Obituary for Douglas Dillard
Douglas Clark Dillard, "Doug", a resident of Bowie, MD for 42 years died on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in Annapolis, MD due to pancreatic cancer. Born on September 14, 1925 in Atlanta, GA, Doug enlisted into the US Army in 1942 at age 16.
Doug left for basic training July 3rd, 1942 and recalled “When we learned about the Paratroopers, we all wanted to become Paratroopers.” He got his wish and was assigned to the newly formed 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion after training. Later in the year the unit was sent to the Panama Canal Zone to prepare for the airborne assault on the pro-German island of Martinique which was cancelled. From there he prepared for the assault into southern France “Operation Dragoon” on 15 August 1944. There he made his first combat jump as a Communications Sergeant one month before his 18th birthday. During the operation Doug and some fellow paratroopers captured the German Major-General in control of the district and the Corps Commander and his staff causing confusion in the German defense. Doug took the pistol from the Corps Commander and kept it after the war. The 551st continued to fight its way along the coast of France to the Italian border and held its ground along the Maritime Alps until relieved in early winter of 1944. On 16 December the unit was moved to the Ardennes where they joined elements of the 82nd Airborne. It was during the Bulge that he and his unit conducted one of the rare bayonet attacks of WWII for which the unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Doug and the 551st were involved in continuous combat until the unit was deactivated after suffering tremendous casualties during the Battle of the Bulge. He was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division to Company C, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
After WWII, he held several positions as a 1st Sergeant and Command Sergeant Major in airborne units. Doug had advanced from Private to Sergeant Major between the years 1942 and 1946. He received a direct commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division in 1946. With the onset of the Korean War, then Captain Dillard served as Commander, Special Air Missions Team and Tactical Liaison Office. He trained and led US and Republic of Korea forces in unconventional warfare behind the North Korean and Communist Chinese Forces’ lines. For his heroism in these operations, he was decorated by the Republic of Korea.
Upon his return from Korea, he continued to serve in military intelligence in Europe, coordinating collection between Military intelligence groups and the CIA during the Cold War. In 1967, he was sent to Vietnam to MACV in the Mekong Delta and to head the Phoenix Program. The Phoenix Program was created to disrupt the Vietcong political infrastructure in South Vietnam. When he completed his second year command tour he moved to his next assignment, with the 500th Military Intelligence Group, where he feels he did some of his finest work.
Colonel Dillard commanded the 500th Military Intelligence Group and managed all U.S. military intelligence activities in Southeast Asia. The government of South Vietnam recognized his bravery with four awards of the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm, the highest level of this award.
Doug received numerous decorations and foreign awards for his outstanding abilities in various classified intelligence programs in Europe, the Far East and Vietnam as well as combat bravery. Some of those decorations include Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation, and Joint Service Achievement Medal, Combat Infantry Badge with 3 stars, Master Parachutist Badge, French Croix de Guerre w/ss, Order of Saint Maurice, and the ROK Medal of Merit.
Douglas retired at the grade of Colonel in 1977 after 35 years of service and three wars holding every rank in the US Army up to Colonel. Doug is one of the founding fathers of Special Forces and an original leader of the Army Counterterrorism Unit: Detachment-Delta, commonly known as “Delta Force”. In 1990 he was inducted into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame and in 2014 the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame. Doug received a BS from University of Maryland in Military Science in 1962, a Masters Degree in International Relations from University of Boston in 1965 and attended Catholic University working toward his Doctorate.
Upon retirement Colonel Dillard began a new career in the private sector and authored several books on Special and Airborne Operations during the Korean War. Colonel Dillard was active in the Colonel Reuben H. Tucker Chapter, 82nd Airborne Division Association, President of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge Association and numerous other veteran organizations.
Doug continued to enjoy his trips to France, Belgium and Korea sharing his life experiences with new friends and family.
Doug was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Virginia H. Dillard. He is survived by his daughters, Cynthia D. Alley of Bowie, MD, Lynne Dillard of Lakeland, FL, Cheryl Staurulakis of Annapolis, MD and Michelle D. Howle of Melbourne, FL; his grandchildren, John, Douglas and Nicholas Staurulakis, Ryan and Rachel Resnick, Melissa Dowling, Amy Harrison and Brandi Matz and 7 great-grandchildren.
Friends are invited to celebrate Douglas' life on Sunday from 12 to 2 and 4 to 6 pm at the George P. Kalas Funeral Home, 2973 Solomons Island Rd., Edgewater, MD where his funeral service will be held on Monday, September 18 at 11 am. Interment with full military honors will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Douglas Dillard Memorial Fund, c/o Dan Laheru, Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, CRB 1, Room 4M09, Baltimore, MD 21287. Condolences may be made by clicking the tab on this page.