American Soldier says,
A great leader in Military history passed away last night. General William Westmoreland. I thought it would be appropriate to tell a little bit more about him other than the fact that he has left us.
William Childs Westmoreland (born March 26, 1914, Spartanburg County, South Carolina) is a retired United States General who commanded US military operations in the Vietnam War from 1964-68 and served as US Army Chief of Staff from 1968 to 1972.
Westmoreland entered West Point in 1932 after one year at the Citadel. His initial motive for entering was to “see the world”. Following graduation in 1936 he became an artillery officer and served in several different commands, reaching the ranks of lieutenant colonel and subsequently colonel during combat operations in the European theater during WW II.
During WW II, in 1943 while in Sicily, his battalion was selected to be the artillery support for the 82nd Airborne Division.
Regimental and Division Command
Westmoreland’s WW II experience with the 82nd Airborne led to his being asked by General James M. Gavin to join the 82nd as a regimental commander after the war, which was the beginning of his professional association with airborne and airmobile troops. He served with the 82nd Airborne for four years.
During the Korean Conflict he commanded the 187th Regimental Combat Team.
In late 1953 Westmoreland was promoted brigadier general and spent the next 5 years in the Pentagon. In 1958 he assumed command of the 101st Airborne Division. In 1960 he became Superintendent of West Point, in 1963 became commander of the XVIII Airborme Corps. Later that year he became deputy commander of MACV, assuming command of MACV from General Paul Harkins in 1964.
As the head of the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam he was known for highly publicized, positive assessments of US military prospects in Vietnam. However, as time went on the strengthening of North Vietnamese combat forces in the South led to regular requests for increases in US troop strength, from less than 100,000 when he arrived to over 500,000 in 1968.
The most notable campaign was the 1968 Tet Offensive, in which Communist forces attacked cities and towns throughout South Vietnam. Westmoreland successfully fought off the Offensive, but the ferocity of the assault shook public confidence in his previous assurances about the state of the war. Political debate and public opinion led the Johnson administration to limit further increases in troops.
Westmoreland served as US Army Chief of Staff from 1968 to 1972 , then retired from the Army. Westmoreland ran unsucessfully for Governor of South Carolina in 1974. He published his autobiography »A Soldier Reports« the following year. Westmoreland later served on a task force to improve educational standards in the state of South Carolina.
In 1947, he married Katherine (»Kitsy«) S. Van Deusen. They had three children: Katherine, Margaret, and James Ripley.
I will leave you with some of his more famous quotes:
“The military don’t start wars. Politicians start wars.”
“I do not believe that the men who served in uniform in Vietnam have been given the credit they deserve. It was a difficult war against an unorthodox enemy.”
“Television is an instrument which can paralyze this country.”
Thank you and see you on the other side Sir!