Photos US Army Special Forces (Airborne)



I always was fascinated with the US Army Special Forces, the "Quiet Professionals". Specially so their original main mission, the raising, training and leading in combat of guerrilla forces behind enemy lines, based on the concept of the SOE / OSS "Jedburgh Teams", is one of my favourite military history matters. So let's start with some pictures form the early days.

Colonel Aaron Bank 1902-2004, OSS veteran and first CO of the 10th Special Forces group (Airborne).

During World War II, 39-year old Aaron Bank enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Private in 1942. He graduated from Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as an Infantry 2LT. Assigned to a stateside Transportation Railroad Battalion due to his age, he volunteered for the Office of Strategic Service (OSS) in 1943. He served in Europe, commanding Jedburgh Team PACKARD, the aborted IRON CROSS mission, and Indochina Mercy Team RAVEN. During the Korean War, Bank served as Civil Affairs Officer, Executive Officer, and Deputy Commander for the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. Reassigned to the Office of the Chief of Psychological Warfare in the Pentagon, COL Bank helped develop the basic doctrine and structure of Army Special Forces.
In 1952, he was selected to command the first Special Forces unit, the 10th Special Forces Group, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He deployed with the group to West Germany in late 1953, and commanded it until late 1954. In 1958 he retired after serving again on the Army Staff. COL Bank was selected as the first Honorary Colonel of the Special Forces Regiment in 1986, serving in that position until his death in 2004. Colonel Aaron Bank is an enduring symbol of Special Forces. Below is his quote from the 1956 10th Special Forces yearbook:
“Dedicated adherence to spartan standards, maintenance of continuous operational readiness for the conduct of multiple, complex missions; complete faith in the capability to execute those missions and the willing acceptance of hazards far beyond the normal call of duty have made the 10th Special Forces Group the unit with the greatest combat potential in the Armed Forces.”
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Somewhere near Alés, France, late summer of 1944. Bank's Jedburgh Team, code named "Packard", with a commandeered Citroên car. From left tom right. The wife of Michel, Henri, (alias name) the French officer on the Jedburgh team, Captain Aaron Bank and Michel, member of the French Résistance, driver and master scrounger. The Jedburgh team had dropped into the Lozère region of southern France on July 31st 1944.

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False ID card, in the name of Henri Marchand, Captain Bank used during his mission in France. Henri Marchand's occupation is stated as "masseur" physiotherapist, Aaron Bank's civilian trade before he joined the Army.

Captain Bank, on the left of the first rank with a group of Wehrmacht defectors, all clad in German uniforms. The picture was taken during training for "Operation Iron Cross", a secret commando raid that had as target Adolf Hitler himself.

The early days of the 10th Group. In front of the "Junker Kaserne" in Bad Tölz, Bavaria:

MSG Ernest E. Emmons, SFC Kenneth W. Gibson, SFC William F. Whitehead and SFC Bertsy M. Goodson. Not the unofficial "Green Beret" with the Trojan horse crest.


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