Book Review – Dutch, From Rising Sun to the Rise of Jihad3 min read
In 1989, I showed up at the CIA’s training facility colloquially known as The Farm, and was introduced to man only known to us as Dutch. As we went through our training in the Special Operations Training Course, we began to hear stories of Dutch’s background and exploits. The stories generally came from other instructors, not Dutch himself. But occasionally, he would share a specific story designed to reinforce a teaching point. I distinctly remember a story when Dutch “acquired” a weapon from an enemy combatant when it had had a malfunction. His teaching point being about the importance of caring for your weapons. These stories spanned his time in Indonesia in WWII to his service in Vietnam with SF and MACV SOG. He was legendary, and for decades afterwards, we would still talk about Dutch and what we learned from him.
When I saw a book was out about Dutch’s life, I was excited to learn more about him. And also to learn how much of what I remember of those stories was fact or fiction. Needless to say, almost every story we’d heard of his exploits proved true, and many more.
Kim Kipling, a pseudonymous author with whom I served in an early overseas tour, has done a great service for intelligence historians by documenting the history of Master Sergeant Jan Wierenga, aka “Dutch”. Dutch has spent his entire adult life (and a fair amount of his youth) engaged in, learning about, or teaching combat skills. He was running jungle combat patrols in Indonesia (his country of birth) at age 16, served in the Dutch army in the late 50’s and then emigrated to the US in 1960 and joined the US Army. He would serve in the Army, primarily in Special Forces for the next 23 years, earning a Silver Star, 4 Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.
But his time serving his adopted country didn’t end with his retirement from the Army in 1986. Dutch would join CIA as a Paramilitary Operations Officer (PMOO), running operations and assets across multiple war-torn continents before finally landing at The Farm as an instructor for the next several generations of PMOOs and OOs, until his final retirement in 2022.
Author Kipling tells Dutch’s amazing story by weaving together a narrative informed by his own extensive research, but also by including direct quotes and stories from Dutch, as well as from many others who served along side him. He is thus able to provide a unique view of many of these stories by coming at them from differing angles and viewpoints. I have no doubt too that Kipling’s own service in the CIA and US Navy proved critical in informing this narrative.
It is worth noting that the Agency did request several redactions in their review process. Author Kipling finds a way to provide appropriate context for those, without violating his Agency confidentiality requirements. And he rightly notes (as I have experienced myself) that often times those redactions are excessive and silly. And in the end, ineffective, as many students of history will be able to piece together the redacted information with little difficulty.
6 decades of service. What an amazing legacy. It is rare that we get such a complete telling of the life and service of one of our shadow warriors. Dutch would never have told his own story, but it is one that will inspire future generations and needed telling. I am grateful for his life of service, and equally grateful to have been able to learn from him so many long years ago. I was changed in knowing him.
Thank you Kim, for recording and sharing Dutch’s story.