William F. Garrison

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William F. Garrison
Born (1944-06-27) June 27, 1944 (age 75)
Mineral Wells, Texas, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1966–1996
RankUS Army O8 shoulderboard rotated.svg Major general
UnitSeal of the Joint Special Operations Command.png Joint Special Operations Command
Commands held505th Infantry Regiment (1982–1983)
Delta Force (1985–1989)
Joint Special Operations Command (1992–1994)
John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center (1995–1996)
Battles/warsVietnam War

Somali Civil War

AwardsDefense Distinguished Svc Medal ribbon.jpg Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit ribbon.jpg Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star (4)
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Air Medal ribbon.jpg Air Medal
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal (3)

William F. "Bill" Garrison (born June 27, 1944) is an American retired major general who was the commander of United States Army forces during Operation Gothic Serpent, the military operation launched in 1993 to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Mineral Wells, Texas on June 27, 1944. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Texas–Pan American. Garrison enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966.


After the war, Garrison spent most of his career in special operations units, including the U.S. Army's Intelligence Support Activity as the commander of its operations squadron and the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (also known as Delta Force) from 1985 to 1989. His last command was the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center.

He is known for being the commander in charge of Task Force Ranger during Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia.

Garrison took full responsibility for the tactical setbacks experienced in Operation Gothic Serpent, which effectively ended his military career.

Mark Bowden, the author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, described Garrison as a military ascetic. According to Bowden's description Garrison tirelessly worked to serve his country and would do anything for his soldiers. Some of Garrison's subordinates have also spoken publicly about their former commander.

Staff Sergeant Dan Schilling, an Air Force Combat Controller who took part in Operation Gothic Serpent shared his feelings about Garrison in the book The Battle of Mogadishu: Firsthand Accounts From The Men of Task Force Ranger. On page 187 of the text Schilling stated "I should pause here for a moment to say a few words about General Garrison. Many know his record and command history. I'm not the person to expound on his exploits; in fact I don't know the man very well. But I will say he is the finest general officer I have ever worked for and probably ever will. He understood his men and how we thought, what we wanted and needed, and understood the situation anywhere he was, immediately and completely. He is the finest leader an operator could ask for. It wasn't a shame that his career was derailed after our deployment; it was a criminal act committed by political cowards."

By September 1996, Garrison had retired at the rank of major general and settled into a ranch near the community of Hico, Texas.

Military awards[edit]

Defense Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 scarlet ribbon with width-4 ultramarine blue stripe at center, surrounded by width-1 white stripes. Width-1 white stripes are at the edges.
Bronze Star Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Defense Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Army Good Conduct Medal ribbon.svg Army Good Conduct Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
Vietnam Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Multinational Force and Observers Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Badges and tabs

In popular culture[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Smith, Michael (2006). Killer Elite: The Inside Story of America's Most Secret Special Operations Team. Cassell. London. ISBN 0-304-36727-3 online presentation
  • Bowden, Mark (March 1999). Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Atlantic Monthly Press. Berkeley, California (U.S.). ISBN 0-87113-738-0
  • Boykin, William (Lt.Gen.) (2008). Never Surrender. Faith Words. New York City, New York. ISBN 978-0-446-58215-5.
  • Eversmann, M. (2006). The Battle of Mogadishu: Firsthand Accounts From The Men of Task Force Ranger.