Obituary: Col Jan Breytenbach, Founding Father of 1 Reconnaissance Commando (Recces), Dies

We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Col Jan Breytenbach. He was the founder of the 1 Reconnaissance Commando (Recces) and a former 32 Battalion commander. Col Breytenbach passed away peacefully on June 16, 2024, at 12:30 PM, on Father’s Day, at Mediclinic George. His family was with him.

A Legacy of Service and Leadership

Col Breytenbach, a retired South African Special Forces officer, was renowned for his pioneering role as the first commander of 1 Recces, South Africa’s first special-forces unit. He also served as the inaugural commander of 32 Battalion and 44 Parachute Brigade. His leadership and vision were instrumental in shaping these units’ histories, earning him widespread respect and admiration.

A Life of Dedication

Breytenbach founded 1 Recce on October 1, 1972, in Oudshoorn, later relocating the unit to Durban. His commitment to his country and its people was unwavering. Beyond his military service, Col Breytenbach was also dedicated to nature conservation, a passion that continued throughout his life.

A Legacy of Literature and Family

After retiring from the military in 1987, Col Breytenbach wrote books on military history and nature conservation. He is survived by his wife, Rosalind, his son, Richard, his daughter, Angela, and his grandchildren, Christopher and Matthew. His books and family preserve his legacy.

Condolences and Tributes

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Col Breytenbach’s family and loved ones. We invite you to share your favorite memories and tributes to him in the comments below. Let us unite in celebrating his life and the significant impact he had on our community and beyond.

Col Jan Breytenbach’s contributions to military history and conservation will be remembered for generations. His legacy of service, leadership, and dedication will continue to inspire and guide us.

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