We recently had the pleasure of meeting a Special Forces icon in the flesh, Billy Waugh. If there is one word to describe Billy it is "gracious", as befits a Texas gentleman. (This meeting could not have happened without the equally generous intercession of Colonel Paul Longgrear, ret'd., so "thank you" to Paul, too.)
In the span of a fascinating career still going strong, Billy spent years surveiling Osama Bin Laden in the early 1990's in Khartoum (only to have his project called off before he was able to quarry his prey), and he also located the infamous international terrorist Carlos the Jackal while there (see his book, "Hunting the Jackal").
As a young Lieutenant and later Captain in Vietnam, Ranger was privileged to work in Army Camp Lang Thanh (sp) (B53 / 5th Special Forces Group (A) / MACVSOC OPS 38) which billeted many luminaries, among them Sergeant Major Waugh -- already the stuff of legend. While Ranger is not a part of Billy's memories, Ranger recalls one interaction in which Billy told him directly, "Captain, you're not hearing me"; Ranger remembers removing the wax from his ears post haste (Lisa can vouch for the fact that this remains, however, a problem of his.)
Billy was kind enough to answer a series of questions for the online Living History site (in cooperation with both Jim and the site's London administrator, Paul Bishop) about his Special Forces service during the time he and Colonel Dan Shungel trained up the HALO teams for Studies and Operations Group (SOG) missions. Billy's interview can be read HERE. In addition, we spent a most pleasant afternoon in South Florida where he took us to CENTCOM and we were riveted by an online presentation Billy gave us about his time in Khartoum and Vietnam. We also thank him for indulging our many questions in such a forthright manner.
Billy continues to push his boundaries. In his most recent book about his long-time friend and former Prisoner of War Isaac Comacho, Billy not only researched and wrote the text, he also mastered computer graphics programs and created the visuals to include an online interactive presence for the book (Isaac Comacho: American Hero). He delights, as do we, in his discovery of his artistic side. [Of course, Billy has always appreciated fine art, and one regret of his is that he was not able to view the Sistine Chapel whilst posted in Rome as he was "packing" (Billy's words) and the guards would not let him enter. Billy is probably the only person I shall know who was denied entrance to the Chapel for this reason.]
In addition to teaching monthly courses at Ft. Bragg, Billy is hard at work on his next book, a retrospective contemplation of lessons learned from U.S. military involvements through the years. Billy wants to give back and help the young soldiers, and hopes that through education, we may stop repeating the same mistakes.
Thank you so much for your generous attention and kind sharing, Billy. It has been an honor coming to know you.