General William E. DePuy
Preparing the Army for Modern War
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
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Everyone likes a good story. And this is a really good story, about a young man from the Dakotas named Bill DePuy, who graduates from South Dakota State College in 1941 with an ROTC commission, just in time for the “good war.” ...
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When I was invited to write the biography of General William E. DePuy, I asked myself two questions. Do we need a DePuy biography? Is there sufficient evidence to do a proper job? The answers are yes and yes. ...
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For each person named here, there were two or three anonymous angels who floated through archival stacks, strained their eyes, and taxed their knowledge while running down answers to my questions. ...
1. Dakota Days
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“Happy Days Are Here Again” and “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody” were first sung in 1919, the latter in the Ziegfeld Follies of that year. But they were sung without the stimulation of legal booze, for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution began the Prohibition Era that same year. ...
2. Apprentice to Journeyman
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On 25 June 1941, Second Lieutenant William E. DePuy reported to the 20th Infantry at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.1 His training was rudimentary, and he knew it. He and his fellow cadets learned some American military history and tradition; the organization of the U.S. Army; how to wear the uniform; ...
3. The 90th Division Goes to School
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The 90th Division was so ill prepared for combat and so badly led that it came close to being disbanded. Division and regimental commanders were assigned and fired until competent, indeed outstanding, leaders were found. At company and battalion levels leadership came from below as those tested passed or failed ...
4. The 90th Breaks Out
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The Allies’ European strategy called for the expansion of the Normandy lodgment and a breakout to get on with the defeat of Germany. But July found the invaders still bogged down in the Bocage region with its hedgerows that favored defense. Omar Bradley called it “the damndest country I’ve seen.”1 ...
5. Regular Army
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High praise from superiors contrasts sharply with Bill DePuy’s sober self-analysis. Asked what led him to stay in the Army after the war to make it a career, he responded, “Well, I assumed I would get out. I didn’t realize that there would be an option to stay in.” Turning to the practical matter of income, ...
6. CIA Detail
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DePuy’s skiing accident in Europe laid him up for a long while in 1950. “My leg was really banged up very badly,” he recalled. “They had to operate on it and put in a lot of screws, wrap wire around it, and so on. So, I was at Walter Reed in June, when the Korean War started, and about September I was able to get around a little bit ...
7. Armed Forces Staff College and a Second Battalion Command
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Beginning 5 February 1953, Bill DePuy attended the five-month Armed Forces Staff College (AFSC) course in Norfolk, Virginia, before returning to Europe for his third of four tours there.1 Among his classmates and on the faculty were a number of officers who later served as three- or four-star generals. ...
8. Clever Chaps: The View from the Chief’s Office
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Throughout his career Bill DePuy alternated between muddy-boots assignments overseas and high-level staff jobs in Washington. Upon his return from Germany in May 1956, where his focus for three years had been hands-on training, he joined the clever chaps in Washington who were at the top of the Army hierarchy. ...
9. School in London: Command in Schweinfurt
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Late one night in the early 1970s, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Powell found himself alone with his boss, Lieutenant General DePuy, in a small executive aircraft as they returned to Washington from a field visit. During that late-night flight, DePuy proffered some advice to the promising young officer: ...
10. Back to Washington
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As the family said good-bye to British friends and relocated to Germany, President John F. Kennedy delivered his Inaugural Address on 20 January 1961, asserting that a new generation of Americans was ready to bear any burden and pay any price in accepting leadership. Robert S. McNamara, who would serve Kennedy ...
Illustrations follow page 142
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From 1964 to 1969, Bill DePuy was totally immersed in the Vietnam War from three perspectives: theater operations, as J-3, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), 1964–1966; tactics, as the commander of the 1st Infantry Division, 1966–1967; and national strategy, ...
12. The Big Red One
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As commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division (called the Big Red One, or BRO, for the red numeral patch the troopers wore on their shoulders), General DePuy applied unrelenting pressure on the enemy. From mid-March 1966 to February 1967, his personal style and effectiveness as a fighting general won him the admiration ...
13. SACSA, Tet, and Policy Review
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His having spent almost three years in Vietnam and his earlier work in counterinsurgency made Major General DePuy one of the most knowledgeable officials in the U.S. government regarding Vietnam. He began his new job with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 15 March 1967 ...
14. To Fix a Broken Army
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The period 1969–1973 was a terrible time in the history of the U.S. Army. The “raggedy-assed little bastards” in Vietnam were demonstrating a readiness to outlast the United States and win. They did both. And while the U.S. Army was engaged in light infantry combat in Asia for a decade, the Red Army had modernized ...
15. TRADOC Commander: The Army’s Road Back
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On 7 June 1973, just three weeks before taking command of Training and Doctrine Command and four months before the Yom Kippur War, DePuy told a Fort Polk audience of infantry trainers that in World War II “we were an ill-trained rabble compared to what we have in the U.S. Army today.” ...
16. Retirement, Illness, Taps
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He stood at attention on the green parade field at Fort Monroe, Virginia, in elegant summer whites as his former assistant division commander and current Army Chief of Staff General Bernard Rogers presided at his retirement ceremony on 30 June 1977. General William E. DePuy stepped into private life to meet another Rogers. ...
17. Legacy: An Army Ready to Fight the Next War
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American boys know that the simplest way to terminate a schoolyard fight is to whip the other fellow and make him say “uncle.” When General Norman H. Schwarzkopf forced Iraq to say “uncle” to end the Gulf War in 1991, it had been almost half a century since America experienced such an apparently simple ...
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Page Count: 408
Publication Year: 2008