Special Operations News

Cannon Honors Latest Hero

CANNON AFB, NM – The 27th Special Operations Wing inducted its twenty-second member into the Hall of Heroes in the Landing Zone at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. on Dec. 12.

The Hall of Heroes was established eight years ago by Cannon’s own Airman Leadership School to recognize fellow service members. The distinct veterans recognized are commemorated with a shadow-box displaying mementoes from their service in the military mounted on a wall in the Landing Zone.

The 27 SOW recognized Dr. Samuel Neff for his heroic contributions throughout his military career as a defender of peace.

Neff, a Clovis, N.M., native, enlisted in the Army Air Forces in May of 1942. During the World War II era, Neff set aside medical school to serve his country.

Neff was appointed as a member of the 454th Bomb Group, where he piloted the B-24 Liberator. He would eventually become part of Operation Tidal Wave, as an all-out effort against the Ploesti oil fields. Neff flew a total of 37 combat missions in support of Operation Tidal Wave.

Later, Neff received the Mediterranean Theater of Operations Medal for Valor with a citation that read: “It is with great personal pride, that I present this certificate to 1st Lt. Samuel Neff, Pilot, who, having been engaged in 50 combat missions in the Mediterranean theater, in Air Battles of great intensity, has gallantly and repeatedly carried the offensive against heavy enemy opposition to the heart of the enemy and has, by his unfaltering courage, earned the gratitude and praise of his fellow countrymen, as well as his commander”, signed, Lt. Gen. John Dawson, U.S. Army.

When he returned to the states in 1945, Neff attended Colorado University for pre-medical training. Once he completed his formal schooling, he returned to serve in the Air Force as a physician during the Korean War.

Neff returned to Clovis in 1957 and began a local practice in medicine. He continued to serve his community until he retired in 1995.

“Dr. Neff, throughout your service you demonstrated acts of valor and heroism – although you refer to it as only doing your job, in reality, it is much more than that,” said Col. Jeffrey Gillen, 27th Special Operations Medical Group commander. “Your service is legendary and you inspire all of us to be more. The Airmen assembled here today honor you while you join fellow heroes on this wall as an inspiration for those who serve our great nation today and in the future. We all salute you sir.”

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