Serious life work began in United States Air Force

This essay appears in the "Association of Former OSI USAF Special Agents," Turner Publishing Co., Paducah, Kentucky, 2000 (Updated June 2008)

FRANCIS X. ARCHIBALD joined the USAF 11 days after President Truman fired Gen. MacArthur in April 1951, and while the Korean War was raging. Two years later he was transferred to HQ Office of Special Investigations in Washington and assigned as administrative support in the Sabotage & Espionage Branch, Counterintelligence Div. He completed the Special Agents Course at the Special Investigations School in November 1953, and went on special assignment for the HQ Counterintelligence Div. to conduct a then unique vulnerability survey.

In March 1954 Archibald was assigned to Special Cases Branch at Dist. Office 4, Bolling AFB, and was a control agent for background investigations on prospective 0SI personnel and key Air Force and DOD appointees. In 1955 he transferred to the Charleston (SC) AFB Det. of Dist. Office 6 and worked personnel, criminal and counterintelligence cases. Archibald went to the Northeast Air Command in 1956 and was on the ground at Sonderstrom AFB in Greenland to provide counterintelligence and security liaison services when elements of the Strategic Air Command were forward positioned there during the Hungarian uprising and Suez Canal crises in October 1956.

Special Agent Archibald returned to Washington in 1957 and at Dist. Office 4 was assigned liaison duties with the House Committee on Un-American Activities, State Dept. Security and Central Intelligence Agency.

He was honorably discharged in 1959 and began a 20-year security management career with the U.S. Navy. He was the first security administrator at the Naval Weapons Station and Polaris Missile Facility in Charleston, SC, in 1960 when the earliest Polaris-carrying submarine, the USS George Washington, departed for its first armed patrol. In 1967 Archibald was appointed the first civilian security officer in the Naval Supply Systems Command and was the architect of that command’s security group. He also served as chief, Internal Security, Counterintelligence Div., Defense Attaché Office, Saigon in 1973.

Archibald retired from federal service in 1979 and subsequently won election to the South Carolina Legislature for three terms. He completed his public service as a senior manager in the state’s Dept. of Corrections.

Archibald has earned degrees from Charleston Southern University (BS-cum laude, political science and criminal justice) and Webster University (Master of Arts, International Relations.)

Archibald lives with his wife, Mary, also a veteran of USAF OSI service, in Mt. Pleasant. SC. He was an occasional book reviewer for The State, Columbia, SC. (See Book Reviews) He also authored a weekly newspaper column which appeared periodically from 1960 to 2001 in The Hanahan, Goose Creek and North Charleston News (See Columns) and has contributed articles intermittently during the same period (See Articles).

Continue with Reflections below.


These remarks originally appeared in The Hanahan, Goose Creek and North Charleston News, April 15, 2001 (Revised June 2008)

When I looked at the calendar last week (April 11) it was 50 years since President Truman fired General MacArthur, and I went to the recruiting office. “I heard you have a vacancy,” I said.

“Yeah, and we fill from the bottom up. Sign here recruit.”

When I joined the Air Force 50 years ago I had never been South of Pennsylvania and only in that state once. I had a driver’s license but never owned a car. I had a girl friend but not a wife.

The Korean War was on and a lot of young men like me were signing up. Many of us graduated from high school in 1949 or 1950 and had gone to work, hoping to save some money to go to college. We were young, and we had no experience to guide us along the way.

I did basic training and then stayed in the Air Training Command waiting for a slot to open in some technical school. One thing led to another and I was the legal clerk in an Air Base Group. About two years after I joined I was in Washington as the chief clerk in the Sabotage and Espionage Branch in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

I read reports every day about interesting things and thought, “Hell, I can do this work.” By September I was in the agent training school and by Christmas was a Special Agent, OSI.

For six years I worked in various places on a variety of personnel, criminal and counterintelligence cases. It was all very exciting and interesting, but the times and my personal situation changed. I married a South Carolina girl, we had two boys and there had to be some work that paid more money than the Air Force.

We came to Charleston and as they say, “the rest is history.” It all fell into place. My work in the Air Force provided a foundation for me to earn a civilian living for the next twenty years in security management work with the United States Navy, principally in Charleston. The local area offered the opportunity to go to college at night and on weekends and earn two degrees.

Just pausing to look back even briefly I wonder where the years went. Trite as it sounds, it does seem like only yesterday when I left Lowell, Massachusetts, a raw recruit. I have enjoyed several careers: military, civil service, elected office, writer, and college faculty. Mary and I have five children and five grandchildren.

Since I joined the service more than 50 years ago our nation has experienced the most tumultuous half-century in all of history. It’s been a great 50+ years, some strife, and a little worry here and there, but on reflection, I would do them all over again in a heartbeat.

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