|Charles Alvin Beckwith|
|January 22, 1929– June 13, 1994 (aged 65)|
|Place of birth||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Place of death||Austin, Texas|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1952—1981|
|Commands held||Support Company, 504th Airborne
Special Forces Detatchment B-52 (Project DELTA)
2nd Battalion/327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta
Operation Eagle Claw
Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit
|Other work||Security consultant|
Colonel Charles Alvin Beckwith (January 22, 1929 – June 13, 1994), known as "Chargin' Charlie", was a career United States Army soldier and Vietnam veteran, credited with the creation of Delta Force, a branch of the U.S. Army. Although he is held in high regard by various members of the military Special Operations Forces, the general public know him best due to the ill-fated Operation Eagle Claw in Iran, 1980.
Beckwith was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929, and was an all-state football player for his high school team. He later enrolled in the University of Georgia where he played football for the Bulldogs and was a member of the Delta Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He joined the university's Army ROTC program and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1952. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1952 as well but turned it down to stay in the army.
In 1955, Beckwith joined the 82nd Airborne Division as commander of Support Company, 504th Infantry Regiment. Two years later Beckwith transferred to the Army Special Forces and in 1960 was deployed to South Vietnam and Laos as a military advisor.
Beckwith served as an exchange officer with the British Special Air Service (22 SAS Regiment) in the early 1960s. US Army Special Forces in that period focused on unconventional warfare, but Beckwith was impressed with the SAS direct-action and counter-terrorism capabilities.
Beckwith commanded a Special Forces unit code-named Project Delta in Vietnam. He was critically wounded in early 1966 (he took a .50 caliber bullet through his abdomen), so badly that medical personnel initially triaged him as beyond help. After recovery, he took over the Florida Phase of the US Army's Ranger School, transforming it from a scripted exercise based upon the Army's World War II experience, into a Vietnam-oriented training regimen.
In the late 1960s, Beckwith returned to Vietnam, where he commanded a battalion. In the 1970s he was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he commanded training operations.
Delta Force was founded in November 1977 as an overseas counter-terrorist unit whose main mission is in hostage rescue, barricade operations and specialized reconnaissance. Its first mission (the aforementioned Operation Eagle Claw) ended in abject failure. After the "debacle in the desert" the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment was formed specifically to provide transport for Delta Force, and eventually other Special Operations Forces, worldwide.
Following his disappointment at the failure of the Iranian operation, Beckwith retired from the army. He started a consulting firm and wrote a book about Delta Force. He died at his home of natural causes.
Charles Beckwith was married to Katherine Beckwith, and they had three daughters.
"My men and I have decided that our boss, the President of the United States, is as tough as woodpecker lips."
"I was not about to be party to half-assed loading on a bunch of aircraft and going up and murdering a bunch of the finest soldiers in the world."
"I learned that Murphy is alive and well. He's in every drawer, under every rock and on top of every hill."
"I'd rather go down the river with seven studs than 100 shitheads"