Edwin Warren Besch was born in Milwaukee, WI, December 22, 1936 and died in Hendersonville, NC, November 11, 2020, Veteran’s Day. He was the son of the late Edwin Frederick Besch and Selma (née Henke) Besch. Ed graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1960 and received his M.A. from George Washington University in absentia while serving as a Marine Corps infantry officer in Vietnam in 1966. He participated in ten combat operations as Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company, 4th Marines, and as C.O. of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, during which he was severely wounded during Operation Prairie I and received a Purple Heart. He later retired from the Marine Corps for disability.
As a civilian, Ed served as a CIA Military Analyst at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, South Vietnam, for three years. He shared this time in Vietnam with his new bride, Donna Steadham Besch to whom he had proposed on their first date in 1970 and remained married to for 49 years to his death. He spent 24 years in government service with the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of the Army working at the Navy Yard and Pentagon as well as traveling to Asia frequently for his work as an intelligence analyst. As an independent consultant after retiring, he conducted 12 Civil War battlefield surveys for the Congressional Civil War Sites Advisory Commission and the National Park Service. He was the author/co-author of 14 U.S. Intelligence studies, his book “U.S. Colored Troops Defeat Confederate Cavalry: Action at Wilson’s Wharf, Virginia, 24 May 1864”; 300 plus U.S. Intelligence reports, and 105 professional journal articles. Ed was a Fellow in The Company of Military Historians.
Ed is survived by his beloved wife, Donna Steadham Besch, and daughters, Christina Besch Robichaux (Michael), Catherine Besch, and grandson, Patrick Robichaux.