Richard J. Meadows

Military History Story

Major Dick Meadows' exploits were legendary. 


Joining the Army at the age of 15, he became the youngest master sergeant in the Korean War. 

Following service in Korea, he volunteered for duty with Special Forces and spent the rest of his career in Special Forces or Ranger units, helping to establish and develop many of the organizations and programs we know today.

He was present at the creation of Army Special Forces, Military Free Fall Parachuting, the Son Tay raid, the creation of SFOD - Delta, and the attempted rescue of hostages in Iran. 

In 1960, he was selected as the first NCO to participate in an exchange program between the 7th Special Forces Group and the British 22nd Special Air Service Regiment. While there, he completed the SAS selection course, performed for 12 months as a Troop Commander (a position normally filled by a Captain), and participated in numerous training exercises and an actual operation in Oman against terrorists and gun smugglers. So impressive was his performance, he became one of only two foreigners ever to receive the British SAS wings. 

During the Vietnam war, he served with the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, better known as MACV-SOG.

During two combat tours, he led more than two dozen clandestine missions behind enemy lines into North Vietnam and Laos, calling in air strikes on the Ho Chi Minh trail, capturing North Vietnamese soldiers for interrogation, and engaging in close quarter combat during commando raids. 

And throughout it all he never lost a man. 

Because of his extraordinary combat record, he was awarded a battlefield commission directly to Captain. 

Later, he helped organize and lead the Son Tay raid in an attempt to rescue U.S. POWs. 

He retired from the Army in 1977 as the Training Officer/Deputy Commander, Jungle Phase, U.S. Army Ranger School, Camp Rudder, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. 

His most daring exploit probably came while working as a consultant to the hostage crisis of 1980, while scouting the American embassy where the hostages were being held, and arranging transportation for the rescue force within Tehran. Stranded after the mission was cut short, he was forced to make a harrowing escape from Tehran. 

Continuing in later years to selflessly serve his country, he spent much of the remainder of his life working against the illegal drug trade. 

At a ceremony posthumously awarding him the Presidential Citizen Medal, it was said of him that he "quite literally established standards by which we measure all special operators -- now and in the future." 

His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star (2nd award), Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (with V device for valor), Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Commendation Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal (w/two oak leaf clusters). 

He was also the recipient of the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, Glider Badge, Ranger Tab and SCUBA badge. 

Dick Meadows was a professional who dedicated his life to a service of God, country and home; devoted himself to his duty, his comrades and his family; and established a standard of professional excellence by which all who follow in his footsteps shall be measured.