William G. Bainbridge

William G. Bainbridge (April 17, 1925 – November 29, 2008) was a United States Army soldier who served as the fifth Sergeant Major of the Army.[1] He was sworn in on July 1, 1975 and served until June, 1979. He was the last World War II veteran to hold the position of Sergeant Major of the Army.

William G. Bainbridge
William G Bainbridge.jpg
Sergeant Major of the Army William G. Bainbridge
Born(1925-04-17)April 17, 1925
Galesburg, Illinois
DiedNovember 29, 2008(2008-11-29) (aged 83)
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1943–1945
RankSergeant Major of the Army
Battles/warsWorld War II
Vietnam War
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal (2)
Army Commendation Medal (4)
Purple Heart (2)

Early lifeEdit

Bainbridge was born in Galesburg, Illinois, on April 17, 1925.[2]

Military careerEdit

Bainbridge entered the United States Army in June 1943 from Williamsfield, Illinois.[3] His 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 prisoner of war camp before being liberated by the 6th Armored Division.[4]

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, later reorganized as the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry. In 1965 he accompanied the battalion to Vietnam. Midway through his tour in Vietnam, Bainbridge was appointed command sergeant major of the II Field Force.

From September 1966 through August 1967, Bainbridge was command sergeant major of the United States 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, Bainbridge became the first command sergeant major of the newly created United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss,[4] Texas and remained there until his appointment as Sergeant Major of the Army on 1 July 1975.[2]

Later lifeEdit

A bugler from the U.S. Army Band plays taps at the burial service for William G. Bainbridge at Arlington National Cemetery (January 28, 2009)

In July 1991, Bainbridge retired to Palm Bay, Florida. He died there on November 29, 2008, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[4]

Awards and decorationsEdit

  Combat Infantry Badge, 2 awards
  Army Distinguished Service Medal[2]
Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters[2]
  Bronze Star[1]
   Air Medal with award numeral 2
Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters[1]
Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster[1]
  Meritorious Unit Commendation
  Prisoner of War Medal
  Army Good Conduct Medal (9 awards)
  American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three service stars
  World War II Victory Medal
  Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
  Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars
  Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
  Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal


  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. ^ "NCO Briefing on 5th SMA William G. Bainbridge". USASMA Digital Library. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "William G. Bainbridge Sergeant Major Of The Army , United States Army". 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 linksEdit

  • [1] William G. Bainbridge, In Memoriam
Military offices
Preceded by
Leon L. Van Autreve
Sergeant Major of the Army
Succeeded by
William A. Connelly