U.S. Special Operations Command inducted six former special operators into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor located at the USSOCOM headquarters, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, April 18, 2018. More than 100 people attended the ceremony and watched as each inductee received a medal from U.S. Army Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, USSOCOM commander, and Sgt. Maj. Patrick McCauley, USSOCOM command sergeant major.
The award recognizes individuals who have served with distinction within the special operations forces community. The inductees join the storied ranks of those who preceded them.
This year's inductees were U.S. Army Maj. Raymond P. Ambrozak, U.S. Army Gen. Bryan D. Brown, U.S. Navy Capt. (SEAL) Charles Heron, U.S. Air Force Col. William J. Kornitzer, U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James E. Rudder.
Ambrozak special operations forces career as a psychological operations officer spanned more than 60 years beginning with his first deployment to Laos in 1961 supporting Operation Hotfoot/White Star. He played a key role in the formative years of psychological operations during Vietnam. He helped to stand up the 4th Psychological Operation Group and was an instructor at the U.S. Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School. After retirement, he served as a mentor to upcoming psychological operations Soldiers.
Brown commanded U.S. Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2007. He enlisted in the Infantry in 1967 and completed Special Forces training and served in Vietnam in 7th Special Forces Group. Commissioned in 1970 he became a helicopter pilot and returned to Vietnam with the 129th Assault Helicopter Company. Later, he would participate in Operation Eagle Claw, the rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages in 1980. He would go on to command from the company to the regimental level of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). During his career he would also serve in Grenada, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq. Finally, he would command Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command before commanding USSOCOM. Brown established the SOF Care Coalition charged with supporting wounded warriors and their families during his command at USSOCOM.
Heron served 28 years as a commissioned SEAL culminating as Commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group Two. He left a legacy of tactical, operational, and strategic vision leading special mission units, commanding two Naval Special Warfare Units and one Naval Special Warfare Group. Following his retirement, he led the Navy SEAL Foundation Operations Center helping hundreds of family members affected by the largest mass casualty in the Afghanistan campaign known as Extortion 17. His efforts exemplify USSOCOM's commitment to Gold Star families.
Kornitzer's career culminated by commanding the 2nd Air Division on Hurlburt Field, Florida from 1984 to 1986. During his career he led forces in combat search and rescue operations. He pioneered night vision goggle use for pilots during air refueling missions. He participated in the Son Tay prison raid in Vietnam and Operation Eagle Claw in Iran.
McChrystal served more than 34 years where he commanded both Joint Special Operations Command and the International Security Assistance Forces - U.S. Forces Afghanistan. McChrystal is credited with changing the way special operations forces are employed and how the nation views those forces in a positive way. Considered an exceptional leader and possessing unequalled professional competence, he is recognized to have directly contributed to the nation's success in the Global War on Terrorism.
Rudder, an Army Ranger, served in the 2nd Ranger Battalion during World War II. On June 6, 1944, Rudder led three companies of Rangers and scaled the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc during D-day on the beaches of Normandy, France. After taking the heights, the 2nd Ranger battalion thwarted several strong German counterattacks. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that day.
The six newest inductees will join an elite group of 63 other special operations warriors who have been inducted into the Commando Hall of Honor since its inception in 2010. Past inductees come from all four branches of service and have served in every conflict since World War II.