Special Operations News

Florida’s Special Forces Celebrate 50 Years

STARKE, FL – With so much history surrounding the 50th anniversary of the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, and the unveiling of a monument honoring the soldiers and families of the battalion, it’s not surprising to see the love and admiration that is shown by the group of men who consider both past and present members of the unit ‘family.’

Lt. Col. John Pelleritti, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, leads his soldiers on the parade field during a ceremony, Feb. 9, 2013, honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Battalion at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

On Feb. 15, 1963, the Headquarters and Subordinate Detachments of Company C, 20th Special Forces Group, were organized in Florida. In the following years, they would reorganize into the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne). The 3/20th is comprised of the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and Battalion Support Group located at Camp Blanding, Fla., with Companies located in Ocala, Fla., Roanoke Rapids, N.C. and Wauchula, Fla., and a Military Intelligence Detachment in Louisville, Ky.

Sgt. Patrick Mahnke, a member of the BSG, expressed joy in the opportunity to take part in the 50th anniversary of the battalion. “I’m very proud to be a member of the 20th Special Forces Group, it’s an honor to be a part of this very fine unit, and to be a part of the ‘Quiet Professionals’.”

In more than 25 countries, the 3rd Battalion has supported national military objectives to include; humanitarian civic action programs, Foreign Internal Defense, Counter-Narcotics Training, and natural disasters in the country. The battalion has conducted its dual National Guard role for both the nation and state by supporting the state of Florida for defense support to civil disturbances, hurricanes, flooding and wildfires since 1992.

Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr., The adjutant general of Florida, called the 3/20th, the ‘tip of the spear’ for their hard work and dedication to providing immediate assessments, reconnaissance and search and rescue operations, as first responders to hurricane impacted areas. “Their actions literally meant the difference between life and death,” said Titshaw.

Lt. Col. John Pelleritti, the battalion commander said, “It meant a lot to have this ceremony here at Camp Blanding, because this is where the unit was started, and it’s huge for the younger troops to know the history of this unit. It’s great to have the leadership out here to engage with the soldiers for such an important event.”

“As the battalion command sergeant major, it was critical for me to be here and be a part of this moment, and for the younger soldiers to understand our history along with having the monument unveiled here is very special,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Lanham.

The event also featured various static displays showcasing some of the equipment used to operate in missions.

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