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First Name: Walter

Last Name: Kerwin

Birthplace: West Chester, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Thomas

Date of Birth: 14 June 1917

Date of Death: 11 July 2008

Rank: General

Years Served: 1939-1978
Walter Thomas Kerwin, Jr.

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1939

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


Walter Thomas Kerwin, Jr.
General, U.S. Army

Walter Thomas Kerwin, Jr. was born on 14 June 1917 in West Chester, PA. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1939 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery. His first assignment was to the 3rd Infantry Division. During World War II he fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. In December 1944, while in France, he was wounded in Mutzig and evacuated to the U.S. He returned to Europe in 1945 and was assigned to the Theater Operations Division of the War Department's General Staff.

As a Brigadier General he took command of the 3rd Armored Division Artillery in Hanau, Germany in August 1961. During the 1960s he held various flag officer billets to include Chief of Staff, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV; Commander, II Field Force, Vietnam; Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Personnel; and Commanding General of the Continental Army Command, later renamed Forces Command.

Kerwin is heralded as the champion of the "One Army" or "Total Army" concept. This concept, which became a reality under his leadership, recognized the indispensable role of the Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve as equal partners with the active Army in executing defense policy and in preparing for war.

Recognized by his commanders and peers as an innovative artilleryman, he developed a system of massing fires that contributed immeasurably to the success of the Allied landings at Anzio Beachhead. After World War II, he attended the Army War College and the National War College, and served in various assignments, including Plans and Operations Officer at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory; Commander of the 56th Artillery Group, XVIII Airborne Corps; and Deputy Director in the Army's Office of the Chief of Research and Development. He was the first Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command (CG FORSCOM) from 1973 to 1974.

On 29 October 1974, Kerwin became Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army during the Army's transition to an all-volunteer force and post-Vietnam War restructuring; he remained in that position until 1978.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Army Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit with 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Air Medal with Award Numeral 10
Army Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with "Valor" Device
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
World War Two Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star
Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Army Meritorious Unit Commendation


Kerwin received the 2003 Distinguished Graduate Award from the Association of Graduates, the West Point alumni organization.

In Retirement

After retiring from the army, Kerwin continued to work for the Department of Defense in different capacities. He also served for 17 years as a consultant for Martin Marietta and Lockheed Martin.

Having been a member of the Board of Directors of the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association since 1969, he became its Chairman in 1982 and served in that capacity until 1997. He was also involved with the Association of the United States Army; the Field Artillery Association; and the Army Emergency Relief Association.

Death and Burial

Walter Thomas Kerwin, Jr. died on 11 July 2008 in Alexandria, VA, of respiratory failure. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara in 1980. Kerwin and Barbara are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 264   Created by: MHOH




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