While there are many interesting stories and heroes on both sides of the war, especially modern war, Richard J. Meadows (Dick Meadows) is a real military hero. Dick Meadows lived up the expectations of a real American hero who saw action in the Vietnam War and was part of the Korean War as well. Meadows was someone who earned his medals and accolades over many decades as a brave soldier.
During his stellar military service, Meadows was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Dick Meadows was awarded two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star with “V for Valor,” the Air Medal, Legion of Merit, Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, the Ranger Badge, Glider Badge, and the Scuba. Some also argue that Meadows would have been awarded the Medal of Honor had his Special Forces missions had not been classified. Maybe it is time to declassify some of these actions to honor his legacy.
Meadows also participated in the exchange program with the British Special Air Service and completed his SAS training. Which he later used to strengthen the US Army Special Forces selection and training infostructures.
The Military Beginnings For Meadows
Dick Meadows had a knack for sneaking behind enemy lines and creating cover stories to accomplish harrowing missions, but he also joined the military by using a fake age to get in at the age of 15 in 1947. Indeed, Meadows’s first role in the military was as a 15-year-old-paratrooper. Dick Meadows impressed many military leaders during his life to reach higher rankings.
By making an important name for himself through his distinguished service, Meadows was promoted to a much higher rank in the U.S. Army. In fact, “he was that war’s youngest master sergeant, at age 20” according to a historical piece about Dick Meadows published on Ultimatesniper.com. For the times, being the youngest master sergeant as the Korean war was at full bore only brought more responsibility that the future Major of the U.S. Army could handle.
For only attaining a ninth-grade education, Dick Meadows was an articulate and brilliant soldier and teacher. Many of his techniques as a Green Beret regarding covert operations were copied and used on other missions. One of these missions that they used Meadows’s methods involved an Israeli rescue mission the Israeli rescue mission in 1976 at Entebbe, along with the megaphone instructions that was available for captives to hear. Dick Meadows had used a megaphone in a mission to release POWs during Nam. However, when this raid at Son Tay prison camp (Operation Ivy Coast) revealed that there were no prisoners there — based on the wrong intelligence — the mission did not result in taking any substantial U.S. causalities. It did show a lot of important things, however. One of these things concerned the North Vietnamese’s reduction in its mistreatment of U.S. POWs.
Dick Meadows and MACVSOG
As part of the MACVSOG (Military Assistance Command – Vietnam – Studies and Operations Group), Dick Meadows was involved in many of the highly classified missions. These missions were so secret that many Army Special Forces and Navy Seals who were on missions that would have garnered them a Medal of Honor were downplayed and downgraded to other medal awards as to not give away what soldiers like Meadows were part of.
MACVSOG was founded on January 24, 1964. While the commander in charge of MACV, General Westmoreland, had no direct authority to perform operations outside the designated area of South Vietnam. However, there was tight control placed on these SOG missions regarding the scope of these classified missions as well as the scale of the organization’s special operations. During these special operations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, Dick Meadows was able to complete a lot of missions. He ultimately while saving the lives of his fellow soldiers, took key enemy hostages as well as filming the enemy soldiers to help combat Viet Cong propaganda that was being told to the American people. As a result, Meadows was able to keep himself safe without taking any significant injuries of any kind during his time under heavy enemy fire in combat situations.
Meadows was such an interesting story and an example of true American valor throughout his life. Meadows even made the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1982.
Operation Eagle Claw
Dick Meadows was also part of many special operations that did not involve Vietnam, like Operation Eagle Claw, which was an Iranian Hostage-related mission that was orchestrated by his friend Charles Beckwith and his new commando unit, Delta Force. In 1980, Dick Meadows acted in the role of a paid consultant to the U.S. government to help with Delta Forces’ secretive cause. He posed as an Irish automobile businessman as part of a cover during the recon mission to infiltrate the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran by gathering important intel for the teams to use. The mission ran into unforeseen issues based on an accident that happened in the Iranian desert and the mission was aborted. Meadows was responsible for being an essential part of this mission, although a few casualties mounted, Meadows managed to slip out of the country with ease. Meadows was noted to have escaped Iran through a commercial flight while being able to keep his cover fully intact during Operation Eagle Claw.
Because of his ultimate bravery, valor and military leadership over the decades, Major Dick Meadows was given his statue by the U.S. government. This statue represented the top patriot who served his country and exuded an ultimate show of force under enemy fire. Meadows was a bonafide example of what it takes to be a quality Green Beret. On June 6, 1997, a statue of Dick Meadows and the military parade field that was near the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command facility were dedicated to this brave soldier who had committed 31 years of service to his country.
The Legacy of Dick Meadows
When discussing his contribution to the Special Forces community, Dick Meadows was given many accolades and kudos regarding his service in this military milieu. Dick Meadows joined the Special Forces, which was part of the U.S. Army in 1953. He was very active as a member of the Army Rangers until he retired from the military in 1977 as a Major.
Although Meadows was diagnosed with leukemia a short few weeks before his death, Dick Meadows held his medical condition at bay for six weeks before passing away from Leukemia on July 29, 1995, in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. While Meadows was used to giving his life for his country in many operations and wars, he will forever be remembered as a great example of a true American soldier that all other soldiers should revere and look up to. Dick Meadow’s life and legacy is one that the up-and-coming Green Berets should study and emulate on the future battlefields and U.S. operations.