Air Commando inducted into SOCOM Hall of Honor

(From left to right) Air Force Col. Billy "Rusty" Napier, Marine Corps Master Sgt. John Mosser, and Marine Corps Col. Robert Coates, and Army Maj. Caesar Civitella, stand next to the Commando Hall of Honor display after they were inducted into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor during a ceremony held at USSOCOM headquarters, on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 20. Not pictured, but inducted, is Army Maj. Thomas Powell who attended the ceremony via video teleconference. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence)

(From left to right) Air Force Col. Billy "Rusty" Napier, Marine Corps Master Sgt. John Mosser, and Marine Corps Col. Robert Coates, and Army Maj. Caesar Civitella, stand next to the Commando Hall of Honor display after they were inducted into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor during a ceremony held at USSOCOM headquarters, on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 20. Not pictured, but inducted, is Army Maj. Thomas Powell who attended the ceremony via video teleconference. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence)

A U.S. Special Operations Command Commando Hall of Honor Medal is displayed during USSOCOM’s 2016 Commando Hall of Honor Induction ceremony held April 20, 2016, at the command's headquarters, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. The command and special operations community gathered to honor nine individuals whose service spanned 70 years from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by Mike Bottoms)

A U.S. Special Operations Command Commando Hall of Honor Medal is displayed during USSOCOM’s 2016 Commando Hall of Honor Induction ceremony held April 20, 2016, at the command's headquarters, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. The command and special operations community gathered to honor nine individuals whose service spanned 70 years from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by Mike Bottoms)

Rusty Napier

Rusty Napier

Rusty Napier

Rusty Napier

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An Air Commando was inducted April 20 into the Commando Hall of Honor located in the U.S. Special Operations Command headquarters, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Retired Col. Billy “Rusty” Napier and four more former special operators are the 2016 Hall enshrinees.

Napier spent 42 years in special operations as an Air Force officer or in the corporate world working aircraft equipment acquisitions for Special Operations Forces. A master navigator with more than 6,000 flying hours, Napier was awarded with three Distinguished Flying Crosses.
The colonel led the 14-person, AC-130H crew from the 16th Special Operations Squadron which won the 1990 Clarence Mackay Trophy for airmanship and outstanding professionalism during the Operation Just Cause invasion of Panama. Napier also flew AC-119s in Vietnam as part of the 17th SOS.

More than 100 people attended the ceremony to honor the inductees and watched as each of the inductees received a medal from Army Gen. Raymond A. Thomas, USSOCOM commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Thetford, USSOCOM command senior enlisted adviser.

The newest members will join other recognized warriors in the Commando Hall of Honor, which includes such legendary names as; Aaron Bank, Charles Beckwith, Ted Lunger, Sidney Shacknow, and William Darby. Their contributions and legacies to the special operations community and this country have been unquestionably influential and are truly inspirational.

“A perk I enjoy is the ability to single out individuals for their performance and today is a great opportunity to do so, in terms of inducting five truly historic members of Special Operations Command into our Commando Hall of Honor,” said Thomas.

Each new inductee, received a Commando Hall of Honor Medal and a crystal commemorative induction plaque.

“It’s a huge honor to be selected for this award, this is a very special organization of amazing people and just to be considered worthy to be amongst those type of heroes is a huge and humbling honor,” said Mosser.

Also inducted this year was include Army Maj. Caesar Civitella, Marine Corps Col. Robert Coates, Marine Corps Master Sgt. John Mosser and Army Maj. Thomas Powell.

Civitella was an original member of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and did combat jumps into Italy and France. His career continued as a Special Forces officer retiring at the rank of major. He then joined the Central Intelligence Agency supporting paramilitary operations for nearly 20 years.

Coates’ career spanned 33 years and he commanded reconnaissance platoon, served as commanding officer, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command Detachment One and served two tours of duty with the CIA.

Mosser distinguished himself during a myriad of special operations assignments in his 20-year career culminating as the future operations chief, 2d Marine Raider Battalion. He served as a special operations team sergeant and team chief during two combat deployments in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Powell served in special operations from 1965 to 2015 culminating his career as a senior intelligence analyst for Joint Special Operations Command. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his valorous actions during the attempted rescue of prisoners of war held in the Son Tay, Vietnam prison.