The “Father of Delta Force,” Charles Beckwith graduated from the University of Georgia and was offered a chance to play football for the Green Bay Packers, but chose instead to serve his country by joining the Army.
When Beckwith returned from Vietnam, he joined an exchange officer program and led the members of the British Special Air Service on counterterrorism operations in Malaya. It was there that he came up with the idea for Project Delta, a Special Forces counterintelligence detachment, and created a selection process to find the right candidates. Once the candidates were selected, he took command of Project Delta’s operation in South Vietnam.
While serving with Project Delta, Beckwith was shot in the abdomen with a 50-caliber, putting him in such critical condition that he was initially considered ‘beyond saving’ by the surgeons. Miraculously, he made a full recovery.
Beckwith was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and returned to Vietnam with the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, where he and his unit fought to establish Fire Base Bastogne.
After being promoted once again, this time to Colonel, Beckwith became the commandant of the Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg.
In November of 1977, Beckwith co-founded Delta Force as a way to address the increasing threat of global terrorism. He led the elite unit on its first mission to rescue 54 hostages held at the American embassy in Tehran. Though the mission was not a success, Beckwith’s recommendations led to the creation of SOAR and JSOC.
Beckwith retired in 1981 and went on to write a memoir about his time creating and leading Delta Force.