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First Name: William

Last Name: DePuy

Birthplace: Jamestown, ND, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Eugene

Date of Birth: 01 October 1919

Date of Death: 09 September 1992

Rank: General

Years Served: 1937-1977
William Eugene DePuy

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


William Eugene DePuy
General, U.S. Army

William Eugene DePuy was born on 1 October 1919 in Jamestown, ND. His military career began when he enlisted in the South Dakota National Guard, eventually becoming a squad leader. He graduated from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and received a ROTC commission as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in the U.S. Army in 1941.

His first assignment was with the 20th Infantry Regiment at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, and during this time he walked to the Louisiana Maneuvers and back with his platoon. In April 1942, he was assigned to the 357th Infantry Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division at Camp Barkley, TX, where he served in a number of positions, including Regimental Operations Officer and Battalion Commander. He deployed with the 357th Infantry Regiment to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in March 1944. He fought with the Division in the Normandy hedgerows and during the Northern France, Ardennes, Rheinland, and Central Europe Campaigns. This included the fierce fighting from Utah Beach through the Battle of the Bulge. In July 1945, he became G-3 of the 90th Infantry Division. During this time, DePuy rose from the rank of Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel in less than three years.

Post-World War II

Following the war, Lieutenant Colonel DePuy returned to the U.S. in the fall of 1945 to attend the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the War Department General Staff in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1.

In 1948 he attended the Defense Language Institute for a year to learn Russian. He then attended a course at the Strategic Intelligence School in Washington, DC, prior to becoming the Assistant Military Attaché, and later the Acting Army Attaché in 1949 at Budapest, Hungary.

DePuy's assignment in 1950 was with the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, DC, where he headed China Operations. There he met Marjory Kennedy Walker of Salem, VA, a Far East specialist who served with both the Office of Strategic Services and the Central Intelligence Agency, and they were married in June 1951. A son, William E. DePuy, Jr. was born in July 1952; daughters Joslin and Daphne were born in July 1953 and 1954, respectively.

DePuy entered the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, VA, in February 1953 and, upon graduation, was assigned to Germany where he served a three-year tour as Assistant G-3 in V Corps; Commanding Officer of the 2d Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division; and Acting Deputy Chief of Staff in V Corps. After returning to Washington in 1956, he served for four years in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army helping design the Army's force structure, doctrine and training policies.

In 1960, DePuy returned to Europe, first to attend the British Imperial Defence College in London, England and then, after one year in England, he went to Schweinfurt, Germany to become Commander of the 1st Battle Group, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division.

DePuy returned to Washington in May 1962 where he served as Directory of Special Warfare in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations. He was later the Director, Plans and Programs, in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development.

Vietnam War

First deployed to Vietnam in May 1964, DePuy served as Assistant Chief of Staff of Operations for Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). In March 1966, Major General DePuy assumed command of the 1st Infantry Division ("the Big Red One"). During his time as commander, he established a scholarship fund for the children of 1st Infantry Division soldiers killed in Vietnam, which eventually became the 1st Infantry Division Foundation.

After returning from Vietnam in March 1967, MG DePuy joined the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities.

On 10 March 1969, DePuy was promoted to Lieutenant General and assumed the duties of Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, a position he held for four years.

Post-Vietnam War

LTG DePuy became Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Continental Army Command in March 1973. Later, after receiving his fourth star, General DePuy became the first Commander of the the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. This new command had overall responsibility for the Army's training center and school system, the ROTC program, and combat and doctrine development. During his tenure, GEN DePuy set the Army on the course that, ultimately, produced the winning teams during Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm.

General DePuy retired from active duty in July 1977, but remained active in military affairs. He continued to write extensively on professional military subjects and lectured at the services' colleges.


DePuy is perhaps best remembered for his efforts while Commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, where he helped create a new, innovative fighting doctrine for the Army. His wide-ranging and sometimes controversial changes in combat development and the way the Army trains, sparked a debate that resulted in the widely-accepted AirLand Battle Doctrine.

Accolades by Peers

"DePuy is one of the very small handful of very great soldiers that this country has produced in the 20th century. The Army owes him a great debt, an enormous debt. He set it on the path for the 21st century" U.S. Army General Donn A. Starry [Honoree Record ID 333]

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Cross with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Service Medal with 4 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Silver Star Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal with Combat Valor Device
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Battle Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge

His other medals and awards include the Order of Commander in the French Legion of Honor; the Knight's Cross of the German Order of Merit; and the Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit First Class (Korea).

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (First Award)

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry) William Eugene DePuy (ASN: 0-34710), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while Commanding the 1st Battalion, 357th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces in Germany, on 13 March 1945. On that date, Colonel DePuy was charged with the mission of crossing the Moselle River at Lof, Germany, and securing the town of Brodenbach. He personally made a reconnaissance under fire to choose a crossing site, and when the attack was launched, led his men across the river under intense fire, inspiring them by his bold, fearless leadership. Following Colonel DePuy, the troops charged up a precipitous slope through the enemy defenses and swept on to take the town. The determination he displayed his heroic leadership and courageous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 90th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, Third U.S. Army, General Orders No. 109 (May 18, 1945)

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Second Award)

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Major General William Eugene DePuy (ASN: 0-34710), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving as Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division. Major General DePuy distinguished himself by repeated exceptionally valorous actions during the period 4 November 1966 to 16 November 1966 while serving as Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division. On 4 November during Operation ATTLEBORO, General DePuy flew to the sites of two large-scale armed clashes between U.S. Forces and numerically superior Viet Cong Forces. With complete disregard for his own safety, he repeatedly braved intense hostile fire to observe the disposition of the battle, to direct the tactical moves necessary to outmaneuver the enemy and to solidify friendly positions. On 5 November he assumed command of Operation ATTLEBORO which involved eighteen U.S. combat battalions and five ARVN battalions. Throughout the period of this operation General DePuy performed repeated heroic acts. On 7 November, ignoring the dangers of landing in the middle of a pitched battle, General DePuy personally picked up a captured enemy prisoner and flew him to a battalion command post for immediate interrogation. This act proved invaluable as the information gleaned from the prisoner revealed the battle plan of the enemy and enabled U.S. Forces to maneuver and catch the Viet Cong off guard at the inception of a major campaign. His command of the operation, both from his command and control helicopter and on the ground, involved frequent exposure to hostile fire. He repeatedly made numerous low-level passes through intense hostile fire to direct the battle, to gain first-hand knowledge of the disposition of enemy and friendly forces and to observe the progress of the battle. This enabled him to make tactical decisions which resulted in Operation ATTLEBORO becoming one of the major victories of the counterinsurgency efforts in the Republic of Vietnam. Major General DePuy's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 588 (February 7, 1967)

Death and Burial

General William Eugene DePuy died of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease,on 9 September 1992 in Arlington, VA. His wife, Marjory Kennedy Walker DePuy died of Myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder, on 15 March 2002, at the Southerlands retirement facility in Front Royal, VA.


Honoree ID: 219   Created by: MHOH




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