In the autumn of 2010, I returned to Washington from an overseas tour of duty as a CIA station Chief in central Eurasia. I spent the next four years serving as deputy chief and then chief of the Near East Division in CIA headquarters. Focused on supporting war zones in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia amidst a level of unrest after the onset of the Arab Spring, my colleagues and I were thrust into long workdays, seven days a week.
I became accustomed to taking my gym workouts at 5 a.m., the only available time in my schedule.
And that was where I had the privilege and great fortune of meeting my dear friend, Arthur Frederick Reinhardt, a World War II veteran who passed away on March 4 at the age of 95.
Already in his 80s, Art never missed a workout. Always affable in spite of the early morning hour and sipping on a cup of black coffee, Art was one of a handful of early risers who started their day together at our local gym.
A fellow retired CIA officer made sure I made Art’s acquaintance. Barbecue lunches, a visit to CIA headquarters, and a Father’s Day gathering my family organized after I returned from an unaccompanied war zone assignment in 2016 followed.
Art started his career as a radio operator and cryptographer in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the WWII intelligence agency and predecessor to the CIA. While the most prolific OSS operations occurred in Europe and North Africa, the OSS was also highly active in the Far East. Art was deployed to China as part of a joint operations unit with the 14th Air Force and initially was based at a substation in Sichuan. He received, transmitted and decoded radio messages on Japanese forces and military targets back to the main station in Kunming.
Japanese aircraft regularly bombed Art’s position, including once for 30 straight nights in December 1944. After the Japanese Army overran Sichuan in January 1945, Art made his way to a new substation base station near Shanghai, where he and his team collected intelligence from Chinese insurgent networks, including on Japanese warship convoys in Hangzhou Bay. U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Chester Nimitz issued Art’s unit a commendation in recognition of their key role in sinking a convoy of 26 Japanese ships.
Art went on to have a 30-year CIA career, with distinguished service in Iran, Cyprus, the Philippines and England. He retired in 1976 after serving as chief of operations of the CIA’s Office of Communications.
When I asked Art about his wartime service he told me it was “nothing special It was just an automatic part of me being a first-generation American, proud of my heritage and committed to being a good, loyal citizen serving my country in time of need.”
I learned firsthand from the most enlightened leaders with whom I served how first-generation intelligence officers elevated our core mission of recruiting spies, stealing secrets, and producing the all-source analysis on which our leaders rely. It was always about the pride of serving together in common cause — “One team, one fight.”
Our country’s unique and rich melting pot has always been an exceptional competitive advantage and force multiplier for our intelligence community. Socially and ethnically diverse groups enhance creativity, innovation, and performance.
My CIA colleagues and I appreciated Art for being an extraordinary, patriotic trailblazer. He had a keen intellect for the art of intelligence and a sense of humor all of us including my young children, enjoyed when we visited him at his retirement community during his later years. He taught us all the value of service above self, especially in defense of liberty, freedom and democracy enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Art was a prototype of the Greatest Generation, known for their modesty, vigorous work ethic and deep sense of personal responsibility.
Veteran’s Day is a sacred opportunity for remembering and honoring our nation’s military personnel and their families, both those who have served and those who are on the watch today, detecting and preempting threats to keep our nation safe. On this upcoming Veterans Day, my family and I will especially remember the distinguished legacy of Art Reinhardt, who gave so much to our country and deeply inspired all who had the honor of following in his footsteps.
• Daniel N. Hoffman is a retired clandestine services officer and former chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency. His combined 30 years of government service included high-level overseas and domestic positions at the CIA. He has been a Fox News contributor since May 2018. Follow him on Twitter @DanielHoffmanDC.