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MSG William "Chief" Carlson
from Southern Pines, North Carolina


MSG Carlson served with: 2_75_Ranger_Bn


Born in 1960, Ranger Carlson was 43 years old at the time of his death in 2003.


Complete biography is below the photo gallery

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MSG William "Chief" Carlson 's Biography

"Chief" Carlson was at the wheel when his unit came under enemy fire, Donald said. Donald was in the passenger seat, and there were two soldiers in the back.
When a rocket-propelled grenade struck the vehicle, Carlson turned it so that his comrades could escape, putting himself in the line of automatic-weapons fire that took his life, Donald said.


During his military service, MSG William "Chief" Carlson also served in CIA, SFOD/Delta, Special Forces

MSG (Retired) William "Chief" Carlson was killed in action in the mountains of Afghanistan hunting down members of Al-Qaeda. He was a veteran of the Ranger Regiment, Army Special Forces, and retired as a Delta Force operator. After his retirement, he was recruited by the CIA as a paramilitary officer.

William "Chief" Carlson: Siksika Warrior from the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, Delta Force Operator, CIA SAD Officer, KIA 25 Oct 2003, Shkin, Afghanistan

In May 2004, the CIA held a ceremony to recognize 83 employees who died in the line of duty, including Mueller and William "Chief" Carlson, another civilian contractor killed in the ambush in Afghanistan.
"The bravery of these two men cannot be overstated," Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet said at the time, according to a CIA press release. "Chris and Chief put the lives of others ahead of their own. That is heroism defined."


William “Chief” Carlson came to Delta Force from one of the Green Beret groups around 1995. He was a Siksika warrior from the Blackfeet tribe of Montana. He was man whose reputation preceded him wherever he went in our community; no matter where you were at, there would be guys in your organization who had heard of William Carlson, or just “Chief.”

Read more:


CIA Remembers Employees Killed in the Line of Duty

May 21, 2004
At its annual memorial ceremony this morning, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) honored 83 employees who died in service to their country, including Christopher Glenn Mueller and William "Chief" Carlson, two civilian contractors killed in an ambush in Afghanistan last fall.

"The bravery of these two men cannot be overstated," Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet told a gathering of several hundred Agency employees and family members of those killed in the line of duty. "Chris and Chief put the lives of others ahead of their own. That is heroism defined."

Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet, accompanied by a member of CIA's honor guard, pays tribute to CIA officers who have died in the line of duty at a memorial ceremony at CIA Headquarters this morning. Mueller and Carlson died while tracking terrorists near Shkin, Afghanistan, on October 25, 2003. Both saved the lives of others during the ambush.

"Their sacrifice was not in vain," Tenet said, pledging to continue the war on terror until it is won. "We owe that victory to all American heroes like Chris and Chief", and to Mike Spann and Helge Boes, two other remarkable young men who died fighting a pitiless enemy in a remote, rugged place."

Spann was killed in November 2001 in a prison uprising at Mazar-e Sharif. Boes died in February 2003 when a grenade detonated prematurely during a live-fire training exercise in Afghanistan.

Mueller, 32, of San Diego, was a veteran of Navy special operations. Members of his family were among those in attendance at today's ceremony.

Carlson, 43, of Southern Pines, North Carolina, served for two decades in the Army and had extensive special operations experience. He went by the nickname "Chief" in deference to his heritage as a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana.

Tenet also used the occasion to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Memorial Wall. First conceived as a small plaque to recognize those from the CIA who died in Southeast Asia, the idea quickly grew to a memorial for Agency employees who died in the line of duty.

The first 31 stars were placed on the wall in 1974. Today, there are a total of 83, including the three added in March 2004 to honor Mueller, Carlson and another officer whose name cannot be publicly acknowledged.

"These stars are testament to our past and our present," Tenet said. "To our history and our spirit. To a defining trait of the Central Intelligence Agency and the nation it protects: devotion to duty in pursuit of freedom for all."

The event was not open to the public in order to allow currently serving undercover personnel the opportunity to attend the ceremony honoring their fallen colleagues.

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 12, 2007 07:59 AM
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2008 03:34 PM

Two C.I.A. Operatives Killed In an Ambush in Afghanistan
Published: October 29, 2003
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28— Two Central Intelligence Agency operatives were killed in an ambush in Afghanistan over the weekend, the agency said Tuesday, bringing to four the number of C.I.A. operatives acknowledged to have been killed in the line of duty since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The two men were described by the agency as veterans of military Special Operations units who were killed while tracking terrorists in the region of Shkin, a village in southeastern Afghanistan. A statement released by the agency said they were working as contractors for the agency's Directorate of Operations, which conducts clandestine intelligence gathering and other covert activities.

The two were identified as William Carlson, 43, of Southern Pines, N.C., and Christopher Glenn Mueller, 32, of San Diego. The C.I.A. does not normally identify its covert employees, but the agency said in the statement that it had decided to release their names after consulting with the men's families and determining that the information would not jeopardize continuing operations.

The C.I.A. statement quoted George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, as paying tribute to Mr. Carlson and Mr. Mueller as men ''who were defined by dedication and courage.'' As contractors, they were not staff employees of the C.I.A., and agency officials declined to comment on the nature of their employment.

But other intelligence officials said that they understood that the two men were members of the Special Operations Group, which can conduct commando-style paramilitary operations.

The agency said that Mr. Carlson had been a veteran of Army Special Operations and that Mr. Mueller had experience in Navy Special Operations. ''These two men were no strangers to the hardships of service to country,'' Mr. Tenet said in the statement. ''They had been counted among the best of America's military.''

The other C.I.A. operatives acknowledged by the agency to have been killed since the Sept. 11 attacks are Johnny Micheal Spann, a paramilitary officer who was killed during an uprising of Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners in northern Afghanistan in November 2001, and Helge Boes, who died in a training accident in eastern Afghanistan last February.

The region where Mr. Carlson and Mr. Mueller were operating is near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, a stronghold for members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other anti-American fighters.

The agency did not provide details about the military operation in which the two men were killed. --------------------

18 Rebels Die in Firefight

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 28 (AP) -- American-led troops and Afghan militiamen killed 18 rebels during a six-hour firefight near the Pakistan border, calling in airstrikes to help repel the attackers, the United States military said Tuesday.

Six Afghan militiamen were wounded in the fighting, which began Saturday morning, the allied leadership said in a statement. There were no allied casualties.

The American-backed Afghan militiamen were patrolling in Paktika Province when they ran into as many as 25 rebel fighters early Saturday, the military said.

Muhammad Ali Jalali, the governor of Paktika, said Tuesday that a separate battle on Saturday in the Gomal District left 10 rebels dead.

Skateboarder leaves on cross-country trip in memory of father
Kathy Hieatt
May 23, 2010
Shayne Carlson
Shayne Carlson, 21, prepares to leave Saturday on a cross-country skateboarding trip in honor of his father, who died while working for the CIA in Afghanistan in 2003. He left from the 17th Street Surf Shop on Pacific Avenue and hopes to arrive in Venice Beach, Calif., by July 31. (Courtesy photo by Cody Schindler)


William "Chief" Carlson was one of the toughest men Mark Donald ever met – unfazed by exhaustion, pain or the most dangerous missions assigned to their special operations unit.

And, Donald said, he passed that toughness to his son, 21-year-old Shayne Carlson, who left on a mission of his own today: skateboarding 3,200 miles across the country. The trip is a rite of passage, an effort to raise money for wounded special ops soldiers and a tribute to "Chief" Carlson, a CIA contractor who was killed during an ambush in Shkin, Afghanistan, in October 2003.

"It really is all for the soldiers and all in memory of my dad," Shayne Carlson said.

He left from the 17th Street Surf Shop on Pacific Avenue this morning and over the next two months will make his way to Venice Beach, Calif. He said he hopes to reach the Pacific by July 31, in time to return to school. He'll be a biology junior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington this fall.

The idea to skate cross-country came to Carlson when he was reading a magazine a few years after his father's death. But graduating from high school and going to college delayed his plans. He took up the idea again in February.

The trip will take him town-to-town adjacent to Interstate 10, stopping at military bases along the way, he said. He's backed by four friends and a station wagon filled with camping gear and supplies. Carlson estimates they'll probably go through at least eight longboards, 36 wheels and several pairs of shoes.

But he's confident they'll make it.

"We're going to do this. No question. Whatever it takes," he said. "I imagine the first week will be the roughest."

His goal is to travel 50 miles a day and raise $25,000 for organizations that help wounded special ops soldiers and their families, like the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

William "Chief" Carlson and Donald had been deployed to the southeast part of Afghanistan for about three months when they embarked on the mission that claimed Carlson's life, said Donald, a retired Navy SEAL who lives in Chesapeake. Everyone called him "Chief" because of his American Indian heritage.

"Chief" Carlson was at the wheel when his unit came under enemy fire, Donald said. Donald was in the passenger seat, and there were two soldiers in the back.
When a rocket-propelled grenade struck the vehicle, Carlson turned it so that his comrades could escape, putting himself in the line of automatic-weapons fire that took his life, Donald said.

He left behind his wife, Cheri Carlson, of Vass, N.C., and two sons, Shayne and Shaun. Cheri Carlson works as a speech pathologist at Fort Bragg, and Shaun Carlson, 26, is a physical therapist at Camp Lejeune. So this trip is Shayne's way of giving back, Cheri Carlson said.

"This is his way of taking a tragedy and making something positive and trying to help others," she said, adding that she knows her husband would be proud.

Donald helped organize the trip and attended Shayne's sendoff this morning. He said he looks just like his father.

"He looks exactly like him and he acts exactly like him ... nothing shakes him," he said. "I think if anybody's going to do it, he'll be able to."

To follow Shayne Carlson's trip or make a donation, visit

Kathy Adams, (757) 222-5155, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






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