Real ‘Inglorious Bastard’ who parachuted into Nazi territory dies at 94

Frederick Mayer, who fled Germany with his family, returned and posed for months as a Nazi officer while sending intel back to US

Frederick Mayer gives his account in a documentary made about his life (YouTube screenshot)
Frederick Mayer gives his account in a documentary made about his life (YouTube screenshot)

Frederick Mayer, a German Jew who fled Nazi Germany in 1938 and parachuted back in seven years later as an American spy, has died.

Mayer died on Friday in Charles Town, West Virginia, at the age of 94, his daughter Claudette confirmed to The New York Times on Thursday.

During “Operation Greenup” in February 1945, Mayer posed as a German officer for more than two months in western Austria, sending intelligence on Nazi troop movements to his commanders back in the United States in the Office of Strategic Services, which later became the Central Intelligence Agency.

Shortly before the end of the war, he was imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, which had discovered that he was spying for the United States. Despite waterboarding and pistol-whipping, he did not reveal the location of other American spies and soldiers, according to the Times.

Mayer became one of the subjects of a 2013 documentary, entitled “The Real Inglorious Bastards,” which tells the tale of Operation Greenup.

He told the newspaper in an interview two months before his death that he volunteered as a spy out of a sense of duty and boredom with other military assignments. He also said he did not like being called a hero, despite receiving medals and honors for his work.

Mayer enlisted in the US Army a day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He worked at bases in Arizona, Georgia and Maryland before volunteering to work in covert operations.

In addition to tracking Nazi troop movements in Austria, Mayer also organized hundreds of resistance fighters against the Nazis.

Mayer worked as a power plant supervisor at Voice of America outposts around the world before in 1977. He volunteered for Meals on Wheels there for more than three decades, continuing to deliver meals to the elderly and shut-ins until weeks before his death, according to the Times.

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