Billy Waugh’s Surprise Birthday Party

I just spent the last two days in Tampa. Billy Waugh (center), MG Eldon Bargewell (right), Cletis (Babysan) Sinyard, President SOAI flew back to the home of McDill AFB and SOCOM to attend a surprise birthday party with a lot of friends for our friend Billy Waugh.

Billy was born in Bastrop, Texas, some 80 years ago. It was a good day for America as we picked up a true professional. Billy served in the Korean War, and Vietnam. It was there I was lucky enough to run into him.

While I was in Vietnam I was assigned to MACSOG, CCN. Billy was the Sergeant Major of Recon Company and although I was a Captain, as a recon team leader (RT Virginia), Jim Butler, Garry RobbI worked for him. We were a small number of guys tasked with doing impossible things and most of the time we pulled them off, no small thanks to Billy.

Billy would task us with one of his “good deals” which were assignments from higher up. We knew he would never ask anyone to do what he wouldn’t do and we knew, as one of the guys said last night, if youPoster by Jeff Kohler. got into trouble Billy would turn heaven and earth to get you out.

After Vietnam, Billy went to work for the CIA as a contractor. One thing he can talk about was catching Carlos the Jackal  (Hunting the Jackal: A Special Forces and CIA Soldier’s Fifty Years on the Frontlines of the War Against Terrorism). No small feat but just one of many successful missions for Billy. In 2002 he was in Afghanistan with a Special Forces detachment. Run the math back and you will realize he was in his 70’s at this time.

I had seen him several times through theMel (Sleepy) Hill presenting a Jumpers over 80 plaque to Billy. NOTE: Never ask Sleepy to tell a short story. It is impossible for him say anything in under 3 or 5 or maybe 10 minutes. years and our paths crossed again in Iraq where we were both “living the dream.” We tried to meet up in Baghdad but I couldn’t get a hop out of Mosul. However, just having an email from Billy Waugh was enough to establish my “bonefides” with the folks for whom I was working.

We had a great party for him and Billy was totally surprised! General Jack Singlaub (Chief SOG and co-founder I didn't notice the "Spy vs Spy" decoration until I started to put this into the blog.of the CIA), Major General Eldon Bargewell (who was an E-6 under Billy in Recon Company), Major General Dave Scott from SOCOM, former Special Forces, former CCN Recon, some current SF, guys from “other government agencies”, and some great folks from SOCOM. The event was hosted by Glen Becker (Belleville Shoe Mfg. Company), Bruce Parkman and Tony Porterfield (NEK Advanced Securities) and Pat and Ray Calafell. Special thanks go to Ray and Pat for a job well done!

The “lads and lasses” (as Billy would say) paid their respects to a great American, a true soldier’s soldier, and a living legend.

We love you Billy.

Note: Jim Butler and I prowled the The part of Tampa we were in was Ybor City. It is under redevelopment and has some great architecture.streets of Tampa looking for trouble. Sadly he, looking like a bald Jack Lemon and me a fat Walter Matthau from Grumpy Old Men, we could find none although we did come close a couple of times.  Alternating Espresso and beer we had a great time sitting at sidewalk tables and commenting on the sights. It seems we were there during the slow days of the week. Lucky for Tampa . . . and more lucky for us.

1 thought on “Billy Waugh’s Surprise Birthday Party”

  1. Keith – It was great to see you, Jim, Eldon, Babysan, SOGBOSS and the rest of the folks that made Billy’s party a success. We had to plan carefully, making sure that the SMAJ did not get wind of what was coming, and I think we succeeded, thanks to some good ol’ sneaky Pete stuff. It was a privilege to work so closely with Garry, the boys from NEK and Glen Becker of Belleville Boot Company to put this together – and to enjoy the great camaraderie that will last forever. The only youngster that could have made this better was unable to attend, but Nick, nonetheless, appeared via email in his inimitable literary fashion.
    Thanks for coming down, Captain America! Come back soon. Ray

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