Silas L. Copeland
3rd Sergeant Major of the Army
Silas L. Copeland, the third sergeant major of the Army, was sworn in on Oct. 1, 1970, and served until his term ended in June of 1973. He was born in Embryfield, Texas, on April 2, 1920.
After serving at various posts in the continental United States, he was sent overseas in January 1945 and assigned to Company E, 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, as a tank commander and later a tank platoon sergeant. In late 1945, he returned from Germany with the 2nd Armored Division and was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, where he became operations and intelligence sergeant of the 67th Tank Battalion and 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion. In 1950 he joined the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, then located in Japan. From there, his unit was moved into Korea on July 18, 1950, making the landing by assault boats. He served as the reconnaissance and intelligence platoon sergeant and battalion operations sergeant.
From 1951-1953, he was assigned to senior ROTC duty at Texas, A&M University. In 1953 was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 22d Infantry Regiment, Germany, as a first sergeant. He remained with that unit until November 1954 when he was reassigned to the 1st Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, as operations sergeant and sergeant major of the 4th Tank Battalion. In 1957 he was selected as an instructor, senior ROTC, Centenary College of Louisiana at Shreveport, La. Upon completion of his tour of duty at Centenary, he was assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron, 8th Cavalry, 8th Infantry Division, in Germany as sergeant major and remained until he was reassigned to the 2nd Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas, in October 1962.
Selected to be the division sergeant major in June 1963, he remained in that position until December 1966 when he was transferred to the 4th Armored Division in Germany. He was chosen to be the division command sergeant major in April 1968 and served in that capacity until July 1969 when he was assigned to the Republic of Vietnam as the division command sergeant major of the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One). For seven and a half months he performed duties as the division CSM when the 1st Infantry Division re-deployed from Vietnam, he accompanied the division colors to Fort Riley, Kan. He returned to Vitnam to complete his tour as division CSM of the 4th Infantry Division located in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
Copeland's awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with V Device (with Oak Leaf Clusters), Meritorious Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Germany), National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, United Nations Korean Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.