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Retired Lt. Gen. Samuel Wilson dies; defense, intelligence expert was 93

RICE, Va. — Retired Lt. Gen. Samuel Wilson, who had a long military and intelligence career and was president of Hampden-Sydney College from 1992 to 2000, has died, the college announced. He was 93.

Wilson, who was known as “General Sam,” died Saturday at his home in Rice, Virginia.

Wilson served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and was known for coining the term “counter-insurgency” as well as for helping to create Delta Force, the U.S. Army’s special forces group.

Long before that, he joined the Army as a 16-year-old private in 1940. He taught guerrilla and counter-guerrilla tactics at the Infantry School at Fort Benning in Georgia in 1942 and 1943. He became a first lieutenant at the age of 19 and was chief reconnaissance officer for a unit known as Merrill’s Marauders, which operated behind enemy lines in Burma during World War II.

At the end of the war, he was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, which was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, in Southeast Asia. He later worked as a CIA officer in West Berlin and a defense attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow during the Cold War.

Wilson retired from the Army in 1977 and became a political-science professor at Hampden-Sydney while continuing to consult with officials in Washington.

Hampden-Sydney President Larry Stimpert says Wilson steered the college through a difficult period when enrollment growth slowed and the college considered whether to allow women. The governing board ultimately decided to keep the college all-male, and under Wilson’s leadership, enrollment growth resumed and the endowment nearly doubled. Hampden-Sydney remains one of the nation’s few remaining private colleges for men.

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