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Special Forces Berlin
by James Stejskal



MG (Ret) Sidney Shachnow

Home > Biographies > Sidney Shachnow

MG Sidney Shachnow - Special Forces

Maj. Gen. (Ret) Sid Shachnow died on September 28, 2018 at the age of 83. He was a long-time Special Forces officer who lived a varied and interesting life.

Early Life. Shachnow was born in Lithuania in 1934. Shachnow lived three years in a Nazi concentration camp during his youth. He was held prisoner at the Kovno concentration camp near Kaunus, Lithuania beginning at age seven. He was smuggled out of the camp only days before the camp was closed and its prisoners transferred to Auschwitz.

Life in the U.S. He immigrated to the United States in 1950 - living in Salem, Massachusetts before joining the Army. He got married six weeks before joining the military.

U.S. Army. Shachnow joined the U.S. Army in 1955 after high school. He served with infantry, airborne, airmobile, and Special Forces units. In 1960 he earned his commission through OCS as an Infantry officer after attaining the rank of Sergeant First Class. In 1962 he volunteered for Special Forces. Much of his 39-year long career was in Special Forces. He served with the 5th Special Forces Group as well as 'Det A' in Berlin.

Vietnam. He deployed to Vietnam twice. His first tour was as commander of Detachment A-121 at An Long Camp near the Cambodian border along the Mekong River.

Cold War. During the Cold War he commanded troops in Berlin, Germany and witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall. He commanded the 39th Special Forces Company (sometimes called Berlin Brigade Detachment A). This was a classified unit that existed from 1956 to 1984. [1]

Commands. Some of his senior command assignments included the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (USASFC), John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (JFKSWCS) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and U.S. Army Berlin in Germany.

Awards and Decorations. His long list of awards and decorations include two Purple Hearts, two Distinguished Service Medals, two Silver Stars, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars, Combat Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Special Forces Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Medal (12), and many others..

Education. Shachnow earned degrees from the University of Nebraska and Shippensburg State College in Pennsylvania. He received an honorary degree from the Harvard Executive Management Program. In addition, he attended the Army Command and General Staff College and the Army War College.

Post-Retirement. MG Shachnow continued to serve the SOF community after retirement on October 1, 1994. He worked on a number of boards, provided services as a volunteer, and performed duties as a 'senior mentor' during a number of exercises and conferences. [2] In 2007 he was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment. He is also included on the Honor Roll in the Infantry Officers' Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2004 he authored an autobiography entitled Hope and Honor which earned the Colby Award.


[1] A Unit 'Truly without Equal", WeaponsMan.

[2] Shachnow served on the board of directors of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation. He also served on the board of advisors of the Jewish Institute for National Securty Affairs.


 "Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow, Special Forces legend, Holocaust survivor, has died", The Fayetteville Observer, October 2, 2018.

"Interview with Maj. Gen. (R) Sidney Shachnow", Jewish Post, October 2012.

Sidney Shachnow, Wikipedia



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