40 Years: 1980 - 2020



WHO: Special Operations Warrior Foundation (

WHAT: Commemoration of 40th Anniversary of Service to Families of Fallen and Wounded Special Operators, 40th Anniversary of Operation Eagle Claw (failed mission to rescue 52 American hostages in Iran); recognized learnings ultimately catalyzed the formation of United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

WHEN: 24 April 2020 (official anniversary date)

WHERE: Virtual; commemoration events hosted by Special Operations Warrior Foundation and USSOCOM have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

WHY: Today, SOWF funds the education from “Cradle to Career” for more than 870 children and students.

SOWF President and CEO, Major General Clayton M. Hutmacher, U.S. Army, Ret. (click for bio)

SCHEDULING CONTACT: Marc Portugal, Director of Development, Special Operations Warrior Foundation
Phone: 312.371.2660 | E-mail:


Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, communities are looking for hope. For versions of normalcy. For a respite from fear and uncertainty. We propose that SOWF's 40th anniversary - aka the good news of our students' continued academic success despite distance learning - is a "very good news" story amidst this terrible crisis. 


Everyone agrees that children deserve the greatest opportunity for a strong education. For some children and students, this can be challenging to obtain. Now imagine you're child of a fallen Special Operations Warrior (i.e., Army Ranger, Navy SEAL, Air Commando, etc.) whose parent was lost in the line of duty. For 40 years, SOWF has funded the education "from cradle to career" for the courageous children of fallen Warriors. Some SOWF graduates are now educators who are navigating "distance teaching".

Hear from one graduate directly, Alex Rowe:

Next weeks also marks the 40th anniversary of Operation Eagle Claw. On 24 April 1980, a battlefield promise was made to 17 American children. They were left fatherless when 8 Airmen and Marines made the ultimate sacrifice at a remote landing strip called Desert One in the failed attempt to rescue 52 American hostages in Iran. The surviving members of Operation Eagle Claw, those who had the guts to try, promised those 17 children that they would be taken care of. 40 years later, that promise became what is now known as the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF). One of the bravest and most important missions in modern history, this tragedy was transformed into opportunities to support more than 1,100 students and families - and the catalyst for the formation of US Special Operations Command. 

Hear from graduate Mark Wilson Jr., slated to speak at the 40th anniversary dinner:

Today, if a US Special Operations Warrior makes the ultimate sacrifice, Special Operations Warrior Foundation fulfills a solemn promise to fund their surviving children's education from “Cradle to Career” including tuition, housing, books, laptops, tutoring, ACT/SAT prep, college prep conferences, campus visits, early childhood education, and more.

Today, SOWF supports more than 890 children and students across the nation. SOWF also provides immediate emergency funding to the families of severely wounded Special Operations Warriors.

Across America, campuses of primary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities are transitioning to distance learning formats. Tutoring centers are offering remote sessions. Some internships and job offers will be postponed. Graduation ceremonies might be postponed.

The mission of Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) is not postponed. We keep our Enduring Promise by providing students and families with the certainty and resources needed for continued academic success. Academic funding for children of fallen Warriors and financial support for families of severely wounded Warriors remain mission critical.

Special Operations Warrior Foundation has always been by the side of the families they support, providing certainty and reliable support. The foundation’s dedicated scholarship coaches maintain personalized relationships with students and surviving spouses. No matter what, the mission of Special Operations Warrior Foundation continues, and more promises to families of fallen Warriors will inevitably be kept.

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SOWF has been there since day one of my bachelor's degree.

They have always made sure I got what I needed for my living expenses as well as my semester expenses. They not only have given me financial stability when I needed it the most, but also moral and emotional support. If it wasn’t for SOWF I wouldn’t be the professional teacher that I am today. For every success that I made and continue to make in my life, SOWF will be there at the top of the list for all of the thanks and recognition that they deserve for helping me carve my future.

Steven Schmauss Read More
SOWF provided me with the opportunity to be more engaged

in my studies rather than worrying about jobs and extracurricular work to pay for schooling. In addition, I was able to invest my time in leadership positions which have taught me so much as a person.

Ryan Soltes Read More
I cannot begin to express my gratitude,

knowing throughout the college admissions process, that the financial burden of college was no longer on our family. I am forever thankful for all the incredible things SOWF does for military personnel and their families. I am proud to be attending my dream school, the University of Chicago, because of all the Foundation does to honor those who have given their lives. 

Forrest Haydon Read More