A Hungarian Aristocrat in the U.S. Special Forces

Vietnam War, Special Forces, Cold War, Budapest, Hungary, USA, Soviet Union, Szentiványi-Deák, private tour, communism
Vince Szentiványi-Deák with the original A-424/411 team in Vietnam in February, 1967. Photo: Mark Atchison

How did a Hungarian aristocrat end up in the jungles of Vietnam fighting in a U.S. Special Forces unit? Vince Szentiványi-Deák (pictured), already a trained soldier, fled Communist Hungary after WW2 and joined the U.S. Army. In Fort Bragg he joined Col. Aaron Bank’s legendary 10th Special Forces and served in Bad Tölz, Germany, awaiting orders to parachute behind the Iron Curtain with his team to organize anti-Communist resistance in Hungary in the event of a war.

The order never came, not even in 1956. Szentiványi-Deák, however, remained with the Special Forces, and he served in a highly classified special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations in the Vietnam War. 

He served three tours of duty in Vietnam, and before that, took part in Operation White Star in Laos, which was a secretive military training mission concentrated on the technical training of the Royal Lao Army.

During his service, he got a Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and in 1971, he was decorated with the Joint Service Commendation Medal. 

If you are curious how U.S. propaganda could be so effective behind the Iron Curtain that it would prompt many young Hungarian men like Szentiványi-Deák to defect and become such valuable members of U.S. military, come to one of our Cold War walking tours in Budapest. The story is more thrilling than you think.

You can book your tour HERE.

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