Articles

General John Singlaub, RIP

Owen Smith with General John Singlaub
Former Chairman of the IWP Board Owen Smith with General John Singlaub

John K. Singlaub (1921-2022) was a legend among us anti-Communist kids when I was in college: The Reagan/Wolverines Generation.

Some of us heard about the General’s exploits in the U.S. Special Forces and the CIA. It started in the Second World War (in both European and Pacific theaters). Then came Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and plenty of other conflicts. His combat ribbons are almost too numerous to list.

His active military career ended because he quit on principle after criticizing President Jimmy Carter’s decision to scale down the American presence in Korea.

With the advent of President Ronald Reagan, General Singlaub did not return to active duty. Instead, he acted as a troubleshooter and hell-raiser everywhere around the world where Communism threatened freedom. By that, I mean not only propagandizing for liberty but also preaching and practicing active, armed resistance: from the Philippines through Angola and Afghanistan to Nicaragua, among others.

I finally got to meet him in person after I successfully lobbied to invite him as a keynote speaker to our annual Pearl Harbor dinner at The Institute of World Politics some fifteen years ago. We bonded instantaneously on several levels, in particular our shared anti-Nazism, anti-Communism, conservatism, patriotism, and Californian affinities.

The General was born and reared in California. Upon hearing that I lived and became Americanized there, including in Westwood and sat on some lectures at UCLA, while finishing my Ph.D. thesis, he shared a story:

Gen. Singlaub: “The Second World War started for me right after September 17, 1939.”

Marek: “Really? Were you in the Polish army because that is when Stalin followed Hitler in invading Poland?” I quipped.

Gen. S: “No, it was not in Poland. It was at UCLA. The Communists set up an anti-Polish picket. They chanted anti-Polish slogans and praised their ‘Great Stalin’ and the ‘heroic Red Army’ for invading Poland. So, I kicked the bejesus out of them.”

Thus, the General started the Second World War on the anti-Communist front.

Then he continued with another Polish anecdote, especially for me. “While preparing for a jump into German-occupied France, I was trained by the Poles. They were all from the Wehrmacht.” And he laughed.

The Third Reich drafted at least 250,000 Polish citizens into its armies. Some of them were ethnic Germans who usually went willingly. Most, however, were contrived “Volksdeutsche,” persons with “German blood,” or German ancestors, real and imagined. The Nazis called these recruits “Wasserpolacken” (watered-down Poles). They were compelled to accept German citizenship and serve Berlin. Otherwise, they and their families were threatened with concentration camps.

When those Wasserpolacken found themselves at the front, many of the Wasserpolacken promptly deserted and joined the Free Polish Army in Exile, fighting on the Allied side. These soldiers had intimate knowledge of the German military culture. Thus, they trained Allied commandoes, including Jack Singlaub.

Once he landed in France behind the enemy lines in August 1944, his team was attached to the Maquis, who happened to be monarchists and Gaullists. Together they endeavored to cripple the German retreat.

One time, Jack and his unit blew up a German train. Unexpectedly, they found themselves under fire from a hostile guerrilla group. His right-wing Maquis explained to him that the attackers were Communists. There was a French civil war within the anti-German war. Stalin’s boys attacked not only French collaborators of the Nazis but also assaulted the Free French who supported the Western Allies.

As the U.S. commandos and their Maquis retreated under enemy fire, Singlaub called in an American air strike against the pursuing Communists. To make sure that the Army Air Corps took him seriously, Jack radioed that their unit was being chased by the Germans. U.S. planes showed up promptly and released their bombs. The Communists were a threat no more.

A few other Polonica nuggets like that one percolated in the General’s stories for me. Also, other fantastic tales abounded. Some of them made their way into his memoirs: Hazardous Duty: An American Soldier in the Twentieth Century.

The last time I heard from the General was late last January, when he sent an effusive letter of recommendation in support of a candidate who wanted to attend IWP. Naturally, I gave my thumbs up to admitting that person as a student.

Little did I know that the General had died probably a few days before I read the file. Always selfless and ready to help others, General John K. Singlaub fought a Good Fight for God and Country. Let him rest in peace.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Washington, DC, 1 September 2022