Douwe Blumberg, the artist and sculptor of the De Oppresso Liber statue, and Mr. Doug Stanton, author of the book Horse Soldiers, stand in front of the 18-foot bronze statue
at the Winter Garden Hall in Two World Financial Center near Ground
Zero, Nov. 11, 2011, prior to the start of the New York City Veterans Day Parade. Photo by
Army Spec. Kerry Otjen
NEW YORK, N.Y. (11/22/2011) - "It was as if the Jetsons had met the
Flintstones," stated Capt. Will Summers, former Special Forces team
sergeant for the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), as his team
linked up and operated with members of the Afghan Northern Alliance
just weeks after the 9/11 attacks.
A decade later those same
words would resonate throughout the Winter Garden Hall in Two World
Financial Center near Ground Zero as Vice President Joseph Biden,
standing before the Ground Zero flag, spoke to the audience
assembled for the dedication of a larger than life bronze statue
depicting those same Green Berets.
Members of Task Force
Dagger - a joint Special Operations team consisting mostly of Green
Berets from the 5th SFG (A), aircrew members from the 160th Special
Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), and Air Force Combat
Controllers - gathered with the Vice President and various New York
business leaders and veteran support groups as they unveiled and
dedicated an 18-foot statue, entitled De Oppresso Liber.
Oppresso Liber, which in Latin means 'to liberate the oppressed',
depicts a Special Forces Green Beret on horseback leading the
invasion into Afghanistan in the weeks that followed the World Trade
Center attacks. It captures the iconic image of adaptability, skill,
and courage that characterized the mission and quality of U.S. Army
Special Forces soldiers.
As the Nation's first responders
overseas, the Green Berets of the 5th SFG (A) were given the mission
to hunt down those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and bring them
The Special Forces teams faced enormous
operational challenges and were required to rapidly adapt 21st
century combat technologies and tactics into age old Central Asian
models of guerilla and tribal warfare as they partnered with the
Afghan tribes of the Northern Alliance.
Needing suitable transportation to navigate the difficult
mountainous terrain of Northern Afghanistan, the Special
Forces Operational Detachments – Alpha, or A-teams, were
provided horses by the Afghan tribes they were supporting.
The Green Berets readily accepted this form of mobility and
proceeded to assist and advise the Northern Alliance
fighters from horseback, similar to the cavalry days of old.
Coordinating military operations while on horseback with
local tribal warlords, the Green Berets accomplished in
weeks what many thought would take months, if not years -
defeating the Taliban and pushing surviving members of
al-Qaeda into the mountains of Pakistan. Soon thereafter,
the Green Berets would adopt the familiar title of Horse
In honor of the victims of the 9/11 attacks
each Green Beret A-Team carried with them pieces of steel
recovered from the rubble that was the World Trade Center.
At the site where each A-team completed their mission they
respectively buried a piece of the World Trade Center steel
and a properly folded American flag.
As the first
unit to invade Afghanistan and take the fight to those
responsible, the burial ceremonies in Afghanistan would
forever bond the Green Berets of the 5th SFG (A) to the New
York City first responders. It was a bond formed from an
understanding and an ability to relate to those first
responders who risked their lives to go to the aid of
others, those who ran toward the World Trade Center, not
away, those who were climbing up stairwells, not down them.
It was only fitting that on this Veterans Day,
traveling down the middle of New York's famous 5th Avenue,
the De Oppresso Liber statue and more than 50 "Horse
soldiers'' and their family members followed directly behind
the New York Police and Fire Departments and the Port
Authority Police Department contingents representing the
members of those organizations killed in the World Trade
Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, commander
of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and former
commander of Task Force Dagger, reminded those present
during the dedication ceremony later that evening that this
statue is not just a memorial for the Horse soldiers. This
statue is for all those who shared the common bond and
responsibility to protect America's homeland – whether it
was in New York City, Washington D.C., Shanksville, Pa., or
Now, a decade later and due to the tireless
efforts of many, a statue, designed and sculpted by Douwe
Blumberg, found a home near Ground Zero in New York City.
The Two World Financial Center will serve as a
temporary home for the statue. It will eventually relocate
to a site overlooking the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero - a
fitting, final resting place for the Horse Soldier Memorial
More photos available below
By Army Maj. Brandon Bissell
5th Special Forces Group (A)
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