The Special Forces Affiliation Chapter 42 renamed its group to honor two Special Forces troopers at a 9/11 dedication ceremony held Sunday at F.O.P. Lodge 47 in Eighty-4.
The chapter was rededicated because the Gene Vance Jr./Pat St. Clair Special Forces Chapter 42 Affiliation, to acknowledge the braveness and sacrifice of fallen U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Gene Arden Vance Jr., who was killed on Might 19, 2002, in Afghanistan.
And it honored the service of retired Command Sgt. Maj. Pat St. Clair of Mt. Morris, Greene County, who took half within the raid of the Son Tay jail compound in North Vietnam in 1970 in an try to rescue some 61 American prisoners of struggle.
The Son Tay jail raid is taken into account one of the daring Particular Operations missions in U.S. navy historical past.
Amongst these in attendance at Sunday’s ceremony have been Vance’s mom, June Vance, his widow, Lisa Vance, and his daughter, Amber Vance, who was 18 when her father died.
“Gene was a novel and extraordinary man. He was a delicate large,” mentioned Davis of Vance, who cherished biking, rafting, and the outside. “We are able to by no means give sufficient love, prayers, help, consolation, or gratitude to a Gold Star Household.”
Twenty years after Vance’s loss of life, his daughter mentioned it’s an honor to see her father’s identify stay on.
“I actually don’t suppose I ever did recover from shedding my dad; I respect the Special Forces Chapter 42 Affiliation for making it doable for me to be right here this yr. It means rather a lot to me,” mentioned Amber. “I’ve so many recollections with my dad. It’s at all times good to listen to about others remembering him as nicely, as a result of it was an indescribable loss for me.”
Whereas on patrol as a part of Operation Mountain Lion, a reconnaissance sweep alongside the Afghan-Pakistani border, Vance, of Morgantown, W.Va., and two different members of his unit and 18 Afghan troopers have been ambushed and got here below heavy fireplace. Vance was shot within the chest with a bullet from an AK-47 rifle.
Regardless of being critically wounded, Vance continued to translate and talk battlefield intelligence to the U.S. and Afghan navy forces, and is credited with saving the lives of these 20 troopers.
Vance died aboard a navy helicopter evacuating him from the battlefield. He was 38 years outdated.
St. Clair, who, like Vance was a member of the nineteenth Special Forces Group of the West Virginia Nationwide Guard, referred to as Vance “a real American hero.”
“It’s an honor to share the chapter namesake with Gene Vance, a rare particular person, a warrior’s warrior and a hero’s hero,” mentioned St. Clair. “Simply to share the namesake with him is extraordinary.
St. Clair was 21 years outdated when he was chosen as one of many 56 troopers who made up the particular operations pressure.
“Once I volunteered for (the mission), I didn’t know what it was. They requested for volunteers, and all they might say is, coaching for the mission begins in August, and for those who make it again, it will be earlier than Christmas,” St. Clair recalled.
The assault pressure was divided into three teams, and St. Clair was assigned to “Blueboy,” whose task was to land contained in the closely fortified jail camp, get rid of the guards, and free the prisoners, who have been dying from hunger, torture, or sickness.
St. Clair was the primary man to disembark from a helicopter that crash-landed contained in the jail compound on Nov. 21, 1970, and he and his crew exchanged fireplace with a variety of enemy troopers, killing them or forcing them to retreat.
However, the troopers found, the POWs had been moved shortly earlier than the raid.
Though the operation’s major goal was to rescue POWs, its secondary aim was to present the prisoners hope and ship a message to North Vietnam that the U.S. wouldn’t go away its troops behind.
In that, the mission was successful and a morale increase to POWs, St. Clair mentioned.
St. Clair nonetheless meets yearly with the 23 surviving troopers who participated within the Son Tay raid. He additionally has met with prisoners of struggle who have been freed on the finish of the struggle.
“Figuring out and assembly POWs is a life-enlightening expertise. When you think about what they endured, you possibly can’t have a nasty day. You simply take into consideration what they went by for seven or eight years.”
Chapter president Tom Davis mentioned the choice to re-name the chapter after Vance and St. Clair, who he mentioned is a devoted advocate for Special Forces veterans and their households, was a simple one.
“I’m glad we have been in a position to do that, and I’m glad to have the ability to name them my brothers,” mentioned Davis.
SFA Chapter 42 is a non-profit comprised of energetic and retired Special Forces members from southwestern Pennsylvania, Northern West Virgina, and Southeastern Ohio.
Cash raised by fundraisers are used to assist elevate consciousness of the Special Forces group, to help members with monetary wants, and to convey consideration and sources to post-traumatic stress dysfunction and different veteran causes. The chapter not too long ago began a scholarship fund for members’ youngsters and grandchildren.