DIA announces death of former director, Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson, U.S. Army (Retired)

By DIA Public Affairs


Lieutenant General Samuel Vaughan Wilson, U.S. Army, who served as 5th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from May 1976 to August 1977, died June 10, 2017 at his home in Rice, Virginia. The cause was lung cancer his family reported.

Lt. Gen. Wilson led DIA through a time of transition, reorganizing the agency to focus more on operational intelligence support. Under his direction, DIA completed modernization of the National Military Intelligence Center and strengthened intelligence support to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. military commands. Intelligence efforts during his tenure centered on the death of Mao Zedong, aircraft hijackings, the Israeli raid on Entebbe Airport, unrest in South Africa, and continuing Middle East dissension.

Lt. Gen. Wilson was considered a legend in the military intelligence world, having served not only at DIA, but also in the Office of Strategic Services, the Central Intelligence Agency, and as the Director of Instruction at the U.S. Army Special Warfare School. He co-authored legislation establishing the U.S. Special Operations Command and helped create the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, more commonly known as Delta Force – the Army’s premier counterterrorism unit. Fluent in Russian, he was designated the first general officer to serve as defense attaché to Moscow. He also coined the term counterinsurgency and wrote the Army’s first program if instruction on the subject.

A native of Rice, Virginia, Wilson held an Honorary Doctor in Laws from Hampden-Sydney College, and an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from Longwood University. He received an Honorary Doctorate in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University in 2014.
He entered active service in June 1940 and served in Burma during World War II as a member of the famed “Merrill’s Marauders.” Following his 37-year military career, he joined the faculty of Hampden-Sydney College as a professor of political science and served for eight years as the college’s president.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 23 at Hampden-Sydney College in Hampden Sydney, Virginia.

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