Sgt. Maj. Angel Macias, a founding member of Delta Force, dead at 80

"SGM Macias exemplified the Special Forces ethos."

A founding member of the Army’s elite Delta Force passed away in North Carolina on Jan. 5, local newspaper The Fayetteville Observer first reported.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Angel Macias, of Parkton, North Carolina, passed away at the age of 80 after a lifetime of military and civilian service, according to his obituary. Born in Torreón, Mexico, in 1940, Macias grew up in Robstown, Texas, before joining the U.S. Army when he was 19. He went on to earn many decorations and medals in the Vietnam War, including the Bronze Star. 

Macias later joined Special Forces, where he became one of the original members of Delta Force, the Army’s counter-terrorism Special Forces unit, the obituary noted. Macias made his mark as a soldier, wrote the Special Forces Association, a non-profit fraternal organization of which Macias was a lifetime member.

Sgt. Maj. “Macias exemplified the Special Forces ethos, committing himself to a lifetime of meritorious and valorous service to the Nation as both a Soldier and dedicated civil servant,” the Association wrote in a statement sent to Task & Purpose. “He served with distinction during the conflict in Vietnam, earning several medals for valor in intense, sustained combat.”

The Association noted that Macias was specifically selected as one of the original members of the Army’s premier counterterrorism Special Mission Unit. He was a sniper on Operation Eagle Claw in 1980, the doomed attempt to rescue American hostages held in Tehran, Iran for 444 days, according to a 2017 profile written about him in the Fayetteville Observer. President Jimmy Carter gave Macias a commendation for his efforts on the operation.

“We learned a lot from that mission,” Macias told the Observer in 2017. “President Carter established the Joint Operations Command … that created a command that could pull together diverse elements and skills needed to train for special missions.”

Macias eventually retired from the Army, but his civil service career didn’t end there. He went on to work for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and he “contributed greatly to the overall camaraderie” of SFA, the Association wrote.

Macias worked as a civil servant for 20 years, according to his obituary. When he retired, he spent most of his days at the “office,” a.k.a. the golf course. He also developed a passion for gardening: his 4.5-acre garden near Parkton featured strong geometric elements; a wall made of large, heavy rocks manually fitted together; Southwest plants such as a giant agave, Texas sage and Indica azaleas; fruit trees such as Japanese persimmons and apples; a large wooden gazebo; and two practice golf holes, the Observer reported in 2017.

“I never would have dreamed that I would do this,” Macias said of his landscape at the time.

Macias is survived by one brother, three sisters, five children, seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

“SGM Macias’ efforts as a member were instrumental in enhancing the legacy and honor of both the Special Forces Regiment and the Special Forces Association,” SFA wrote. “We all mourn SGM Macias’ passing while celebrating a life incredibly well lived in service to the Nation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and comrades in arms.  Rest in Peace and De Oppresso Liber, Sergeant Major Angel Macias.”  

Featured image – Sgt. Major Angel Macias, one of the original members of Delta Force, passed away earlier this year at the age of 80. He was photographed in front of his home near Parkton, North Carolina, for a 2017 feature in the Fayetteville Observer (Photo Courtesy The Fayetteville Observer / Roger Mercer)

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David Roza

David RozaDavid Roza covers the Air Force and anything Star Wars-related. He joined Task & Purpose in 2019, after covering local news in Maine and then FDA policy in Washington D.C. He loves hearing the stories of individual airmen and their families, and he also holds the unpopular opinion that Imperial stormtroopers are actually excellent marksmen. david.roza@taskandpurpose.com Contact the author here.