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Brigadier General William Ross Bond.
BG Bond was the only General Officer Killed in Action in actual ground combat in Vietnam. The other General Officers (4) that were killed in theater were killed as a result of aircraft losses due to enemy fire or accidents.
William Bond was born on December 4, 1918, in Portland, Maine. He graduated in 1940 from the University of Maryland.
In 1940, after a year at law school, he enlisted in the Army and soon rose through the ranks to Staff Sergeant. He was selected to go through the Officer Candidate School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in September 1942. He was then assigned to the 82d Airborne Division. He moved overseas with the unit and participated in the invasion of Sicily. He then volunteered for duty with "Darby's Rangers,” was assigned to the First Ranger Battalion, and lead his company onto the beach just west of Salerno, Italy, in 1943.
Bond's Ranger unit was soon involved in a fierce battle to gain control of the high ground above Venafro. The Rangers dislodged the Germans and the way was then open for the Allied advance.
Next, Bond and his Rangers made the amphibious assault at Anzio on January 22, 1944. Then, on January 29-30, the entire Ranger force made its ill-fated night attack at Cisterna. The Ranger force fought on for over five hours until all ammunition was exhausted. At the time of surrender, the force had been reduced to half of its original 900 men. For Captain Bond's heroics, he was awarded the Silver Star.
Bond became a prisoner of the Germans for the next 11 months and was confined to a prisoner of war camp in Poland. When Russian forces breached the German lines in early January 1945, Bond made his escape to Soviet lines. For several weeks, Captain Bond became part of a Red Army Reconnaissance Detachment. The war soon ended and Bond returned home.
He then volunteered for duty in the Pacific and was training at Fort Benning, Georgia, when the Japanese surrendered. He was assigned to occupation duty in Korea where he began to study Asian social and cultural patterns.
In mid-1949, Bond was selected as a member of the United Nation's truce team and sent to Palestine. He proved to be a shrewd military observer and earned the respect of both his United Nations superiors and the State Department. Bond was cited for gallantry when he intervened to prevent a serious clash between Arabs and Jews just north of Jerusalem.
The Korean War began in 1950 and Bond returned to Fort Benning to attend the Advanced Infantry Course. He also helped establish Airborne Ranger Training. He remained with this program for almost a year.
Bond held many important positions before his first tour in Vietnam in 1959 as a part of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group. During this period, the first Vietcong attacks occurred. Although only a middle-ranking staff officer, Bond's work was of such caliber, and his reports of combat actions so precise and penetrating, that the Commanding General elevated him to the post of Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. Shortly after this, he took leave to the United States to wed the former Miss Theodora Sedgwick, daughter of Ellery Sedgwick, the notable editor of The Atlantic Monthly, and great-great-great granddaughter of Judge Theodore Sedgwick, fifth Speaker of the House of Representatives under John Adams. She was also related to Union General John Sedgwick (1813-1864) who was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter at Spotsylvania, Virginia.
In 1960, Colonel Bond was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army. One of his responsibilities in this assignment was the development of an Army capability for counter-insurgency.
He was Chief of Plans and Policy and Deputy Director of Special Warfare from 1962 until the summer of 1964. Bond was awarded the Legion of Merit for his leadership in preparing the Army for counterinsurgency operations.
Colonel Bond then left the Pentagon and, in the summer of 1964, took command of the 2d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. In January 1965, while on a field exercise, he suffered a slight heart tremor and was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital for observation and treatment. Weeks later, a medical board found Colonel Bond unfit for active duty. For most people this would have been the end, but Bond was cast from a special mold.
William Bond could not accept life without being an Infantryman. Through a complex series of appeals, he secured a probationary assignment to Thailand in 1965 where he took over the J-3 of the Military Assistance Command. In 1966, he was elevated to the post of Chief of Staff. He was enormously productive in coping with all problems. Bond was recommended for the Distinguished Service Medal for all of his efforts. He departed Thailand in 1967 where his solid performance earned him his second Legion of Merit.
Posted back to Washington in September 1967, the Army Chief of Staff selected Bond, in 1969, to organize and conduct the IX Conference of American Armies. He won the resounding praise of participants for his great contributions in Washington where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. In 1970, he was nominated for promotion to Brigadier General.
General Bond was assigned to Vietnam to assume command of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. While commander, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 8 oak leaf clusters.
Fittingly, he returned to Bangkok on March 1, 1970, and was received by the Prime Minister of Thailand who awarded General Bond the Order of the Crown of Thailand, Knight Commander Grade, Medal.
General Bond returned to his command and, on April 1, 1970, elements of the 199th were involved in action with North Vietnamese regulars. General Bond, hearing of the fight, flew to the action 70 miles northeast of Saigon. He was to become the 5th U.S. General to be killed in Vietnam and the only one to be killed on the ground leading his force in battle. General Bond was 51 when he was killed by enemy fire.