William Joseph "Wild Bill"
Donovan, William Joseph "Wild Bill"
Wild Bill Donovan, born 01-01-1883 in Buffalo, New York, was of Irish descent. During World War I, Donovan organized and led a battalion of the United States Army, designated the 165th Regiment of the 42nd Division, the federalized designation of the famed 69th New York Volunteers, the "Fighting 69th. During the interwar years, Donovan travelled extensively in Europe and met with foreign leaders including Mussolini (see Mussolini) of Italy. Donovan openly believed during this time that a second major European war was inevitable. His foreign experience and realism earned him the attention and friendship of Columbia classmate President Franklin D. Roosevelt (see Roosevelt). Roosevelt gave him a number of increasingly important assignments. In 1940 and 1941, Donovan travelled as an informal emissary to Britain, where he was urged by Knox (see Knox) and Roosevelt to gauge Britain's ability to withstand Hitler's (see Adolf Hitler) (did you know) aggression. During these trips, Donovan met with key officials in the British war effort, including Winston Churchill (see Churchill). Donovan was appointed the Chief of the Office of Coordination of Information (COI), one of the first comprehensive efforts of the U.S. government to gather military information in preparation for actual maneuvers. Given the initial lack of espionage experience among his team, Donovan delivered impressive results with the OSS that significantly aided the Allies' efforts in the duration of the war. The OSS was particularly helpful in gathering intelligence in preparation for the Allied invasion of southern Europe, an effort that was crucial in reducing the casualty rate among Allied troops. For his work, Donovan received awards including the Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1945. After the war Donovan secured an appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Thailand. His daughter, 18 years old died in a car accident and Donovan never was the old one anymore. He died of a stroke, at the age of 76, on 08-02-1959, in Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. and is buried on Arlington Cemetery, Section 2. Close by in Section 2, the graves the Generals Edward Almond (see Almond), Frederick Anderson (see Anderson), Frederic Bell (see Bell), William Blandy (see Blandy), Clovis Byers (see Beyers), Robert Carney (see Carney), Claire Chennault (see Chennault), Willis Crittenberger (see Crittenberger), Benjamin Davis (see Davis) and John Dewitt (see Dewitt).