20th Special Forces Group
The 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) is an Army National Guard special forces unit based at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. Its area of responsibility is the 32-nation Southern Command, covering the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Its nearly 2,000 soldiers are commanded by Colonel James Craig.
The group was organized at the Homewood National Guard Armory on July 8, 1961. In 1963 the group moved to the Oporto National Guard Armory at 5601 Oporto-Madrid Boulevard, where it was headquartered until moving to a new armory at the airport in 2009.
The group has been activated for missions in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Latin America.
Allegations of involvement in King assassination
Steve Tompkins, a Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter, and William Pepper, attorney for James Earl Ray, spread allegations that a "team of Green Berets" from the 20th SFG was in Memphis "carrying out an unknown mission" on April 4, 1968, the day that Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated. Their claims were attributed to uncredited sources, and later discredited entirely by Colonel Lee Mize, General William Yarborough, General Henry Cobb and officials at the Special Forces Association. Billy Ray Eidson, an operative named in Pepper's book (which claimed he had died) was informed of the allegations and successfully sued Pepper and his publishers for libel.
- Group Support Company, Jacksonville, Alabama
- Detachment 1, Group Support Company, Louisville, Kentucky
- Group Military Intelligence Detachement, Birmingham, Alabama
- 146th Weather Flight, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- 1st Battalion, Huntsville, Alabama
- 2nd Battalion, Jackson, Mississippi
- 3rd Battalion, Starke, Florida (Camp Blanding)
- Branston, John (July 17, 1997) "Double Exposure: How a Reporter's 'Scoop' in the King Assassination Turned into a Prime-time Embarassment." Memphis Flyer
- Gordon, Tom (July 19, 2009) "Alabama Army Guard's 20th Special Forces Group changes commanders." Birmingham News
- 20th Special Forces Group (ABN) at alguard.state.al.us
- 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at globalsecurity.org
- video of 20th SFG at YouTube.com