#VeteranOfTheDay Samuel V. Wilson


Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Samuel V. Wilson.

Samuel joined the 116th Infantry Regiment of the Virginia National Guard as a 16-year-old private bugler in June 1940. By early 1942, he had become successively a squad leader, platoon sergeant and acting first sergeant before being sent to Infantry Officer Candidate School (OCS), where he graduated as an 18-year-old second lieutenant at the head of his class.

Samuel fought in the jungles of Burma during World War II and worked in intelligence in Germany and Russian at the height of the Cold War. In 1959 he became the director of the Army Special Forces school, where he developed a program for counterinsurgency operations, known today as COIN.

COIN calls for deep cultural understanding of the country where fighting is taking place, encourages political rather than military means to subdue an insurgency and seeks a unity of effort between military and civilian forces. He applied these principles during the Vietnam war, to win the “hearts and minds” in the rural Long An Province. Samuel is also credited for helping create the Army’s Delta Force in 1977, the U.S. Army’s premier counterterrorism unit.

After returning from Vietnam, General Wilson was a defense attaché at the American Embassy in Moscow, the supervisor of military attachés at 85 embassies and the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency under George Bush. In 1976, he became the fifth director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In 1977, Samuel retired from the Army and became a professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where he later became president in 1992.

Samuel passed away June 10 at his home in Rice, Virginia. He was 93.

We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much of the information as you can put together with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating for how to create the best submission.


Melissa Heintz

– Melissa Heintz joined the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team as a public affairs specialist in October 2015. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Navy Region Hawaii Fleet and Family Readiness and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing.