William O. Wooldridge
1st Sergeant Major of the Army
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.