Remembering Gen. John Singlaub: The Super Soldier Who Spoke His Mind U.S. Army Major General John Singlaub, front, speaks to reporters as U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen looks on during a press conference. (STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP via Getty Images)
To many of his admirers, retired Gen. John Singlaub was Captain America come to life.
Like the legendary World War II comic book hero, John Singlaub showed seemingly superhuman strength and courage in battle but friends said he didn’t need the “super soldier” formula to give him that physical prowess. And like Captain America, Singlaub seemed ageless right up until his death at age 100 on Jan. 29.
To other friends, he was Sam Damon —hero of Anton Myrer’s epic novel “Once An Eagle.” Beginning as a mustang (enlisted man), Damon rose through the ranks to become a general, lived the army’s values and served with valor through World Wars I and II and finally in Southeast Asia.
That was Singlaub, who saw action in three wars.
Like his hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Singlaub was outspoken to a point that his words forced his retirement. As chief of staff of U.S. forces in the Korean Peninsula in 1977, he told The Washington Post that then-President Jimmy Carter’s campaign proposal to withdraw 32,000 troops from the region over five years “will lead to war” with North Korea in a replay of the Korean conflict of 1950.
Singlaub, who insisted he was told the interview was off the record, was called to the White House to meet with Carter. Singlaub was subsequently transferred to the Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Georgia—whereupon he spelled out other differences with President Carter in a speech at Georgia Tech.
The general soon retired and had the last word on the issue of troop strength in Korea — Carter never pursued his plan to withdraw the troops.
Having traded in his uniform for dress-for-success pinstriped suits, Citizen Singlaub became a hero to conservatives nationwide. He was urged to run for the U.S. Senate in several states but instead campaigned hard for Ronald Reagan in his successful race against Singlaub’s old nemesis, Carter.
Singlaub devoted much of his civilian life to helping freedom fighters throughout the world. He launched the U.S. Council for World Freedom as an affiliate of the World Anti-Communist League. The retired general also raised millions for anti-Communist insurgents in Nicaragua, Angola, and Afghanistan.
Born and raised in Southern California, John Kirk Singlaub attended the University of California on an ROTC program. He quit school short of graduation in 1943 to enlist in the Army during World War II.
On the eve of D-Day, Lt. Singlaub was working in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to help the French Resistance prepare for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Singlaub reported to case officer William J. Casey, who would later become CIA director under Reagan.
With Europe liberated in 1945, Singlaub headed for Japan in 1945 to rescue American, Australian, and Dutch POWs at a prison camp in the South China Sea. He and his 8-member team confronted Japanese captors days after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but before the Japanese surrendered (Sept. 2, 1945). Singlaub eventually negotiated the release and evacuation of the POWs.
He was working for the fledgling CIA in Manchuria before the Communists took over China in 1948. During the Korean War, Singlaub served as deputy chief of the CIA mission in South Korea and later saw combat as a battalion commander.
Having finally earned his UCLA degree in 1958, Singlaub would see action once again in Vietnam. Again working for the CIA, he executed covert missions along the Ho Chi Minh trail and in nearby Laos.
Like the fictional Sam Damon, Jack Singlaub remained a soldier’s soldier even after many years in civilian life. James L. Martin, head of the SixtyPlus Seniors Association, recalled how he was attending a meeting of the conservative Council on National Policy (CNP) in Orlando, Florida in 1994.
“I was introducing my old boss, former Sen. Ed Gurney, R-Fla.,” Martin said, “Instead of talking about his record as a conservative leader in the Senate, I spoke of his record as a heroic U.S. army officer in Europe during World War II and how he sustained wounds in combat.”
When Gurney was finished speaking, said Martin, “the entire CNP came up to shake his hand. When Gen. Singlaub approached, he was so effusive and said for all to hear: ‘Senator I've always admired your legislative record but until Jim Martin recalled your wartime heroics I had no idea. As one soldier to another I salute you, sir.’”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.