JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
"If it is something that you want to do, then it is a great life," said former Fifth Army Commander, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell III, in an interview with Southwest Magazine in June 1979. "However, it is not an easy life."
Caldwell, who died March 17 at the age of 87, spent 32 years living "a great life," serving the country he loved. He is remembered by his family and friends as a great American and an esteemed Soldier and warrior, a devoted father, husband and adored grandfather.
Born in Fort Moultrie, S.C., July 20, 1925, Caldwell was raised in an environment emulating the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. His father served as an Army officer for 37 years and created a family atmosphere of dedication in service to others.
This atmosphere of dedication in service to others would not only epitomize Caldwell's life and career, but he also passed it on to his children.
His son, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, commanding general, U. S. Army North (Fifth Army) and senior commander, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis, has carried on his family's tradition of service with now more than 100 years of cumulative military service between the three of them.
After graduating from West Point in 1948, Caldwell was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry and attended ground general school at Fort Riley, Kan., then Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga.
Caldwell led troops in combat twice. The first was as a lieutenant during the Korean War, where he was awarded a Silver Star July 19, 1950, for leading an assault on the enemy's lines.
The second time he received a Silver Star was eight months later for leading a counterattack Feb. 3, 1951, against the Chinese.
Nearly 17 years later, as a Colonel, he deployed to Vietnam as the commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. He would earn his third Silver Star in Vietnam while with the "Big Red One." He was also awarded the Bronze Star with "V" device on three occasions.
Caldwell's combat experience strengthened his belief that Soldiers should not be sent to combat unless the nation is fully committed.
"We must never commit our Soldiers to combat where they can be killed or maimed unless we are going to go in with the intent of winning," he said, during an interview while commander of Fifth Army.
In July 1978, he was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed command of Fifth Army at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. At Fifth Army, he oversaw the training of about 270,000 National Guardsmen and Army Reservists.
Caldwell, who retired in 1980, was able to see his son assume command of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) in 2012.
As the "CG" (as his Soldiers called him) of Fifth Army, he said he was very proud of the Army he was leading.
"We have great Soldiers," he said. "We are better trained and better equipped then we have ever been in peace time. Pound for pound, Soldier for Soldier, buck for buck - America's peacetime Army is the best we've had during my 31 years of service."
(This story has been produced from an article published originally by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs Office at Fort Benning, Ga.)