William III
William III
LTG William B. Caldwell, III served 32 years in the Army and retired as the Fifth Army commanding general at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. A combat veteran of wars in Korea and Vietnam, he was awarded the Silver Star on three separate occasions for gallantry and heroism under fire.
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    CHILDHOOD
  • 1980
    He held two final command positions before retirement in 1980.
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  • 1978
    And in July 1978, he was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed command of Fifth Army at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
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  • 1973
    In 1973, Major General Caldwell returned with his family to Washington, D.C. where he oversaw the dissemination of all foreign military aid from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
    More Details Hide Details Then, he commanded the Army Training Center at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He instituted the post's motto, "Victory Starts Here." In 1975, Time Magazine did a profile of training the post-Vietnam Army. MG Caldwell who oversaw the effort to train an all-volunteer force said, "Our mission is to develop a highly motivated, disciplined soldier who knows the basic skills of his craft. Unlike the Marines—and I don't mean to criticize them—we don't first break a man down and then rebuild him. We think that he should be able to think for himself. He should respond to orders, but we don't want to set him in a mold." Caldwell's installation was also considered to be the most gender friendly in the country and he actively supported the recruitment and integration of women in the U.S. Army.
  • OTHER
  • 1967
    From September 1967 to January 1968, Caldwell served as a senior military advisor at the Civil Operations Development Center, III Corps.
    More Details Hide Details In this capacity, he oversaw the training and equipping of the South Vietnamese paramilitary forces. While not exercising command and control of RVN forces, he was present during many battles advising RVN commanders on tactics.
    On February 24, 1967, Caldwell learned that his brigade was under heavy assault near Ap Gu and flew to the combat zone.
    More Details Hide Details He initially directed fire from the air; after his helicopter landed in a non-secure area, COL Caldwell directed the counter-assault from the ground with his troops. Because of his actions that day, he was awarded his third Silver Star for gallantry in action against a hostile force. The citation partly read, "Although continuously exposed to intensive hostile fire... Through superb planning and tireless supervision... With complete disregard for his personal safety... His presence in the areas of heaviest conflict greatly inspired his men and they soon routed the large insurgent force." For his heroism that day, Caldwell also received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
    Five months after the birth of his last child, the newly appointed Colonel Caldwell reported for duty in Vietnam from 1967-8 initially as commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
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  • 1960
    He served at West Point twice during his career. First, as a tactical officer in 1960 and again as the commander of the Second Regiment of the U.S. Cadet Corps in 1968–69.
    More Details Hide Details Caldwell loved West Point and imparted his tactical knowledge, dedication to the Army, and his leadership philosophy to the Corps of Cadets. During Vietnam, he served as a brigade commander for the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. When his brigade was under assault, Colonel Caldwell directed a counter-assault and was awarded his third Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After brigade command, he remained in Vietnam and served as a senior military advisor at the Civil Operations Development Center, III Corps. After a combat tour in Vietnam and his tour at West Point, he and his family boarded the Queen Mary for an assignment at NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). After three years in Belgium, he and his family moved to Germany where he served as Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver) of the Fourth and later the First Armored Division.
  • 1954
    After the Korean War, he served in a variety of command staff positions in the United States and Europe. In 1954, Major Caldwell served as Operations Officer for the 1st Infantry Division in Germany and in Fort Riley, Kansas.
    More Details Hide Details As he departed Fort Riley, his efficiency report highlighted that he is " a positive and incisive thinker and meticulous planner... natural leader... possesses a well-developed sense of humor, tact and diplomacy."
  • 1951
    Caldwell redeployed from Korea in August 1951.
    More Details Hide Details He later remarked, "After Korea, you knew you could do anything. We had tackled the very worst that could ever happen."
    After the Chinese reinforced North Korea, American forces were pushed back. On February 3, 1951, Captain Caldwell led "L" Company, 19th Infantry Regiment to secure the approaches to the Han River.
    More Details Hide Details The enemy counter-attacked, but Caldwell's company rallied. He was awarded a second Silver Star that day. Part of the citation read, "With the enemy about to overrun his positions and the entire perimeter in danger, Captain Caldwell, completely disregarding personal safety, once again rallied his men and personally led a daring counterattack, employing rifles and grenades, which broke the back of the enemy's attack and forced him to withdraw leaving an estimated 100 dead."
  • 1950
    Bill had come to Korea as a platoon leader, but assumed company command and received a battlefield promotion to captain on August 30, 1950.
    More Details Hide Details With reinforcements, Caldwell's unit broke out of the Pusan Perimeter in early September and steadily proceeded northward to North Korea's capital by Thanksgiving.
    On July 19, 1950, a North Korean company ambushed Caldwell's platoon.
    More Details Hide Details Awarded his first Silver Star that day, the citation read "without regard for his own safety, he personally led an assault on the enemy's lines, and the men, inspired by his gallant example, overran the position... He fearlessly advanced into the face of withering fire, killed four of the enemy, reached his fallen men, and directed their evacuation to friendly positions." The following day, American forces led by General William Dean were decimated. Lieutenant Caldwell and Captain Micky Marks scouted for help and commandeered a train to Yosu, which enabled the evacuation of their men who had no food or water for five days. Within two months of arriving on the Korean Peninsula, only 168 of the original 1,968 men remained. Caldwell's battalion was combined with others to become the 3rd Battalion, 19th Infantry, 24th Infantry Division.
    Caldwell's regiment was among the first U.S. forces committed to combat in Korea in July 1950.
    More Details Hide Details Like many units at the time, Caldwell's regiment was understrengthed and ill-equipped for combat with North Korean forces. The regiment had no tank company and virtually no anti-tank capability. Much of their ammunition was old and the unit had limited medical support. The forces arrived in the port of Pusan in an old Japanese hospital ship and then pushed north via train to Taejon. At Pyongtek south of Suwon Air Base, Caldwell's regiment set up defensive positions with "Task Force Smith."
  • 1948
    After graduation from West Point in 1948, Caldwell served in posts throughout the country and the world.
    More Details Hide Details After serving as the operations officer for the 1st Division in Germany, he attended Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. During 1963–64, he attended the National War College and George Washington University, where he earned a Master's degree in international relations.
    Commissioned as second lieutenant in the infantry in 1948, he attended ground general school at Fort Riley, Kansas and the Infantry School at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia.
    More Details Hide Details While in Columbus, he met his future wife Tudy Dismuke. Soon after their marriage, Second Lieutenant Caldwell was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, which served an a Japanese occupation force on Kyushu. His unit was later deployed to Korea and was one of the first U.S. combat troops there. For heroism and gallantry in the Korean War, he was awarded two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star with Valor.
  • 1941
    On December 7, 1941, the Caldwells were horror-struck as they heard the roar of Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor and witnessed a Japanese plane strafe an officer running down their street.
    More Details Hide Details The next day, Bill helped at the base hospital and for the weeks that followed, drove an ammunition truck. Dependents were later evacuated from Hawaii; Bill, his mother, and his sister moved to Los Angeles where he finished high school. One of Caldwell's childhood dreams was to attend West Point, but he didn't think he could get in and almost enlisted in the Marine Corps. He later said, "When the telegram came telling my family and me that I was accepted into West Point and I was to report there in two days or three days, I immediately caught a train out of El Paso and went to West Point."
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