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War Horse Challenge Rider,
Mark Nutsch
United States Army, Special Forces

Many Americans have heard Nutsch’s story, perhaps without realizing it. The subject of the blockbuster 2018 film, “12 Strong,” Nutsch was the leader of a small unit of Special Forces soldiers — ODA 595 — who were amongst the first American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan immediately following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He led his team of 12 to unify the three religious factions in the northern mountains of Afghanistan, taking a team comprised of his few American soldiers and Afghani fighters to liberate the north of the country. The unit rode and fought on horseback, beginning with 30 riders and ending with over 3,000 fighters dedicated to regaining freedom on behalf of the Afghan people. They were known as the “Horse Soldiers.” He has since gone on to lead numerous other deployments and co-authored the 2022 book, “Swords of Lightning: Green Beret Horse Soldiers and America’s Response to 9/11” about his Afghanistan military exploits.

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Mark Nutsch
2023 War Horse Challenge Champion!


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