Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, 85, a retired Navy vice admiral and the first director of the CIA, died Friday night at Mount Sinai Hospital. The cause of death was not reported. He had lived in Weehawken, N.J., since 1958.
In a career that spanned more than 40 years, Adm. Hillenkoetter served in World War II and commanded a Navy task force in the Korean War. Adm. Hillenkoetter, while a Naval attache to the French Vichy government in 1940 and 1941, had worked with the French underground and helped hunted persons flee to safety.
Adm. Hillenkoetter was wounded in the attack on Pearl Harbor, while serving as executive officer of the battleship West Virginia. Later in the war, he organized intelligence operations for Pacific Fleet commander, Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, and commanded a destroyer in the Pacific.
He later served as the Navy's director of planning and control in Washington and was awarded the Legion of Merit. After the war, his posts included those of commanding officer of the battleship Missouri, and head of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Third Naval District.
The CIA was established by Congress in 1947. Adm. Hillenkoetter served as director from that time until October 1950. After North Korean forces invaded South Korea in June 1950, the admiral asked to be returned to sea duty, and commanded the heavy cruiser St. Paul and a naval task force. He retired from active duty in 1958.
He was born in St. Louis and was a 1919 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis after having served with the Atlantic fleet in World War I.
Survivors include his wife, the former Jane Clark, and a daughter, Jane Saar.