US Military Figure. He was the first sergeant major of the United States Army, a new position that was created by the chief of staff of the United States Army in 1966. He served in this position from July 11, 1966 until September 30, 1968. After enlisting in the Army at Ft Worth Texas on November 11, 1940 he saw action in the European theater during World War II, where he received a silver star for gallantry at the Battle of Aachen, Germany as well as a purple heart. He also received a second silver star for gallantry during the Battle of the Bulge while serving as a platoon sergeant. After Germany surrendered in May 1945, he was assigned to the Pacific theater in Japan as a member of the occupation forces until 1948. From there his duties took him to assignments at various locations in the United States and Germany. In 1965, he was sent to Viet Nam and served as the deployed 1st Infantry Division sergeant major until his selection as the first sergeant major of the United States Army, where he was chosen from thousands of candidates. In 1968, he returned to Viet Nam to serve as sergeant major of the Military Assistance Command, becoming the only sergeant major of the United States Army to return to field duty after serving in the top enlisted position. He retired from military service in 1972 after more than 30 years on active duty, in which time he served in three wars and 14 different military campaigns. During his tour as sergeant major of the United States Army, he is credited with greatly improving the status of the Army noncommissioned officers corps. In addition to the silver stars and purple heart, his other major awards and decorations include the legion of merit (twice), a bronze star, the air medal (twice), and the Belgian croix de guerre.
Bio by: William Bjornstad