Wooldridge, William, SMA

Deceased
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Sergeant Major Of The Army
Last Service Branch
Sergeant Major of the Army
Last Primary MOS
00Z-Command Sergeant Major IN
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1969-1972, Army Garrison White Sands Missile Range (WSMR)
Service Years
1940 - 1972
Official/Unofficial US Army Certificates
Cold War Certificate

Sergeant Major Of The Army


Ten Service Stripes



Ten Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Year of Birth
1922
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Wooldridge, William (1st SMA), SMA USA(Ret).
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Shawnee

Date of Passing
Mar 12, 2012
 
Location of Interment
Fort Bliss National Cemetery - Fort Bliss, Texas
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Belgian Fourragere Infantry Shoulder Cord Army Staff Identification US Army Retired (Pre-2007)

Meritorious Unit Commendation 1944-1961 French Fourragere 1st Infantry Division


 Unofficial Badges 






 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

 

William O. Wooldridge

1st Sergeant Major of the Army

OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY


William O. Wooldridge, the first sergeant major of the Army, was sworn in on July 11, 1966, and served until his term ended in August of 1968. He was born in Shawnee, Okla., on August 12, 1922.

He entered the Army on Nov. 11, 1940, at Fort Worth, Texas. His early assignments were with the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division and detached service with British forces in Iceland in 1941 and 1942. In 1942 he was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in Europe and participated in the North Africa and Sicily Campaigns and the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. In October 1944 he was wounded during the battle for the fortress city of Aachen and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. He received his second Silver Star in the Battle of the Bulge Campaign in December 1944. Upon his return to the United States in May 1945, SMA Wooldridge was assigned to numerous posts. He then served a brief tour with Post Headquarters at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and in 1947 was assigned to Japan, where he served with Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army. Wooldridge was again assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in July 1949, as first sergeant for Company K, 26th Infantry Regiment, then stationed in Germany.

Returning to the United States in May, 1954, he was assigned as first sergeant of Company G, 3rd Infantry, Fort McNair. He returned to the "Big Red One" as first sergeant of Company D, 26th Infantry, at Fort Riley, Kan., in December 1955. He was appointed sergeant major of the 3rd Battalion, 26th Infantry, on Dec. 20, 1956. In 1957 he became sergeant major of the 2nd Battle Group, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Riley . In December 1958 he was assigned with the 2nd Battle Group, 28th Infantry, to the 24th Infantry Division in Germany. He became the 24th Infantry Division sergeant major in March, 1963. Wooldridge returned once again to the 1st Infantry Division as sergeant major of the 1st Brigade, Fort Riley, in January 1965. He was appointed division sergeant major in June 1965 and was deployed to Vietnam with the division in August 1965.

Upon completion of his term as sergeant major of the Army in 1968, he returned once again to Vietnam as sergeant major of the Military Assistance Command-Vietnam. Upon his return stateside he was assigned to the White Sands Missile Range in the fall of 1969, and after 30 years and ten months of service retired at Fort MacArthur, Calif., on Feb.1, 1972.

Wooldridge's awards and decorations include the Silver Star (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Air Medal (with Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Good Conduct Medal (6th Award), American Defense Service Medal, European - African - Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army Occupation Medal (Germany and Japan), Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge with Star. He is also authorized to wear unit decorations from the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, and the Republic of Vietnam.


Army News Service

WASHINGTON -- The first sergeant major of the Army, William O. Wooldridge, died Monday in El Paso, Texas, at age 89.
When Wooldridge beat out 4,700 candidates in 1966 for a new position created by the chief of staff of the Army, he had been serving for a year as 1st Infantry Division sergeant major in the Republic of Vietnam.
"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," said current Sgt. Maj. or the Army Raymond F. Chandler III. "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. Our hearts and prayers go out to Patty and the rest of the Wooldridge family during this difficult time," said Chandler, the 14th SMA.
Wooldridge served as sergeant major of the Army from July 11, 1966, after leaving Vietnam and arriving at the Pentagon in his jungle fatigues, through September 1968 and is credited with improving the status of the noncommissioned Officers Corps.
He did this by:
• Starting the first Major Command Sergeants Major Conference in 1966 which resulted in a multitude of proposals to enhance and improve the training, morale and readiness of noncommissioned officers across the Army
• Recommending the Sergeants Major Academy
• Recommending the command sergeant major program
• Recommending the standardized NCO promotion process
After serving as sergeant major of the Army, Wooldridge returned to Vietnam as sergeant major of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam, becoming the only SMA to return to field duty after serving in the top enlisted position.
Born Aug. 12, 1922, near Shawnee, Okla., Wooldridge's family moved about five years later to his father's home state of Texas where he later enlisted in the Army after persuading his dad to let him go.
"I had this one thing on my mind," said Wooldridge in a Feb. 2001 interview with Sgt. Maj. Don Elder from the Center of Military History, "I wanted to wear a Soldier uniform. I wanted to be a Soldier, and I wanted to get the hell out of Brown County, Texas.
The interview was conducted at Wooldridge's quarters in Santa Teresa, N.M., near El Paso.
He enlisted at Fort Worth, Texas on Nov. 11, 1940 and served until 1972, amassing a much-decorated career over three wars and 14 campaigns.
He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry at the battle for Aachen, Germany in October 1944 and also received a Purple Heart for injuries. He was awarded a second Silver Star for gallantry during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, while serving as a platoon sergeant.
As sergeant major of the Army, Wooldridge traveled wherever Soldiers were stationed to listen to their concerns while strengthening and preserving the rich history of the NCO Corps, "the backbone of the Army."
Wooldridge retired in 1972 after more than 30 years of service. He lived in Santa Teresa, N.M. He died Monday night at Beaumont Army Medical Center on Fort Bliss, Texas, and is survived by his wife Patty. Funeral services are still pending.


 

   
Other Comments:

Wooldridge was chosen for this important new position from thousands of nominees. He served as Sergeant Major of the Army until September 1968. He is credited with improving the status of the non-commissioned officers by convening the first Major Command Sergeants Major Conference and recommending the Noncommissioned Officer Candidate Course, the Sergeants Major Academy, the Command Sergeant Major program, and a standardized NCO promotion process. Wooldridge and General Johnson worked together as an effective professional team. He came to revere Johnson, calling him "the finest officer I ever served with in my life".

After serving as Sergeant Major of the Army, Wooldridge returned to Vietnam as sergeant major of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MAC-V). He is the only SMA to return to field duty after serving in the top enlisted position.

Now retired, Wooldridge volunteers his time at the United States Army’s Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, in classroom visits and discussions with non-commissioned officers. He provides an historical prospective on many military issues.

From 1966 until 1979, the Sergeant Major of the Army wore the standard Command Sergeant Major rank insignia.

The insignia worn by SMA Wooldridge was hand-soldered by Colonel Jasper J. Wilson from a canibalised aide's insignia and enlisted collar brass. The insignia was approved on 4 July 1966.


The rank and position were based on those of the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, established in its current incarnation on 23 May 1957. The Chief of Staff, Army, created the position in 1966, after asking leaders of the major commands for a personal recommendation. He asked that it not be considered a near retirement type assignment. He listed seven duties and functions he expected the sergeant major to perform, including service as a personal advisor and assistant to the Chief of Staff on matters pertaining to enlisted soldiers. 

The other services soon followed, creating the positions of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in 1967, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard in 1969, and Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2005. These six positions are collectively referred to as "senior enlisted advisors" ("SEAs").

Pay Grade

The Sergeant Major of the Army and the other five SEAs hold pay grade E-9, as all sergeants major and command sergeants major; however, in accordance with 37 U.S.C. § 1009, Schedule 10, an SEA's base pay is US$6,875.10 per month (US$82,501.20 per annum), regardless of the incumbent's service longevity. For comparison, any other E-9, even with the maximum forty years of service, would receive US$6,605.40 per month.

In addition to his base pay and normal tax-free allowances, the SMA and the other SEAs are each entitled to a special tax-free allowance of US$2,000.00 per annum, in accordance with 37 U.S.C. § 414(c).

Insignia

 
Sergeant Major of the Army branch of service collar insignia
 
Sergeant Major of the Army cap device

Like his counterparts in the other branches, the Sergeant Major of the Army wears a unique rank insignia, including a unique collar insignia ("brass").

The SMA's rank insignia, like those of all Army sergeants major, consists of three chevrons above three "rockers". Whereas other sergeants major have one star in the center, the SMA has two. Similarly, the rank insignia of the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force each have one star more than other sergeants major, master chiefs, or chief master sergeants of their respective service. Since 1994, the two stars have flanked a rendering of the United States Coat of Arms, as do the stars of the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (the stars of the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps similarly flank the Marine Corps' emblem).

The collar insignia of the SMA is the shield portion of the collar insignia of an aide-de-camp to the Army Chief of Staff (less the surmounting eagle), placed upon an enlisted collar disk of gold color, one inch in diameter. 

The insignia worn by SMA Wooldridge was hand-soldered by Colonel Jasper J. Wilson from a canibalised aide's insignia and enlisted collar brass. The insignia was approved on 4 July 1966.

Originally, the SMA would wear the device on each collar, but he now wears the standard "U.S." disk on his right collar as do all enlisted soldiers. This insignia is also worn in place of a unit insignia on the SMA's beret, garrison cap, and pull-over sweater. The collar insignia of the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman ("SEAC") of the JCS, approved 2 February 2006, is based directly upon that of the SMA, and features the shield of an aide de camp to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (without the surmounting eagle), on a gold-colored disk.

The SMA's cap device, worn on the front of the blue service cap (and, formerly, the white service cap; and, until 2011 the green service cap) is a gold-colored rendering of the United States' coat of arms, surrounded by a wreath. The cap device for all other U.S. Army enlisted soldiers is a gold-colored rendering of the United States' coat of arms on a gold-colored disk (males) or surrounded by a gold colored ring (females). The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force has the same cap device as the SMA, but in silver-colored metal.

   
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 Unit Assignments
23rd Infantry Regiment2nd Infantry DivisionIceland Base Command26th Infantry Regiment
1st Infantry DivisionUS Army Pacific (USARPAC)8th Army3rd Infantry Regiment
24th Infantry Division1st Brigade, 1st Infantry DivisionDepartment of the Army (DA)Military Assistance Command Vietnam MACV
Army Garrison White Sands Missile Range (WSMR)
  1940-1941, 745, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment/HHC
  1940-1941, 2nd Infantry Division
  1941-1942, Iceland Base Command
  1942-1945, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry/HHC
  1942-1945, 1st Infantry Division
  1945-1945, US Army Pacific (USARPAC)
  1945-1948, 8th Army
  1948-1954, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry/HHC
  1948-1954, 1st Infantry Division
  1954-1955, 3rd Infantry Regiment
  1955-1957, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry/HHC
  1958-1963, 24th Infantry Division
  1964-1966, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
  1966-1968, Department of the Army (DA)
  1966-1968, Office of the Sergeant Major of the Army (OSMA)
  1968-1969, Military Assistance Command Vietnam MACV
  1969-1972, Army Garrison White Sands Missile Range (WSMR)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 Operation Overlord/D-Day Beach Landings - Operation Neptune
  1944-1944 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Northern France Campaign (1944)
  1944-1944 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Northern France Campaign (1944)
  1944-1945 Ardennes Alsace Campaign (1944-45)/Battle of the Bulge
  1945-1945 Central Europe Campaign (1945)/Victory in Europe Day (VE Day - 8May45)
  1945-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Central Europe Campaign (1945)
  1965-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Campaign (1965-66)
  1966-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase V Campaign (1968)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
  1968-1969 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VI Campaign (1968-69)
  1969-1969 Vietnam War/Tet 69 Counteroffensive Campaign
  1969-1969 Vietnam War/Summer-Fall 1969 Campaign
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