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Harold Saunders, American Diplomat

Military Service, 1959-1961

After receiving his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1956, Harold Saunders enlisted in a junior officer training program with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  At the time, the CIA and U.S. Air Force had a relationship where the CIA would employ you, but then you would go through basic training and Officer Candidate School with the Air Force.  Saunders completed training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where he was a Distinguished Graduate and earned a commission as a lieutenant. 

Saunders military service photograph

Photograph of Harold Saunders (R) and Hedrick Smith (L) in their official military uniforms.  

Photograph at Officer Candidate School, Lackland AFB

Photograph of Harold Saunders at Officer Candidate School at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  L to R: Utley, Jones, H. Smith, Saunders, Strickland.

After becoming a lieutenant, he was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Suitland, Maryland.  At Andrews AFB, he performed his duty as Wing Personnel Officer and Andrews Central Base Fund Custodian so excellently that he earned a commendation medal for his work. 

Air Force Commendation Certificate

A certificate awarding the Air Force Commendation Medal to Harold Saunders for meritorious service. 

Photograph of Harold Saunders receiving medal

A photograph of Harold Saunders having the Air Force Commendation Medal pinned to his uniform. The picture was taken at Andrews Air Force Base.

In 1958, Saunders was detailed back to the CIA. His first six months at the Agency focused on training Saunders.  He was then selected to be the junior staff assistant to the Deputy Director of the Agency at the time, General Charles P. Cabbell.  Saunders served in that position for a year and took the opportunity to get an overview of the foreign affairs operations of the government.  In that position, Saunders also became acquainted with Robert Amory, who was then an assistant to the Deputy Director for Intelligence, Bob Amery.  Robert Komer functioned as the CIA’s representative to the National Security Council (NSC) Planning Board, until he was asked to formally join the NSC staff.  Komer invited Saunders to work for him, and an arrangement was made whereby Saunders could continue to work for the CIA, but on detail to the NSC.  He began that assignment in 1961 and continued there for the next seven years.