Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Raymond L. Seaborg
This is a part of our series about CIA employees who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Here we will look at the lives of the men and women who have died while serving their country.
Currently, there are 90 stars carved into the marble of the CIA Memorial Wall. The wall stands as a silent, simple memorial to those employees “who gave their lives in the service of their country.” The CIA has released the names of 55 employees; the names of the remaining 35 officers must remain secret, even in death.
Raymond L. Seaborg
During Raymond Seaborg’s short time at the CIA, he became known for his sincere and selfless concern for his colleagues. This trait brought about Seaborg’s demise when he stayed behind to watch over some wounded comrades. On September 27, 1972, Seaborg was killed by a rocket in Laos during an attack.
From Star Athlete to Civil Servant
Seaborg was born in Washington, D.C. in 1942. He attended a local public high school where he earned a reputation for being an excellent athlete, lettering in football, basketball, and baseball.
After graduating in 1960, Seaborg took a job with the U.S. Coastal & Geodetic Survey . His job operating a small transport boat led him to Alaska and the Puget Sound near Seattle.
In 1965, Seaborg graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in police science. He was an active member of a fraternity and belonged to two national honor societies. Seaborg expanded his studies by spending a semester of his graduate career studying criminology at California State University.
Soon after graduating, Seaborg joined the U.S. Marines. He served as an engineering specialist from 1965 to 1969. Seaborg completed two tours to Vietnam as an executive officer and a commanding officer before he was honorably discharged as a Captain.
Dedicated to the Mission
In June 1970, Seaborg joined the CIA and worked in the Directorate of Plans (now the National Clandestine Service). After a year of training, he was assigned to Laos as a paramilitary case officer. He also took on a variety of other responsibilities, including coordinating and supervising a guerrilla battalion. During his time overseas, Seaborg demonstrated his sharp analytic and writing skills. He also had a knack for learning languages. A few short months after his arrival, Seaborg had become proficient in Thai, Lao and French.
In September 1972, Seaborg accompanied his unit to the Plain of Jars. He was supposed to be evacuated that day, but communication problems and the darkness of nightfall made it impossible. The next morning, the enemy bombarded Seaborg’s unit. He tried to assist some wounded colleagues, but the attack grew more and more intense. As Seaborg waited for reinforcements, he was killed by a rocket that landed and exploded directly in front of him.
Seaborg was 30 years old when he was killed. He was survived by his parents and a sister. On May 26, 1999, Seaborg was posthumously awarded the Agency’s Intelligence Star for his bravery and sacrifice.