The Crossroads of Special Operations

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Opinion/Letter: WWII heroine honored in her time | The Daily Progress

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As a retired female officer from CIA’s Directorate of Operations (National Clandestine Service), I read with interest the column by Cal Thomas, “Honoring D-Day’s ‘forgotten’ woman” (The Daily Progress, June 8).

His description of Virginia Hall’s accomplishments in Nazi-occupied France — first for the British Special Operations Executive, then for the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor organization of the Central Intelligence Agency) — were conveyed in the context of a review of Sonia Purnell’s new book “A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II,” and the story was riveting.

However, I would like to correct his assertion that “[i]t was not until after her death in 1982 that the CIA recognized her contributions to the war.” Hall was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in September 1945, the only civilian woman in World War II to receive that honor. It was conveyed on her by OSS Director General William Donovan after Hall demurred against having it presented by President Harry Truman.

Hall joined the CIA in 1951 and worked as an intelligence analyst until her retirement in 1966. Given her status as a covert operative in World War II, it does not surprise me that public acknowledgment of her accomplishments did not occur until after her death.

Hall’s contributions to the Allies’ victory in WWII are documented in the CIA Museum at CIA Headquarters in Langley. As a former docent, it has been my privilege to take guests through the OSS Gallery, including the exhibit documenting Hall’s accomplishments.


Source: Opinion/Letter: WWII heroine honored in her time | The Daily Progress

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