Special Forces, CIA Legend John Singlaub - Vet of WWII, Korea, Vietnam - Dies at 100


Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, a legendary special operator, died at his home in Franklin, Tennessee, on Saturday at 100 years old.

Singlaub served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars before being forced into retirement in 1978 after speaking out against military policies being pursued by then-President Jimmy Carter.

The California native was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army in January 1943 during his senior year at the University of California, Los Angeles, The New York Times reported.

Singlaub volunteered for a parachute regiment and soon thereafter was recruited into the Army’s Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Singlaub, who studied French at UCLA, parachuted behind enemy lines into central France in August 1944 as part of a three-man Office of Strategic Services team following the Allied invasion into Normandy earlier that summer.

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There he worked with members of the French Resistance to help facilitate the Allied breakout against Nazi forces on the Normandy Peninsula, according to Army Times.

Following Germany’s surrender, Singlaub transferred to the Pacific Theater of war, where in August 1945 he led a parachute team that rescued American, Australian and Dutch prisoners of war being held by the Japanese on China’s Hainan Island, The Washington Post reported.

Singlaub’s acts of bravery did not end following the conclusion of World War II.

“After the war, Gen. Singlaub was based at Mukden [with the CIA] before the Manchurian city fell to Chinese Communists forces in 1948 and Americans were expelled. He escaped with his cocker spaniel on the last possible flight — ‘under artillery attack, passing a reconnaissance plane with a red star insignia, knowing this battle of the cold war was lost,’ author Tim Weiner wrote in his CIA history ‘Legacy of Ashes,'” the Post reported.

“During the Korean War, Gen. Singlaub served as deputy chief of the CIA mission on the peninsula and later as an Army battalion commander, for which he received the Silver Star for valor in combat. He then joined the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He completed his UCLA degree in 1958, majoring in political science,” it said.

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In the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Singlaub led the Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observation Group, commonly known as MACV-SOG or simply SOG, according to Army Times.

The group was made up of special operators from all military branches that fought North Vietnamese communist guerrillas in Vietnam and neighboring countries.

A primary target was the Ho Chi Minh Trail, on which supplies and enemy soldiers moved from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia to South Vietnam.

Singlaub’s last military command was as chief of staff of U.S. Army forces in South Korea.

There, in May 1977, he told a Post reporter that then-President Jimmy Carter’s plan to withdraw American forces from South Korea could lead to another invasion by the North Koreans.

In a move reminiscent of President Harry Truman’s firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War over two decades before, Carter removed Singlaub from his command.

The flag officer was reassigned to Fort McPherson in Georgia.

In April 1978, in an address to ROTC cadets at Georgia Tech, Singlaub criticized Carter’s plans to relinquish control of the Panama Canal and his “militarily unsound” decision not to pursue the neutron bomb.

The general was immediately summoned to the Pentagon, which announced his retirement the following day.

Singlaub stayed active in private military ventures in the 1980s, raising money to supply anti-communist forces in such far-flung places as Nicaragua, Angola, Afghanistan and Laos, the New York Times reported.

In his 1991 memoir “Hazardous Duty,” Singlaub noted the irony of media outlets trying to paint him as a far-right radical.

“For a decade I’d been smeared as a right-wing fanatic, even a crypto-fascist, by some members of the media,” he wrote, according to the Times.

“I’d always found this ironic, considering the fact that I was one of a handful of American soldiers who had risked torture and execution by both German and Japanese fascists while serving behind enemy lines in Europe and the Far East.”

Singlaub was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 2006 and made a distinguished member of the Special Forces Regiment the following year.

“In 2016, the Army established the Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub and Jedburgh Award to recognize exceptional members of the Army commando community,” the Army Times reported.

Singlaub is survived by his wife, Joan; three children; three stepdaughters; nine grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

The 1st Special Forces Command tweeted on Saturday, “Maj. Gen. John Singlaub had an incredible career that shaped the entire #SOF [Special Operations Forces] enterprise.

“While we are saddened by this loss to his family & our community, we celebrate his life of more than 100 yrs, his decades of service in the @USArmy, and his legacy as an #ARSOF trailblazer.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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