Special Operations News

“General Sam”: Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment

HAMPDEN SYDNEY, VA  (USASOC) – Retired Army Lt. Gen. Sam Wilson was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment during a private ceremony at the Wilson Center for Leadership on the campus of Hampden-Sydney College hosted by Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Wilson, a resident of Farmville, Va., is President emeritus of Hampden-Sydney College. He joined the faculty after a completing an impressive military career.

During his time in the U.S. Army, Wilson fought behind Japanese lines in Burma during World War II and conducted clandestine intelligence, covert propaganda and paramilitary operations with the CIA during the Cold War.

The majority of his service was with the storied Special Forces Green Berets. While serving with the Green Berets, Wilson oversaw training at the U.S. Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, completing the foundational work on doctrine for small wars, insurgency and counterinsurgency.

In 1961 he was named the deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, playing a key role in the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

In 1967, he returned to Special Forces, serving as the commander of the 6th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and later as the assistant commandant of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Institute for Military Assistance, now the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

For the remainder of his career, Wilson worked at a national level, serving as a U.S. defense attache in Moscow, USSR, and later as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He retired in 1977, and began teaching at Hampden-Sydney College, and was named the president of the college in 1992.

It is for his service while on active duty and in retirement to the Special Forces Regiment that Wilson was named a Distinguished Member of the Regiment.

Honorary membership in the Special Forces Regiment is not lightly given and goes only to those civilians who have contributed to the welfare of the Special Forces Regiment, advancing the interests of the regiment and serving as role models and advocates for the regiment.

Wilson was also awarded the Order of St. Philip Neri Gold Medal, which was established by the U.S. Special Forces Command in 2002. The award recognizes those members of the regiment who embody the traits of the Patron Saint of Special Forces, St. Philip Neri, which include selflessness, superb teacher and inspirational leader.


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