Most government employees enjoy their retirement by the time they hit their 70’s, but Billy Waugh is different. Instead of a quiet life of retirement, after 9/11, the 71-year-old Waugh was part of a CIA team hunting for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Waugh was born in Bastrop, Texas, on December 1, 1929. In 1945, after meeting two Marines, Waugh was inspired to enlist in the Marine Corps. After deciding on serving in the military after high school, Waugh made a point to be the best student possible at Bastrop High, eventually graduating with a 4.0 grade point average.
Waugh enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948, and after completing basic training was accepted into the United States Army Airborne School and became airborne qualified.
In 1951, Waugh was assigned to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team in Korea. After the end of the Korean War, Waugh began training for the Special Forces. He earned the Green Beret in 1954, joining the 10th Special Forces Group.
During the Vietnam War, the United States deployed Special Forces “A-teams” to Southeast Asia in support of operations against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese.
In 1965, while conducting a raid with his unit on a North Vietnamese encampment, Waugh’s unit engaged with a much larger enemy force than anticipated. During the engagement, Waugh received numerous serious wounds to his head and legs.
The enemy soldiers took his gear, clothing, and Rolex watch but he was left alone where he was hit.
Barely alive, enemy soldiers took him for dead, but despite his injuries, Waugh’s teammates safely evacuated him and he spent the next two years recuperating at Walter Reed Hospital. He received a Silver Star and a Purple Heart for his actions during this battle.
After recovering from his injuries, Waugh joined the Studies and Observations Group (SOG) operating in Vietnam. While working for SOG, Waugh helped train forces in unconventional warfare tactics primarily focused against the North Vietnamese Army. Waugh retired from active military duty at the rank of Sergeant Major on February 1, 1972.
After Waugh retired from the military, he worked for the United States Postal Service until he accepted an offer in 1977 to work in Libya on a contract to train that country’s special forces.
Initially, while in Libya Waugh was not working for or affiliated with the CIA. However, while there, the CIA recruited him to gather intelligence on Libyan military installations and capabilities.
In the 1980s, the CIA assigned Waugh to the Marshall Islands to track Soviet small boat teams operating in the area to prevent them from stealing U.S. missile technology. In the early 1990’s, Waugh worked in Sudan where he performed surveillance and intelligence gathering on terrorist leaders including Osama bin Laden.
After 9/11, at the age of 71, Waugh took part in Operation Enduring Freedom as a member of the CIA team that went into Afghanistan to work with the Northern Alliance to fight the Taliban at the Battle of Tora Bora.
In other words, if Billy Waugh needed a resume it would include five tours with Special Forces “A” teams in Vietnam and Laos, working for the CIA’s Special Activities Division in Libya, preventing the Russians from stealing classified missile secrets and helping to hunt down infamous terrorists.
He’s served in more countries than most people will ever visit in their lifetime. His military awards include the Silver Star, four Bronze Stars, four Army Commendation medals, and eight Purple Hearts for wounds in combat.
The bottom line is, Billy Waugh is an American hero who devoted his life to serving his country and it’s men like him who make our incredible freedoms possible.