(NewsReady.com) – William Dawson Waugh was born in 1929 in Texas, and seemed to always have a calling to serve in the military. According to one of his many stories shared in The Washington Post, the Texan left home at the age of 15 with the intention of hitchhiking to California because he heard a rumor that the state allowed 16-year-olds to enlist in the Marines. Although he didn’t make it quite that far as a minor, Waugh joined the Army after graduating from high school at the age of 18, which started his journey around the world and back again.
On April 6, Stars and Stripes reported the Green Beret, CIA legend, and retired Army sergeant major passed away. He was 93 years old. First Special Forces Command reportedly said of the military hero that he “inspired a generation of special operations.” Funnily enough, he wrote in his 2004 memoir “Hunting the Jackal” that he didn’t even “like the Army” — at first. It wasn’t until he “got a taste of combat in Korea” that he found himself at home in the armed service.
William “Billy” Waugh, a Green Beret and CIA legend who served in wars in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan, died Tuesday at 93 years old.https://t.co/ruJcXpN4AX
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) April 7, 2023
According to Stars and Stripes, Waugh served in wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan with the Army first, followed by the CIA. He earned his Green Beret after a combat tour in Korea in 1954. When he returned, the Army sent him to Germany, where he heard about the newly-forming Special Forces unit — he joined and did his first tour with the unit in Vietnam. While there, he was severely wounded during the Battle of Bong Son, but survived, earning the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
After a short stint in retirement with the US Postal Service, he joined the CIA as a contractor. In his book, Waugh said he played an instrumental role in tracking down terrorists Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal. After 9/11, the then-71-year-old headed back to the Middle East to hunt bin Laden — again — along with other al-Qaeda terrorists.
Waugh spent more than half of his life defending the United States and ensuring the safety of all Americans. He died a highly-decorated and well-respected hero.
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