Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson, a native of Southside, Virginia, retired from active military service on August 31, 1977, having served during his 37-year career from Infantry Private to Lieutenant General. A highly-decorated combat veteran of World War II, he spent part of that period in the Office of Strategic Services and subsequently in the 1944 North Burma Campaign with “Merrill’s Marauders.” Enrolling in the Army’s Foreign Area Specialist Training Program (Russian) in the immediate postwar years, General Wilson attended graduate school at Columbia University’s Russian Institute, following which he was posted as a special student to Europe to continue his language and area studies. Noteworthy extra-curricular activities during this latter period included being assigned to the State Department’s Diplomatic Pouch and Courier Service, which led to extensive travels throughout the Iron Curtain countries and the Soviet Union, as well as to other countries peripheral to the USSR; functioning as an official interpreter in Berlin, Potsdam and Vienna; and, serving in a liaison capacity with elements of the Soviet Armed Forces in East Germany and Eastern Austria.
Duty tours for the remainder of General Wilson’s career reflect, for the most part, the pattern and influence of his earlier World War II and immediate postwar experiences. Assignments varied from duties in the Special Operations arena, in Intelligence and in more conventional command and staff positions. Highlights include service as an Intelligence staff officer at the Washington level; a Central Intelligence Agency field case officer; a Special Forces Group Commander; Assistant Commandant of the US Army’s Special Warfare School; Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Operations; Assistant Division Commander (Operations) of the 82nd Airborne Division; US Defense Attache/Moscow, Deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence for the Intelligence Community; and, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency. Somewhat outside this pattern was his assignment of several years to South Viet Nam, initially with the US Agency for International Development (USAID/Viet Nam) as Associate Director for Field Operations and subsequently in the American Embassy/Saigon as US Mission Coordinator/Viet Nam. In connection with this latter assignment, he received a Presidential Appointment to the personal rank of Minister.
General Wilson is a graduate of the Infantry Officers Advanced Course, the Army Command and General Staff College, the Air War College (where he was recognized as Distinguished Graduate of the Class of 1964,) and a number of more specialized training courses. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, US Special Operations Distinguished Service Medal, CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star for Valor with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, and the Vietnamese National Administration Medal for Exemplary Service.
Since military retirement, he has remained active on the lecture circuit with various colleges and universities and Armed Forces educational institutions. He has also continued to serve as a part-time governmental consultant on Russian and East European affairs and related matters of sensitive Special Operations and national level intelligence interest. Among his post-retirement responsibilities are the following: Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Hampden-Sydney College; Chairman, Military Board of Virginia; Chairman, Secretary of Defense’s Special Operations Policy Advisory Group (SOPAG); staff consultant to House and Senate Armed Services Committees; advisor on foreign technology, Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Senior Consultant, Betac Corporation. In private life he is an accomplished musician and a former dues-paying member of the Screen Actors Guild. He also writes as an avocation, contributing occasional articles to contemporary publications, primarily magazines dealing with outdoor sports.
In 1992, General Wilson was named State of Virginia Cultural Laureate for Public Service by the Virginia Cultural Laureate Foundation. General Wilson became the 22nd President of Hampden-Sydney College in Southside Virginia on July 27, 1992. In 1995 he was given the Colonel Arthur D. “Bull” Simons Award (Special Operations “Heisman Trophy”) by the Commander-in-Chief, United States Special Operations Command, for outstanding contributions over the years to US Special Operations. The following year, 1996, General Wilson was presented the William Oliver Baker Award (US Intelligence “Heisman Trophy”) for “…enduring contributions to National Security and Freedom…” On 30 June 2000, he retired from his duties as President of Hampden-Sydney College and was given the title of President Emeritus and named as Wheat Professor of Leadership.