Walter T. Kerwin, Jr.

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Walter T. Kerwin, Jr.
Nickname(s) "Dutch"
Born (1917-06-14)June 14, 1917
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Alexandria, Virginia
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1939–1978
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Forces Command
Battles/wars World War II
Vietnam War
Awards Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star
Air Medal (11)
Purple Heart

Walter Thomas Kerwin, Jr. (June 14, 1917 – July 11, 2008) was a United States Army four star general who served as Commanding General, U.S. Continental Army Command (CG CONARC), 1973; Commanding General, United States Army Forces Command (CG FORSCOM) from 1973 to 1974; and Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army (VCSA) from 1974 to 1978. He was the first commander of United States Army Forces Command and a member of the Association of the United States Army’s Advisory Board of Directors since 1984.

Military career

Kerwin graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1939 and was commissioned in the field artillery and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division. During World War II he fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. In December 1944, while in France, he was wounded in Mutzig and evacuated to the United States, returning to Europe in 1945 and assigned to the Theater Operations Division of the War Department's General Staff.

As a brigadier general he took command of the 3rd Armored Division Artillery in Hanau, Germany in August 1961. During the 1960s he held various flag officer billets to include 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.

Kerwin is heralded as the champion of the “One Army” or “Total Army” concept. This concept, which became a reality under his leadership, recognized the indispensable role of the Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve as equal partners with the active Army in executing defense policy and in preparing for war.

Recognized by his commanders and peers as an innovative artilleryman, he developed a system of massing fires that contributed immeasurably to the success of the Allied landings at Anzio Beachhead. After World War II, he attended the Army War College and the National War College, and served in various assignments, including Plans and Operations Officer at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory; Commander of the 56th Artillery Group, XVIII Airborne Corps; and Deputy Director in the Army's Office of the Chief of Research and Development.

On October 29, 1974 he became Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army during the army's transition to an all volunteer force and post-Vietnam War restructuring.

Awards and decorations

Kerwin awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star, Air Medal with ten oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Purple Heart. Kerwin's service awards include the American Defense Service Medal, European Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal with star, Vietnam Service Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star

Post military

After retiring from the army, Kerwin continued to work for the Department of Defense in different capacities. He also served for 17 years as a consultant for Martin Marietta and Lockheed Martin. Having been a member of the Board of Directors of the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association since 1969, he became its Chairman in 1982, serving in that capacity until 1997. He has also been involved with the Association of the United States Army, the Field Artillery Association, and the Army Emergency Relief Association. He received the 2003 Distinguished Graduate Award from the Association of Graduates, the West Point alumni organization.


On July 11, 2008 in Alexandria, Virginia of respiratory failure. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara in 1980.

See also

Kerwin was survived by his son Ltc Bruce Kerwin (ret) his daughter Margaret Kerwin, two granddaughters; Kristina and Deborah a Senior member of the Bureau of Fiscal Services. An Ordained minister and familiar Carter. His great grandchildren; Gavin Schober, Jack, Delaney and Grace Poirier, and Amer Darwish.


Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Frederick C. Weyand
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Gen. Frederick Kroesen