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The following persons are known to have participated in covert operations, as distinct from clandestine intelligence gathering (espionage) either by their own admission or by the accounts of others:
Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, Czechoslovak British-trained agents sent to assassinate one of the most important Nazis, Reinhard Heydrich, in 1942 as part of Operation Anthropoid.
Aaron Franklin, World War II US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer who created a fake group of the German Army, made up of POWs, with the mission of killing Hitler. As a colonel, he was the first commander of United States Army Special Forces.
Charles Beckwith, US Army colonel who was an early exchange officer with the British Special Air Service (SAS), and created the Delta Force (1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) based on the SAS.
Gary Berntsen, CIA field officer and team leader during Operation Enduring Freedom
Wendell Fertig, United States Army Reserve officer who organized large Filipino guerrilla forces against the Japanese in World War II
Virginia Hall, American who first worked for the British Special Operations Executive, then for the American Office of Strategic Services in German-occupied France. Only U.S. woman to receive the Distinguished Service Cross.
Eric Haney, one of the founding members of Delta Force.
Michael Harari, Israeli Mossad officer who led assassination operations (Operation Wrath of God) against PLO members accused of the 1972 Munich Massacre.
Bruce Rusty Lang, commander of a mixed United States Army Special Forces & Montagnard (Degar/Bru people) commando Recon Team (RT Oklahoma) of Command and Control North, Studies and Observations Group. Previously served on Project 404, U.S. Embassy Laos, Assistant Army Attaché (“Secret War” in Laos 1970).
Edward Lansdale, United States Air Force officer (and eventually major general) seconded to the CIA, and noted for his work with Ramon Magsaysay against the Hukbalahap insurgency in Philippines during the early 1950s, and later involved in Operation Mongoose against Cuba.
T. E. Lawrence, British “Lawrence of Arabia” who organized Arab forces during World War I.
Alain Mafart, French DGSE officer convicted, in New Zealand, for sinking the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.
Richard Meadows, United States Army Special Forces officer known for many operations, including the POW rescue attempt at Son Tay, North Vietnam, and for deep operations in support of Operation Eagle Claw.
Richard Meinertzhagen, British officer who engaged in deceptive operations against Turkish forces in World War I, although falsifying later operations.
Ramon Mercader, NKVD operator who assassinated Leon Trotsky under the direction of Pavel Sudoplatov.
Noor Inayat Khan, Anglo-Indian Special Operations Executive radio operator in World War II Occupied France, killed in Nazi captivity with three other SOE agents, Yolande Beekman, Eliane Plewman and Madeleine Damerment.
Chuck Pfarrer, former Navy SEAL.
Dominique Prieur, French DGSE officer convicted, in New Zealand, for sinking the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior
Richard Quirin, German World War II saboteur landed by German submarine in the US, as part of Operation Pastorius. Captured and executed. ex parte Quirin was a Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of execution of unlawful combatants.
Ali Hassan Salameh, chief of operations of Black September.
Mike Spann, CIA field officer and the first Agency operative to be killed in action during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Gary Schroen, CIA field officer who led the first CIA team into Afghanistan during the opening stages of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Otto Skorzeny, German commando who led the rescue of Benito Mussolini, and operated in US uniform during the Battle of the Bulge.
Pavel Sudoplatov, major general in Soviet state security (under many organizational names), with roles ranging from assassin to director of field operations.
Jesús Villamor, Filipino Air Force officer that helped organize World War II guerilla movements.
Billy Waugh, former United States Special Forces soldier who later worked as a contractor with the CIA.
Covert operations have often been the subject of popular novels, films, TV series, comics, etc. The Company is a fictional covert organization featured in the American television drama/thriller series Prison Break. Also other series that deal with covert operations are Mission: Impossible, Alias, Burn Notice, The Unit, The State Within, Covert Affairs and 24.
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