Kerwin Jr., Walter T.


1979 brief ALS of the WW II artillery officer, Army Vice Chief of Staff during transition to  post-Vietnam War all-volunteer force


Type: Letter
Description: (1917-2008) USMA 1939, 4-star general who served as Commanding General, US Continental Army Command (CG CONARC), 1973; Commanding General, US Army Forces Command (CG FORSCOM) 1973-74; and Army Vice Chief of Staff (VCSA) 1974-78. He was the 1st commander, US Army Forces Command, and a member of the Association of the United States Army’s Advisory Board of Board of Directors Board of Directors from 1984.

After West Point, he was commissioned in field artillery, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Div. During WW II he fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. Recognized by his commanders and peers as an innovative artilleryman, he developed a system of massing fire that contributed immeasurably to the success of Allied landings at Anzio. In Dec. 1944, while in France, he was wounded and evacuated home, returning to Europe 1945 and assigned to the War Department General Staff Theater Operations Division.

After WW II, he attended the Army War College and National War College, and had various assignments, incl. Plans and Operations Officer at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory; Commander, 56th Artillery Group, XVIII Airborne Corps; and Deputy Director in the Army’s Office of the Chief of Research & Development. As  brigadier general he led the 3rd Armored Division Artillery in Hanau, Germany in August 1961.

During the 60s he was Chief of Staff, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), Commander, II Field Force, Vietnam, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Personnel, and Commanding General of the Continental Army Command, later renamed Forces Command. He is heralded as the champion of the “One Army” or “Total Army” concept which became a reality under his leadership. It recognized the indispensable role of the Army National Guard and US Army Reserve as equal partners with the active Army in executing defense policy and preparing for war.

On Oct. 29, 1974 he became Army Vice Chief of Staff during the transition to an all-volunteer force and post-Vietnam War restructuring, receiving many awards, decorations and service awards. After retiring from the army, Kerwin worked for the Department of Defense in different capacities and served for 17 years as a consultant for Martin Marietta and Lockheed Martin. Having been a member of the Board of the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association since 1969, he was its Chairman 1982-1997. He received the 2003 Distinguished Graduate Award from the Association of Graduates, West Point’s alumni organization.

Brief ALS “Dutch” on 8 ½ x 7 4-star flag letterhead, (Alexandria, Virginia) , December 1 1979, to “Dee” (Major General DeWitt C. Smith Jr., Commandant, US Army War College). Retired General Kerwin is pleased to participate in the (Army War College) Oral History Program. With hand-addressed envelope.

DeWITT C. SMITH, JR. (1920-1985) US Army officer, former Deputy Army Chief of Staff, twice (and longest-serving) Army War College Commandant 1974 -77, 1978-80. In 1942, he joined the Army and commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, served with the 4th Armored Div. in combat after Normandy to the end of the War. He was wounded 3 times and awarded the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars for Valor, 3 Purple Hearts. Discharged in 1946, he returned to active duty for the Korean War and stayed in the military. He was an aide to Chief of Staff Gen. Maxwell Taylor, served in the “Old Guard” at Fort Myer, and was a battalion executive officer and commander in Germany. He served at the Pentagon before going to the Army War College. He commanded a combat brigade of the 1st Infantry Div. in Vietnam. In 1970, under his leadership, Fort Carson, Colo. was made an initial test site for the modern volunteer Army concept. After his stints at the War College, he retired in 1980.

Condition: Very good, faint rust clip remnant and indent at top left

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