MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The U.S. Special Operations Command inducted five former special operators into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor located at the USSOCOM headquarters, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, April 20. More than 100 people attended the ceremony to honor the inductees and watched as each of the inductees received a medal from Army Gen. Raymond A. Thomas, USSOCOM commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Thetford, USSOCOM command senior enlisted adviser.
This year’s inductees were Army Maj. Caesar Civitella, Marine Corps Col. Robert Coates, Marine Corps Master Sgt. John Mosser, Air Force Col. Billy “Rusty” Napier, and Army Maj. Thomas Powell.
Civitella was an original member of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and did combat jumps into Italy and France. His career continued as a Special Forces officer retiring at the rank of major. He then joined the Central Intelligence Agency supporting paramilitary operations for nearly 20 years.
Coates’ career spanned 33 years and he commanded reconnaissance platoon, served as commanding officer, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command Detachment One and served two tours of duty with the CIA.
Mosser distinguished himself during a myriad of special operations assignments in his 20-year career culminating as the future operations chief, 2d Marine Raider Battalion. He served as a special operations team sergeant and team chief during two combat deployments in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Napier spent 42 years in special operations as an Air Force officer or in the corporate world working aircraft equipment acquisitions for Special Operations Forces. A master navigator with more than 6,000 flying hours, Napier was awarded with three Distinguished Flying Crosses and Mackay flying trophy for leading an AC-130 sortie into the Panama invasion.
Powell served in special operations from 1965 to 2015 culminating his career as a senior intelligence analyst for Joint Special Operations Command. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his valorous actions during the attempted rescue of prisoners of war held in the Son Tay, Vietnam prison.
The newest members will join other recognized warriors in the Commando Hall of Honor, which includes such legendary names as; Aaron Bank, Charles Beckwith, Ted Lunger, Sidney Shacknow, and William Darby. Their contributions and legacies to the special operations community and this country have been unquestionably influential and are truly inspirational.
“A perk I enjoy is the ability to single out individuals for their performance and today is a great opportunity to do so, in terms of inducting five truly historic members of Special Operations Command into our Commando Hall of Honor,” said Gen. Thomas, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command.
Each new inductee, received a Commando Hall of Honor Medal and a crystal commemorative induction plaque, but the day was about something greater than tangible items.
“It’s a huge honor to be selected for this award, this is a very special organization of amazing people and just to be considered worthy to be amongst those type of heroes is a huge and humbling honor,” said Mosser.