Maj. Kent J. Gonzales received the LTC Ronald C. Ward Distinguished Special Operations Forces (SOF) Student Award for the Command and General Staff Officer Course (CGSOC) Class of 2023 in a ceremony June 7 at the Lewis and Clark Center.
The award is presented to the distinguished SOF student graduate of the resident CGSOC class. It is intended to honor military scholarship recognize excellence in scholarship as well as overall contributions to the SOF body of knowledge. The award is named after CGSC faculty member and Special Forces officer Lt. Col. Ronald C. Ward, who had a distinguished 31-year career in the U.S. Army in Infantry and Special Forces units. Ward was killed in a lightweight sport aircraft accident Oct. 8, 2010, during his assignment to the SOF cell of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth.
The award in Ward’s honor was created in 2014 and dedicated to his memory by his family as a means to recognize SOF students long into the future. On behalf of his family, Ms. Beth Ward, Lt. Col. Ward’s wife at the time of his death, endowed the award through the CGSC Foundation. The award is a replica of a Roman Gladius sword with the recipient’s name engraved. In addition, a plaque describing the award with a list of all past recipients is in the SOF directorate offices on the third floor of the Lewis and Clark Center.
Lt. Col. Steve Bolton, the director for Special Operations Leader Development and Education at Army University, Fort Leavenworth, hosted the ceremony. Ms. Ward assisted in presenting the award to Gonzales.
Originally a field artillery officer commissioned in 2012 from the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Major Kent Gonzales grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. He served as a fire support officer and platoon leader in the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. During this time he deployed with the brigade to Afghanistan. In 2015, Gonzales was selected for accession into the Psychological Operations branch and subsequently served as a detachment commander, company operations officer and Group S3X director of sensitive activities, deploying twice to the Arabia Peninsula and participating in exercises in Korea.
Prior to attendance in CGSOC, Gonzales served as an instructor for the Psyop Officer’s Qualification Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Liberty (formerly Bragg), North Carolina.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medial (four awards), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal (three awards), the Combat Action Badge, and Parachutist Badge. He and his wife have three children.
During his time in CGSOC Gonzales studied as an Art of War Scholar and completed a master’s in Military Art and Science. He graduated with his CGSOC class on June 9, 2023, and will be a student in the Advanced Military Studies Program class of 2024 at CGSC’s School for Advanced Military Studies (SAMS).
photos by Dan Neal, ArmyU Public Affairs