JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington - To honor the 74th anniversary of the First Special Service Force's disbandment and to enhance unit cohesion, the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldiers tested their physical and mental endurance with their Canadian Special Forces partners in the presence of friends and family during Menton Week, Dec. 3-7.
The Opening Ceremony kicked off the weeklong celebration where Col. Owen Ray, the 1st SFG (A) Commander, commemorated the First Special Service Force who, among their many missions, destroyed a German artillery brigade in World War II. Because they conducted successful night raids, the FSSF earned the name "The Devil's Brigade."
"These relentless commandos not only led the way to victory in the darkest days of World War II, but laid the framework for modern day U.S. and Canadian Special Operations Forces," said Ray. "They gave rise to generations of professional warriors like the ones that stand here today that carry on the legacy and brotherhood that remains strong."
The Opening Ceremony honored the lives of the fallen 1st SFG (A) and Canadian Special Operations brothers, and celebrated the accomplishments of the FSSF during World War II. Following the ceremony, the 1st SFG (A) Soldiers participated in team events, such as the Skedco drag, farmer's carry, pullups with weight vest, bench press and a 300 meter shuttle run.
Each day signified an era in the U.S. and Canadian Special Forces history, including World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and the Global War on Terror. On Dec. 4, a day in which the unit honored the 1st SFG (A) presence in the Korean War, the 1st SFG (A) Soldiers endured an 11 mile ruck march at Solo Point, an obstacle course, litter carry, military vehicle push and target shooting at the range. A six-man team from 1st Battalion, stationed in Okinawa, Japan, took home the win for the fastest completion time.
The 1st SFG (A) community welcomed families and friends to Rogers Drop Zone on Dec. 6 to witness their Soldiers demonstrate free fall and static line airborne operations from CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Soldiers stood proudly as they received their foreign jump wings from the Canadian jump masters.
The exchanging of foreign jump wings is a long standing tradition bonding Airborne units. Many of the paratroopers from both countries have spent the majority of their careers fighting the Global War on Terror alongside their allies.
The 1st SFG (A) closed the week with a mixed martial arts fight night, The Gladiator Challenge, where Soldiers in a variety of weight classes, fought hand-to-hand against each other to take home the winning belt. On Dec. 7, Soldiers, Gold Star Families and honored guests joined together at the Menton Ball that marked the official closing of Menton Week 2018.
A major with the Canadian Special Operations Regiment spoke on the FSSF legacy and his appreciation for the unwavering support from the 1st SFG (A) family members. He emphasized the 1st SFG (A) and FSSF commitment to operational success, and the pride shared between Special Forces partners.
"The camaraderie, the bond between our men, regardless of nationality, remains both a source of comfort and pride," he said. "We honor all those who gave the supreme sacrifice, but we also honor those who, daring to die, survived. It continues to be an honor to serve alongside our American comrades around the world."