CEO Updates

September 2022, John A. Glowacki Jr.

The following is reprinted with permission from our teammate, Brigadier General (retired) Robert "Bob" Holmes.

Remember 9/11
11 September 2022 

Every September, I remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our homeland in 2001. The terror group, Al Qaeda (AQ), carried out its longstanding threat and intent to attack the United States. Nineteen AQ terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners and turned them into weapons of mass destruction. For me and others, the 9/11 memory begins with the attacks and as well, includes the Nation’s immediate response to combat AQ and Terrorism.

Two aircraft crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center. A third aircraft targeted and crashed into the Pentagon. The fourth aircraft, flying towards Washington, D.C., crashed in a Pennsylvania field after brave passengers selflessly thwarted the hijackers. Just under three thousand Americans died and more than five thousand were injured in those attacks.

In 2001, I was a Colonel and commanded the 720th Special Tactics Group at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The 720th was the Air Force’s Special Operations Command’s ground warfighting force and member of the nation’s Special Operations Forces alongside the Army Special Forces and Rangers, Navy SEALS and select Marine Infantrymen.

Witnessing a televised report of an aircraft crashing into the North Tower during my morning workout, my first thought was a small aircraft had crashed into the World Trade Center North Tower. In a very few minutes, a second aircraft flew into the South Tower, and I knew the “sequenced” crashes were the work of terrorists and an emphatic attack on the US Homeland.

Immediately, I called home to my wife Colleen, and asked her to turn on the news. I then went to my headquarters and placed the 720th Group with its five squadrons, on 24/7 alert. Very soon, all higher headquarters did the same. The 720th had advance operators moving in single-digit hours.

The United States demanded Afghanistan turn over AQ Leader, Usama Bin Laden. The Taliban government refused, so the US planned to overthrow the government. Rejecting an initial plan of 60,000 troops and a delay of six-months for preparation, President Bush decided for an immediate response of covert CIA operations and extensive Special Operations Forces. 

This began the rapid deployment of three Joint Special Operations Task Forces, an Interagency Task Force and a Marine Air Ground Task Force. Operators from the 720th’s four Special Tactics Squadrons and a Special Operations Weather Squadron were organic to each task force. Special Tactics Airmen would be in every element of the battle. 

Task Force (TF) Sword, coupled with TF Bowie, had the mission to capture or kill Bin Laden and other high value AQ leaders. TF Dagger deployed to an old Soviet airbase on the border of Uzbekistan. Dagger’s mission was to cross the border, link up with Afghanistan Northern Alliance resistance fighters and take key Taliban-held cities in the North and West. In the South, TF K-Bar would link with the Marine Task Force to cross the southern border and destroy any safe haven for the enemy and establish a foothold for follow-on forces.

Navy SEAL Captain Robert “Bob” Harward commanded and formed TF K-Bar around three SEAL Teams, an Army Special Forces Group and my 720th Group headquarters element. Bob and I were good friends from a previous assignment and he asked me to serve as his deputy commander. K-Bar deployed with the Marine Task Force under the command of then Marine Brigadier General Jim Mattis.

In November, the Afghan Resistance and TF Dagger controlled the key cities. In early December, Kandahar's airport and AQ stronghold fell. By 17 December, the historic efforts of the Afghan Resistance and US Special Operations Forces along with now-added British and Aussie Special Operators drove the Taliban from power. A regime change in 60 days.

The 720th presence was throughout combat operations in Afghanistan. TF Dagger’s Airmen entered the deserted US Embassy in Kabul, took a sheet of official stationery to write an announcement the embassy was back in the hands of US forces; then photographed it to record the moment. In the South, TF K-Bar’s Airmen, embedded with the SEALS, targeted and controlled the air strikes on AQ and Taliban locations in the mountain passes and caves in the south and east. In the rugged mountains and natural fortress of the northeast, TF Sword’s Airmen were part of the elite force chasing Bin Laden on the Pakistan Border.

Quickly, the 720th Airmen proved instrumental in writing a new playbook for the Air Force combat tactics. The most Senior USAF leadership immediately recognized the impact of Special Tactics on the battlefield and began to adapt Airpower Doctrine while we were still fighting. Small teams with embedded Airmen enjoyed the freedom of movement to “mass and focus” overwhelming airpower and lethality in the battlespace. This represented a never seen before economy of force.

In early 2002, we lost four Special Tactics Airmen. On 22 February, in the Philippines, Master Sergeant William McDowell and Staff Sergeant Juan Ridout, both Pararescueman, were killed in a counter terror air mission. On 4 March, at the Battle of Takur Ghar, we lost two operators: the recent Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant John Chapman, a Combat Controller, and Air Force Cross recipient, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, a Pararescueman. Both awards were posthumous. The SEALS and Rangers in the battle revered these Airmen for unflinching courage, bravery and selfless sacrifice. 

On my return home from Afghanistan, the flight made the usual turn and flew down the East Coast. I looked down on Manhattan Island and NYC. A familiar waypoint. But this time, the empty holes in the ground where the towers once stood was eerily sobering.

This closes my chapter and memory of 9/11.

The 720th, now the 24 Special Operations Wing, would remain a significant force in the Global War on Terror and two decades of fighting. It was extraordinary to witness the spirit, grit and sacrifice of Special Tactics operators.

In respect, the Nation recognized the Airmen of the 24 Special Operations Wing and predecessor, the 720th Special Tactics Group, with the highest valor awards including a Medal of Honor, 12 Air Force Crosses, 57 Silver Stars, and hundreds of Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. The recognition includes the Presidential Unit Citation for valor in combat. With this level of individual and organizational recognition, Special Tactics is among the highest of decorated communities in the Department of Defense and the highest in the Air Force since 11 September 2001.

This post is not about the glamor of war. War is simply not glamorous. But for warriors, it brings distinct clarity to purpose, value and commitment. 9/11 brought that clarity.

On 11 September 2001, the tragedy of the attacks and the lives lost brought a clarity of purpose and unity for the Nation. Today, remembering 9/11 is a call for the same clarity. A clarity to put aside division and anger and look at the best in all of us.

As a well-aged Airman soldier, I remember the ethos and spirit of the nation’s Special Operations Forces, often called the quiet professionals, who responded to the attacks on 9/11 with purpose, value and commitment. In particular, I remember the 720th and my tribe.

USAF Special Tactics. “First There…That Others May Live!”

Robert "Bob" Holmes, a native of Sylacauga, Alabama, has over four decades of experience leading at all levels from small teams to large complex organizations. He is a career Air Force Special Tactics Officer, combat veteran and a retired Brigadier General. Today, he coaches and encourages leaders.

If you think a friend or associate might enjoy reading, pass it along to them. They can click on the link below to Bull Gap Journal and sign up.

Contact Bob at brigholler@gmail.com
He's available to assist you or your organization with a professional development workshop, coaching or a speaking engagement.

Bull Gap Journal by Robert Holmes
9250 Goodwater Highway Goodwater, Alabama 35072 USA 
Delivered by 
TinyLetter

August 2022, John A. Glowacki Jr.

Hello and Thank You for taking the time to read our update.  We hope you and yours are well.  The Combat Control Foundation (CCF) has been very busy since we released our annual report on March 31, 2022.  We have raised some funds but, more importantly, we’ve used our funds to help many in our Community.  It is our responsibility to ensure Donors and stakeholders have a good sense of where Donors’ dollars go and, today, we would like to share this information.  Going forward, we will regularly share with you some of the stories about those CCF has helped.  Today, we want to present a comprehensive list of what CCF has provided or accomplished over the last year of operations, having spent $310,666 through our programs to support our Community since we began operations last year.

In 2021 (initial operations) , CCF spent $107,059 across our program areas with more than half of the expenditures in Resiliency:


In 2022 (as of Aug 24 2022), CCF has spent $203,608, again with the majority in Resiliency and increased amounts in Education and Health:


While we will always protect the privacy of those we support, we want to show specific examples of where CCF’s Donors’ dollars are spent.  The following table shows line item program expenditures in 2021 and 2022 as of August 24, 2022.  The vast majority of these are individuals or families who received support from CCF, often in difficult times.  We hope you find this helpful and demonstrative of the support provided by our Donors and CCF.  Lastly, we want to pass along the gratitude of the beneficiaries of our Donors’ support.  They are truly grateful as are we in the Foundation who have the privilege to be stewards of our Donors’ dollars.

Amount

Purpose

Status

$300

Financial assistance following CCT passing

Gold Star

$1,000

Gathering of Eagles Foundation

N/A

$1,000

TACP Foundation

N/A

$600

Support emergency travel

Active Duty

$600

Support emergency travel

Active Duty

$4,550

Emergency support when house destroyed

Active Duty

$4,000

SSgt Germanovich AF Cross monument

N/A

$2,000

Travel to retrieve WTC for memorial

N/A

$2,500

2021 Scholarship

Family

$2,500

2021 Scholarship

Family

$2,500

2021 Scholarship

Family

$2,500

2021 Scholarship

Family

$1,501

Family support following CCT passing

Family

$250

Unit resiliency event

N/A

$4,000

Mortgage Payment for deceased support member

Gold Star

$5,000

CCT History Book

N/A

$4,120

(CCF Board member + 2 active duty CCT) travel to funeral

Deceased

$3,216

Graduation ceremony

N/A

$19,922

Purchase Polaris vehicle

Active Duty

$25,000

Prepaid resiliency event

N/A

$20,000

Prepaid support from Project One Vet@Time

N/A

$1,415

Refresh Sather and Schroeder SWTW memorials

Deceased

$2,100

Partnered with PJF & TACPF to offset loss of member's spousal income due to illness

Active Duty

$2,500

Resiliency and heritage event

N/A

$7,500

Resiliency and heritage event

N/A

$2,850

Graduation ceremony

N/A

$20,000

Financial assistance payments due to loss of DFAS income and several costly crises affecting the family's home

Retired

$12,000

Assist family with health and personal care expenses when CCT became critically ill

Retired

$4,998

Unit family resiliency event

Active Duty

$15,000

Personal care for quadriplegic in hospital post-surgery

Retired

$1,888

Family travel to assist with one of CCT's children suffering seizures

Active Duty

$7,785

Service Dog

Retired

$28,901

Financial assistance due to no fault of their own and black mold issue in home and associated medical expenses

Retired

$5,321

Travel expenses for extended VA healthcare

Active Duty

$462

Car repair associated with health condition

Gold Star

$8,075

Return horse used in critical equine therapy for daughter to US from overseas assignment

Retired

$10,000

Help Gold Star Family with replacing car after accident

Gold Star

$885

Daycare to assist single mom following CCT death

Gold Star

$2,412

Family travel & moving expenses following death of daughter

Retired

$10,555

Matt Roland Memorial

Deceased

$403

Talon 13 Remembrance

N/A

$1,250

Chapman MoH Painting

N/A

$2,300

Partial payment of rehab services and financial hardship

Separated

$339

Adam Servais Remembrance

Deceased

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$5,000

2022 Scholarship

Family

$4,000

Refresh Antelope Island Memorial & 30th Commemoration

Deceased

$670

Travel assistance to return home following father's passing

Active Duty

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