BAMF of the Week: COL Warner “Rocky” Farr
By Mr. Twisted
In the context of human life, 46 years is a fair amount of time.
When considering how much has occurred in the last 46 years, that span of time seems even greater.
In 1967, man had not yet landed on the moon. Football’s “Super bowl” was born. The Six Day War broke out between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Race riots exploded in numerous locations throughout the United States and the conflict in Vietnam saw the beginning of the battle of Duk To, which claimed the lives of 289 US Soldiers. Less than a month later, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara resigned from his position.
Personal computers, cell phones, video games, Doppler Radar, and the artificial heart were still years away from being developed.
1967 also marks the year that Warner “Rocky” Farr joined the United States Army.
This fact becomes much more significant when we consider the fact that Colonel Farr just retired. And when I say “just retired,” I mean last week—April 25, 2013.
Enlisting in the Airborne Infantry in 1967—a year prior to the release of John Wayne’s The Green Berets—Farr went on to become the distinguished honor graduate of his Special Forces 18D class and was assigned to the 7th SFG(A) at Fort Bragg. During his time in Vietnam, Rocky worked as a medic on a recon team with 5th SFG(A) and SOG (Studies and Observations Group)—the joint SF-CIA project that always got talked about in hushed tones in all the cool action movies.
After stints as an advisor to German, Belgian, and Spanish special operations groups, Farr attained the rank of Sergeant First Class and taught at both an ROTC program at Louisiana University as well as the 18D course while attaining his Bachelors of Science degree. Though he was selected for Master Sergeant, Farr was accepted into the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences for medical school and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
Because medical school was a walk in the park for 2LT Farr, he earned the distinguished honor graduate of his Army flight surgeons course while attaining his solo qualification in the TH-55 helicopter. That’s right, this guy learned to fly a helicopter during med school and being the top student—all by the time Michael Jackson’s Thriller was hitting the airwaves.
Since 1983, Farr has held nearly every medical command position imaginable in the United States Army, from the course director of the special operations medical sergeants course all the way to command surgeon of United States Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida in 2006—a position he held until his retirement this year. The list of citations, awards, and schools Colonel Farr lays claim to is nothing short of astounding. CMB with a star, EIB, Pathfinder, Scuba, Legion of Merit, Army Meritorious Service Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, and a Bronze Star with “V” device with one Oak Leaf Cluster are just a few among the many, many accomplishments in this man’s time in uniform. To list them all would entail a ridiculously long compellation of bullet points that would make most people’s eyes glaze over.
The medals, ribbons, and badges seen on his uniform, however, don’t reflect what could be one of his greatest achievements—one that every battlefield soldier can benefit from.
Taking the lessons he learned as a combat medic in Vietnam—and never forgetting those lessons—Colonel Farr was instrumental in creating and developing individual medical kits that included tourniquets, hemostatic dressings, and needles for sucking chest wounds. This may seem like a common sense approach to battlefield medicine to most of us now, but according to Colonel Farr, in Vietnam tourniquets were considered “forbidden.”
Through his development of training and educational methods for both medics and Special Forces doctors, Farr was able to help push the Army medical field—most notably in special operations—forward by always using the latest and greatest technology and adapting with an ever-growing knowledge base in the field of practiced medicine. His desire to make sure that soldiers who were in smaller units and farther away from support could have what they needed has ultimately benefited everyone in uniform as tactics and techniques trickle down from the SOF community.
At the time of his retirement, Colonel Farr was one of only 13 still in the Army who had served in Vietnam and the third-longest serving soldier on Active Duty. Just on overview, his career looks like something out of a Tom Clancy novel (especially given the fact that he’s also written several books); but there is so much more here worth appreciating than his accomplishments.
Colonel Farr dedicated himself to the Army and to his country for nearly half a century. His commitment went beyond just showing up and riding the train to retirement—he pushed new techniques and technologies and refused to just sit back and go with the flow. His dedication to the men in the field and desire to make sure they had the best training and best equipment available is a testament to his heart and a shining example of what we should all aspire to be.
It is most likely impossible to accurately calculate the number of lives that were saved or benefited from the training and techniques implemented by Rocky Farr. What we can accurately state is that he is worthy of a far greater tribute than a simple article and should probably never have to buy a drink again in this country.
Colonel Farr, thank you for what you did for this country and, more specifically, the United States Army and all of its soldiers.