On September 18, 2021, LTC Ralph “Butch” Saner, Class of 1971, received the Missouri Military Academy (MMA) Hall of Fame Award in Distinguished Military Service at the Alumni Recognition and Donor Awards Banquet during MMA Homecoming. The award recognizes his service, success and character.
LTC Saner enrolled at MMA in 1968. As a member of the corps of cadets, he was a cadet staff sergeant and varsity basketball player. He also received two meritas awards for discipline.
After graduating from MMA, LTC Saner went on to further his education and graduate from Westminster College, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the Armed Forces Staff College. His early military career included ranks and roles as Second Lieutenant, Instructor, Chief of Training, and Commander of Headquarters Company for Sixth Army and United States Army Garrison, leading more than 200 officers and 400 enlisted personnel. Serving with Second Battalion, First Special Forces Group (A) at Fort Lewis, WA, he conducted the first joint mission analysis for special operations forces in Korea at United States Special Operations Command.
In roles such as Group Executive Officer, Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding Officer of First Special Forces Group (A), his military leadership included deploying the first soldiers from 1st Special Forces (A) into Afghanistan. In 2002 he became the 15th and final Commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force for Operations Joint Force in Sarajevo, Bosnia. During this command two war criminals were captured by his unit and transferred to The Hague for Crimes Against Humanity. He and his men also rescued a CIA asset from Serbia. In 2003 LTC Saner became the First Commander of the 109th Digital Bridge Detachment.
On 2004, after 27 years of service, LTC Saner was medically retired for combat-related injuries. He became a guest speaker at the Joint Special Operations University, discussing lessons learned in Bosnia with students of all services. LTC Saner’s awards and decorations include the Army Legion of Merit, two awards of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, seven Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the NATO Medal and more. He is a lifetime member of the Special Operation Centurion Club with over 100 military freefall and static line airborne operations, AMVETS, and the Special Forces Association.
His military career speaks for itself, but its value is amplified by his unwavering integrity and commitment to MMA’s core values. It is an honor to recognize his accomplishments with his induction into the MMA Hall of Fame.
Learn more about the MMA Alumni Hall of Fame awards.