On General Sam’s legacy

Published 11:49 am Thursday, June 15, 2017

No one man has had such a profound impact on our nation’s military — namely its intelligence community — Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) and this community in recent history as had the late retired Lt. Gen. Samuel V. Wilson.

I regret never really sitting down and talking to “General Sam,” who died Saturday. I’ve known his family for years, covered events where he’s been and studied his accomplishments.

I don’t think one has to have met General Sam to understand the impact and legacy his work has had and will continue to have on our nation, this community and H-SC.

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I’ll begin by listing just a few of his accomplishments.

Wilson prided himself on being born and raised in Rice in Prince Edward County.

The 93-year-old served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from May 1976-August 1977 and was known for his work in doctrine for low intensity conflict, where he coined the term counterinsurgency, or COIN. Wilson is credited for helping establish the Delta Force, the Army’s top counterterrorism unit.

His counsel was often sought by national leaders, including three U.S. presidents, according to his biography. “His expertise was instrumental in the stand-up of a dedicated counterterrorism unit and the legitimizing of special operations forces under a unified joint command.”

After his service in the military, Wilson became involved in the community. According to retired Lt. Col. Rucker Snead, “he had the moral voice. So he was one of the key leaders, ultimately, with the development of the (Robert Russa) Moton Museum and the efforts for racial reconciliation. He served on the board of the Moton Museum for a long time,” and he was its president from 2000 to 2002.

Wilson also served H-SC and this community, leaving an indelible legacy.

As the college’s president, Wilson guided it out of a period of uncertainty with energetic, visible and steady leadership, according to a H-SC release.

It’s my hope that those who lead and seek to lead both in this community and across the U.S. are inspired daily by the work of this true American patriot.

JORDAN MILES is managing editor of The Farmville Herald. His email address is Jordan.Miles@FarmvilleHerald.com.