MG WILLIAM F. DEAN
24th Infantry Division
20 & 21 July 1950
Major General Dean’s Division was untried in combat. When facing a ruthless and determined, highly trained and overwhelmingly enemy with superior numbers, the General led his green troops from the front.
The General engaged an enemy tank alone, armed only with a hand grenade – the tank lost the engagement.
He then took up an exposed position where he could observe enemy movements and directed his tanks delivering deadly accurate fire.
When their position Taejon was finally overrun, the General refused to ensure his own safety by leaving with the leading elements. He chose to remain in field command organizing his retreating forces, directing stragglers, and assisting the wounded to a place of safety.
Om August 25th Dean was again leading from the front when he was last seen engaging 6 or 8 enemy soldiers in hand to hand while his men extracted to safety.
Witnesses estimate it took 10 to 15 enemy soldiers take the General down.
Major General Dean was declared MIA and likely KIA.
He was captured and spent the next 3 years as the senior POW of the Korean War.
On December 18, 1951 Wilfred Burchett an Australian correspondent was interviewing POWs and came across the General. No one had any clue General Dean was alive since being reported missing in action.
Gen. Dean was unaware that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor Posthumously. His wife was informed that he was alive but his official status as KIA was maintained in order to prevent the Chinr=ese from figuring out just how important Dean was.
He told post imprisonment interviewers that he tried to commit suicide during his confinement because he feared “he might squeal when they started to drive splinters under my fingernails.”
On his release, he served as Deputy Commanding General of the 6th Army at Presidio San Francisto. Dean retired from active duty on the 31st of October in 1955. As he retired, Gen Dean was awarded the COmbat Infantrymans Badge. General officers are not usually eligible, as they are not usually participants in front line combat. Gen Dean was only the second general to receive the award.
Dean lived a quiet life in San Francisco after retirement and passed on August 24, 1981, aged 82, and is buried in the National Cemetery at the Presidio of San Francisc, next to his wife.
Dean’s awards include:
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and
Bronze Star Medal – Still Gen. Dean was well known to tell people the most cherished award he had was his CIB. (Combat Infantryman Badge)