The Special Operations community has lost a legend. Billy Waugh, “Godfather of the Green Berets,” died on April 4th at the age of 93.
His passing was confirmed by 1st Special Forces Command, who provided no additional details. Waugh served in Korea and Vietnam and was hunting bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan at the age of 71. At the tender age of 15, he tried to join the Marine Corps but was turned away. The teen had met two local men wounded in World War Two and was so inspired by them that he decided to hitchhike from his home in Texas to Los Angeles, where he was told he could enlist. The gritty youth made it as far as Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he was arrested and sent home to his mother.
He tried to join the service again at the age of 18, this time being accepted into the Army.
In 1954, after a year of service in Korea, he earned his Green Beret. He retired as a sergeant major in 1972. But Billy Waugh wasn’t exactly retired in the traditional sense; he joined the CIA in 1977 after briefly holding another federal job working for the US Postal Service sorting mail. It is not surprising to learn that this bored him terribly.