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 (Sixth Army)
Service Years
1921 - 1955

US

Major General



Ten Overseas Service Bars


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Home State
Illinois
Illinois
Year of Birth
1899
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Dean, William F., MG USA(Ret).
 
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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Korean War/CCF Intervention (1950-51)
From Month/Year
November / 1950
To Month/Year
January / 1951

Description
On 1 November Chinese elements were identified south of the Changjin Reservoir, and within ten days twelve divisions of the Chinese Communist Forces were identified. In the northwest, strong enemy attacks against the Eighth Army smashed the ROK divisions. Very hard fighting took place near Ch'osan, Unsan, and Tokch'on. While the 24th Division pulled back to Chongju on the west coast, the 1st Cavalry and 2d Divisions fought along the Ch'ongch'on River. In the air over Korea, U.N. pilots were opposed for the first time by speedy Russian MIG-15 Jet fighters.

By 10 November, as the Chinese attacks were abating, the Eighth Army and the X Corps conducted only small-scale operations, and a comparative lull hung over much of the front. By 21 November elements of the U.S. 7th Division occupied Hyesanjin on the Yalu River in northeastern Korea, the most northerly point to be reached by U.S. forces during the war. The ROK Capital Division meanwhile progressed rapidly up the east coast to the Naman-So-dong area. By 24 November the U.N. positions extended from So-dong in the northeast to Hyesanjin on the Yalu, and thence in a southwesterly direction through the areas around Sang-ni, Handae, Yudam-ni, Yongwen, Ipsok, Patch'on and south of Chongju to the Yellow Sea.

Previous to the entry of Chinese forces in North Korea, MacArthur had ordered the Eighth Army and the X Corps on 24 October to attack toward the Manchurian border and restore peace in Korea before the onset of winter. The difficulty of securing adequate logistical support delayed the attack. In the latter part of the month, brief clashes with Chinese troops posed a new threat. The purpose and extent of the Chinese intervention was not yet clear; but in the face of this new opposition, Walker had withdrawn his extended forces back to the lower bank of the Ch'onch'on River, leaving only a small bridgehead above Sinanju.

The fact of Chinese participation in the conflict caused MacArthur to reconsider his plans for an all-out attack to the Yalu River, but not to abandon them. Walker's forces were to move northward through western and central Korea, while Almond's troops were to attack to the northwest to cut the enemy line of communications and give maximum assistance to the Eighth Army. On 24 November the Eighth Army, with the ROK II Corps, launched its planned offensive. For the first twenty-four hours little enemy opposition was encountered, but on the next day enemy troops initiated a violent counterattack against the Eighth Army in the mountainous territory surrounding the central North Korean town of Tokch'on. The X Corps began its attack early on 27 November, and had made slight advances before evening, when a second enemy force, moving down both sides of the Changjin Reservoir, struck at the 1st Marine Division and elements of the U.S. 7th Division.

It was quickly apparent that the bulk of the enemy forces were organized Chinese Communist units. It was now evident to the UN Commend that the Chinese had amassed two large armies in northern Korea, by marching them from Manchuria under cover of darkness and expertly camouflaging them during the day. They were comparatively safe from detection by UN air observers in the rugged mountain terrain, and UN aircraft were prohibited from making reconnaissance flights across the frontier. Thus the strength of the attacking Chinese forces came as a surprise to most of the U.N. Command.

The main enemy effort was directed against the ROK II Corps, which collapsed under the weight of the Chinese assault. As the Communists strove to extend their breakthrough of the U.N. line, Walker rushed his reserve units (the 1st Cavalry Division, the Turkish Brigade, and the British 27th Commonwealth and 29th Independent Infantry Brigades) to the area, but failed to stem the Communist advance. Assaulted by wave after wave of enemy troops, the Eighth Army front withdrew south across the Ch'ongch'on River. These forces, fighting hand to hand with the enemy along the river banks and retreating over reads choked with troops, refugees, trucks, and tanks, suffered heavy losses. The U.S. 2d Division wee assigned to fight a delaying action until other units could retire and regroup in defensive positions near P'yongyang. On 5 December the Eighth Army fell back from P'yongyang to positions about 25 miles south of the city. By the middle of December it had withdrawn below the 38th parallel and formed a defensive perimeter north and east of Seoul.

On 27 November 1950 the Chinese began their offensive against the X Corps, attacking the Marine and 7th Division elements in the Changjin Reservoir area with six divisions. Since the most northerly UN units-the ROK I Corps, the U.S. 17th Infantry Regiment, and other elements at the Yalu-might be cut off by the weight of the Chinese offensive, the X Corps was forced to withdraw these elements. Troops at the reservoir were also ordered to fall back. MacArthur then ordered Almond to concentrate the X Corps in the Hamhung-Hungnam area; and early in December directed the Corps to withdraw to South Korea by a waterborne evacuation.

Most of the Corps reached the port of Hungnam without serious incident. However, some 14,000 men of the 1st Marine and 7th Infantry Divisions were trapped in the Hagaru-Kot'o area and were forced to fight their way to the coast along a narrow escape route. As the main column progressed along the road, a provisional battalion of marines and soldiers, aided by close and efficient air support, cleared the Chinese Communist forces from the high ground which dominated the road. Almond sent Task Force Dog, a reinforced battalion of the 3d Division, forward to Chinhung to relieve the Marine battalion there and to assist the withdrawal by providing support and rear guard action. Air Force, Navy, and Marine cargo planes parachuted daily airdrops of ammunition, food, and medicines to the column, and evacuated battle casualties. Fighter elements bombed and strafed the enemy-held mountainsides and Communist troop concentrations. On 9 December 1950 the two forces met in the mountains a few miles south of Kot'o and both moved toward Hamhung to be evacuated.

The water movement of the X Corps from North Korea required 173 vessels. About 350,000 measurement tons of cargo, including 17,500 vehicles, were salvaged; some 105,000 troops and more than 98,000 civilians were evacuated from Hungnam, Songjin, and Wonsan. Evacuation began on 11 December and was completed on 24 December, despite constant enemy fire and observation.

The Hungnam evacuation left North Korea once again controlled by Communist forces. Before the enemy renewed his attacks, General Walker was killed in an auto accident north of Seoul (23 December 1950). On 26 December Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway succeeded him in command of the Eighth Army in Korea.

On 30 December MacArthur warned the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Chinese Communist forces could drive the U.N. forces out of Korea if they so desired. The United States, although anxious to avoid a full-scale war in Korea, was also determined to resist the Chinese-North Korean aggressors. Therefore the Joint Chiefs ordered MacArthur to defend his positions; to retire, if forced to, through a series of defensive positions as far back as the former Pusan Perimeter Line; to inflict as much damage as possible on the enemy; and to maintain his units intact. If necessary to avoid severe losses, he was authorized to withdraw to Japan.

Within this framework of operations, MacArthur invested General Ridgway with complete authority to plan and execute operations in Korea, and ceased the close supervision which he had formerly exercised over the Eighth Army and the X Corps. The latter, which had heretofore been a separate command, was assigned to the Eighth Army, thus placing all U.N. ground forces under that army's control. By this time fifteen nations of the U.N. had troops in Korea-the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, South Africa, France, Greece, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, Belgium, and Sweden. As 1951 began, U.N. ground forces numbered about 495,000, of which 270,000 were ROK troops. The U.N. Command estimated that the enemy had about 486,000 men, 21 Chinese and 12 North Korean divisions, committed to the Korean front, and more than a million enemy troops stationed in reserve near the Yalu.

In late December, Ridgway, in establishing the defensive line along the 38th parallel, concentrated the bulk of the Eighth Army in the central and western sectors because of the obvious enemy concentration above Seoul. The west flank was held by the I Corps; the central sector by the IX Corps; and the ROK I, II, and III Corps held the eastern mountainous sector. The X Corps was reorganizing near Pusan. The 1st Marine Division, until recently a part of the X Corps, was held in Eighth Army reserve.

At daybreak on 1 January 1951, after a night of mortar and artillery bombardment, the enemy launched an attack all along the U.N. line. The main effort was directed against the U.S. I and IX Corps in the west and central sectors. A force of seven Chinese armies and two North Korean corps pushed deeply into the U.N. line toward Seoul in the west and Wonju in the center.

As the offensive gained momentum, Ridgway ordered the U.N. forces to fall back to a line which ran along the south bank of the frozen Han River to Yangp'yang, through Hongch'on and Chunmunjin to the Sea of Japan. A delaying force remained around Seoul to deny the enemy use of the Han River bridges. When the attacking forces, following up their initial success, crossed the Han to the east and west of Seoul, it became clear that the Seoul bridgehead could not be held any longer. Ridgway, following a policy of rolling with the punch rather then risking destruction by defending in place, decided to withdraw south to a line in the vicinity of the 37th parallel on 3 January. This line ran from P'yongt'aek, east through Ansong, northeast to Wonju, and in an irregular trace to the east coast town of Samch'ok. When Seoul fell on 4 January, the port of Inch'on was also evacuated.

After the fall of Seoul, Chinese attacks tapered off in the west. Many enemy units were shifted eastward so as to be in position to attack southwestward behind the U.S. I and IX Corps, and capture Wonju and the railroad and highway between Hongch'on and Pusan, the main U.N. north-south supply route. Wonju was abandoned by U.N. forces on 7 January. By 10 January large numbers of the enemy had phased through the gap and into the defensive zone of the ROK III Corps. To meet this threat Ridgway ordered the 1st Marine Division to prevent the enemy penetration from north of the Andong-Yongdok road on the east, and to protect the supply routes of the ROK units.

In the western sector, which was comparatively quiet, Ridgway planned Operation WOLFHOUND, a reconnaissance in force in the I Corps sector, to reestablish contact and secure more exact information about the enemy. On 15 January the task force-the 27th Infantry Regiment, reinforced-advanced northward along the Seoul highway toward Osan. On the 16th it reached Suwon with practically no opposition. Satisfied by the reconnaissance, the U.N. Command ordered the task force to withdraw south.

By the third week in January the situation in the central and eastern sectors had eased, and pressure on our troops was gradually decreasing. However, although quiet prevailed on the front, air reconnaissance revealed that the enemy was accumulating reserves of supplies and bringing up thousands of replacements.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
November / 1950
To Month/Year
December / 1950
 
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
   
Personal Memories
   
Units Participated in Operation

1st Cavalry Division

545th Military Police Company

212th Military Police Company

3rd Military Police Company, 3rd Infantry Division

3rd Infantry Division

563rd Military Police Company

19th Military Police Battalion (CID)

59th Military Police Company

 
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  823 Also There at This Battle:
  • Adams, Loren Vincent, PFC, (1947-1950)
  • Banash, Alfred Peter, SFC, (1948-1969)
  • Barnes, John, T/Sgt, (1949-1952)
  • Beilstein, James, SGT, (1949-1957)
  • Blosser, Jackey Dale, Cpl, (1950-1953)
  • Carter, Lee Burt, MSG, (1944-1970)
  • Cortez, Agapito, S/Sgt, (1949-1952)
  • Cummings, Barnard, Jr., 1LT, (1945-1950)
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