William Westmoreland Facts

William Westmoreland Facts
William Westmoreland was a career United States Army officer who was the Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1968 to 1972. In his role as Chief of Staff, Westmoreland served under presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, often disagreeing with both leaders on matters of policy and strategy. Westmoreland oversaw dramatic increases in American combat numbers in Vietnam and later, but he later advocated for an orderly withdrawal. He has somewhat of a mixed legacy in America: he is respected by many on the right of the political spectrum but often despised by those on the left. Westmoreland was born William Joseph Westmoreland on March 26, 1914 to James and Eugenia Westmoreland in rural Spartanburg, South Carolina. He graduated near the top of his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and immediately entered active service, seeing action on the ground in World War II and in the Korean War as a Brigadier General. Westmoreland married his wife Kathy in 1947 and would have two daughters and a son with her.
Interesting William Westmoreland Facts:
During World War II, Westmoreland saw action in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany and was promoted to colonel.
He was given command of the 504th Parachute Infantry of the fairly new 82nd Airborne Regiment in 1946.
Westmoreland was promoted to commander of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam on June 1964.
Almost immediately after assuming command over Vietnam, Westmoreland was hamstrung by political leaders in Washington. Although the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) was regularly campaigning in South Vietnam, he was ordered not to attack/invade the North because doing so may lead to direct Chinese involvement as happened in the Korean War.
Westmoreland raised the number of American troops in Vietnam from about 16,000 when he became commander in 1964 to more than 500,000 when he became Chief of Staff in 1968.
Westmoreland generally thought that the NVA and Viet Cong (VC) could be defeated with standard military operations using superior firepower. He never really considered the effectiveness of the VC's guerrilla operations, nor did he really see much of a difference between the NVA and VC.
Westmoreland was replaced after the Tet Offensive, although he was basically promoted to Chief of Staff.
Besides being awarded numerous medals by the U.S. Army, Westmoreland was awarded medals by numerous foreign countries, including South Korea, South Vietnam, and France.
President Nixon was said to have wanted to coverup the My Lai Massacre, but Westmoreland believed that it should be public.
After returning to civilian life, Westmoreland unsuccessfully ran for governor of South Carolina in 1974 and then receded from public life for the most part.
He went to his grave believing that Vietnam was a just war because it helped stop the worldwide spread of communism. Westmoreland also believed that technically the United States didn't lose Vietnam because they won nearly every battle.
Westmoreland died on July 18, 2005 from complications of Alzheimer's disease in Charleston, South Carolina. He was interred at the United States Military Academy cemetery in West Point.

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