of the night, the Singlaub Award presentation was extremely unique because it was presented by Singlaub himself who was 94 at the time of the presentation.
As Col. Miguel A. Correa, Chief of Staff for USASOC, spoke about some of the characteristics of Singlaub's, saying he is "a very spry 94 years old because earlier this morning he challenged me to a push-up competition." Though it says a lot about his character, that is not what makes Singlaub such a remarkable leader and Soldier.
"Maj. Gen. Singlaub is a legend among SOF warriors, a forefather of the modern day Green Beret, and has had a long and distinguished career and history in Special Operations. He served in the office of strategic services (OSS) in WWII in both France and China," Correa added. "During the Korean War, he helped to create the Ranger Training Center at Fort Benning, GA, served with the CIA, and commanded an infantry battalion. In Vietnam, he commanded the military assistance command Vietnam-Studies and Observation Group (MACVSOG)."
It's events like parachuting into Nazi-Occupied France during World War II, on a mission to help organize and re-supply resistance elements behind enemy lines to fight back, while knowing that if captured, he was likely to be tortured and killed that are a true testament of his character, service, and his merit for the creation of this award in his honor.
"Every day the Luftwaffe would come and bomb us. So I sent a message complaining about this and got an answer back a day later saying 'according to you, you are receiving more air-attacks than the forces that landed in Normandy,' Singlaub said. "Which of course was true, because the forces that landed in Normandy, didn't land until the Luftwaffe had been driven in to where we were."
Despite his experiences in WWII, Singlaub still believes in the 'run towards the gunfire' mentality, saying: "Go to the sound of the cannon and solve the problem on the battlefield, don't worry about your career it'll take care of itself if you survive."