breaking news

Dayton native, Olympian Sam Hall has died

Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 @ 1:09 PM
Updated: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 @ 1:09 PM

Sam Hall, Olympic diving medalist, former Ohio legislator, mountain climber, and accused U.S. spy taken Sandinista prisoner, died Monday. He was the son of the late Dave Hall, a Dayton mayor, and was brother of U.N. Ambassador Tony Hall. Sam Nesley Hall was 77.

Hall was a Florida condo developer and a self-described freelance covert counterterrorist. He seemed to thrive on rushing headlong into dangerous situations, whether working as an FBI informant, or chasing hurricanes in Florida or tsunamis in Asia. He was also a philanthropist and lover of animals. According to his biography he rescued animals on four continents.

In late 1986 Hall was captured by the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. At the time, he said his paths crossed with the likes of Lt. Col. Oliver North while he was advising Contras and leading rebel forces as "Commandant Zulu." According to officials at the time, he was arrested in a restricted area of an air base with maps of the base and other military installations. He spent 47 days in an underground prison during which time Mike Wallace interviewed him for 60 Minutes.

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The accounts of his many other militaristic exploits—of which more than a few are doubted by experts--are recounted in two books: "Danger's Disciple, and "Counter-Terrorist."

Hall was born March 10, 1937 in Dayton.