William G. Bainbridge

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William G. Bainbridge
William G Bainbridge.jpg
SMA William G. Bainbridge
Nickname(s) Top
Born (1925-04-17)April 17, 1925
Galesburg, Illinois
Died November 29, 2008(2008-11-29) (aged 83)
Buried Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943–1945
Rank Sergeant Major of the Army

William G. Bainbridge was the fifth Sergeant Major of the Army,[1] was sworn in on July 1, 1975 and served until June, 1979. He was born in Galesburg, Illinois, on April 17, 1925[2] and died on November 29, 2008 in Palm Bay, Florida.[3] He was the last World War II veteran to hold the position of Sergeant Major of the Army.

Military career[edit]

He entered the Army in June 1943 from Williamsfield, Illinois.[4] Bainbridge’s first unit of assignment was with the 423d Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division, the last Army division organized for service in World War II. After deploying into the Ardennes region of Belgium in late 1944, Bainbridge’s regiment was overrun by German forces during the Battle of the Bulge. He was captured and spent the remaining months of the war in a German POW camp before being liberated by the 6th Armored Division.[3] Upon returning to the United States, Bainbridge left active duty and joined the Army Reserve. He was recalled to active duty in January 1951. Following assignments at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Fort Riley, and Fort Leonard Wood, he was reassigned to Europe and served as the Operations Sergeant with Headquarters, VII Corps. In 1962 he returned to Fort Riley, Kansas, where he served with the 1st Infantry Division as Sergeant Major of the 1st Battle Group, 28th Infantry, late reorganized as the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry. In 1965 he accompanied the battalion to Vietnam. Midway through his tour in Vietnam, Sergeant Major Bainbridge was appointed Command Sergeant major of the II Field Force.

From September 1966 through August 1967 he was Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Infantry Training Center, Fort Benning, Georgia. He then was appointed the Command Sergeant Major of the First United States Army at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland and later selected to serve as Command Sergeant Major of the United States Army, Pacific located in Fort Shafter, Hawaii. In October 1972 Sergeant Major Bainbridge became the first Command Sergeant Major of the newly created United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss,[3] Texas and remained there until his appointment as Sergeant Major of the Army on 1 July 1975.[2]

Awards and decorations[edit]

CIB2.png Combat Infantry Badge, 2 awards
Army Distinguished Service Medal[2]
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters[2]
Bronze Star[1]
Award numeral 2.png Air Medal with award numeral 2
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters[1]
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster[1]
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Prisoner of War Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal (9 awards)
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three service stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars
Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Military offices
Preceded by
Leon L. Van Autreve
Sergeant Major of the Army
Succeeded by
William A. Connelly


  1. ^ a b c d "William G. Bainbridge 5th Sergeant Major of the Army". US Army. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "5th SMA - William G. Bainbridge". Association of the United States Army. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "William G. Bainbridge Sergeant Major Of The Army , United States Army". Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ "NCO Briefing on 5th SMA William G. Bainbridge.". USASMA Digital Library. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army document "William G. Bainbridge".

  • The Sergeants Major of the Army, Daniel K. Elder, Center of Military History, United States Army Washington, D.C. 2003.

External links[edit]

  • [1] William G. Bainbridge, In Memoriam