Lucien Conein

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Lucien Conein

Lt. Col. Lucien Emile Conein (born 29 November 1919, Paris, France – died 3 June 1998, Bethesda, Maryland)[1] was a French-American citizen, noted U.S. Army officer and OSS/CIA operative.

Early life[edit]

Lucien Conein was born in Paris at the end of WWI. When he was five years old, his widowed mother sent him to Kansas City to live with his aunt, who had married a US soldier.[2] According to one source he was seventeen when he joined the French Foreign Legion.[3] In 1939, at the beginning of WWII the 20 year old joined the French Army. He switched to the U.S. Army within a year because of the German invasion establishing Vichy France, and as a native speaker of French he was quickly transferred to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)[2]

Military career[edit]

In 1944 he was ordered to help the French Resistance during the Allied landings in Normandy. He worked with the Jedburghs, a group directed by the OSS and the British Special Operations Executive.

It was then, that Conein began working and living with the Corsican mafia, then called Corsican Brotherhood, an ally of the Resistance. He was quoted "When the Sicilians put out a contract, it's usually limited to the continental United States, or maybe Canada or Mexico. But with the Corsicans, it's international. They'll go anywhere. There's an old Corsican proverb: 'If you want revenge and you act within 20 years, you're acting in haste.'" He was briefly sent to Vietnam to help organize attacks against the Japanese Army.[2]

After 1945 during the Cold War period, he infiltrated spies and saboteurs into the Eastern European Warsaw pact countries of the Soviet block. In 1951, the CIA tasked Conein to establish a base in Nuremberg, assisted by Ted Shackley in 1952. Later he worked with William Harvey in Berlin.[2]

In 1954, he was sent to work against the government of Ho Chi Minh in North Vietnam, at first in a propaganda campaign to persuade Southern Vietnamese not to vote for the communists then to help with arming and training local tribesmen, called the Montagnards (people) working under CIA station chief William Colby.[2]

During the November 1963 coup against Ngô Đình Diệm which resulted in Diệm's assassination, he served as Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.'s liaison officer with the coup plotters and delivered $42,000 of the known cash disbursements.[4]

In 1968, Conein left the CIA and became a businessman in South Vietnam.

In 1972, Nixon appointed him as head of chief of cover operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.[5]

He retired in 1984.[2]

Personal life and death[edit]

Conein married Elyette B. Conein in 1957. They had seven children. In June 1998, he died of a heart attack at the age of 79 in Suburban Hospital, Virginia.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barnes, Bart (June 6, 1998). "Lucien E. Conein Dies at 79: Fabled Agent for OSS and CIA" (PDF). The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. B^. Retrieved July 31, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f John Simkin Biography Lucien Conein Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd. August 2014, retrieved 26 June 2017
  3. ^ Gaeton Fonzi. The Last Investigation. 1 Nov 1993 Thunder's Mouth Press, ISBN 1560250526 quoted in Note3 at length by Biography Lucien Conein Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd. August 2014
  4. ^ John Prados, JFK and the Diệm Coup, 5 November 2003
  5. ^ Weiner, Tim (June 7, 1998). "Lucien Conein, 79, Legendary Cold War Spy". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2017. 
  6. ^ The Washington Post, 6 June 1998, p. B6

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