Friday, May 31, 2013

Walter Mess, OSS operative and innovator

The following is a history of the military service of Walter Mess, Founder of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. This is from the "Adventurer's Club of Los Angeles" where he was a featured guest in 2012. Many of these stories I hear Walter tell, but it is interesting to see them all together and in sequence.

Mr. Walter Mess

Some Operatives never live a life like 007. Occasionally one comes around.

At 99 years old and 8 months( He turns 100 on December 20th 2012…) …The legendary Walter Mess was one of General Donovan’s “Best and Brightest” of O.S.S. and particularly O.S.S. Maritime Unit.

A true American treasure and enigma, by 1937 when Mr. Mess played professional football, already spoke several languages and held law and business degrees and a Coast Guard Ships’ “Master” rating which would soon help him on several of his future secret operations. In 1937 -- 4 years prior to the U.S.A. involvement in WW II -- Mess was recruited by Donovan, who at the time was in private law practice, into Donovan’s private OI (Office of Intelligence – the “Blackwater” of its Day) while completing his PhD in Law, at Catholic University at night. There he became one of the United States most private secret agents.

By 1938 – Mess was trained by the British and then dropped into Czechoslovakia where he walked out to the Adriatic with four 13-15 yr olds for training in the USA & reinsertion as USA agents. Mess also set up interaction with the British Station Chief & Tito. (One of those boys became USA Ambassador to Slovakia in recent years.)

In 1939 - Again flown by RAF into Poland on similar mission - Brought out three more young men.

In Nov `41 into US Army for COI (pre O.S.S. training) Pulled from OCS to repeat `37-`38 missions.

In 1942 things really started to heat up. Working at COI, Mess ventured to the Philippines on a mission by submarine. Later that year, he was in Morocco with the then new (O.S.S.) team to resupply a team to bring more gold to buy off the Vichy French to insure the French would not shoot at U.S. troops upon landing in operation Torch!

Late 1942 / early 1943 - Mess attended Boat training in the Gulf Mexico the Florida Keys and Cuba on his Army Air crash Sea rescue boat P-564 which would later become the O.S.S. Maritime units’ Flotilla operating in the China Burma India Theater. Mess repaired the cracked hull of a “Liberty ship” in Anchorage Alaska. O.S.S. boats P-564 & 563 loaded in San Diego liberty ship. Mess was the ship's Captain across the South Pacific to Ceylon via Sydney & Calcutta.

In late 1943 he commenced ultra classified OSS MU ops in the Bay of Bengal against Jap forces. Mess became an official O.S.S. operative and MU’s senior “flotilla officer commander” of O.S.S. Maritime Unit Operations in Burma, India and Thailand. As senior flotilla officer for O.S.S. SEAC MU operations, Mess’s O.S.S. air crash sea rescue (PT) Boat P-564 numbered over 36 missions with P 564 across the Bay of Bengal for official O.S.S. MU operations ferrying OG and Operational Swimmer teams; Also returned over 220 downed pilots & crewmen from 3 E&E pickup points on Burma coast.

In Apr 1944 he became primary boat for Dr Lambertsen & swimmers for combat evaluation of system & then swimmers became integral part of O.S.S. OG (operational groups) and SI (secret intelligence missions. These missions included many of the firs underwater.

This did not include the Occasional interruptions for special individual missions for the Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten head of the British SOE and is O.S.S. Swimmer counterpart, the SRU.

In 1945 when the Japanese were eliminated from the Burma Coast, P-564 ["Jeanie"] no longer needed. Walter transferred to O.S.S. Det. 404 and assisted with air support missions to O.S.S. teams in the interior of Burma and Thailand. He made 10-15 + parachute jumps, including leading 30-50 Kachins (Burmese Highlanders) on 7 jumps to clear 7 landing strips for Air Ops.

Mr. Mess had over 100 secret operations under his leadership—many unbelievable—all very classified missions. Mr. Mess is a tireless, vigorous and stalwart example of the MU leadership General Donovan envisioned and is a lasting pioneer for all modern day U.S. Navy, Coastguard, Marine Corps and law enforcement, maritime , Special Boat unit operations and Air Force Special Tactics Squadron missions which American Treasure O.S.S. pioneer Walter Mess squarely left his foot print on.

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