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COL Charles Beckwith

Colonel Charles Beckwith

Colonel
Charles Beckwith
U.S. Army
Special Forces
1929 - 1994

Colonel Charles Beckwith is known for being one of the principle advocates of an SAS-like special operations unit. He was one of the founding members of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta (SFOD-D). He also is known for being the on-ground commander of Operation EAGLE CLAW - the ill-fated mission to rescue Americans held hostage by Iran in the American embassy in Tehran in 1980. "Chargin' Charlie" was a Special Forces legend - with a career that spanned from the early 1950s to the 1980s - including tours in Laos and Vietnam.

Beckwith grew up in Georgia and was a high school football star. He would then be a star athlete at the University of Georgia - where he also was a member of ROTC. In 1952 he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers but decided to serve with the Army as the Korean War was ongoing.

One of his first assignments was in Korea. In 1958 he volunteered for Special Forces duty. After his training he deployed to Southeast Asia where he served in Operation Hotfoot in Laos.

Serving with SAS. In 1962 Beckwith served as an exchange officer with the British 22nd SAS. While with the SAS he deployed to Malaya and was involved in counterinsurgency operations.

Vietnam Service. He served in Vietnam to include a tour as commander of Project Delta (Operational Detachment B-52) in 1965 and as commander of 2nd Bn, 327th Infantry in Vietnam in 1968.

JCRC. Beckwith served with the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. This was a Special Forces unit tasked with recovering the remains of missing service members from the Vietnam conflict.

Delta. The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta was established in 1977. It was a unit similar to the British Special Air Service (SAS). Beckwith and others spent two years establishing a selection program, developing TTPs, and instituting a training program.

A Varied Career. Other assignments included a tour with the Ranger School at Fort Benning, GA and as commandant of the Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, NC.

After Retirement. He retired from the Army in 1981. Beckwith wrote an autobiography and opened a private security and consulting firm - Security Assistance Services in Austin, Texas. He died at the age of 65 of natural causes in June 1994. [1] One of his three daughters served in the military and a grand-daughter served with a aviation special operations unit.

Regimental Honor. On August 9, 2012 Charles Beckwith was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment. [2]


Books about Col Beckwith

Beckwith, Charles and Knox, D., Delta Force: A memoir by the founder of the U.S. military's most secretive special-operations unit, New York, NY: William Morrow, 2013.


Websites about Col Beckwith

Colonel Charles Alvin Beckwith - ARSOF Icons, USASOC Historian
https://arsof-history.org/icons/beckwith.html

Charles Alvin Beckwith - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Alvin_Beckwith

Charles Beckwith: The Father of Delta Force - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/66538/charles-beckwith-father-delta-force/


News Stories about Col Beckwith

September 7, 2015. "Leadership in Action: Colonel Charles A. Beckwith", The Military Leader. Phil Walter highlights the decision that COL Beckwith was faced with when he realized he was one helicopter short during OPERATION EAGLE CLAW.

 



Endnotes

[1] "Obituary: Col. Charles Beckwith; Led Failed Iran Raid", Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1994.
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-06-14-me-3831-story.html

[2] Read his citation for his induction as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment.
https://www.soc.mil/swcs/RegimentalHonors/_pdf/sf_beckwith.pdf

 

 

 

 

 


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