John Stryker Meyer
Special Operations Association Brightlight Committe Chairman
Prior to SOAR XXIX, in 2005, SOA member Mark Kinsler, SOA # 700GL, recommended to the SOA Board of Directors that the SOA establish a fund that would assist SOA members who had come upon hard times attend an annual SOAR. The consideration was especially for those who had never attended a SOAR or had not been able to do so for a long period of time.
When the recommendation was approved by the SOA Board, Directors Tom Waskovich and John Meyer formed Operation Brightlight committee. During the secret war in Vietnam, when a Hatchet Force, Recon Team or a downed pilot were in trouble, a SOG Brightlight team was formed and inserted into the target area to find, locate, assist and exfiltrate them from the area of operation. It was by far, the most hazardous of all duty in SOG.
Thus, when an element of SOG troops was in trouble, a Brightlight team came to its aid, hence the genesis of the mission statement for Operation Brightlight in 2005. SOA member and former SF Medic John Thomas Walton was among the first to contribute to the SOA’s Operation Brightlight. The SOA spread the word to its membership about Operation Brightlight. In 2005, Waskovich and Meyer telephoned more than 125 SOA members searching for potential Brightlight candidates. Several potential candidates were interviewed before two candidates were selected: thanks to the generous donations of SOA members, including Walton’s $1,000 contribution, both SOG warriors attended SOAR XXIX free of charge. For SOAR XXX, six SOA members were selected as recipients of Operation Brightlight stipends, thanks to the generosity of SOA members.
For SOAR XXXI, SOA Director Rick Grabianowski joined the Operation Brightlight subcommittee of SOA and SOA member Joe Conlon has donated an SOA Commemorative Pistol to be raffled off during SOAR XXXI with receipts going to Operation Brightlight and the SOA Scholarship Committee. SOG memorabilia collector Jason Hardy has obtained several airline tickets for Operation Brightlight candidates. If anyone has a Brightlight candidate or would like to make a contribution, please contact SOA directors Waskovich, Grabianowski, or Meyer.