Charlie Wilson Dead at 76

In this Saturday, April 26, 2008 picture, former Texas Rep. Charlie Wilson speaks at the Annual Dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association in Washington. According to a hospital spokesperson, Wilson, 76, died in Lufkin, Texas on Wednesday, Feb 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari) (Haraz N. Ghanbari - AP)

In this Saturday, April 26, 2008 picture, former Texas Rep. Charlie Wilson speaks at the Annual Dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association in Washington. According to a hospital spokesperson, Wilson, 76, died in Lufkin, Texas on Wednesday, Feb 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari) (Haraz N. Ghanbari - AP)

Charlie Wilson, the Congressman who became decidedly more famous in retirement than he ever was during his career, has died.

Charlie Wilson, the former U.S. congressman from Texas whose funding of Afghanistan’s resistance to the Soviet Union was chronicled in the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” has died. He was 76.

Wilson died Wednesday at Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin after he started having difficulty breathing while attending a meeting in the eastern Texas town where he lived, said hospital spokeswoman Yana Ogletree. Wilson was pronounced dead on arrival, and the preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest, she said.

Wilson represented the 2nd district in east Texas in the U.S. House from 1973 to 1996 and was known as “Good Time Charlie” when he was in Washington.

Perhaps because the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan occurred when I was 14 or perhaps because Wilson’s role wasn’t particularly well known at the time, I had never heard of the man until the recent Tom Hanks biopic.

Danny O’Keefe’s much-covered classic “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues” hit the charts in 1972, so I presume it has nothing whatever to do with Representative Wilson, who wouldn’t join Congress for a year.   It is, however, a fine song.  I especially recommend the Willie Nelson and Dwight Yoakam versions.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Phil Smith says:

    Aw, jesus, go buy the book. The movie is dreck.

  2. sam says:

    Don’t know if I’d agree the movie is dreck, but it surely doesn’t capture the energy of the book. When you think about the CIA, it’s hard to imagine a man like Gust Avrakotos as part of that organization. He must have tightened up sphincters all over Langley. Will Bill Donovan would have taken Wild Gust Avrakotos to heart. One part of you says, OMG, another part says, Geez, hope we still have guys like him in there.