Sergeant Major of the Army William G. Bainbridge

Sergeant Major of the Army

July 1975 – June 1979

William G. Bainbridge, the 5th Sergeant Major of the Army, was sworn in on 1 July 1975 and served until June of 1979. He was born in Galesburg, Illinois, on 17 April 1925, and completed his 17-week basic training at Camp Wallace, Texas.

He entered the Army in June 1943 from Williamsfield, Illinois. Following basic training Sergeant Major of the Army Bainbridge deployed to Europe. With his unit, he crossed the English Channel into Le Havre, France, eventually moving up to the Siegfried Line in Germany. While his unit was successful in upsetting the Germans’ timetable for reaching the Meuse and cutting off the Allies’ logistics, he and many others Soldiers from his unit were captured as prisoners of war. After World War II, Sergeant Major of the Army Bainbridge was discharged from the Army and returned to civilian life in Galesburg, Illinois.

SMA Bainbridge was recalled to active duty in January 1951. Following assignments at Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Fort Sheridan, Illinois; Fort Riley, Kansas; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. 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, Sergeant Major Bainbridge was appointed Command Sergeant Major of the II Field Force.

From September 1966 through August 1967 he was Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. 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, Sergeant Major of the Army Bainbridge became the first Command Sergeant Major of the newly created United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and remained there until his appointment as Sergeant Major of the Army on 1 July 1975.

Sergeant Major of the Army Bainbridge’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Clusters), Bronze Star, Purple Heart (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (with Oak Leaf Clusters), Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-North African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge, second award.