Sidney Shachnow

Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Major General Sidney Shachnow is most known for his 32 years of service with the U.S. Army Special Forces which culminated in his position as commander of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command.  General Shachnow served two tours in Vietnam and earned two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars with V for Valor.

General Shachnow’s story would be an impressive tale based on his military service alone, but there is another story that makes his accomlishments all the more amazing.  He was born and raised in Lithuania until he was 17.  At ten years old Shachnowski escaped the notorious Kovno concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Lithuania.  Courage must run in his family, because both of his parents escaped the ghetto and were partisan fighters as well.  His father hid him and his younger brother with a Christian family just before the ghetto was cleared and the inhabitants sent to extermination camps.  Through some miracle, both his parents survived as did the future General and his brother.  He made his way across Europe where he made a living by smuggling contraband.  He was impressed by American soldiers during the war and remembered them after he and his family were eventually admitted to the U.S.

In 1950, he immigrated to the United States. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and later entered Officer Candidate School as a Sergeant First Class. In 1960, Gen. Shachnow was commissioned as an infantry officer.

His 40-year career has included service in the infantry, mechanized infantry, airmobile, airborne and of course special forces units. Gen. Shachnow’s most recent assignments include: Commanding General, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Airborne, Fort Bragg; Commanding General, United States Army Special Forces Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg; Commanding General, U.S. Army-Berlin; Director, Washington Office, United States Special Operations Command, Airborne; Deputy Commanding General, 1st Special Operations of Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg; and Chief of Staff, 1st Special Operations Command, Airborne, Fort Bragg.

Gen. Shachnow is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters and “V” device, the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters, the Air Medal with the numeral “12”, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters and “V” device, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Ranger Tab, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross.

He has recently written an autobiography of his amazing experiences.  I’ve provided a link to the book on for those interested.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”0765307928″ price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]


  • Well, I just thought I”d leave a short message with a longer one to follow.  I am almost done with this book, and it’s amazing!  I recommend for any and everyone.  Full review to follow.

  • SFC Michael Rafferty

    General Shachnow was an unbelieveable commander and soldier.  He was respected by all his soldiers.  I served with him in Berlin.  This is an outstanding book by a true American Hero.

  • My son, a soldier in the Army at Ft Hood, first told me about this book.  I bought it, and could not put it down.  Gen. Shachnow and his family are just amazing, such courage to over come everything they went through!!

    We need more heros like Gen Shachnow!

  • alexander stern

    I am definitely going to get that book. And I just wanted to say that it is great to know that I am going to be a part of the greatest fighting force in the world. People like General Shachnow are our heroes. Thanks.

  • Bill Areheart

    Served with Sid in Erlangen, Germany in early 60’s.  Just got his book and haven’t had chance to read it yet. A helluva soldier and a tremendous person.

  • I came accross his book during research for my website. Excellent reading very impressive career very impressive life.

    From a german’s perspective it is unbelievable that someone who survived the holocaust would later protect the former heart of the nazi empire.

    This book taught me more about our past than lots of years in history class.

  • The other day I was thinking back to when i was in the service in the 80’s. I was a driver for a colonel Shacknow so i type his name on the internet and found that he had written this book I plan to read it. When I worked for colonel Shacknow I was a private and i can say he was one of the best people i ever met, I feel honored to have known him and to have been friends with him.

  • Charlotte Conner

    I have just finished reading Hope and Honor for the second time.  Colonel Shachnow was my boss when he was stationed at Fort Benning as the Director of Plans and Training.  He was, without a doubt,a most unforgettable man, as was his wife, Arlene.  I will always cherish the memory of him and am so thankful for the book.  I attended his promotion ceremony to full Colonel.  General Grange pinned the eagle on him.  What an honor!  It was wonderful to read about Bud Sydnor, another former boss of mine, as was Colonel Bradley.  John Batiste was the Budget Officer for the Infantry School during my time at Fort Benning, and Colonel Shachnow’s daughter was also stationed there at the time.  Thank you so much for writing the book – now make a MOVIE.  Lots of love and best wishes, Charlotte

  • General Shacknow was a huge inspiration to me prior to and especially during my time in the SFQC. He still is currently one of my biggest heroes. His story and life are incredible. He sounds like an even more incredible person according to people who have met and known him. I have had the honor and privilege to meet some incredible men within SF, including a few of legends. But to meet Sid Shacknow would be the greatest.

  • Geraldine (Geri) Limon Polansky

    Dear Sidney:  I was one of the Jewish girls from South Salem who hung around you when you first moved to North Salem.  We all thought you were the most handsome boy we knew.  I also remember your mother leaning over the porch to call you into the house.  I next saw you in the PX at Ft. Knox where my husband was stationed.  You came to our house for dinner.  I believe you wore civies, which was a good thing as my husband was a jr. officer, and you know—no fraternization.  I remember that I got flak from the Reg. Commander, after all, for inviting an enlisted person to our home.  One of the things I hated about the Army.

    I just heard of your book and have ordered it.  I hope this message gets to you and you can answer.  I also want to tell you that I was in Ralph’s class at Salem High.  Also, I have many relatives who were in the Jewish partisans outside of Novagrudek, Belarus, Russia.  I managed to find the son of one of these cousins of my father’s on the internet.  His name is Henryk Limon and he lives in Geneva.  I understand Ralph lives in Switzerland.

    Much Love, Geraldine (Geri)

  • Edward L McKesson

    Gen. Shacknow is one of Americas true heros. I had

    the plesure of working for him in EPD Special

    Actions D.C.. Never could enough be said about this

    kind, sensitive warrior. I am proud to have served

    with him.  I read your book Sid.  Could not put it

    down from start to finish. I thank Arlene for her

    kindness to my wife when she visited just prior to

    my retirement.  If you see this Sid give me an e-mail.  I didn’t know we both had Lt. Plant for a

    TAC in OCS.  I was in the class OC4-60 just behind you.  Sid you are a great story.

  • Dear Sid and Arlene,

    You are the greatest. Just finished reading your

    book.  What a story.  However just working for

    you in 75 at EPD Special Actions I became aware

    of what a great citizen you are.  Thanks for

    putting me in for the LOM. And thanks for the

    night on the town for my farewell trip to retire-

    ment. God Bless you both.  Hope to hear from you.

    Eddie McKesson

  • Shirley Hutzler

    Sid and Arlene, I hope you’ll read this and get in touch.  The e-mail address I have for you is no longer valid, and I’d love to talk with you or correspond and reminisce about our years in Germany, Ft. Bragg, etc. and catch up on your lives.  I read Hope and Honor and was overwhelmed by all the things I didn’t know about you, Sid.  Paul, my son, is eager for me to pass the book along to him.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


  • Sid. am sorry that i could not make the 50th reunion. Due to many things i just could not be there.

    Had a wonderful evening with Ed Privatte and his great wife.

    You are everyones heroe in the class of 2/60.

    My Regrds, MICK ROE

    Need a copy of your book. Please advise of name.

  • highspeedmdd

    I remember watching his video where he compares SF guys to golf balls…did not know he was Jewish.  Cool guy…never heard anyone say anything bad about him.