Dean, William F., MG

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Major General
Last Service Branch
US
Last Primary MOS
00GC-Commanding General
Last MOS Group
General Officer
Primary Unit
1953-1955, 6th Army
Service Years
1921 - 1955

US

Major General



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Home State
Illinois
Illinois
Year of Birth
1899
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSG Trey W. Franklin to remember Dean, William F., MG USA(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
Carlyle, IL
Last Address
Carlyle, IL

Date of Passing
Aug 24, 1981
 
Location of Interment
San Francisco National Cemetery - San Francisco, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: GHT, 353-B

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord US Army Retired (Pre-2007)


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Last Known Activity

William F. Dean (August 1, 1899–August 24, 1981) was a soldier in the United States Army during World War II and the Korean War. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 20 and 21, 1950. 

Dean was the highest ranking American officer captured during the Korean War.

Army Medal of Honor


The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
to

 

Rank and organization: Major General, U.S. Army, commanding general, 24th Infantry Division. Place and date: Taejon, Korea, 20 and 21 July 1950. Entered service at: California. Born: 1 August 1899, Carlyle, Ill. G.O. No.: 7, 16 February 1951.

Citation:

Maj. Gen. Dean distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. In command of a unit suddenly relieved from occupation duties in Japan and as yet untried in combat, faced with a ruthless and determined enemy, highly trained and overwhelmingly superior in numbers, he felt it his duty to take action which to a man of his military experience and knowledge was clearly apt to result in his death. He personally and alone attacked an enemy tank while armed only with a handgrenade. He also directed the fire of his tanks from an exposed position with neither cover nor concealment while under observed artillery and small-arm fire. When the town of Taejon was finally overrun he refused to insure his own safety by leaving with the leading elements but remained behind organizing his retreating forces, directing stragglers, and was last seen assisting the wounded to a place of safety. These actions indicate that Maj. Gen. Dean felt it necessary to sustain the courage and resolution of his troops by examples of excessive gallantry committed always at the threatened portions of his frontlines. The magnificent response of his unit to this willing and cheerful sacrifice, made with full knowledge of its certain cost, is history. The success of this phase of the campaign is in large measure due to Maj. Gen. Dean's heroic leadership, courageous and loyal devotion to his men, and his complete disregard for personal safety.

DEAN, WILLIAM F.

Biography

Dean graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1922. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the California National Guard in 1921, he was tendered a Regular Army commission on October 18, 1923. Promoted to brigadier general in 1942 and then to major general in 1943, Dean served first as assistant division commander and later as division commander of the 44th Infantry Division.
 

In 1944, while serving in southern Germany and Austria, his troops captured 30,000 prisoners and helped force the surrender of the German 19th Army. There, he won the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.
 

In October 1947, he became the military governor of South Korea. He took command of the Seventh Infantry Division in 1948 and moved it from Korea to Japan. After serving as Eighth U.S. Army chief of staff, he took command of the 24th Infantry Division, then headquartered at Kokura on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, in October 1949.
 

When the Korean War began in June 1950, the 24th Infantry Division was the first American ground combat unit to be committed. General Dean arrived in Korea on July 3, 1950. He established his headquarters at Taejon, Korea.
 

His orders were to fight a delaying action against the advancing North Korean People's Army. Although he planned to withdraw from Taejon, he was asked by General Walton H. Walker, the U.S. Eighth Army Commander, to hold the city until July 20, 1950, in order to buy time to deploy other American units from Japan. His regiments had been decimated in earlier fighting, but Dean personally led tank-killer teams armed with the newly-arrived 3.5-inch rocket launchers to destroy the attacking North Korean T-34 tanks. He gained acclaim by such exploits as attacking and destroying an enemy tank armed with only a hand
grenade.
 

 
The T-34 knocked out by Dean on July 20, 1950
 

The T-34 tank knocked out by General Dean in the battle of Taejon in July 1950 was still there in 1977 as a memorial to him and the twenty-five-day battle.
 

On July 20, as his division fell back from Taejon, General Dean became separated from his men. Alone, he hid in woods during the day and traveled at night for over a month. On August 25, 1950, he was captured. He remained a prisoner of war of the North Koreans until his release on September 4, 1953.
 

In 1951, Congress voted General Dean the Medal of Honor for his actions during the defense of Taejon. The Medal was presented by President Truman on January 9, 1951 to his wife Mildred Dean, son William Dean Jr. and daughter Marjorie June Dean. Dean himself was still reported missing in action in Korea.
 

General Dean had no contact with the outside world until he was interviewed on December 18, 1951 by an Australian, Wilfred Burchett, who was a correspondent for Le Soir, a French newspaper. This was the first time anyone had any idea he was still alive.
 

Dean, the highest ranking prisoner of war in the conflict, later said he had tried to commit suicide because he feared he "might squeal when they started to drive splinters under my fingernails."[1] He had knowledge of the proposed landing at Inchon, and was worried that he might break under interrogation. He was not physically tortured, as he had feared, but was subjected to repeated interrogations that lasted up to 72 hours. He talked about inconsequential matters, later telling a Pentagon committee that, "I was trying to divert them from really starting those oriental tortures." During his third interrogation, he was prevented from committing suicide, and the interrogations stopped.
 

General Dean was given a hero's welcome upon his return to the United States in 1953 and showered with military and civilian honors. Dean, however, insisted he was no hero but "just a dogface soldier."
 

Three months after his return from Korea, General Dean was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General of the Sixth U.S. Army at the Presidio of San Francisco in California, where he retired. Dean died at age 82 and was buried in San Francisco National Cemetery, San Francisco, California

   
Other Comments:
Biography
by Butch Dixon
California Military Museum

 
Born on August 1, 1899, in Carlyle, Illinois, Dean graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1922. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the California National Guard in 1921, he was tendered a Regular Army commission on October 18, 1923. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1942 and then to major general in 1943, Dean served first as assistant division commander and later as division commander of the 44th Infantry Division.

 
In 1944 while serving in southern Germany and Austria, his troops captured 30,000 prisoners and helped force the surrender of the German 19th Army. There he won the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery.

 
In October 1947, he became the military governor of South Korea. He took command of the Seventh Infantry Division in 1948 and moved it from Korea to Japan. After serving as Eighth U.S. Army chief of staff, he took command of the 24th Infantry Division, and then headquartered at Kokura on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, in October 1949.

 
When the Korean War began in June 1950, the 24th Infantry Division was the first American ground combat unit to be committed. General Dean arrived in Korea on July 3, 1950. He established his headquarters at Taejon

 
His orders were to fight a delaying action against the advancing North Korean People's Army. Although he planned to withdraw from Teajon, he was asked by General Walton H. Walker, the Eighth U.S. Army Commander, to hold that city until July 20,1950, in order to buy time necessary for deploying other American units from Japan. His regiments had been, decimated in earlier fighting, and Dean personally led tank killer teams armed with the newly arrived 3.5-inch rocket launchers to destroy the attacking North Korean T-34 tanks. He gained acclaim by such exploits as attacking and destroying an enemy tank armed with only a hand grenade and handgun.

 
The T34 Tank knocked out by General Dean in the battle of Tajon, July, 1950 it was still there in 1977 as a memorial to General Dean and the twenty five day battle of Taejon.

 
On July 20, as his division fell back from Taejon, General Dean became separated from his men. He hid alone in the woods around the countryside during the day and traveled at night for over a month. On August 25,1950 after a hand to hand struggle with fifteen North Koreans he was captured, and remained a POW with the North Koreans until his release on September 4, 1953.
 
 
In 1951 Congress voted General Dean the Medal of Honor for his actions during the defense of Tajon. The Medal was received from President Truman, on January 9,1951 by his wife Mildred Dean, son William Dean Jr. and daughter Marjorie June Dean. General Dean was still reported missing in action in Korea.

 
General Dean had no contact with the outside world until he was interviewed on December 18, 1951 by an Australian, Wilfred Burchett who was a correspondent for Le Soir, a French left-wing newspaper. This was the first time that anyone had any idea General Dean was alive since being reported missing in action.

 
General Dean, the highest ranking prisoner of war in the conflict, later he tried to commit suicide during his confinement because he feared "he might squeal when they started to drive splinters under my fingernails."

 
He was given a hero's welcome upon his return to the United States in 1953 and showered with military and civilian honors. General Dean however, insisted he was no hero but "just a dogface soldier."

 
Three months after his return from Korea General Dean was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General of the Sixth U.S. Army at the Presidio of San Francisco in California. When he retired from active duty on October 31,1955, he was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge for his front line service in World War I I and Korea, an award he particularly cherished.
 

"If the story of my Korean experience is worth telling, the value lies in its oddity, not in anything brilliant or heroic.

There were heroes in Korea, but I was not one of them. There were brilliant commanders, but I was a general captured because he took a wrong road. I am an Infantry officer and presumably was fitted for my fighting job.

I don't want to alibi that job, but a couple of things about it should be made clear. In the fighting I made some mistakes and I've kicked myself a thousand times for them. I lost ground I should not have lost. I lost trained officers and fine men. I'm not proud of that record, and I'm under no delusions that my weeks of command constituted any masterly campaign.

No man honestly can be ashamed of the Medal of Honor. For it and for the welcome given to me here at home in 1953, 1 am humbly grateful. But I come close to shame when I think about the men who did better jobs some who died doing them and did not get recognition. I wouldn't have awarded myself a wooden star for what I did as a commander.

Later, as fugitive and prisoner, I did things mildly out of the ordinary only at those times when I was excited and not thinking entirely straight; and the only thing I did which mattered to my family and perhaps a few others was to stay alive. Other prisoners resisted torture, but I wasn't tortured. Others hid in the hills and finally escaped, but I failed in my escape attempts. Others bluffed the Communists steadily, whereas I was lucky enough to do it only once in a while.

Others starved, but I was fed and even learned to like Kimchee. Others died for a principle, but I failed in a suicide attempt.

My life was an adventure, I did see the face of the enemy close up. I did have time to study his weaknesses and his remarkable strengths, not on the battlefield but far behind his lines. I saw communism working with men and women of high education or none, great intelligence or little and itwas a frightening thing.

I ought to know. I swatted 40,671 flies in three years and counted every carcass. There were periods when I was batting .850 and deserved to make the big leagues.

General Dean died on August 25, 1981. General William F. Dean is buried at the Presido of San Francisco along with his wife

   
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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1919, (Select in Colleges) (ROTC), A
 Unit Assignments
ARNG, California44th Infantry DivisionKorea Military Advisory Group (KMAG)7th Infantry Division
8th Army, Korea (EUSA)24th Infantry DivisionPOW/MIA6th Army
  1921-1923, HHD, California Army National Guard
  1942-1946, 44th Infantry Division
  1947-1948, Korea Military Advisory Group (KMAG)
  1948-1949, 7th Infantry Division
  1949-1949, 8th Army, Korea (EUSA)
  1949-1950, 24th Infantry Division
  1950-1953, POW/MIA
  1953-1955, 6th Army
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)
  1945-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Central Europe Campaign (1945)
  1945-1945 Central Europe Campaign (1945)/Victory in Europe Day (VE Day - 8May45)
  1950-1950 Korean War/UN Defensive (1950)/Battle of Taejon
  1950-1950 Korean War/CCF Intervention (1950-51)
 Colleges Attended 
University of California, Berkeley
  1918-1922, University of California, Berkeley
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