Colonel Jan Breytenbach, a living legend in South Africa, is a tough but thinking fighting soldier with an independent turn of mind. He commenced his military career in tanks in the South African Army in 1950. He left in 1955 and joined the Fleet Air Arm of the British Royal Navy as a navigator. He took part in the Suez landings in 1956. In 1961 he rejoined the South African Army and became a paratrooper.
Few soldiers anywhere have had the privilege of forming a fighting military unit, but he formed three for the South African Army. He was the founding commander of 1-Reconnaissance Commando - the forerunner of the present Special Forces Regiments of the SANDF and the equivalent of the British SAS. 32-Battalion itself which he forged in battle from FNLA guerrilla forces during the South African intervention in Angola in 1975 and 44-Parachute Brigade. While commanding 44-Para Brigade he led the successful 1978 assault on SWAPO's main base at Cassinga in Angola. It was believed to be one of the largest airborne assaults anywhere since World War-2. Another first was his formation of the South African Army's Guerrilla School which he commanded until his retirement in 1987. Since hanging up his uniform he has pursued a career as a full-time author. The Buffalo Soldiers is his fifth book.