Special Guest Speakers
LTC (Ret) John P. Spanogle / US Army Special Forces
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John P. Spanogle is a native Hoosier and grew up on the south side of Indianapolis. He attended Perry Meridian High School and graduated in 1989. Upon graduation, he attended IUPUI and started his military career in the Indiana National Guard.
John’s first assignment in 5th Special Forces Group (ABN) was with 2nd Battalion and assigned to ODA-556. CPT Spanogle lead the team on many deployments to Kosovo, Jordan, Oman, Turkmenistan, and Kuwait. Then, on September 11, 2001, American was attacked and the first unit called to action was the men of 5th Special Forces Group (ABN). ODA-556 became part of Task Force Dagger, as seen in the movie 12 Strong, and was inserted behind enemy lines linking up with the tribe of Hamid Karzai just north of Qandahar, Afghanistan. Task Force Dagger expelled the Taliban in about three months and took all three major cities, Qandahar, Kabul, and Mazar Sharif, with approximately 100 Green Berets and resistance fighters. The invasion of Afghanistan is one of the most unknown military actions in history.
After redeployment from Afghanistan in 2002, CPT Spanogle was chosen to lead another team, ODA-513, and was immediately sent back overseas to Djibouti, Africa to conduct operations in the Horn of Africa against transnational threats to the United States. While working for better part of 6 months in Africa, CPT Spanogle’s team was ordered to Ali As Salem Air Base in Kuwait. Unknown at that time, John and his team were being staged to invade Iraq. During the invasion, 5th Special Forces Group (ABN) set the stage for the invasion and crossed the berm two days before the main invasion. ODA’s conducted scud hunting in the western desert to conducting surveillance of Iraqi troops, especially the Fedayeen, Saddam’s Special Troops. ODA-513 conducted special operations during the invasion assisting CIA Operations in Baghdad.
At the conclusion of the initial invasion of Iraq in May 2003, CPT Spanogle’s team was sent immediately back to Djibouti, Africa to continue counter terrorist operations in the Horn of Africa. At the end of 2003, after a long couple of years, CPT Spanogle was sent back to Ft. Campbell and moved to Ft. Bragg in the Spring of 2004. John was now assigned to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. He was assigned to Camp Mackall and became a Robin Sage Instructor. In this capacity, John evaluated young officers in the Special Forces Qualification Exercise, Robin Sage. During his time at Camp Mackall, John was promoted to Major.
Following command, Major Spanogle became the 2nd Battalion, 5th SFG(A) Executive Officer. The battalion was building a 900-man Task Force to take into Iraq and conduct Special Operations from Baghdad all the way south to the Kuwait Border.
Upon re-deployment from Iraq, Major Spanogle was chosen to become the Group Operations officer. John was in charge of 5th Group Operations all over the world to include operators in 56 different countries and two war zones.
With a new assignment in hand, Major Spanogle was specially selected to work on The Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington D.C. He worked for the J-3, then LTG Robert Neller, now the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey. He worked in the J-37, Deputy Directorate of Special Operations and Counter Terrorism. The J-37 handled all the operations form the National Mission Forces to include Operation Copper Dune, Operation Jupiter Garret and Operation Neptune Spear to name a few. John routinely briefed Congressional Staffers, National Security Staff, the CJCS, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
After the Pentagon, John was given his choice of assignment. He moved back to Camp Atterbury and became the Deputy Brigade Commander of the 205th Infantry Brigade. After 25 year of service, John retired in 2014 in Indiana, the same place he started his military career. John currently lives in Center Grove with his wife April and son Jaxon. He is a board member of Operation: Job Ready Veterans and is the Associate Director for Pharmaceutical Operations for MD Logistics in Plainfield.
Alex R Hernandez / Green Beret and CIA officer
Alex R Hernandez (seen here in sunglasses) served with the U.S. Army Special Forces (the Green Berets) from 1971 to 1997 retiring at the rank of Sergeant Major. During his Special Forces career several of his assignments included the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), as an instructor at the U.S. Army Special Forces Combat Diver School, as an instructor/liaison with the U.S. Navy Special Warfare Center's U.S.Navy SEAL Basic Underwater and Demolition School (BUD/S), and with the recently declassified Special Forces unit, the Physical Security Support Element-Berlin in West Berlin, Germany. Alex, in his second career, served in the Central Intelligence Agency as a paramilitary and case officer retiring after 14 years from the Senior Intelligence Service in 2011. Alex is honored to represent Horse Soldier Bourbon because of a brotherly bond established with several partners of the Horse Soldier Bourbon Distillery with whom Alex rode alongside in northern Afghanistan from October through December 2001.
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