The Special Operations Forces Formal

The Special Operations Forces Formal is a mutually cooperative endeavor by the following three entities:

  • Bull Simons Memorial Chapter XXIX-Special Forces Association (The Green Berets).
  • Special Operations Forces students attending the Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, KS.
  • Combined Arms Center-Special Operations Forces Cell, Ft. Leavenworth, KS.

The origin of the current Special Operations Forces (SOF) Formal dates to the 1980's when a group consisting mainly of men serving in the 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne) held a picnic at an outdoor park in Wyandotte County, Kansas. The picnic became an annual event that was soon moved to Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base in Grandview, Missouri, where the event was held inside at one of the post clubs for two or three years. Over the next few years, both attendance and the formality of the event gradually increased.

In 1992 Mr. Jack Sprague, Colonel Roger Donlon and 16 other Special Forces men succeeded in getting "Bull Simons Memorial Chapter XXIX (29)" re-established as an active chapter in the Special Forces Association, and Jack Sprague was chosen to serve as the chapter president. With the chapter re-activated, President Sprague and Colonel Donlon were determined to take the initiative to achieve an annual formal that would combine various entities of U.S. Special Operations Forces. President Sprague arranged to meet with the appropriate officer at the CGSC to collaborate on the establishment of an annual Special Operations Forces Formal. The two men met and agreed that SOF students attending the CGSC course should be involved in the planning of the formal as a learning experience with the potential to serve them well in later military assignments.

U.S. Army Special Forces students at the CGSC had already begun holding a formal to commemorate the 9 April 1987 official action designating Special Forces a separate career branch within the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army Special Forces students held their event as close to the 9 April date as possible. A now unknown U.S. Army captain attending the CGSC course began working with President Sprague to accomplish the creation of a formal that would combine the students' Special Forces Branch Commemorative Formal with the Special Forces Association Formal that was being held annually by Bull Simons Memorial Chapter XXIX. They chose to honor the plan envisioned by COL Donlon to broaden the scope of the formal to include all U.S. Special Operations Forces that send officers to participate in the CGSC course.

While plans for the first Special Operations Forces Formal were still being developed, the members of Bull Simons Memorial Chapter XXIX-Special Forces Association extended an invitation to the CGSC Special Operations students to attend their chapter Octoberfest. The SOF students responded to the Octoberfest invitation by having a significant contingent of students attend the event. These accumulated cooperative efforts resulted in the first joint CGSC-SOF students/Bull Simons Memorial Chapter XXIX SOF Formal being held at the Leavenworth Community Center in the spring of 1993. In 2002, following the establishment of the Combined Arms Center-Special Operations Forces Cell, the commanding officer of the CAC-SOF Cell became the official host for the SOF Formal.

These past 20 years of shared fellowship have fostered lasting personal and professional relationships between and among all participants, including many distinguished Special Operations international officers. The future is ours to mold!