TAMPA, FL — Twenty special operators who have been awarded the Medal of Honor were inducted into U.S. Special Operations Command’s Commando Hall of Honor on Jan. 29, 2019. The multi-generational Medal of Honor recipients spanned from World War I with the induction of Army Maj. Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan to today’s war on terrorism with the induction of Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II.
The group of national heroes were given a tour of USSOCOM’s Medal of Honor Hall, given a global mission briefing by Army Gen. Raymond Thomas III, commander of USSOCOM, followed by a formal mess night where they were officially inducted into the hall.
“It is just a great honor to be in the company of such extraordinary people like you,” Thomas said. “Our command really cherishes your contributions to special operations.”
The guest speaker during the Commando Hall of Honor induction ceremony was Navy Adm. Eric Olson, the eighth USSOCOM commander and Silver Star Medal recipient for his actions in 1993 at the Battle of Mogadishu.
“Only those who have earned the Medal of Honor know how deep one has to reach to find the strength to perform such acts of extreme valor,” Olson said. “Those who wear the medal live under a very public spotlight, know what it takes to be the highest role model for the rest of their lives. None of them sought to be in the public eye. They always look good, Stand tall. Speak well. They go the extra mile and if you look at them tonight you see what I mean.”
The medal represents the very best of a warrior culture. The extraordinary acts and courage are performed for the right reasons,” continued Olson. “It’s worth noting that Medals of Honor awarded in our lifetime were for saving lives and not taking them at levels of heroism that they and we honor most.”
The grandson Maj. Gen. William Donovan, David Donovan and his wife Teresa, attended the induction representing his grandfather who commanded the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. The OSS is the precursor for the Central Intelligence Agency and ultimately USSOCOM.
“What an incredible experience Teresa and I had assisting with the induction of my grandfather and other Medal of Honor winners into the Hall of Fame,” Donovan said. “We are still trying to absorb being at the nerve center of the world’s only hyper-power along with the Medal of Honor recipients from the past and present.”
The following special operations Medal of Honor recipients were inducted into USSOCOM’s Commando Hall of Honor.
Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, U.S. Army
Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Ashley, U.S. Army
Sgt. Gary Beikirch, U.S. Army
Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez, U.S. Army
Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Edward Byers, U.S. Navy
Master Sgt. John Chapman, U.S. Air Force
Maj. Gen. William Donovan, U.S. Army
Maj. Gen. Merritt Edson, U.S. Marine Corps
Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, U.S. Army
Col. Robert Howard, U.S. Army
Col. William Jones, U.S. Air Force
Sgt. John Levitow, U.S. Air Force
Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell, U.S. Army
Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, U.S. Army
Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, U.S. Army
Capt. Gary Rose, U.S. Army
Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart, U.S. Army
Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II, U.S. Army
Petty Officer 1st Class James Williams, U.S. Navy
Sgt. Gordon Yntema, U.S. Army