John A. Wickham, Jr.

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John A. Wickham
File:General John Wickham, official military photo 1988.JPEG
Wickham in August 1988
Born (1928-06-25) June 25, 1928 (age 94)
Dobbs Ferry, New York, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1950-1987
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division
101st Airborne Division
United Nations Command
United States Forces Korea
Eighth Army
Army Chief of Staff
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Silver Star (2)
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Air Medal (10)
Legion of Merit (4)
Distinguished Service Medals (8) (Defense, Army, Navy and Air Force)
Combat Infantryman Badge
Expert Infantryman Badge
Parachutist Badge
Air Assault Badge
Doughboy Award

John Adams Wickham, Jr. (born June 25, 1928) is a retired United States Army general who served as the U.S. Army Chief of Staff from 1983 to 1987.

Early life and education

Wickham was born on June 25, 1928, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1950, where he later served as a social sciences instructor, from 1956 to 1960.


Upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy in 1950, Wickham was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 18th Infantry Regiment and then the 6th Infantry Regiment in Berlin. He served as a platoon leader and company executive officer in the 511th Airborne Infantry Regiment and served as an aide-de-camp to the commander in the 37th Infantry Division and 10th Infantry Division. He received master's degrees in economics and government from Harvard University and was a graduate of the National War College and Armed Forces Staff College.

Wickham then served as operations officer of the 1st Battle Group, 5th Cavalry, in Korea, and was executive officer to Army Chief of Staff Harold Johnson. Later he commanded in combat the 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam, where he was seriously wounded by a satchel charge explosive. Wickham spent over a year in the hospital recovering. He later commanded the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division in Germany.

Wickham returned to Vietnam as the Deputy Chief of Staff, MACV, and was responsible for negotiating release of all prisoners of war. He then commanded the 101st Airborne Division, was director of the Joint Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and afterward, as a four-star general, became Commander in Chief of the United Nations Command and Commander of the United States Forces Korea and Eighth Army in Korea.

In 1979, he played a leading role in calming political tensions after the assassination of South Korean President Park Chung Hee, and wrote a book "Korea on the Brink" about the dangerous period. He also served as senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense James R. Schlesinger and Donald Rumsfeld. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan appointed him Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

Later work

He retired from the U.S. Army in 1987 after 37 years of active service. He was twice awarded the Silver Star for battlefield valor, as well as the Bronze Star for valor, the Purple Heart, 10 Air Medals, 4 Legions of Merit, 8 Distinguished Service Medals (Defense (4), Army (2), Navy and Air Force), Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, and 21 foreign decorations including the Republic of Korea's highest military decoration. He was named by Army Times as one of the ten leaders who most changed the Army. The Association of Graduates USMA presented him with the Distinguished Graduate Award in 2005, and he received the Infantry Doughboy Award in 2006.

Wickham served as Town Council President in Sun City, Arizona and as an elder at Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona . He served as Chairman of the Board for Honeywell Federal Systems and Nortel Federal Systems, and as director of several other corporations. He was named vice chairman for the United States-China National Committee and has served as a member of the Secretary of Defense Policy Board. He is also active in the United Way, and a member of the Alfalfa Club, and Council on Foreign Relations. In his autobiography My American Journey, General Colin Powell mentioned serving with Wickham and praised him as "every inch a Soldier".

Awards and decorations

  • Combat Infantry Badge.svg
  • Expert Infantry Badge.svg
  • United States Air Force Parachutist Badge.svg
  • AirAssault.svg
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge.png
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
  • United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters
Bronze Star with "V" Device
Meritorious Service Medal
Award numeral 1.pngAward numeral 0.png Air Medal (10 awards)
Army Commendation Medal
Purple Heart
Valorous Unit Award ribbon.svg Valorous Unit Award
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with eight Service stars
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 2.png Army Overseas Service Ribbon with bronze award numeral 2
Taeguk Cordon Medal.png Republic of Korea Taeguk Medal
National Order of Vietnam Knight's degree
Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (two awards)
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Personal life

Wickham married Ann Lindsley Prior in 1955. They have three children and six grandchildren.


  • However, let's heed history's lessons, be more mindful about limits of our power and, above all, be prudent with strategy lest misguided military policies drain our national strength and undermine our international leadership.[1]
  • "I've been a great believer in mentoring; helping younger people grow, and counseling them. I don't think we do enough of that in our society today."


  1. John Kie-chiang Oh, Korean Politics: The Quest for Democratization and Economic Development (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999).

See also


External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. John William Vessey, Jr.
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
1982 – 1983
Succeeded by
Gen. Maxwell R. Thurman
Preceded by
Edward C. Meyer
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Carl E. Vuono