William “Wild Bill” Donovan is one of the giants and fathers of the American intelligence community. But before he became a spymaster, he fought in World War I in the infantry and was a war hero. 

After studying law at Columbia University, where he was a classmate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Donovan became a partner in a law firm in Buffalo, New York. There he decided to help form and lead a troop of cavalry for the New York National Guard. His unit was mobilized and sent to Mexico during the punitive campaigns to catch Pancho Villa.

Upon returning from Mexico, Donovan was promoted to Major and joined the “Fighting 69th” (the Irish Brigade of Civil War fame). The 69th later became the 165th Regiment of the famous “Rainbow Division.”

Donovan was an officer who led from the front, even as a battalion commander.