Weather forecasts don't dampen SOF Spirits at Atlanta Motor Speedway

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ATLANTA (USASOC News Service, March 16, 2007) –The early morning weather forecasts looked as if rehearsals scheduled for Special Operators from the U.S. Special Operations Command in preparation for the March 18 SOF Infiltration Demonstration would be a wash-out.

Only threatening clouds lingered throughout the day and the rehearsals went on as planned for all the SOF warriors and one “new recruit.” Fox Sports NASCAR Analyst, Jeff Hammond, joined the group to train and rehearse the SPIES method of infiltration.

“It’s an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up,” Hammond explained hours before the flight into the Atlanta Motor Speedway beneath an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). “I’m really looking forward to doing this, he said. “It’s important to have a better understanding of what they (the Soldiers) do for their country.”

Hammond’s camaraderie was quickly evident when asked after the first iteration if he was ready to do it all over again. “Let me go check with my first sergeant,” he said as he went off to join his new team for another trip into the Speedway.

The SPIES demonstration is just one part of the multi-infiltration method demonstration planned prior to NASCAR’s Kobalt 500 race.

The Black Daggers, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command's Parachute Demonstration Team, will open the demo showcasing both tactical and precision high-altitude, low-opening parachute jumps.

Eight special operators representing the four service components of USSOCOM will enter the race track next riding on the outside of a pair of MH-6 Little Bird helicopters. Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Hoye from Clarksville, Tenn., and Master Sgt. Michael R. West from Hot Springs, Ark., will represent the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. Staff Sgt. Will Welch hails from Manchester, N.H. and is assigned to the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. From Seal Team 8 of the Naval Special Warfare Command are Special Operators Second Class Milton Santillanes from San Antonio, Texas, and Jason Tompsett of Omaha, Neb. The final two are Soldiers from the USASOC. Sgt. 1st Class Hiruy Gemechu of Alexandria, Va. is assigned to the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion and Sgt. Charles P. Foote, New Windsor, N.Y. is with the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion.

A special tribute to the USSOCOM 20th Anniversary next month is part of the special delivery by an MH-47 Chinook helicopter. The Speedway’s Official Pace Car will arrive at the track sporting the 20th Anniversary logo.

Hammond and his team are the last to arrive. The USASOC Soldiers on the rope with Hammond include Warrant Officer James Mayernik of College Station, N.Y., Staff Sgt. Elisha Bremmer of Sacramento, Calif., Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Ragan of Davie, Fla., and Staff Sgt. Adam Quick of Flagstaff, Ariz. Mayernik and Bremmer are “Green Berets” assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Ragan and Quick are Rangers with the Ranger Special Troops Battalioin, 75th Ranger Regiment.

In addition to these 12, several other Special Operators will be in the demonstration area the entire three-day race weekend showing the general public many of the tools they use in their daily missions.

Following the SOF demonstration, all of the Special Operators will mingle with the crowd to experience the Kobalt 500.

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CW3 Shamus Gorsuch (r), a MH-6 Little Bird pilot from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) demonstrates the proper dismount procedure from the external pods of the aircraft. Learning the correct form are four U.S. Special Operations Command warriors participating in the Special Operations Infiltration demonstration this Sunday (March 18) at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. They are Staff Sgt. Will Welch, 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Special Operators Second Class Jason Tompsett and Milton Santillanes, Seal Team 8, Little Creek, Va.; and Sgt. Charles P. Foote, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. (Photo by Walter Sokalski)

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SOF Warriors from the four service components of the U.S. Special Operations Command enter the Atlanta Motor Speedway on the exterior of two MH-6 Little Bird helicopters from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). Photo by Walter Sokalski.

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Special Operations warriors enter the Atlanta Motor Speedway aboard a MH-6 Little Bird helicopter during pre-race activities at the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Mar. 18. (Photo by Bonita Riddley, USASOC PAO)

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An MH-47 Chinook touches down at Turn 1 of Atlanta Motor Speedway during the SOF Infiltration Demonstration. (Photo by Walter Sokalski.)

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