History of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) began in 1980 as the Col. Arthur D. "Bull" Simons Scholarship Fund. The Bull Simons Fund was created following the Iranian hostage rescue attempt, to provide college educations for the 17 children who survived the nine men killed or incapacitated at Desert One. It was named in honor of the legendary Army Green Beret Bull Simons, who repeatedly risked his life on rescue missions.
Following creation of the United States Special Operations Command, and as casualties mounted from actions such as Operations "Urgent Fury" (Grenada), "Just Cause" (Panama), "Desert Storm" (Kuwait and Iraq), and "Restore Hope" (Somalia), the Bull Simons Fund gradually expanded its outreach program to encompass all Special Operations Forces.
In 1995, the Family Liaison Action Group, which was established to support the families of the 53 Iranian hostages; and the Spectre (Air Force gunship) Association Scholarship Fund; merged to form the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
In 1998, the SOWF expanded its scholarship and financial aid counseling to include the families of special operators killed during training since 1980. This action made 205 more children eligible for college funding.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation mission is to provide a college education to every child who has lost a parent while serving in Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations during an operational or training mission.
Nearly 70,000 miliary special operations and support personnel are stationed in units throughout the United States and overseas bases. Some of the largest concentrations of Special Operations Forces are at military bases at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Hurlburt Field, Florida; Coronado Naval Station, California; Dam Neck, Virginia; MacDill AFB, Florida; Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Little Creek, Virginia; Fort Carson, Colorado; Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, United Kingdom; and Kadena Air Base, Japan.
The Warrior Foundation is committed to providing scholarship grants, not loans, to over 1,000 surviving children. These children survive over 900 Special Operations personnel who gave their lives in service to their country, including those who died fighting our nation's war against terrorism, as part of "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan and the Philippines; as well as "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
To date, some 229 children of fallen special operations warriors have graduated from college.
"I knew the people from the Special Operations
Warrior Foundation were always
in my corner, ready to help."
-- Dr. Jim Lewis, son of Capt "Hal" Lewis (USAF)
who lost his life in Desert One in Iran, 1980.
Updated February 2014
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