Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Leif Bangsboll, who was one of the first soldiers to join the U.S. special forces during WWII.
Leif Bangsboll was born in Denmark in 1918 to a Danish Navy rear admiral. In 1935, Bangsboll volunteered in the Royal Danish Air Force and subsequently joined the Merchant Marines. Afterward, he trained as a flight sergeant in the Norwegian Air Force before making his way to the U.S. Army in 1943 as a private first class.
A few months after enlisting in the Army, Bangsboll was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to work as an instructor at “the Farm,” a school for teaching officers how to conduct clandestine operations. Bangsboll received a U.S. Army commission in 1944.
Upon entering German-occupied Denmark in October 1944, Bangsboll became the only American agent serving in the country. Here, Bangsboll recruited, trained and worked with Danish resistance forces to conduct sabotage missions against German forces. One of his most notable missions occurred in May 1945 in Copenhagen, where Bangsboll led a resistance group on a successful mission that forced the surrender of an entire German garrison. Bangsboll received a Distinguished Service Cross for his valor in Denmark.
After World War II, Bangsboll trained as an intelligence officer and served in various units out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, until he deployed to South Korea before the Korean War began. During the Korean War, Bangsboll served with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. In November 1950, Bangsboll led his platoon on a successful mission to destroy a North Korean Army food storage warehouse near Pyongwon-ni, receiving a Silver Star for his actions.
In 1952, after he returned to the U.S., Bangsboll became one of the first soldiers to join the newly created U.S. special forces, where he served as an instructor. Bangsboll also helped write the first program of instruction for the special forces qualification course.
Bangsboll retired in 1963 as a lieutenant colonel. He passed away in 2001 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
We honor his service.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Raymond Lin
Editor: Julia Pack
Researcher: Latesha Thornhill
Graphic Designer: Grace Yang