Tucker Pierre Edward Power Gougelmann
Died 1976
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Central Intelligence Agency
Years of service 1942-1976
Rank Captain
Unit Marine Raider battalion
Battles/wars World War II
Battle of Guadalcanal
Awards Purple Heart, CIA Star

Tucker Pierre Edward Power Gougelmann was a United States Marine Corps captain, World War II veteran, and a Central Intelligence Agency officer in their Special Activities Division who was killed in Vietnam in 1976.

World War II and entry in to the CIA[edit | edit source]

During the war he served in the Pacific, participating in battles such as Guadalcanal. During the Solomon Islands campaign he suffered a severe wound as the result of being shot in the right leg by a Japanese sniper while he was helping to move his fellow soldiers who were wounded out of danger.

Although the military doctors told him that his leg would have to be amputated as part of his treatment, Gougelmann was intent on returning to service and therefore refused to give his permission for the doctors to proceed with the amputation. He wound up keeping his leg but as a result his convalescence lasted for two years. During this time he was decorated with a Purple Heart in recognition of his having sustained the injury in combat.

By the time he had recovered and was returned to active duty the war was drawing to a close. Regardless, Gougelmann remained in the Corps until his honorable discharge in 1949. Wanting to continue in service to his country, Gougelmann joined the then nascent Central Intelligence Agency, which had been created from the embattled Central Intelligence Group ("CIG") following the National Security Act of 1947 which Truman had signed in to law only two years earlier.

Although the CIG had a track record of difficulty with attracting "the best and the brightest," the newly formed CIA had no such difficulties in its early years. It was in fact a magnet for many of the nation's privileged youth who were recent graduates of top educational institutions, such as Ivy League universities. It was viewed as presenting a unique set of challenges, interesting work, and the opportunity to serve the country at the beginning of what would ultimately become known as the Cold War. Known for his personality, charisma, intellect, and "get-it-done" attitude, as well as enjoying a good challenge and the opportunity to serve both his country and democracy on a global scale, Gougelmann was a great fit for the CIA of that time.

Cold War service[edit | edit source]

According to his colleagues who knew him well, Gougelmann served in the CIA with the same energy, enthusiasm, and results that he had displayed in the Marines. He was first assigned to Korea during the Korean War from 1950–1953, where he participated in many covert operations, such as helping agents to infiltrate the North. His covert operations expertise was put to use and he was subsequently involved with the CIA's attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba during the mid/late 1950s and early 1960s. Although not officially recognized, Gougelmann was reported to have been not only involved with, but actually at the botched Bay of Pigs Invasion - a claim that still persists but remains unconfirmed. Following the failed attempts to remove Castro from power and the public relations problems that it caused for the Kennedy Administration, the CIA's role with respect to Cuba was severely curtailed and as far as the Agency was concerned the Cold War's active theater moved from Cuba back to other parts of the world, including Southeast Asia. His assignments during that time took him to Afghanistan as well as various locations in Europe.

Vietnam[edit | edit source]

In 1962 Gougelmann was assigned to South Vietnam. He continued to specialize in covert paramilitary operations work, coordinating Swift Boat raids against the North using Taiwanese nationals posing as civilians. Following the conclusion of the Swift Boat raiding program, Gougelmann was assigned to the CIA's Saigon Station where his knowledge of covert operations methods was put to use in the domestic counter-intelligence work of a local governmental entity. Being settled in a location for the first time in a long while, Gougelmann began a family life there with a local woman.

Gougelmann departed South Vietnam in 1975 before the final military capitulation and was living in Bangkok, Thailand as a civilian. When his loved ones were unable to be evacuated from Saigon prior to the impending Communist occupation, he ignored the warnings of many and returned on his own. Once there, he established contact with his family, but was having difficulty finding a way to get them out of the country as they had missed the last plane out before the occupation began. In the environment of that time, his presence was very unsafe as the communists had an extensive intelligence network utilizing many civilians, and an American CIA Officer would be a prime catch.

Although his family tried their best to hide him, including stuffing him in an alcove behind a refrigerator, he was eventually found during a search being conducted by the police on the advice of a local informant.

Capture, interrogation and torture[edit | edit source]

He was immediately taken in to custody and kept in the main prison of the area, Chi Hoa Prison. Many Vietnamese prisoners in Wing ED, where he was being kept, saw him. A French reporter had even seen him being abducted. The totalitarian Communist government of Vietnam denied that they were holding him, despite being presented with evidence to the contrary. Details of his imprisonment are limited and unconfirmed, and what he suffered at the hands of the Vietnamese during his captivity is based on examination of the evidence after the fact.

Gougelmann was removed from the prison several times to be taken for interrogation, and government officials believe he was tortured during this time. The Vietnamese government continued to deny that they were holding Gougelman for the remainder of 1975 and 1976, but in 1977 they finally relented and released his remains to U.S. authorities. Postmortem examination by U.S. government officials revealed that Gougelmann was tortured during his captivity, as evidenced primarily by a very large number of broken bones which appeared to have been broken and re-broken after healing.

After death[edit | edit source]

Before he left Bangkok to try to retrieve his family, Gougelmann had asked a friend of his to promise him that if anything happened to him, she would continue to struggle to get his family out of Vietnam and to America so that they would be safe and have a better life than if they stayed in Vietnam. His youngest son, Edward, had not even been born until after Tucker's abduction.

Gougelmann's friend kept her promise and by working vigorously and relentlessly, taking such extreme steps as contacting the CIA Director, the White House, Congress, and other high-ranking government offices, she managed to get Gougelmann's entire Vietnamese family visas to come to the United States. She had fulfilled her promise.

After Gougelmann's remains were returned stateside and the investigation was finished, he was given a proper Quaker funeral and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His grave is next to that of Francis Gary Powers, also a former military man who was recruited by the CIA. While working for the CIA as part of their U-2 program as a pilot, Powers became famous when he was shot down over Soviet airspace while on a photo reconnaissance mission; but unlike Gougelmann, the Soviets did not lie about Powers' captivity and in fact tried to use it for propaganda purposes.

CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia has a Memorial Wall to honor those CIA staff who died in the line of duty. Although Gougelmann died while not acting on behalf of the CIA but rather as a civilian, they decided that his death was a result of the official business that he had conducted in the past on behalf of the Agency. Accordingly, one of the stars on the wall honors his sacrifice.

His family now lives in the United States.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • C.I.A.: Stars on the Wall, a 2002 Discovery Channel documentary on members of the CIA killed while on duty.
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