Major General John K Singlaub passed away last Saturday, his death severing another thread in the ever-thinning ties between today’s lost and directionless America and the steel-hearted heroes of World War II and the post-war fight against world Communism.
Were General Singlaub known only for his feats of arms, he would join the ranks of America’s greatest military heroes: Recipient of two Purple Hearts, the Silver Star, and other decorations too numerous to mention Singlaub began his military career at the height of World War II parachuting into occupied France to work with the French Resistance – a mission that meant summary execution by the Nazis should he be captured.
He was later deployed to the Pacific and took part in the final operations of America’s Pacific War, and it was there in China, Korea and Southeast Asia that he distinguished himself among the first generation of what is now known as “Special Operations,” fighting against the Communists in China, Korea and the Vietnam theater of operations.
As “Chief SOG” of MACV-SOG in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968, with teams operating cut-off behind enemy lines, John Singlaub and his fellow “Chief SOGs” developed many of the tactics and doctrines of irregular warfare that are still taught today in America’s Special Operations schools. The Green Berets, the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Marine Raiders and the Force RECON units and Air Force Special Ops all were early on influenced by General Singlaub’s work with the CIA in China, Korea, and with MACV-SOG in Vietnam.
But John Singlaub’s important contributions to the defense of America and the preservation of constitutional liberty did not end when he left the battlefield.
General Singlaub put his career on the line criticizing President Jimmy Carter’s plans to remove American troops from South Korea. Carter removed him as South Korea’s Army Chief of Staff in May 1977 after he told a reporter that the President’s plan to withdraw US troops there could lead to another North Korean invasion.
General Singlaub maintained that his remarks were off the record, but Carter was outraged by what he perceived as a challenge to civil authority.
His order recalling General Singlaub from Korea was the first such action since President Harry S. Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur as Pacific commander when he advocated extending the Korean War to China.
After being reassigned to Fort McPherson, Georgia, General Singlaub again criticized the Carter administration’s military policies in April 1978, during a lecture to ROTC cadets at Georgia Tech. He called Carter’s decision not to produce a neutron bomb “ridiculous” and “militarily unfounded” and criticized the administration’s efforts to relinquish control of the Panama Canal.
The military ordered him to report immediately to the Pentagon, announcing a day later that it had accepted his request for retirement.
After General Singlaub left active duty, he continued the fight for freedom by organizing aid for the anti-Communist Contras in Nicaragua and Afghanistan. In those days anti-Communism could still be bipartisan, and he worked with Democratic Congressmen Larry McDonald to found the Western Goals Foundation. According to The Spokesman-Review, it was intended to "blunt subversion, terrorism, and communism" by filling the gap "created by the disbanding of the House Un-American Activities Committee.” Prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall and Marxism–Leninism in the Soviet Union in 1991, Singlaub was founder in 1981 of the United States Council for World Freedom, the U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). He also worked with Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson to fund the anti-Communist Afghan resistance to the Soviet invasion.
Through the organizations he helped found, General Singlaub played a major role in raising funds and arranging arms purchases for the Contras, who were fighting against the leftist Sandinista government. He solicited contributions from private sources for food, clothing, and medicine, and traveled to South Korea and Taiwan to seek military aid for the Contras in those countries.
General Singlaub’s work on behalf of the Contras eventually brought the ire of the Democrats and their Iran-Contra investigation, but he remained unrepentant about his work, and as a private citizen he maintained he violated no laws.
And he was right, he was never charged with any crime and maintained (correctly) that he was the victim of a smear by pro-Communists in Congress and the media.
“For a decade, I have been called a right-wing fanatic, even a crypto-fascist, by some members of the media,” he wrote in his memoir “Hazardous Duty.” “I always found this ironic, considering that I was one of a handful of American soldiers who had risked torture and execution by German and Japanese fascists while serving behind enemy lines in Europe. and in the Far East.”
In addition to his work in opposition to world Communism and on behalf of the Contras and anti-Communist Afghans Gen. Singlaub generously lent his support and name to other patriotic and veterans’ organizations.
MACV SOG veteran James Acre once said, “Modern society doesn’t recognize its warriors, but they expect to be protected.” America and the idea of constitutional liberty have had few protectors greater than John K. Singlaub and in this time of Communist resurgence his clear-eyed vision of the Communist threat and how to defeat it will be missed greatly.
General John Singlaub
China Korea Southeast Asia
United States Council for World Freedom
U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL)