Military Wiki
Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter
File:Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter.gif
Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, Navy, (Ret.)
Born (1897-05-08)May 8, 1897
Died June 18, 1982(1982-06-18) (aged 85)
Place of birth St. Louis, Missouri
Place of death New York City[1]
Buried at Section 3
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County, Virginia, United States
(38°53′02″N 77°03′55″W / 38.8837738°N 77.0653458°W / 38.8837738; -77.0653458Coordinates: 38°53′02″N 77°03′55″W / 38.8837738°N 77.0653458°W / 38.8837738; -77.0653458)
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Department of the Navy SealUnited States Navy
Rank US-O9 insignia Vice admiral
Commands held Assistant Naval Attaché, France: 1933–35, 1938–40, 1940–41 (Vichy regime), and 1946–47
Commanding Officer USS Missouri 1946
Officer in Charge of Intelligence, on the staff of Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area (Adm. Chester W. Nimitz), September 1942 – March 1943
Promoted to rear admiral, 29 November 1946
Director of Central Intelligence (CIG) 26 September 1947
Director of Central Intelligence (CIA) 8 December 1947–1950
Commander, Cruiser Division 1, Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet, October 1950 – August 1951
Third Naval District, New York (July 1952 – August 1956)[2]
Vice admiral, 9 April 1956
Inspector General of the Navy, 1 August 1956
Retired from Navy, 1 May 1957[3]
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Relations Jane C. Hillenkoetter (April 7, 1913 – March 20, 2001)
Other work Executive

Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter (May 8, 1897 – June 18, 1982), born in St. Louis, Missouri, was the third director of the post-World War II U.S. Central Intelligence Group (CIG), the third Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), and the first director of the Central Intelligence Agency created by the National Security Act of 1947. He served as DCI and director of the CIG and the CIA from May 1, 1947, to October 7, 1950, and after his retirement from the United States Navy was a member of the board of governors of National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) from 1957 to 1962.

Education and Military Career[]

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1919.

He served tours in naval intelligence, several as assistant naval attaché to France. As Executive Officer of the USS West Virginia (BB-48), he survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, and afterwards was officer in charge of intelligence on Chester W. Nimitz's Pacific Fleet staff.

Then Captain Hillenkoetter commanded the USS Missouri in 1946.

First Director of the CIA[]

President Truman persuaded a reluctant Hillenkoetter, then a rear admiral, to become 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 at both covert action and intelligence analysis.[4]

The U.S. government had no intelligence warning of North Korea's invasion (June 25, 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.[5]

Resumption of active military duty[]

Admiral 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 October 24.[6] Hillenkoetter was on NICAP's board of governors from about 1957 until 1962.[7] Donald E. Keyhoe, NICAP director and Hillenkoetter's Naval Academy classmate, wrote that Hillenkoetter wanted public disclosure of UFO evidence.[8] 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."[9]


Hillenkoetter lived in Weehawken, New Jersey following his retirement from the Navy, until his death on June 18, 1982, at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital.[10]


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

Dates of rank[]

Ensign Lieutenant junior grade Lieutenant Lieutenant commander Commander Captain
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6
US Navy O1 insignia US Navy O2 insignia US Navy O3 insignia US Navy O4 insignia US Navy O5 insignia US Navy O6 insignia
1919 tbd tbd tbd tbd tbd
Rear admiral Vice admiral
O-7, O-8 O-9
US Navy O8 insignia US Navy O9 insignia
29 November 1946 9 April 1956


  1. Roscoe H(enry) Hillenkoetter. Almanac of Famous People, 9th ed. Updated: 08/17/2007. Thomson Gale, 2007. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group, 2009 ( Fee (via Fairfax County Public Library). Document Number: K1601044553.
  2. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Third Naval District – Lists of Commanding Officers and Senior Officials of the US Navy". Washington, D.C.: DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY – NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER. Retrieved 2009-03-31. "1952–1956 RADM Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter July 1952
    1956–1958 RADM Milton E. Miles August 1956"
  3. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter—Central Intelligence Agency". 
  4. David Fromkin Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (January 1996). "Daring Amateurism: The CIA's Social History". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  5. Rothbard, Murray N.. Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal, Ludwig von Mises Institute
  6. Dolan, Richard M. (2002). UFO's and the National Security State: Chronology of a Cover-up 1941–1973. Charlottesville, Virginia: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.. pp. 478. ISBN 1-57174-317-0. 
  7. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Photo Bios at NICAP site". Francis L. Ridge. Retrieved 2009-03-31. "He resigned from NICAP in February 1962 and was replaced on the NICAP Board by a former covert CIA high official, Joseph Bryan III, the CIA's first Chief of Political & Psychological Warfare (Bryan never disclosed his CIA background to NICAP or Keyhoe)." 
  8. Keyhoe, Donald E. (1973). Aliens from space; the real story of unidentified flying objects (1st ed.). Garden City, New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-06751-8.  (page 28 in the Dutch translation of that book)
  9. United Press International Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (February 28, 1960). "AIR FORGE ORDER ON 'SAUCERS' CITED; Pamphlet by the Inspector General Called Objects a 'Serious Business'" (Fee). The New York Times. p. 30. Retrieved 2009-03-30. "WASHINGTON, February 27 (UPI) – The Air Force has sent its commands a warning to treat sightings of unidentified flying objects as "serious business" directly related to the nation's defense, it was learned today." 
  10. Kihss, Peter. "ADM. ROSCOE H. HILLENKOETTER, 85, FIRST DIRECTOR OF THE C.I.A., DIES", The New York Times, June 21, 1982. Accessed November 13, 2012. Vice Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, the first director of the Central Intelligence Agency, died Friday night at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 85 years old and had lived in Weehawken, N.J., since his retirement from the Navy in 1958."

External links[]

Government offices
Preceded by
Captain Stuart S. Murray
Commanding Officer USS Missouri
November 6, 1945 – May 31, 1946
Succeeded by
Captain Tom B. Hill
Preceded by
Lt. Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg
Director of Central Intelligence
May 1, 1947 – October 7, 1950
Succeeded by
Gen. Walter Bedell Smith
Preceded by
RADM Walter S. DeLany
Commanding Officer Third Naval District
July 1952 – August 1956
Succeeded by
RADM Milton E. Miles
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