Friday, October 5, 2018

RIP Special Forces General Sidney Shachnow

Major General Sidney Shachnow, Holocaust survivor and Special Forces Legend crossed over on 28 September 2018 at the age of 84.

Sid Shachnow was born Lithuania in 1934 and at 7 years of age was imprisoned in the Kovno concentration camp during World War II because his family was Jewish. After three years of enduring brutalities and watching his extended family slaughtered, he escaped, narrowly avoiding the roundup and murder of all the children at Kovno and Auschwitz to be gassed.

Shachnow evaded for months, suffering starvation and malnutrition, fleeing 2,000 miles in a six-month journey across Europe, mostly on foot across Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, and finally to American occupied Nuremberg, Germany where he obtained a visa to the United States and enlisted in the US Army rising to the rank of Sergeant First Class then entering Officer Candidate School receiving a commission in the Infantry.

In 1962 Shachnow volunteered for the Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, where he served for the next thirty-two years. Promted to Captain, he was assigned as Commander of Detachment A-121, at Vietnam's An Long Camp near the Cambodian border along the Mekong River.

In the 1970s he served as Commander of Det-A, Berlin Brigade, a clandestine unit of Cold War Green Berets. This covert unit was made up of selectively trained and language qualified members of Special Forces, as well as many Eastern European immigrants who brought much needed culture, geographical and language skills to the assignment. Their missions were classified; they dressed in civilian clothing made in East and West Germany, and carried appropriate non-American documentation and identification.

Shachnow's status grew as Special Forces grew, rising to the rank of Major General, receiving both a masters and an honorary doctoral degree along the way. He traveled the world, from Vietnam to the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Korea and back to Germany for the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Gen. Shachnow's most recent assignments include:
Commanding General, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Airborne, Fort Bragg (1992–1994)
Commanding General, United States Army Special Forces Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg
Commanding General, U.S. Army Berlin
Director, Washington Office, United States Special Operations Command, Airborne
Deputy Commanding General, 1st Special Operations of Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg
Chief of Staff, 1st Special Operations Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg

Among Maj. Gen. Shachnow's many Awards and Decorations, are:
Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star with Oak Leaf Clusters
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters and Valor Device
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters
Air Medal with the numeral "12"
Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters and Valor Device
Combat Infantryman Badge
Master Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab
Special Forces Tab
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Maj. Gen. Shachnow is the author of Hope and Honor, an autobiographical account of his childhood experience in the Nazi Kovno concentration camp of Lithuania, his immigration and assimilation to the United States and his 40-year career in the U.S. Army, Special Forces.

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