‘Good Time Charlie’ Wilson dies at 76

“Good Time Charlie” Wilson, 76, the fun-loving, controversial former congressman from Texas whose clandestine funding of Afghanistan’s resistance to the Soviet Union became famous in the movie and book “Charlie Wilson’s War,” died Wednesday.

Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin in Texas spokeswoman Yana Ogletree said Wilson started having difficulty breathing while attending a meeting in the eastern Texas town where he lived and was pronounced dead on arrival.

The preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest, she said.

Wilson, who represented the 2nd District in east Texas in the U.S. House from 1973 to 1996, was known in Washington as “Good Time Charlie” for his reputation as a hard-drinking womanizer with a staff of beautiful young women known as “Charlie’s Angels.” He called former congresswoman Pat Schroeder “Babycakes,” and tried — and failed — to take a beauty queen with him on a government trip to Afghanistan.

Wilson’s efforts to arm Afghan mujahedeen during Afghanistan’s war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s became a legend in Washington. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Wilson secured money for weapons, plunging the U.S. into a risky venture against the world’s other superpower.

Wilson had a heart transplant in 2007.

Wilson, a Democrat, was considered a progressive but also a defense hawk. He had acknowledged some responsibility for Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for al-Qaida after the Soviets retreated and the U.S. withdrew its support.

“We fucked up the end game” Wilson said.

The Soviets spent a decade battling the determined and generously financed mujahedeen before pulling the Red Army from Afghanistan in 1989.

Mike Vickers, a CIA agent in 1984, said Wilson played a key part in the Soviet Union’s collapse, which happened just two years after its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Vickers, now assistant secretary of defense for special operations, praised Wilson as a “great American patriot who played a pivotal role in a world-changing event — the defeat of the Red Army in Afghanistan, which led to the collapse of Communism and the Soviet Empire.”

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10 Responses to "‘Good Time Charlie’ Wilson dies at 76"

  1. issodhos  February 10, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    If nothing else, he apparently had a good eye for a fine rifle.:-)
    Yours,
    Issodhos

  2. Kent.Shaw  February 11, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Is that an M1 Garand?

    Oops! Should have read Carl’s post first.

  3. Carl Nemo  February 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    The rifle that Charlie is holding is a Mosin Nagant rifle. It has a venerable reputation in war, no doubt putting millions in the grave before their time. It’s a bolt action magazine fed configuration holding 5 rounds. The Mujahideen resistance along others during the Russian-Afghani war in the 80′s were using such although an “antique” by modern weapons standards. It would have been classed as a poor man’s weapon, not by choice. Hey a good man or woman with a standup rifle can get the job done…no? :D

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosin%E2%80%93Nagant

    Just to let the women on this site know I have extreme respect for their “skills” in combat I thought I’d supply this link both feating and demonstrating the effectiveness of the Mosin Nagant for their sniper’s specialty.

    http://www.vincelewis.net/sniper.html

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. giving-up-in-nc  February 11, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Hey Carl,

    Thanks for the link to the Russian female sniper story. A very interesting read indeed.

    Tom

  5. issodhos  February 11, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Carl, the Mosin Nagant was indeed a fine rifle, but I think the one being held by Charlie is a Lee Enfield SMLE (probably the Mark III) chambered for the .303 cartridge.
    Yours,
    Issodhos

  6. almandine  February 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I concur.

  7. Carl Nemo  February 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Hi issodhos,

    I took the time to do some forensics concerning the enlarged photo’s of the Mosin Nagant vs. the Lee Enfield SMLE and it seems you are correct in that it is the .303 Lee Enfield. They also make a 7.62mm variant of the Lee Enfield. The way I can tell is from the muzzle to front site layout in which they are in close proximity whereas only one variant of the Mosin Nagant has the same in a version that is seeingly shorter than the one Charlie Wilson is holding.

    Here’s a Wiki link to the Lee Enfield rifle. I urge others to do an a/b comparison from the link photo’s to see what I’m talking about. My mistake. Thanks for spotting the error.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee-Enfield

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. issodhos  February 11, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    An easy mistake to make from the angle of the photo, Carl. Both are fine rifles for their type.:-)
    Yours,
    Issodhos

  9. griff  February 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Never shot an Enfield, but have shot many other WWII weapons (worth shooting any way). Mosins, Mausers, Swiss K98′s. All quite brutal, but give me an M-1 any day.

  10. Carl Nemo  February 12, 2010 at 2:12 am

    The reason semi-auto gas operated rifles are more pleasant to shoot is that part of the energy released from bullet ignition is channeled into the operation of the action itself. Also the weight/mass of the rifle comes into play.

    Bolt actions are brutal because one gets to experience the “equal but opposite reaction” principle of Newton’s “Third Law of Motion”. None of the released energy is channeled to other mechanical functions as in gas operated semi-autos.

    I agree gas operated weapons are less “painful” to shoot after many rounds than bolt action weapons. I have a bolt action 7mm Remington Magnum that I’ve had for years that I’m loathe to shoot. It’s a custom Sako. I never made a kill with the gun, but simply own it and respect it’s brutal recoil. I’d purchased it for elk and goat hunting then settled on .308 as being more than adequate for my needs. I like the 30-06 Springfield round, but don’t own an M1 as yourself or at least you’ve shot one. The last time I shot an M1 was at Quantico VA in the mid 60′s. I believe you’ve referenced your AK-47 on occasion concerning hard drive demolition. : )

    Carl Nemo **==

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