Perot helps honor Special Operator

By Henry Cunningham
Military editor

 

H. Ross Perot on Friday helped unveil a statue at Fort Bragg of the late Maj. Dick Meadows, whom he described as “a James Bond in real life.”

Perot
H. Ross Perot helps honor the late Maj. Dick Meadows. Perot paid for the $160,000 statue of Meadows at U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters on Fort Bragg.
Staff photo by Elizabeth Darwin Gatlin

Lt. Gen. Peter Schoomaker said at the ceremony that Meadows was “one of the world’s greatest special operators .”Meadows, who died in 1995 at age 64, fought in the most secret special operations units of the Vietnam War and led teams on missions into Laos and North Vietnam. Gen. William Westmoreland awarded him the first battlefield commission of the war. Meadows was a leader of the unsuccessful 1970 Son Tay raid to rescue U.S. prisoners of war from North Vietnam and helped Col. Charlie Beckwith form the Delta Force at Fort Bragg in the late 1970s. During the 1980 attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran, Meadows infiltrated into Tehran and posed as an Irish businessman to provide information to the U.S. rescue forces. He managed to escape Iran after the rescue was called off. “Someone in one of the speeches today said there should be a movie or a book about his life,” Perot said after the ceremony. “There should be, because the American people have no idea. He really did these things that you see movie stars play the role doing.” Perot paid for the $160,000 statue on the Meadows Memorial Parade Field at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters near Yadkin and Reilly roads. The parade field adjoins the memorial plaza where stands the statue of the Special Forces soldier widely known as “Bronze Bruce.” The 8-foot-tall, 900-pound bronze statue of Meadows is on a pedestal about 4 1/2-feet tall. It took about a year to complete, the sculptor said. Perot, who has been a strong supporter of special operations, said he first met Meadows when, at the request of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he visited the Son Tay raiders to thank them for their efforts. “Seldom in our lives are we privileged to know an individual of Dick Meadows’ stature,” said Gen. Hugh Shelton, commander in chief of U.S. Special Operations Command at Tampa, Fla. An award is being established in Meadows’ honor for special operations soldiers, sailors and airmen for “extraordinary heroism,” Shelton said. “Dick was the ultimate soldier,” said retired Gen. Wayne A. Downing, former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the Joint Special Operations Command.

Meadows
The statue of Maj. Dick Meadows is unveiled Friday at Fort Bragg.
Staff photo by Elizabeth Darwin Gatlin

Meadows was “the standard by which we will judge every special operator,” Downing said. His widow, Pam, who lives in Florida, described Meadows as a quite, humble man who loved his grandchildren and served his country without hesitation. The sculptor was Lawrence M. Ludtke of Houston. “I received some wonderful help, wonderful photographs,” Ludtke said after the ceremony. “His son, Mark Meadows, was gracious enough to come to my studio and pose for me in the proper equipment. They provided me with everything I needed to make that as authentic as possible.” Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph W. Lupyak, a Son Tay raider, said, “It’s an exact likeness. It’s unbelievable. It looks just like Dick.” Retired Sgt. Maj. Don Davis, said “He doesn’t have a hat on. Dick didn’t like to wear a hat.” The statue carries a CAR-15 on semi-automatic to fire three-shot bursts. “I understand he didn’t like to just spray (bullets),” the sculptor said. “He liked to keep it under control.” The left arm is down, the right arm is pointing a weapon. “He’s really just taking a short, cautious step forward,” Ludtke said. “His left arm is saying, ‘There’s some danger ahead. If you stay back, I’ll take care of it.’ ” The statue wears no insignia. “He’s depicted here as if he’s going on a mission,” the sculptor said. “There’s no insignia and no indication of rank, Army unit or anything. All of the metal pieces on there are covered so that they don’t have any reflection. “Everything is as authentic as I can make it. Everything is exactly as he would wear going into combat.”