…from Major General John K. Singlaub (USA Ret.)
I first met Sully deFontaine in 1961 in Germany when I was an adviser to the 10th Special Forces Group exercise being run out of the Bad Tolz headquarters in Germany. From his first salute to his always polite and low-key conversation, I knew without a doubt that Sully was a quiet professional and a seasoned leader.Little did I know at the time that as a young man in his late teens he had been through some of the same British paratrooper schools where I had trained in England. From balloons at Ringway near Manchester he practiced for making night jumps into the farmlands of France, his homeland, to use his skills and knowledge of the French underground to rescue downed American pilots.
My first encounter with Sully came a year after he had led a Special Forces team on a covert mission in the Congo to rescue missionaries and civilians who were at risk of being massacred by roving bands of militants spawned during that country’s independence revolt.
The gallant rescue by his three-man team reminded me of the time near the end of World War II when the Office of Strategic Services tasked me with leading a prisoner-of-war humanitarian team to liberate Allied POWs held by the Japanese on Hainan, a large island in the South China Sea between China and Vietnam.
Instead of trigger-happy rebels that Sully and his team tangled with in jungle pockets of the Congo, my team faced about 10,000 arrogant Japanese soldiers who were unaware of the atomic bombs dropped on their homeland and could not believe that there was any thought of defeat or surrender on the part of their emperor.
The troops living on Hainan Island lived well in a very pleasant climate. They were seldom under air attack and when one of the infrequent attackers showed up they were frequently shot down. The crew members who survived the crash would be paraded through the villages then executed in public.
In squalid conditions of the Hainan prison compound, we were shocked to find hundreds of Dutch and Australian POWs, who unlike many of their comrades, had survived starvation but were near death after three years of enslavement by their Japanese captors.
Like the atrocities that Sully’s team would experience fifteen years later during their Congo rescue mission, flies rose as we approached prison huts where the stench of death prevailed.
Saving one allied soldier from dying in a prison camp would be a small measure of success. Saving hundreds as we did was a resounding signal to the world that free people will prevail in an oppressed society as long as there is a government that will support the rescuers and give them the latitude to do their jobs.
That is why stories of these humanitarian missions by U.S. soldiers should never be forgotten or concealed in the classified libraries of military history.
– Major General John K. Singlaub (USA Ret.)
Retired Army Major General John K. Singlaub’s wartime and ‘Cold War’ service has included Special Operations combat missions into Nazi occupied France and Japanese occupied China during World War II.
He conducted similar operations into Communist occupied areas of China during their civil war and Korea during the Korean War.
He later controlled missions into Communist occupied parts of South East Asia during the Vietnam War.
Major General John Singlaub is considered one of the founding members of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is a highly decorated member of the United States Army and Office of Strategic Services Association from his missions served during and after World War II.
Major General Jack Singlaub is a legendary soldier and is a true American Patriot.
We suggest you read his memoirs, “Hazardous Duty”, to know the hard path he has walked for America’s freedom.