The history of 1st Special Forces Group began on 1 April 1956, with the activation of 14th Special Forces Operational Detachment (Area) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Hand-picked from the 77th Special Forces Group, the members of this unit were specifically selected and trained for the purpose of establishing a special operations capability in the Asian-Pacific theater of operations. It was followed into theater by the 12th, 13th, and 16th SFOD’s and 248th Quartermaster Detachment (Rigger). Once all units arrived at Okinawa, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated effective 24 June 1957 at Camp Drake, Japan.
Since its dedication in April 2004, the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Memorial Wall and Plaza has stood as a symbol of America’s recognition and honor of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). Soldiers who served and sacrificed their lives since the unit was activated. Inscribed on the Memorial’s black granite wall are the names of 176 men who gave their last full measure of devotion. The Memorial itself is dedicated to honor the “courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty and country” of all who answered the call to serve their nation across the globe – wherever the Soldiers of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) were deployed: to places like Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia,Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the far reaches of Asia-Pacific Region.
Among the names of unit members engraved on the wall are Captain Harry Cramer, the first operational casualty of the Vietnam War, and Staff Sergeant Fred Mick, the last Special Forces Soldier to be killed in the Vietnam War, (both members of the 1st Special Forces Group). Major Cole Hogan who was killed during the terrorist attack at the Pentagon on 11 September 2001; Sergeant First Class Nathan Chapman, (who became the first US Service member killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan on 4 January, 2002; and Sergeant First Class Mark Jackson who was killed by a terrorist bomb in the Philippines on 2 October 2002 – all members of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)
On two occasions each year, Memorial Day and Menton Day, the members of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) pause to honor the fallen in ceremonies held at the Memorial Plaza commemorating their sacrifices. It is on those solemn occasions that we honor the fallen and officially add the names of newly fallen to the Memorial Wall.
The First In Asia Association is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assumed the honorable task of planning, funding and constructing the memorial wall that is now an integral, and much revered, part of the Group’s compound. The First In Asia Association continues the proud task of maintaining the Memorial Wall and Plaza, and aiding our Gold Star Families; in doing so, it assists the Group in its efforts to properly honor our fallen and ensure that the memorial remains place of solitude and remembrance.