clear
Wednesday May 25th, 2016 3:39AM

Former OSS Officer and RMA graduate honored by RMA

By Staff
GAINESVILLE - Riverside Military Academy (RMA) and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society members recently honored Col. William "Bill" H. Pietsch, Jr., USA (Ret) at a reception in Washington, D.C.

The OSS was the World War II predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Col. Pietsch, who graduated from Riverside in 1938, was presented with the Riverside Distinguished Service Award by Riverside's President, Dr. James H. Benson, Col., USMC (Ret).

While studying James Hilton's "Lost Horizon" at Riverside, Pietsch became captivated by British secret service agent Hugh Conway's adventures in Shangri-La. Upon graduation from RMA at the age of 15, Pietsch was already thinking about his future military career.

At the age of 16, Pietsch entered the U.S. Military Academy after obtaining a waiver from Secretary of War Henry Stimson (with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's approval), making him the youngest cadet in modern history to win an appointment.

Pietsch's father was contacted by WWI comrade Bill Donovan, Coordinator of Information Services, in June 1942. Donavan was told that young Pietsch's class would graduate early and be assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division for training at Fort Benning and Fort Bragg. Upon completion of this training, he would report to Donovan's headquarters in Washington D.C.

Pietsch, the youngest man in his class, graduated from West Point in 1943 at the age of 20. He was personally recruited for service in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) by Donovan who interviewed him with a single question, "Do you consider yourself lucky?" Pietsch replied, "Yes, sir!"

Pietsch was soon invited to President Roosevelt's northern Maryland retreat Shangri-La, which was later renamed Camp David by President Eisenhower. While visiting the retreat, Pietsch met Sir William Stephenson, principle intelligence adviser to Prime Minister Winston Churchill during WWII and best known by codename "Intrepid." Pietsch was accepted as the third American officer to be seconded to the British Secret Service, SOE Executive.

After parachuting into Nazi-occupied France, Pietsch helped the French resistance to obtain weapons, ammunition, and transportation before joining with General Patton's Third Army and General Patch's Seventh Army. This mission resulted in Burgundy's liberation and was described as a key event in General Eisenhower's "Crusade in Europe." Following WWII, Pietsch's Russian language skills took him on numerous missions behind the "Iron Curtain." He also made forays into various Arab countries and Vietnam.

"Riverside provided the foundation for all of the events that followed my years as a Riverside cadet," said Pietsch. "I would never have gotten into West Point without the confidence instilled in me by General Sandy Beaver, all the instructors, and even my fellow cadets."

Pietsch retired after more than 30 years as a career Special Operations Officer. He currently serves the OSS Society as senior vice president, a member of the board of directors, and an executive committee member. He also remains active as a Red Cross volunteer, a Homeland Defense Advisor, and a consultant on military support for civil authority. He lives in Kensington, Maryland with his wife, Rose Marie.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Couch names administrative team
Ahead of his scheduled swearing in Friday, Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch named his top administrative team Monday.
6:28PM ( 3 years ago )
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 3 years ago )
Hall Co. officials launch health-based initiative for employees
Hall County officials believe healthy county employees will be of greater service to the county. With that in mind, they have created a health-based fitness initiative to provide free fitness training for county workers.
5:46PM ( 3 years ago )
Local/State News
PHOTO GALLERY: Election day sights around Hall County, North Georgia
Check out a few photos from our news coverage area for the May 24, 2016 General Primary election.
11:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
Collins has no problem with four challengers, easily wins third term in Washington
Despite being challenged by four other Republicans, Doug Collins of Gainesville handily won re-election as Georgia's Ninth District Congressman in Tuesday's General Primary.
10:30PM ( 5 hours ago )
Georgia primary voters stick with challenged incumbents
Though nobody named Trump or Clinton was on the ballot Tuesday, Georgia voters still turned out to decide the fates of several incumbents in primary elections across the state.
10:21PM ( 5 hours ago )
Isakson wins GOP primary, will compete for third US Senate term
Johnny Isakson will compete for a third term in the U.S. Senate.
By Associated Press
9:08PM ( 6 hours ago )
GOP governors ask FCC to address illegal prison cellphones
Ten Republican governors - including Georgia's Nathan Deal - want the Federal Communications Commission to give states more autonomy to apply technology that can stop prison inmates from using smuggled cellphones.
By Associated Press
8:02PM ( 7 hours ago )