- An American Soldier Died Today
An American flag at half-mast will fly,
For the American solider who has died.
Another lay adorned on the coffin made of wood,
Where will lay a soldier who once proudly stood.
Tears of pride and sadness will be shed,
For the American soldier who is now dead.
Fellow soldier will stand to honor his death,
And comfort the family that he has left
Somewhere softly taps will play,
For an American Soldier died today.
- Katie Morris
Colonel (ret.) Aaron Bank died of natural causes Thursday afternoon.
The leader of the special operation wing of the OSS in WWII and the father of the Special Forces, Colonel Bank is revered amonst the Special Operations community. The below via the Indianapolis Star:
"Colonel Aaron Bank is a legend within the Special Forces community," Maj. Robert Gowan, spokesman for the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, said Thursday. "His commitment and service to our country is unsurpassed. He was a man far ahead of his time. His vision and initiative allowed the Army to create Special Forces as we know them today."
Born in New York City, Bank began working summers in his teens as a lifeguard and swimming teacher. He liked the work so much, he later said, that by the late 1920s it had become something of a career.
He was in and out of Europe over the next decade and learned to speak French and German fluently. In the late 1930s, sensing the inevitability of war, he returned home and joined the Army. By the time the United States entered the war, Bank had been commissioned a second lieutenant.
In 1943, Bank was serving as a tactical training officer for a railroad battalion stationed at Camp Polk, La., when he saw a bulletin announcing that volunteers with foreign-language capabilities would be interviewed for "special assignments."
Once in the OSS, he said, he began a long training course that taught him "to do all the things that regular branches of the service frowned on" -- guerrilla warfare, sabotage, espionage, escape and evasion tactics.
He also learned parachuting. As commander of one of the three-man teams that dropped into southern France before the Allied Mediterranean invasion in August 1944, he and his men posed as civilians and helped French Resistance leaders organize a guerrilla force that blew up bridges, power lines and railroad tracks, and ambushed German columns.
In December 1944, Bank received what he considered the most extraordinary assignment of his career: to recruit and train 170 anti-Nazi German prisoners of war and defectors who would parachute with him into the Austrian Alps, where they would pose as a German mountain-infantry company.
In April 1945 -- after three months of training in France -- the mission was scrubbed.
"I never cried in my life, but I damn near cried when they told me it was aborted," Bank said in a 1993 Times interview.
After the aborted mission, Bank was parachuted into the jungles of Indochina to search for Japanese POW camps. His team located 165 French internees at three locations in Laos.
Bank, who also served in the Korean War, retired from the Army in 1958.
A funeral service, with full military and Special Forces honors, will be held Monday at Riverside National Cemetery. I expect there to be many, many Special Forces soldiers in attendence.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, P.O. Box 14385, Tampa, FL 33690.