William Edwin Waters
Colonel, United States Army
William Edwin Waters
When Bill Waters' many friends learned that
he had passed away in the early morning of 15 January 1962, the reaction
among us all was one of shock and disbelief; because Bill was one of those
rare human beings whose personal and professional qualities inspired such
affection and respect as to serve us as a mark toward which to strive.
He represented the kind of officer and gentleman we ourselves wished to
Bill was a man of many talents and a leader
in every sense of the word. Possessed of a keen mind, strong physique,
and courage born of deep convictions, he had the stability and perception
that enabled him to adjust to any situation, becoming, no matter where
he was assigned, the man to see to get things done easily and with a minimum
of friction. He was an outstanding Army officer, a soldier of the highest
During World War II, Bill served as a company commander in the 83d Division, taking his company ashore in Normandy shortly after D-Day. He fought with them through France and Germany and was serving as battalion S-3 at the Elbe when the fighting stopped. But it was at St. Nazaire that Bill performed one of his most spectacular exploits: a feat of soldierly courage and something more. It was typical of him.
Near St. Nazaire, our troops had bypassed a
strongly defended, underground fortress, from which the Germans had to
be driven. The fortress was so well camouflaged that it was invisible except
from extremely close range. There seemed to be no way of taking it but
by direct assault and at the cost of many lives. But an alternative occurred
to Bill when the fortress commander sent out a request for medical
Bill Waters was born in Sullivan County on 16 May 1918. A year later his family moved to Indianapolis, the city that Bill was to call home throughout his service career. After high school, Bill joined the National Guard and entered the West Point Prep School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. He earned his appointment to West Point though the Army. At the Military Academy his abilities continued to be recognized, and he became second captain and commander of the 1st Regiment during his first class year. Following in his fatherís footsteps, Bill selected the Infantry as his career branch, and, after graduation, reported for further training to the Infantry School at Fort Benning. Three months prior to his leaving with the 83d Division for England, Bill married Mimi Meagher at Fort Slocum, New York.
After the German surrender, Bill remained with
the occupation forces and wound up in the G-2 section of Headquarters U.S.
Forces, Vienna. Returning to the States, Bill was assigned as aide to General
Mark W. Clark at Sixth Army Headquarters, Presidio, California. Another
series of assignments took him through the Advanced Course Infantry
School at Fort Benning, to Columbia University for his masterís degree
in English literature, and to the English Department at the Military Academy.
During this three-year tour, Bill distinguished himself as a teacher and
was able to
At the end of the West Point tour of duty,
Bill became a student again, this time at the General Staff and Command
College at Fort Leavenworth, and from there once again went overseas, this
time as S-3 of the 32d Infantry Regiment. As a Major, he then became the
7th Divisionís G-1 under General E. B. Sebree and later under General Carraway.
On his return to the States, he became assistant secretary to the General
Staff of Continental Army Command, and later Aide-de-Camp to General Willard
G. Wyman. On completing his tour with CONARC, Bill entered the Armed Forces
Staff College at Norfolk and was subsequently assigned to the Headquarters
In this post, Bill distinguished himself by his adroit handling of several crises. Notable among these were the invasion of Panama by a band of Cuban mercenaries in April 1959, two major civil disturbances that occurred along the Canal Zone boundaries in November of the same year, and his administration of the massive and intricate relief operation organized after the Chilean earthquakes of June 1960. His work for Chilean relief demonstrated once again his humanity and professional versatility in a job that required him to operate the longest peacetime airlift of its kind ever attempted.
It is perhaps a clue to the basic character
of the man that, versatile as he was, he always considered himself first
and foremost an Infantry officer. In the days when some of the fainter-hearted
were concerned over the future of the Armed Forces, of the Army, of the
Infantry, Bill never lost faith and never lost his deep pride in his competence
as a fighting soldier. But Bill did not, in fact, regard his duty as being
restricted to close order drill and combat techniques, and, though he deferred
to no one in these respects, he was as comfortable and as effective in
a large staff section or a classroom as he was in the field with troops.
Bill Waters was admired and
He is survived by his wife Mimi; sons Bill Jr., John, Robert, James, and Michael; and daughter Barbara, all residing in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
ó Roger L. Fisher