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A journey around America, a journey of helping people travel the world, a journey where you are doing things for the greater good of your country, but a journey where you have to lie to everyone you love, would you make it? Many men and woman have, and I am related to one of them. His name was Walter Boyle, but my family knew him as Woody. Woody was in his mid-20’s when he joined an operation that would change his life and the shape of the Cold War. An operation that no more than 15 people every knew about when it was active (this including three spies, the president, the FBI director/ assistant, secretary of state and a few other FBI agents). Woody and a few other people were tasked with spying on the Soviet Union and several other Communist countries during the Cold War. These agents had the weight of a third world war on their shoulders and they did not fail us. It all started with a man named Morris Childs, his brother Jack, and Morris’s wife Eva. They were the front runners; they were the ones who had to travel in and out of Russian and Chinese lines. They risked their lives, but they wouldn’t have even had the chance to do that if they didn’t have Woody. Woody was their handler. He was the one who would set things up and get the Childs’ in and out of the country without anyone knowing. Not even the president knew what was going on in Operation Solo (Nixon did eventually know about the project, but Eisenhower never did).
It’s almost seems like living in a movie. The idea of sneaking in and out of the country, saving the world, it sounds like the job of a life time, but being a spy/handler is much harder than just sneaking around. You also have to lie to everyone you love. No one could know what you really did. Right before he died Morris and Eva had a book written about Operation Solo. In this book Woody talks about how hard it was to lie to everyone and how bad he felt for his wife who knew nothing. He talked about how if he died in action his wife would learn nothing about how or why until the operation was over. He and his wife never had children of their own, but through adoption they had six children. He was their dad and he couldn’t even tell them what he truly did for a living. He could never take his kids to work or release the stress of his day by talking about it to his wife. This broke his heart, but he knew that what he was doing for his country was very important to more people than just his family. He stayed with Operation Solo so that his children would not have to go through and fight in a World War Three.
Sadly no one in my family got to talk to Woody about his job and how he felt about, since we didn’t even truly know what he did until he died, but Carl Freemen said in the book Operation Solo “Walter was loved by most people on the job, and no one loved him more that Morris and Eva. He was like their son. If he was taken off the mission they said they would be done.” No one in my family knew him as Walter the handler, but instead as Woody, “the guy who disappeared out of town, who nobody knew what he did or when he would be home or on the road.”- Bob Stanis. Most people in my family thought Woody had another family somewhere else, but that wasn’t the case. When Woody retired and my family found out he had been working for the FBI, they were shocked, but not as shocked as when the book Operation Solo came out and we found out that he was not only an FBI agent, but a handler and analyst who helped shape America’s direction leading to the downfall of the Soviet Union.

Woody journeyed through the tough mental stage of lying to everyone. He worked hard to make America a safer place and helped save the world from a third world war. He did a job very few could. “Some people take journeys that are very similar to others, but very few have taken a journey like his.” – Bob




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