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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Navy man takes charge
SOCom welcomes Adm. Eric T. Olson as its new commander.
By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE
Published July 10, 2007
Military representatives of USSOCOM march in at the beginning of the change of command ceremony held at the Tampa Convention center.
[Times photo: Ken Helle]
[Times photo: Ken Helle]
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates , left, and Adm. Eric T. Olson, right, applaud U. S. Army Gen. Doug Brown, center, after his speech before relinquishing command of the U.S. Special Operations Command during the change of command ceremony at the Tampa Convention Center.
TAMPA - For the first time in the history of U.S. Special Operations Command, a Navy man took the helm of the agency that controls the nation's elite commandos and leads the fight against terrorism.
Adm. Eric T. Olson, 55, took over SOCom, based at MacDill Air Force Base, during a ceremony Monday at the Tampa Convention Center attended by more than 1,500 people, including brass from all the military branches and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Army Gen. Bryan "Doug" Brown, 58, a former helicopter pilot who spent a 40-year career in special operations, stepped down after four years commanding SOCom. Olson served as his deputy for his entire stint.
"As they work side by side with people throughout the world, members of this command have demonstrated our nation's values as well as fostered cultures and communities that are more likely to reject extremism and violence," Gates said.
Brown praised Olson and emphasized that the nation was in a war unlike previous conflicts.
"Unlike wars of the past, it will not end with diplomats and generals signing a peace treaty on a mighty U.S. warship," Brown said. "It will end when Americans and our allies feel safe and secure from those that choose ... extremism as their cause. ... It will be a tough and long task."
Olson, the first Navy SEAL to hold the four-star rank, praised Brown and said, "He took this command as far as humanly possible in four years."
Brown has not revealed his full retirement plans. But he and his wife, Penelope, own a $273,000 Treasure Island condo and will remain in the area.
In a ceremony attended by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, former SOCom commanders, several Medal of Honor winners and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, Brown joked about the civilian world he would now enter and the loss of military transportation.
"I'll be the guy at Tampa airport security with my shoes off and someone I've never seen before putting a metal detector between my legs," Brown said.
"Command is tough, but the world I'm about to go into is pretty scary."
Family: A Tacoma, Wash., native, married, two children.
Training: Graduated from Naval Academy in 1973. Later earned a Master of Arts in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Service: Longtime Navy SEAL, served in Israel, Egypt and Tunisia. Entered the Army in 1967 as infantry private, immediately started Special Forces training. From 1994 to 1997, commanded the secret "SEAL Team Six" antiterrorism unit.
Famous battle: In 1993, while a Navy commander, he led a ground convoy through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, where two Army Black Hawk helicopters had been shot down. The fight was the basis for the film Black Hawk Down.
Honors: Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star. The first Navy SEAL to wear four stars.