SWCS Celebrates 2nd Annual Heritage Week Honoring Past, Present, Future

Steve Morningstar, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Public Affairs

FORT LIBERTY, N.C. - The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) celebrated its second annual Heritage Week at the SWCS campus on Fort Liberty, April 22-26. This year’s theme reflected on SWCS’ “Past, Present, and Future.”

The weeklong celebration kicked off with Heritage Physical Training. The PT event was split into eight stations and eight groups of participants rotated through each station. Each station had a biography and a brief history about the person for whom SWCS buildings were named after. Before the PT sessions, the bios were read followed by a physical training exercise, such as pushups or body weight squats being performed in groups.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mark Miller, the SWCS command chaplain, conducted a prayer breakfast after the physical training event. “It was an honor to begin this Heritage Week with a time of prayer and reflection in this sacred space, the JFK Memorial Chapel,” Miller said.

The second day of Heritage Week began with the Heritage Lecture Series. Dr. Troy Sacquety and Dr. Jared Tracy, from the USASOC History Office, Tim Stoy and Monica Stoy, guest speakers, and Roxanne Merritt, JFK Special Warfare Museum director, gave lectures on ARSOF and The Korean War. It included lectures on the impact of the Korean War on ARSOF, PSYWAR, Civil Affairs/Military Governance, Ad-hoc Raider Companies, Rangers, and Army Unit 8240.  

Rounding out the day was the Sunset Liberty March at the Liberty Trail on Fort Liberty. In keeping with the Heritage Week theme, the march served to educate about ARSOF subjects.

Christin Chavez, SWCS Family Programs director, linked the Sunset Liberty March to Heritage Week.

 “We marched at sunset to honor our past, praise the present, and encourage the future Soldiers and their Families of ARSOF and beyond,” she said.
A wreath-laying ceremony was conducted at the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery, the final resting place of 11 Distinguished and Honorary Members of the Regiments and one awarded the Green Beret. Family members of the honored, SOF Soldiers, their families, and alumni gathered to witness the wreath laying ceremony conducted by Brig. Gen. Will Beaurpere and Command Sgt. Maj. Lionel Strong, SWCS commanding general and command sergeant major.

The Cultural Day event was observed on April 25, the fourth day of Heritage Week.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Bringhurst, the Language, Regional Education and Culture (LREC) director under the 2nd Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), welcomed attendees to the celebration. Language skills and cultural acumen are central to the work special operations forces conduct. Cultural displays were put on representing the 15 different languages taught in the LREC.

The last day of Heritage Week saw the Distinguished and Honorary Members of the Regiment induction ceremony. Special Forces inducted nine alumni as distinguished members and one honorary member; Civil Affairs inducted two distinguished and two honorary members; and Psychological Operations inducted three alumni as distinguished members and three as honorary members of their individual regiment.

Roxanne Merritt, JFK Museum director, was inducted as an honorary member by all three regiments for her overall contributions.

Heritage Week culminated with a Heritage Formal.

Beaurpere remarked on the importance of Heritage Week and reinforced the theme.

“Understanding where we have been, where we are today, and where we are going,” Beaurpere said. “As we innovate to overcome challenges in an uncertain future, we must understand and appreciate how those who came before us dealt with the impacts of new technologies and achieved success against similar challenges."
- Veritas Et Libertas –
2024 Heritage Week Wreath Laying

The Heritage Week Wreath Laying will take place on 
Wednesday, April 24 2024 at 2:00 PM.
at The Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery
8220 Bragg Blvd, Spring Lake, NC 28390.