|Paratrooper of Fortune – The Story of Ted B. Braden – Vietnam Commando, CIA Operative, Congo Mercenary, and just maybe D.B. Cooper
|Drew Hurst Beeson
|The story of Ted B. Braden, master parachutist and soldier of fortune, trained by Uncle Sam in the art of war but not in the art of peace, is the quintessential American story – the story of the men of his generation and of a war that defined that generation.
Ted Braden was an enigma as a person, driven by a brilliant, unorthodox mind that struggled to adapt to a society based on law and order and routine. He was a true super soldier who was suspected of having mental illness, most likely from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was a tortured soul with the burning frustration that he could never parlay his soldiering skills into big financial gains. He was fearless in his military endeavors to the point of risking lives but was endowed with natural instincts of survival that kept him and the men under his command alive.
It is tragic that a man like this is no longer alive to share his story. It is tragic that a man like this never will be fully understood. He had an ability to be very kind and very cruel, an ability to be very forthright and very cunning, an ability to be very committed as a soldier and very adrift as a civilian.
Was he the man who fearlessly leapt out of a Boeing 727 with $200,000 strapped around his body on a rainy Thanksgiving Eve in 1971? We may never know, but even if Ted Braden is not D.B. Cooper, he is one of the most fascinating people whose story you never knew – until now.