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Major General William Richard Schmidt (October 14, 1889 – July 18, 1966) was a decorated United States Army officer who spent most of World War II as commanding the 76th Infantry Division.[1]

William Richard Schmidt
William R. Schmidt2.jpg
BornOctober 14, 1889
Verdigre, Nebraska, United States
DiedJuly 18, 1967 (aged 77)
Washington, D.C., United States
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1913--1951
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
UnitUSA - Army Infantry Insignia.png Infantry Branch
Commands held39th Infantry Regiment
76th Infantry Division
3rd Infantry Division
101st Airborne Division
Battles/warsPancho Villa Expedition
World War I
World War II
Cold War
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit



Early life and military careerEdit

William Richard Schmidt was born on October 14, 1889, the son of Joseph Karl and his wife Anna (néé Haman). Seeking a military career, he entered the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York in 1909. He graduated four years later on June 12, 1913, which led to him being commissioned as an officer, with the rank of second lieutenant, into the Infantry Branch of the United States Army on the same date. Many of his classmates who he graduated alongside would, like Schmidt, attain high rank and become general officers in the years to come, during World War II. They included Douglass T. Greene, Paul Newgarden, Robert L. Spragins, Louis A. Craig, Lunsford E. Oliver, Henry B. Lewis, John E. McMahon, Jr., Carlos Brewer, Richard U. Nicholas, Alexander Patch, Robert H. Van Volkenburgh, Willis D. Crittenberger, Robert M. Perkins, William A. McCulloch, Geoffrey Keyes, Selby H. Frank, Charles H. Corlett and Henry B. Cheadle, along with numerous others.

Between 1913 and 1917, Schmidt served on the Mexico–United States border during the Pancho Villa Expedition. During this campaign, he was promoted to first lieutenant. Schmidt did not see combat in France on the Western Front during World War I and instead performed stateside duty at Schofield Barracks in Pearl Harbor, at Presidio of San Francisco and at Camp Fremont, California.[2]

Between the warsEdit

In 1921, now with the rank of major, Schmidt was transferred back to the USMA, where he was an instructor. He stayed in this position until 1923, when he was transferred back to Hawaii.[3]

Schmidt attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1928.

In 1933, he was appointed executive officer (XO) of the Civilian Conservation Corps at Camp Dix, New Jersey and served there for one year. Then he was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he was assigned to the Supply branch (G-4 Division) of the War Department General Staff on March 21, 1934.[4]

World War IIEdit

In 1940, Schmidt was appointed commander of the 39th Infantry Regiment a, part of the 9th Infantry Division, and stayed in this capacity until the end of 1941. He was subsequently promoted to the one-star general officer rank of brigadier general in April 1942, four months after the American entry into World War II, and transferred to the newly activated 81st Infantry Division, where he became the assistant division commander (ADC) for Major General Gustave H. Franke, the division commander, for a short time.[5]

Schmidt was transferred to the 76th Infantry Division on December 13, 1942, where he succeeded Major General Emil F. Reinhardt in command of the 76th Division. He was also promoted to the temporary two-star rank of major general in December 1942.[6]

Major General Schmidt stayed with the division throughout the rest of the war. He led the 76th Division overseas, first to England in December 1944, then a month later when it was sent to the Western Front, in the Ardennes-Alsace Campaign and Central Europe Campaign for which he received the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit and others.[7]


In August 1945, Major General Schmidt assumed command of the 3rd Infantry Division, as a part of the occupational forces in Germany. Schmidt was then transferred to the Third Army under command of Lieutenant General Geoffrey Keyes, his classmate from the West Point, where he became the chief of staff on May 20, 1946. From July 1948—May 1949 he commanded the 101st Airborne Division.

Major General William Schmidt retired from the army, after 38 years service, in 1951 and died at the age of 76 years on July 18, 1966 in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, together with his wife Helen Munn Goodier, with whom he had two daughters.[8]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Biography of Major general William Richard Schmidt (1889 - 1966)". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  2. ^ "World War II Unit Histories & Officers". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  3. ^ "World War II Unit Histories & Officers". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  4. ^ "Biography of Major general William Richard Schmidt (1889 - 1966)". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  5. ^ "Biography of Major general William Richard Schmidt (1889 - 1966)". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  6. ^ "World War II Unit Histories & Officers". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  7. ^ "Valor awards for William R. Schmidt". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  8. ^ "Gen William R. Schmidt (1889 - 1966) - Find a Grave Memorial". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
Military offices
Preceded by
Emil F. Reinhardt
Commanding General 76th Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Henry C. Evans
Preceded by
John W. O'Daniel
Commanding General 3rd Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Post deactivated
Preceded by
Newly activated post
Commanding General 101st Airborne Division
Succeeded by
Cornelius E. Ryan