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American Rambler with Colin Woodward


Jul 23, 2021

Sam Wilson, Jr., is the son of the late General Samuel Vaughan Wilson, a member of the World War II unit "Merrill's Marauders," Cold War spy, and commander in Vietnam. His father's shadow falls long over his family, but Sam, Jr., had his own accomplished career in the military. He eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, which included a year in Vietnam in the early 70s, where he completed 25 dangerous helicopter missions to locate and pick up wounded soldiers. His experiences in the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta gave him a grudging respect for his North Vietnamese adversaries and led him to doubt the U.S. could win the war in in southeast Asia.

Sam's later career included being an instructor in special forces, an intelligence officer, teacher, and manager at the Sailor's Creek battlefield near his childhood home. He is retired now, living in New Jersey and studying religion and theology. Sam talks with Colin about his military career and how it was shaped by his father, whose hectic schedule put pressure on the family. What was it like to be the son of a spy during the Cold War? Sam gives us an inside look.   

In the intro, Colin talks about a recent trip to the beach in North Carolina and visits to Fort Fisher, an impressive Civil War site and the last source of supply for Robert E. Lee's army.