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Wilfred J.A. Charette born 14 November 1936, passed away 9 May 2010 at his home in Tampa, FL. Wil Charette, a native of Rhode Island served 11 years of military service followed by service with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1964 until his retirement on 29 November 1996. His first CIA assignment was as a paramilitary Staff Officer at CIA Headquarters and its domestic training facilities. He then served in Laos and Thailand as a Paramilitary Case Officer, Chief of Operations, and Chief of a Laotian irregular paramilitary unit for 8 years. Mr. Charette was then assigned to Ethiopia and Ghana from 1974-1979. In late 1979 Mr. Charette was posted to Swaziland, as Chief of Station (COS) until 1982 when he was assigned to Kampala, Uganda, as COS. Following a two-year tour in Uganda, Mr. Charette attended the US Naval War College in Newport, RI, where he received a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. In 1985, he was appointed Chief, CIA Counter Terrorist Center, Foreign Liaison Training and Terrorist Incident Response Team (IRT). From 1992-1994, Mr. Charette served as the Agency’s Deputy Chief, Office of Field Deployment. His last U.S. Government assignment was that of DCI Representative at U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB, Tampa, Florida. Mr. Charette, in post retirement, continued to serve the intelligence community as a senior advisor to SOCCENT at MacDill AFB. Mr. Charette served on the board of directors and co-founded the Special Operation Memorial Foundation, MacDill AFB.
Mr. Charette had extensive military experience, having served domestically and overseas with the 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (ARCT), the 101st Airborne Division, the 1st Calvary Division, and Special Forces. Mr. Charette is a Charter Member of the US Army Parachute Team (Golden Knights). He was the first Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Special Forces Training Group High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) Committee, which included Fulton Recovery Systems (SKYHOOK) Operations. In 1961, he was selected to train the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment’s military free fall cadre at Hereford, England. Mr. Charette was a member of the Joint Army/USAF HALO Test Team in the early 1960’s that established much of the HALO training and operations doctrine still in use today. He also participated in the record breaking 43,500 foot jump to establish a world record “FAI Class G-II-C, group of nine with delayed fall”. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his participation in the HALO Test Program and his subsequent use of HALO insertion techniques. He is the author of the United States Parachute Association (USPA) Publication, “Jumping in the Troposphere”, and is the recipient of the USPA Golden Wings representing 1,000 free fall parachute jumps. Mr. Charette’s last military assignment was with the 5th Special Forces Group.
During his stellar and distinguished career, Mr. Charette received the following awards and commendations:
(CIA) Donovan Award for Excellence
Career Intelligence Medal for Exceptional Achievement
Two Director Of Central Intelligence awards for exceptional service under conditions of hazard and hardship
Promoted into the Senior Intelligence Service (SIS-1989)
(DOD) Distinguished Flying Cross
Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service
Wil Charette will be remembered for his commitment to service, to his country and to his family. He will always be remembered as a patriot and the epitome of what it means to be a true American hero. In the words of his brothers and sisters in the clandestine service “he was a legendary warrior…A legend in own time. The things he survived, his mentoring, his leadership, and his unwavering patriotism is and will forever be a flame that goes on burning, we will never forget him. He was our commander… our General.”