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Major (R) Herbert Brucker, 85, of 445 McBain Drive, Fayetteville, a retired Major with the United States Army Special Forces died Friday, 16 March 2007, in Carroll S. Roberson Hospice. Although born in West New York, New Jersey on 10 October 1921 to a French father and American mother, he grew up in France. In 1938, Brucker was brought back to the United States by his father.
Despite speaking little English at the time, he joined the United States Army in 1940. There he became fluent in the “universal language” of Morse code while being trained as a radio operator. In late 1943, based on his French background, T/4 Brucker was recruited into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an organization designed to perform clandestine warfare behind enemy lines. After training in the OSS Special Operations (SO) branch, Brucker was detailed to the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, he jumped into occupied France near Blois on 27 May 1944 to serve as the radio operator of the network code named HERMIT. Brucker remained in France until 11 September 1944. For extraordinary heroism during the mission, Brucker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, and the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star. He has subsequently been honored on a memorial emplaced near Blois by his French compatriots.
After the liberation of France, Brucker volunteered to serve with the OSS in the China-Burma-India Theater. After briefly being attached to OSS Detachment 101 in Burma, he was sent to China. There he was a member of team IBEX, which was part of an OSS effort to use Chinese troops to conduct a guerrilla war against the Japanese occupation.
After WWII, Brucker remained in the United States Army. He served until 1949 as a member of the Counter-Intelligence Corps in Germany until reassignment to the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. In 1952, Brucker was recruited for United States Army Special Forces. As a pioneer in Special Forces, he conducted escape and evasion courses and was an original member of the 10th Special Forces Group in Germany . He later served with the 77th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg and was an instructor for the SF qualification or “Q” course. In 1959, Brucker participated in Operation HOT FOOT in Laos, later renamed Operation WHITE STAR. Brucker’s greatest contribution to Special Forces has a lasting legacy. While at Fort Bragg, before the 10th SFG went to Germany. He and fellow SFer Captain Roger Pezzelle ordered the first batch of green berets for local use. Eventually the entire Special Forces branch adopted this beret as their distinctive headgear, earning them the popular nickname of “Green Berets.” After 20 years of service to the Army, Brucker retired as a Major. In the mid 1960’s Brucker served on behalf of USAID in Vietnam. He then became the second president of the Special Forces Association (D131), and his wife served as the SFA Secretary for more than 20 years.
Brucker lived in Fayetteville for nearly fifty years. His wife of forty years, the former Lieselotte Löwe of Germany, passed away in 1989. He is survived by his son Richard, daughter-in-law Elaine, and grandchildren Eric and Samantha, all of Fayetteville. A viewing was 19 March in Rogers and Breece Funeral Home. Funeral Services were be held at the same location on 20 March.