Gen Jerry Boykin and the Eagle Claw Prayer

The website over at SOFREP claims to have access to one-of-a-kind photographs from the early days of the US Army’s Delta Team via George E. Hand IV, a SOFREP and one time Delta operator. The photograph above is from 1980 — when a then-unknown Army officer led 100 unknown Delta Force operators in prayer prior to a major operation.

From their description:

The old axiom, “there are no atheists in foxholes,” may not hold true, but among those who often face death, either their own or someone else’s, spirituality isn’t uncommon. In this shot, Colonel Jerry Boykin leads the original Delta squad in prayer, prior to beginning operations in Iran.

This photograph appears to show a bearded then-Captain William “Jerry” Boykin leading the special forces in prayer. This is consistent with the stories previously told about the event. In one example, The Atlantic reported on the event in 2006, with a description precisely matching the photograph above:

On the morning of the mission, the men had assembled in a warehouse, where Major Jerry Boykin had offered a prayer. Tall and lean, with a long, dark beard, Boykin stood at a podium before a plug box where electrical wires intersected and formed a big cross on the wall. Behind him was a poster-sized sheet displaying photographs of the Americans held hostage. Boykin chose a passage from the first Book of Samuel:

“And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in the forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone…”