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Historical Note: On April 14, 1942, William Donovan, as Coordinator of Information (forerunner of the Office of Strategic Services), activated Detachment 101 for action behind enemy lines in Burma. The first unit of its kind, the Detachment was charged with gathering intelligence, harassing the Japanese through guerrilla actions, identifying targets for the Army Air Force to bomb, and rescuing downed Allied airmen. Because Detachment 101 was never larger than a few hundred Americans, it relied on support from various tribal groups in Burma. In particular, the vigorously anti-Japanese Kachin people were vital to the unit’s success. By the time of its deactivation on July 12, 1945, Detachment 101 had scored impressive results. According to official statistics, with a loss of some 22 Americans, Detachment 101 killed 5,428 Japanese and rescued 574 Allied personnel. The unit’s accomplishments garnered a Presidential Unit Citation and helped to prove to the United States military the worth of clandestine and special operations units.
Eifler, in 1921 at age 15, in the Philippines with an Army aerial photography unit. He was discharged two years later when true age was discovhisered.
Detachment 101’s first chief, Carl F. Eifler, was the stuff of intelligence legend. Later dubbed the “most dangerous colonel,” Eifler was a burly, athletic man who used his brains as nimbly as his brawn. He was a former Los Angeles policeman, customs agent in Mexico, and Army Reserve officer, who had known the commander of the American military liaison mission in China, General Joseph Stilwell. Donovan recruited him to run Detachment 101 when Stilwell insisted on having an officer he trusted in that position. Eifler, in turn, assembled the original members of the Detachment for a mystery assignment, and soon they were all on board ships bound for India. Detachment 101 began working with the Kachins behind enemy lines in Burma in December 1942.