Operation One Voice Background
Shortly after the events of September 11, 2001 which took the lives of 343 firefighters and 72 police officers, Lt. Bill Stevens designed a “9-11” commemorative coin which were presented to each member of the Duluth Police Department in memory of those that died on that day.
As a result of that tragic day, our firefighters passed the flag to our military which took the war against terrorism back to the shores of the terrorist. Much of that commitment has been placed on the Special Operations Forces to find the terrorists. On November 10, 2003, to show support for their sacrifices and honor the Army Special Forces, Lt. Bill Stevens created and delivered a Special Forces challenge coins to Ft. Bragg, NC. The overwhelming response by the soldiers to these coins became the inspiration to find greater ways to show support to our military heroes.
In the early days of this program, the Duluth Police team up with retired Special Forces and Golden Knight SFC Dana Bowman. Dana presented over 800 coins to injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Hospitals.
On September 11, 2004, the Duluth Police COPS Division sponsored the first annual “Gunny Mile” 5 K road race to raise funds for America’s Special Operations Forces. The funds raised from the “Gunny Mile” sponsored additional coins for all of Special Operations Forces. The police, fire and highway safety officials agreed that one thing all Special Operations Forces understand is the importance of placing boots on the pavement.
Anyone that has ever attended Airborne School or any form of Special Operations training has run hundreds if not thousands of miles. The public safety officers decided to show their support of the SOF troops by delivering the coins the “Airborne way”, in a leap-frog run by a team of 22 runners. The team departed from Duluth, GA on Veteran’s Day November 11, 2004, covered 320 miles in 43 straight hours, arrived in Savannah to present the coins to members of the United States Special Operations Command. Colonel Carlos Burgos from the USSOCOM headquarters in Tampa was on hand with members of the Ranger and 160th SOAR Battalion to except the coins.
In late 2004, a board of directors was formed to expand the scope of the program by focusing on the children of fallen Special Operations Forces.