Potomac Falls, VA – John Cheney Platt III (Jack), aged 80, died unexpectedly on January 4, 2017 of advanced esophageal cancer. Jack, also known as “Cowboy,” served proudly as an officer in the United States Marine Corps followed by 25 years of service in the Central Intelligence Agency. He led a life full of intrigue, mystery and adventure serving his country abroad in Austria, Laos and France. He was a natural leader, a mentor to many, and did not suffer fools lightly.
After retiring from the CIA, he formed the Hamilton Trading Group partnership that allowed him to continue training others on security awareness measures to protect themselves in a dangerous new world. He spent his last few years traveling widely with his wife and friends.
Mr. Platt, who was known as Jack, was a gruff former Marine officer who for years ran a training program in Washington to teach C.I.A. case officers how to operate under cover. But he was best known in the spy world for his longtime friendship with Gennadiy Vasilenko, a K.G.B. officer whose betrayal by Aldrich Ames, the Soviet mole at the C.I.A., led to Mr. Vasilenko’s imprisonment in Moscow.
Mr. Platt was hired by the CIA in 1963. He was an operations officer with an extensive information collection and counter-intelligence background. In the course of various assignments overseas, he lived and worked in Austria, Germany, France and Laos. He also traveled extensively in Latin America, the Caribbean and to a lesser extent in Eastern Europe. For five years he directed a CIA training program which was awarded a Unit Citation for excellence. This program was successful in preparing U.S. personnel and their families to live and work productively in hostile countries. Upon retirement, Mr. Platt was awarded the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal for exceptional performance and commended by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his professionalism, zeal and vital assistance to the FBI.
Mr. Platt and several like-minded Americans took steps to open a window on the “new Russian Federation” in the early 1990s. He contacted former Soviet adversaries and pushed for mutual agreements on conducting commercial inquiries and personal security and safety –in Russia. The joint business efforts of the company and the Russians were favorably described in news stories (LA Times, Palm Beach Post, Forbes Magazine and the NYT). Platt’s unusual but interesting relationships with “former KGB enemies” have been cited in TV programs about the CIA and KGB (Discovery Channel in 1997 and CBS 60 Minutes II in 2001).
Regrettably, the results of “regime change” in Russia (i.e., Putin’s Kremlin) rendered bilateral business cooperation with Russian contacts as damaged efforts best observed in the rear-view mirror. In 2005, the prime business partner in Russia, retired KGB officer Gennadiy Vasilenko, was arrested in Moscow on trumped up charges and sentenced to a long prison term. After serving 5 ½ years of a 3-year sentence in the Russian prison system, Mr. Vasilenko was granted free passage to be resettled with his family in the USA — being part of a historic “Russian- USA spy swap” of July 2010.
In addition to his wife, the former Paige Gordon, he is survived by three daughters, Leigh, Michelle and Diana Platt, and one grandson.
Rest in Peace Cowboy. You will be greatly missed. J.D.L. ~