Four distinct events led to the composition of this paper. The first occurred in Seoul, Korea during 1972. On a visit to the Yongsan Post Library, I discovered a recently published book entitled OSS--The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Organization. As an intelligence officer I was intrigued by the title and became fascinated by the contents. As a Marine, I was doubly interested in the occasional references to OSS men who were identified as U.S. Marines. But, after some perfunctory searches through the standard popular Marine Corps histories yielded nothing about Marines and the OSS, I simply forgot about the subject.
When I was offered the opportunity to write an Individual Research Paper at Command and Staff College, I began thinking about a subject. Major Don Bittner, the military historian, challenged me to find a topic which would contribute something new and involve in-depth research utilizing primary source material. Little did I realize that, like most sailors setting forth for uncharted waters, my academic voyage would be quite so length.
At about the same time, I happened to be glancing through Volume V of the History of Marine Corps Operations in World War II. In one of the closing chapters I noticed several pages concerning Marine Prisoners of War in Europe. My interest piqued, I read the section in detail
and discovered the names of several OSS Marines who had been captured while on missions behind enemy lines in France.
Preliminary scouting in the Command and Staff College Library yielded a few more tidbits tucked away in yellowing copies of the Marine Corps Gazette. Then, I contacted Mr. Benis Frank, the Oral Historian at the Marine Corps Historical Center in Washington and co-author of the previously mentioned Volume 5. It was Ben Frank who sold me on the idea of trying to document Marine Corps participation in OSS and offered to guide my research.
America, alone among the great powers, entered World War II without a real intelligence service worthy of the name. By the time Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich" collapsed in a sea of rubble and Japan's "Rising Sun" was eclipsed, the United States had developed a large and amazingly competent apparatus for both strategic and tactical intelligence. This organization began as the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) and later was renamed the Office of Strategic Service (OSS). The current Central Intelligence Agency is lineal successor to their traditions.
OSS was by nature a secret organization. The majority of its operational history still remains to be told. Of greater difficulty even than the problem of classification was the identification of Marines who were a part of the story. I began with exactly 6 names of Marine officers.
In a sense this paper is only a beginning. Despite approximately 1,000 hours of research and writing, it inevitably falls short of recounting the full tale. Much of the research effort was done via the mails because primary sources were located in areas not readily accessible to an officer who was also a full-time student. As late as mid-April, I was still uncovering new OSS Marines and compiling dossiers. The rough draft deadline was, by then, a month behind me.
The result was a conscious but regretful decision to limit the scope of my writing to OSS activities in North Africa and Europe. Perhaps one day I will be able to fill in the blanks for those Marines who served in India, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, and China.
Throughout my approach has been to present the Marines of OSS as people--to tell something of their backgrounds as well as their wartime exploits. The reader will quickly discern that they form an unusual group. Most were highly educated and successful civilians whose talents met the test of unique operational challenges. Diversity was a singular characteristic of OSS recruits and diverse indeed was the small but distinguished group which served in Marine green.
< This is a story which can be found in no book yet published. Its subject is thirty years old, but the archival cobwebs and outdated security classifications do not tarnish the patina. The Marines who populate these pges shared many of the dangers of their counterparts in the Pacific, but until now they have been almost completely ignored or forgotten. I have concentrated on Marine involvement in OSS oeprations
at the expense of more fully discussing analytical or administrative functions. This fact is not intended to detract form the very real accomplishments of those who served in such capacities, but simply to make the narrative more interesting. When I showed a few chapters of the draft to one of my fellow students, he read them carefully and exclaimed, "This is amazing stuff but its too interesting to be a Command and Staff Research Paper." I hope every reader feels something of that enthusiasm.
In a sense, this paper will be a night drop behind the lines of conventional Marine Corps history. The "green light" goes on in Chapter One.
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