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|William B. Kean|
William B. Kean
|Born||(1897-07-09)July 9, 1897
Buffalo, New York
|Died||March 10, 1981 (1981-03-11) (aged 83)
Winter Park, Florida
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1918-1954|
|Commands held||5th Infantry Division
25th Infantry Division
Fifth United States Army
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
|Other work||Executive Director, Chicago Housing Authority
Public Relations Director, Morton Plant Hospital
William Benjamin Kean (1897–1981) was a general in the United States Army.
He was born William Benjamin Kean, Jr., in Buffalo, New York on July 9, 1897. Kean graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1918 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry.
After receiving his commission, Kean was assigned to the U.S.M.A. as a student officer. He then carried out an observation tour of battlefronts in Italy, Belgium and France, and was an observer of the Allied occupation in Germany. In late 1919 he returned to the United States and completed the Infantry Officer Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Kean carried out numerous assignments of increasing rank and responsibility, including a posting to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. In 1925 he graduated from the Signal Officer Course, and in 1939 he was a graduate of the Command and General Staff College.
In March, 1943 Kean was assigned as Chief of Staff of the 28th Infantry Division. Just a month later he was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned as Chief of Staff for the U.S. II Corps, then fighting in North Africa under the command of Omar Bradley. In late 1943 he was assigned as Chief of Staff for First U.S. Army, commanded by Courtney Hodges, receiving promotion to Major General. Kean served in this position until the end of the war, and remained in Europe during the post-war occupation of Germany.
While with II Corps Kean played a role in the incident in which General George S. Patton was accused of slapping a soldier. After Bradley had investigated, he entrusted the only copy of the written report to Kean, who was directed not to show it to anyone without Bradley's permission.
During his assignment with First Army, Kean was one of the key planners of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
From October 1947 to June 1948 Kean commanded the 5th Infantry Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
In August 1948 Kean became commander of the 25th Infantry Division. Under his command the division successfully blocked the approaches to the port city Pusan in the summer of 1950, for which it received the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
August 8, 1950
The next day, 8 August, the regiment [2/35] advanced to the high ground just short of the Much'on-ni road fork. There Fisher received orders from General Kean to dig in and wait until the 5th Regimental Combat Team could come up on his left and join him at Much'on-ni. While waiting, Fisher's men beat off a few enemy attacks and sent out strong combat patrols that probed enemy positions as far as the Nam River. [16-12]
Behind and on the left of the 35th Infantry, in the mountain mass that separated it from the other attack columns, the fight was not going well. From this rough ground surrounding Sobuk-san, the 24th Infantry was supposed to clear out enemy forces of unknown size, but believed to be small.
In October 1950 the 25th Division participated in the breakout from the Pusan perimeter and drive into North Korea. In November, Chinese Communist troops crossed the Yalu River and pushed back the United Nations troops. Kean's division carried out a systematic withdrawal and took up defensive positions, first on the south bank of the Chongchon River, and then south of Osan.
After planning and reorganization a new offensive was launched in January 1951. By February Inch'ŏn and Kimp'o Air Base had been recaptured, the first of several successful assaults on the Chinese/North Korean force that helped turn the tide in the United Nation's favor.
Later in 1951 the 25th Division participated in Operation Ripper, driving the enemy across the Han River. Although the 25th Division, for the most part, performed well under Kean’s leadership, Lt. Gen. Matthew Ridgway, who had recently assumed command of the Eighth Army, relieved him as part of an overall ‘shakeup’ of the Army’s frontline generals.
In Korea, Kean assessed the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment, one of his subordinate commands, as being ineffective during its early combat operations, primarily due to the tendency of many soldiers to ‘cut and run’ during battle. Although he readily admitted that many individual soldiers had demonstrated competency and courage, he felt the regiment was so ineffective that it threatened the entire United Nations effort in Korea. Kean recommended that the 24th Regiment be disbanded and its soldiers assigned as ‘fillers’ in white units at a ratio of one to ten.
Gen. Ridgway had embraced Kean’s assessment of the 24th Infantry Regiment. After relieving Kean, he asked him, before leaving Korea, to officially propose the elimination of the black units and propose the complete integration of white and black troops. Kean complied with his request and Ridgway used that proposal to help win Washington’s approval for the complete desegregation of the entire Far Eastern Command.
In 1951 Kean was assigned to command the III Corps, first at Camp Roberts, California and later at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro. In October of that year he led a 5,000 man task force as it took part in an exercise at the Nevada Test Site. During this event, atomic weapons tests were conducted to measure the effects on military members in close proximity.
In July 1952 Kean was named commander of Fifth United States Army in Chicago, Illinois and promoted to Lieutenant General. He remained in this assignment until retiring from the Army in 1954.
Kean's decorations included multiple awards of the Distinguished Service Medal, including two during World War II. He also received the Silver Star for heroism in the Korean War. In addition, Kean received multiple awards of the Legion of Merit, and was a recipient of the Bronze Star.
In October, 1954 Kean was appointed Executive Director of the Chicago Housing Authority. He remained in this position until 1957.
At the C.H.A., Kean was the subject of controversy for his emphasis on reducing vacancy rates over racial integration of the authority's housing projects.
After resigning from the housing authority, he moved to Florida, where he was employed as Public Relations Director for the Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater.
After retiring Kean lived in Belleair and Winter Park, Florida. He died in Winter Park on March 10, 1981.
The 25th Infantry Division was commanded by William B. ("Bill") Kean, who celebrated his fifty-third birthday on July 9. Born in Buffalo, New York, Kean was a "bobtailed" West Pointer who had entered the academy in June 1917 and been graduated on a crash schedule on November 1, 1918, too late for World War I. Recalled as "student officers" the following month, these cadet shave tails were regraduated in June 1919, after only two full years at the academy. During the peacetime years Kean, who stood near the bottom of his West Point class, had been selected for the Command and General Staff School, but not for the Army War College.[6-1]
Kean's professional career seemed to be going nowhere. But in 1939 he had the good fortune to be assigned to work for Omar Bradley in the G1 section of the War Department. Bradley was impressed by Kean's tough-minded candor, analytical talent, and indefatigability. Early in World War II, when Marshall assigned Bradley to straighten out a troubled National Guard division, Bradley chose Kean (whom he kiddingly called "Captain Bligh") for his chief of staff. Thereafter Kean remained chief of staff to Bradley as Bradley shot up to power and fame. After the St. Lo breakout, when Bradley moved up to be Twelfth Army Group commander, Kean (by then a general), at Bradley's request, remained chief of staff of First Army, partly to keep a fire lit under its conservative, low-key new commander, Courtney H. Hodges. Kean remained in that hot seat until the end of the war. He weathered some tough times, notably in the Battle of the Bulge, when the German Sixth Panzer Army dealt First Army a terrible opening blow.[6-2]
After Germany was defeated, Hodges's First Army was selected to participate in MacArthur's invasion of Japan. Hodges and Kean led an advance staff group to Manila to begin the planning and there met MacArthur. Following the Japanese surrender in mid-August 1945, Hodges returned First Army to its traditional home, Governors Island, New York, and later retired. In September 1948, coincidental with Walker's arrival in Japan to take over Eighth Army, Army Chief of Staff Omar Bradley assigned Kean to command the 25th Division and gave him another star - a well-deserved reward for his loyal wartime cohort.
Kean's artillery chief, Bittman Barth, had preceded the division to Korea, serving as Bill Dean's "eyes and ears" at Osan and P'yŏngt'aek. Barth's artillery exec, West Pointer (1931) William W. Dick, had this to say about his division commander:
Kean was a superb commander in every respect. Tough to serve under in peacetime but just the kind you want to be in charge in combat. A brilliant tactician, excellent manager and absolutely tireless, he was a no-nonsense, but absolutely fair man. He did not suffer fools gladly. His workday would have crushed nine out of ten younger men. Having served under five division commanders during World War II and Korea, I would rate him at the top.[6-3]
In this photograph, high ranking Department of Army members,
Commanding Generals of six Stateside Army Areas, and other field
commanders, meet with Secretary of the the Army, Frank Pace and General
J. Lawton Collins, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army at the Pentagon. Front row,
left to right:
Lieutenant General Maxwell D. Taylor; Lieutenant General Joseph M. Swing; General John R. Hodge; General J. Lawton Collins; Secretary Frank Pace; General John E. Hull; General Edward H. Brooks; Lieutenant General William M. Hoge; Lieutenant General John W. O'Daniel.
Back row, left to right:
Major General Edward T. Williams; Major General William M. Miley; Major General Leland S. Hobbs; Lieutenant General William B. Kean; Lieutenant General George H. Decker; Lieutenant General Horace McBride; Lieutenant General Alexander R. Bolling; Lieutenant General Lyman L. Lemnitzer; Major General Lester J. Whitlock; Major General Edwin K. Wright; and Brigadier General Frederic L. Hayden.
|Date:||December 02, 1952|
|Related Collection:||Frank Pace Papers|
|ARC Keywords:||Armed forces officers; Cabinet officers; Generals|
Collins, J. Lawton (Joseph Lawton), 1896-1987;
Hodge, J. R. (John Reed), 1893-1963;
Lemnitzer, Lyman L. (Lyman Louis), 1899-;
Pace, Frank, 1912-1988;
Taylor, Maxwell D. (Maxwell Davenport), 1901-1987;
Brooks, Edward H. (Edward Hale), 1893-1978;
Bolling, A. R. (Alexander Russell), 1895-1964;
Swing, Joseph (Joseph May), 1894-1987;
Decker, George Henry, 1902-1980;
Hobbs, Leland S. (Leland Stanford), 1892-1966;
Kean, William B. (William Benjamin), 1897-1981;
Whitlock, Lester J. (Lester Johnson), 1892-1971;
Williams, E. T. (Edward Thomas), 1901-1973;
O'Daniel, John W. (John Wilson), 1894-1975;
Hayden, Frederic L. (Frederic Lord), 1901-1969;
McBride, Horace L. (Horace Logan), 1894-1962;
Hoge, William M., 1894-1979;
Hull, John Edwin, 1895-1975;
Miley, William M. (William Maynadler), 1897-1997;
Wright, Edwin K. (Edwin Kennedy), 1898-1983
AWARDS AND CITATIONS
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Major General William Benjamin Kean (ASN: 0-12470), United States Army, was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility as Chief of Staff, FIRST Army in 1944.General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 64 (1944)
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Major General William Benjamin Kean (ASN: 0-12470), United States Army, was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Army Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility as Chief of Staff, FIRST Army, from 1944 to 1947.General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 60 (1947)
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Award of the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Major General William Benjamin Kean (ASN: 0-12470), United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division, in Korea, from 8 July 1950 to 19 February 1951.General Orders: Department of the Army, General Orders No. 12 (February 26, 1951)
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Major General William Benjamin Kean (ASN: 0-12470), United States Army, was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division, in Korea.General Orders: Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea: General Orders No. 90 (1950)
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Major General William Benjamin Kean (ASN: 0-12470), United States Army, was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Chief of Staff, SECOND Corps, in 1943.General Orders: Unites States Military Academy Register of Graduates
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Major General William Benjamin Kean (ASN: 0-12470), United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division, in Korea.General Orders: Unites States Military Academy Register of Graduates