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First Name: Roscoe

Last Name: Hillenkoetter

Birthplace: St. Louis, MO, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Henry

Date of Birth: 08 May 1897

Date of Death: 18 June 1982

Rank or Rate: Vice Admiral

Years Served:
Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1919

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter
Vice Admiral

Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter was born on 8 May 1897 in St. Louis, MO.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, in 1919. He served tours in Naval Intelligence, several as Assistant Naval Attaché to France. He was wounded during the attack on Pearl Harbor and, afterwards, was Officer in Charge of Intelligence on Chester W. Nimitz's Pacific Fleet staff.

As a Captain, Hillenkoetter commanded the battleship USS Missouri in 1946.

First Director of the CIA

President Truman persuaded a reluctant Hillenkoetter, then a Rear Admiral, to be Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), and run the Central Intelligence Group (September 1947). Under the National Security Act of 1947 he was nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as DCI, now in charge of the newly established Central Intelligence Agency (December 1947). At first, the U.S. State Department directed the new CIA's covert operations component, and George F. Kennan chose Frank Wisner to be its Director. Hillenkoetter expressed doubt that the same agency could be effective both at covert action and intelligence analysis.

The U.S. government had no intelligence warning of North Korea's invasion (25 June 1950) of South Korea. DCI Hillenkoetter convened an ad hoc group to prepare estimates of likely communist behavior on the Korean peninsula; it worked well enough that his successor institutionalized it. President Truman installed a new DCI in October. Nebraska Congressman Howard Buffett alleged that Hillenkoetter's classified testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee "established American responsibility for the Korean outbreak," and sought to have it declassified until his death in 1964.

Resumption of Active Military duty

Hillenkoetter returned to the fleet, commanding a cruiser division in the Korean War. He held two other commands before his retirement in 1957.

Board Member of NICAP

The National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena was formed in 1956, with the organization's corporate charter being approved on 24 October. Hillenkoetter was on NICAP's Board of Governors from about 1957 until 1962. Donald E. Keyhoe, NICAP Director and Hillenkoetter's USNA classmate, wrote that Hillenkoetter wanted public disclosure of UFO evidence. Perhaps Hillenkoetter's best-known statement on the subject was in 1960 in a letter to Congress, as reported in the New York Times: "Behind the scenes, high-ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about UFOs. But through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense."


Actor Leon Russom played Hillenkoetter in an episode of Dark Skies, a 1996 conspiracy theory television series.

Death and Burial

Vice Admiral Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter died on 18 June 1982 in New York, NY. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 2632   Created by: MHOH




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