Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The OSS Lady Hosted A KGB Official

Connie O'Neill passed away May 31. She served as an officer in the OSS in WWII. While in Paris, Connie witnessed French General Charles deGaulle's triumphant march on the fabled Champs Elysee as that city was liberated from the Nazis.

Connie met and fell in love with Charles O'Neill - who oversaw the training and assigning of OSS recruited agents from various "Joe Houses" in North Africa and France. Because of security concerns, communication between them had to be through a code they concocted based on favorite poems. In the 1960s and 1970s she hosted holiday dinners for dozens of U.N. representatives at her home (one of whom later turned out to be a member of the KGB; it was unclear if he was aware his hosts were a pair of former OSS operatives).

In the 1950's she was approached by a Westport friend to invest in a Broadway-bound musical. After playing the sheet music for herself, she agreed to a show which became "Man of La Mancha."

As a 25 year-old OSS Lieutenant on a warm Paris spring day, she decided - with two girlfriends - to take a lunchtime stroll down the Champs Elysee without their helmets. They spotted a couple of senior American officers strolling toward them. Technically out of uniform, they were busted (or not, as it turned out) by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Omar Bradley, both of whom greeted the young women with proper military salutes and broad smiles.


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