7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces Regiment
The 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was first constituted as the 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Service Force on 9 July 1942 at Camp William Harrison, Montana. This specialized Canadian-United States unit was organized and trained to conduct commando raids against Nazi Germany's fledging nuclear weapons capability in the the Scandinavian region of occupied Europe. However, the unit was diverted to the campaign in the Aleutian Islands, where they were confronted by not only Japanese, but the brutal arctic climate.
Upon successful culmination of the Aleutian Campaign, the 1st Special Service Force was transferred to the European theater where they fought with distinction in both southern France and Italy, earning the nickname "The Devil's Brigade." The unit was awarded 6 campaign streamers for participation in the Second World War. The 1st Special Service Force was disbanded in France in 1945. It was reconstituted on 25 September 1953 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as the 77th Special Forces.
In 1960, the unit was reconstituted as the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Although the 7th Special Forces Group was not the oldest Special Forces Group on the active roles, it was referred to as the building block from which Special Forces expanded during the term of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Throughout the early 1960's, the requests for Mobile Traing Teams far exceeded the US military capability, therefore the 7th Special Forces Group was called upon to assist in the organization and activation of other similar units. The 7th Special Forces Group provided the cadre for the 3rd and the 6th Special Forces Groups, which were oriented on the Middle East and Africa.
In 1961, the 7th Special Forces Group was given the mission of advising the South Vietnamese Army. The 7th Special Forces Group was also actively involved in Laos and Thailand. The first Medal of Honor earned in the Republic of South Vietnam was awarded to Captain Roger Donlon, a member of the 7th Special Forces Group.
At the same time Special Forces were expanding into Latin America. In May 1962, the advance party from Company D, 7th Special Forces Group departed for Fort Gulick, Panama Canal Zone, to establish what was later designated the 8th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. The 8th Special Forces Group was inactivated in 1972 and the unit reflagged as the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group.
When President Reagan took office in 1980, communism was spreading rapidly throughout Latin America. Nicaragua was controlled by a Communist regime, and with the support of Cuba, they were working hard to export their revolution to El Salvador and Honduras. The 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group drafted the initial plan for US Military trainers in El Salvador that was accepted by US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the Reagan Administration. Throughout the decade of the 1980s, soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group played a critical role in helping the Salvadoran military grow form a constabulary force of 12,000 to a counter-insurgency force of 55,000 men under arms. For its work, the 3rd Battalion was entitled to the Army Superior Unit Award Streamer, embroidered "LATIN AMERICA 1985-1986".
The 7th Special Forces Group also played a very important role in preparing the Honduran Military to resist and defeat any potential invasion from Nicaragua. The extensive 7th Special Forces Group operations throughout Honduras in the 1980s not only prepared them for the threatened invasion, but also assisted the Honduran forces in conducting their own counter insurgency operations and ultimately defeating the Honduran communist-supported insurgency.
During the last half of the 1980s, the 7th Special Forces Group became involved in counter narcotics operations in thr Andean Ridge countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. The purpose was not only to reduce the flow of drugs in the United States, but also to help control and reduce the violence that has resulted form the flow of illegal and uncontrolled dollars into South America.
From 19 December 1989 to 31 January 1990, elements of the 7th Special Forces Group participated in Operation Just Cause to restore democracy to Panama. On D-Day and over the next 10 days, the 7th Special Forces Group conducted many reconnaissance and Direct Action missions in support of the operation and the "Ma Bell Take downs" of 5 Panamanian cartels located in rural areas throughout the country. The 7th Special Forces Group was awarded a campaign streamer for its participation in the operation.
After the end of Operation Just Cause, both 2nd and 3rd Battalions played key roles in Operation Promote Liberty, which, over 6 months transformed Panama from a military dictatorship supported by a corrupt military, into a legitimate democratic government, protected by a police force.
In 2005, the Department of Defense recommended in its BRAC Recommendations that the 7th Special Forces relocate from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. In 2010, the 7th Special Forces Group moved to Eglin Air Force Base as per the BRAC recommendations.
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