View Full Version : 1st Sergeant Major Of The Army Dies At Beaumont

03-12-2012, 06:16
RIP Sergeant Major.

El Paso Times
March 7, 2012

1st Sergeant Major Of The Army Dies At Beaumont

By Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times

William O. Wooldridge, who was the first man chosen as sergeant major of the Army and who had retired in the El Paso area, has died, military officials said. Wooldridge was 89.

Wooldridge, who lived in Santa Teresa, died overnight Monday at Beaumont Army Medical Center. Funeral services are pending.

He was described as an innovator who holds a spot in U.S. Army history. In 1966, he was named the first sergeant major of the Army, a Pentagon-level position that is the Army's highest enlisted rank.

Wooldridge is credited with sowing the seeds of the Army's noncommissioned officer (NCO) education system, creating the command sergeant major position and helping establish the Sergeants Major Academy, which now operates at Fort Bliss.

Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III, the former commandant of the Sergeants Major Academy, described Wooldridge as an inspiration.

"SMA Wooldridge was a one of a kind noncommissioned officer, selected to be the first Sergeant Major of the Army because of his initiative, intelligence, experience and drive to excel," Chandler said in a statement on his official Facebook page.

"His lasting impression lives on in the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, the centralized NCO promotion system, and our professional NCO Corps. He was an innovator, a true inspiration to soldiers, and the epitome of a professional warrior," he wrote.

Wooldridge was born in Shawnee, Okla., in 1922. He joined the Army in 1940 and fought in World War II and Vietnam.

An official Army biography stated that Wooldridge was wounded and earned a Silver Star for gallantry in action as an infantry soldier during the battle for the fortress city of Aachen and then earned a second Silver Star during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.

Wooldridge once told the El Paso Times about the inescapable cold during the Battle of the Bulge. He recalled that "the snow was hip deep at times, and we had trouble with frostbite. We had blankets then, not sleeping bags."

During an 2006 interview with the El Paso Times, Wooldridge spoke about how he was serving in Vietnam when he was selected to be the first sergeant major of the Army, a post that gave him the ear of the Army's top decision-makers.

Wooldridge was serving at a command post in Vietnam near the Cambodian border in mid-1966 when he was called for an interview with a one-star general working for Gen. William Westmoreland.

Wooldridge said he was initially not interested in the new position because he had never been away from a troop unit and felt the new slot would be a glorified public affairs officer. Despite his objections, Wooldridge was selected.

"So I thought that maybe I can make something out of it," Wooldridge said in 2006. "As it turned out, I had more to say than I thought."

As the sergeant major of the Army, Wooldridge sat in on daily briefings with President Lyndon B. Johnson that included mostly three-star generals. Wooldridge was there to give advice on enlisted matters and the status of enlisted soldiers.

As a seasoned combat soldier with the opportunity to improve the Army he loved, Wooldridge said he was not afraid to speak up among the Pentagon brass.

"I knew what I wanted, and I wasn't afraid to say it," Wooldridge said.

The recommendations Wooldridge initiated would eventually evolve into the command structure for enlisted soldiers in today's Army. After his term ended in 1968, he returned to Vietnam. On his return to the U.S., Wooldridge was assigned to the White Sands Missile Range in 1969.

He retired in 1972 after more than 30 years of service.

03-12-2012, 06:36
Gone,but not forgotten.


He was just a simple soldier and his ranks are growing thin
But his presence should remind us; we may need his like again,
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.......:(

Perhaps just a simple headline in the paper that might say:

The passing of our soldiers often go unnoticed and unsung by most of the world, remembered only by family and friends. Wish it were not so. May he RIP, his family will be in my thoughts and prayers.........:(

I realize it's a Canadian song,however I believe most appropriate for this occasion...:(


Big Teddy

03-12-2012, 07:10
A mixed legacy to those of us who were around at that time - RIP, Sergeant Major.

03-12-2012, 07:14
RIP SMA, Thank you for your service to the Nation..

03-12-2012, 11:51
A mixed legacy to those of us who were around at that time - RIP, Sergeant Major.

More than mixed....not a legacy to follow in many ways...brave man in combat, not the right guy for that position...RIP SGM

03-12-2012, 12:05
I met SMG Wooldridge in Augsburg, Germany when I was a young Corporal. in the 24th ID. He used to hold NCO Call at 1700 hours at the NCO Club and encourage the NCOs to drink and play the "Slots".

In 1969, while Command Sergeant Major of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Wooldridge was accused in a congressional inquiry of fraud and corruption related to the military club system. This resulted in Wooldridge being tried in the court of public opinion. In 1973 the Department of Justice and Wooldridge reached an agreement whereby Wooldridge pleaded guilty to accepting stock equity from a corporation engaged in providing merchandise to the noncommissioned officers' clubs in Vietnam.


03-12-2012, 20:08
RIP SMA, Thank you for your service to the Nation..

The slot machines and booking shows in clubs seemed to reel him in. He was a fine soldier during WWII with two SS's. He and some others we had seemed to want more then just being a soldier.

03-13-2012, 02:46
RIP CSM, Vaya con Dios..

Wooldridge will lie in state for 24 hours in the East Auditorium of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

Public viewing is from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, March 12, 2012 and on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

A Memorial Service will be held Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 1 p.m. in the Academy’s East Auditorium, immediately followed by a procession and final interment at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery with Full Military Honors.

Honorary pall bearers for Sergeant Major of the Army Wooldridge are

Mr. William R. Wooldridge
Mr. Gentry Wooldridge
Mr. Michael Wooldridge
13th Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Kenneth Preston
Current Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Raymond Chandler
Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Freddy Escamilla
Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Jesse McKinney.


Who will manage the MSM for the ceremony?

03-14-2012, 07:20
Just ran across this in my personal morning update. Rest in Peace Sergeant Major.

http://www.army.mil/article/75651/First_Sergeant_Major_of_the_Army_laid_to_rest_at_F ort_Bliss/

"FORT BLISS, Texas (March 13, 2012) -- Hundreds gathered at the East Auditorium of the United States Sergeants Major Academy to pay homage to and celebrate the life of the first sergeant major of the army, William O. Wooldridge, at his memorial service today."