Wilbur "Will" Green

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Captain Wilbur "Will" Greene (ca 1931 - 28 April 1972)[1][2] was from a small town in South Carolina.[citation needed] Greene first served commendably in the U.S. Special Forces, learning Vietnamese while serving in the Vietnam War. He retired after 20 years to begin a new career as a Paramilitary Officer in the Special Activities Division (renamed Special Activities Center in 2016 [3]) of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[1][2]

After joining the CIA's Directorate of Operations in 1967, he underwent training before deploying overseas in March 1968. Soon after, his wife died in an auto accident. Greene returned to the U.S. and arranged care for his young children before returning overseas to his assignment.[2]

Known by his call sign "Black Lion," Green remained in the most dangerous forward Hmong outposts even when ordered to evacuate. From there he directed Hmong troops in heavy combat. In one instance, on 2 December 1969, Green rallied pro-American guerrillas retreating from a communist attack on Phou Nok Kok by his direction of close air support.[4] In another, on 4 April 1970, Greene led 3 Special Guerrilla Unit in the counterattack that prevented the North Vietnamese aggressors of Campaign 139 from overrunning Long Tieng, the main base of General Vang Pao's guerrilla army on the Plain of Jars.[5]

Greene served twice as the CIA's Chief of Paramilitary Operations before dying on the table during a gall bladder operation at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base on 28 April 1972.[2] The Operation Black Lion offenses that began in Laos on 18 June 1972 bore his call sign.[6] His CIA superiors praised his "...exceptionally strong leadership and organizational skills, extensive military experiences, perseverance under harsh conditions, and ability to train others..."[2]

In 2008, Green was recognized for his outstanding leadership as a Paramilitary Case Officer by the officers of the Special Activities Division during a ceremony at CIA Headquarters as part of a Black History Month commemoration. [7]



  • Conboy, Kenneth and James Morrison (1995). Shadow War: The CIA's Secret War in Laos. Paladin Press. ISBN 0-87364-825-0.