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A Life in Service: Selections from the Papers of General William Childs Westmoreland

South Carolina Political Collections Gallery, Hollings Library
Oct 8, 2012 - Nov 15, 2012

“A Life in Service: Selections from the Papers of General William Childs Westmoreland, (1914-2005)” features items from the General William Childs Westmoreland Papers at South Caroliniana Library. The exhibit is on display in the South Carolina Political Collections Gallery at Hollings Library through November 15.

“As a 20th-century collection, there are a lot of good visuals in the Westmoreland collection,” said South Caroliniana Library’s Brian Cuthrell, who curated the exhibit. He processed the Westmoreland collection after it arrived at USC in 1999.

The photo shown here, which is part of the exhibit, shows General William C. Westmoreland, Army Chief of Staff, in the Oval Office with President Lyndon B. Johnson, ca. 1968.

“Although in popular memory, the general is most associated with the Vietnam years, his career spanned the 20th century, a time when military technology progressed from horses to helicopters,” Cuthrell said. “His first assignment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1936, included significant time on horseback. During World War II, he fought through North Africa and Sicily. He landed at Utah Beach on June 10, 1944, five days after D-Day, and lead men through France, Belgium and Germany, where his unit held the Ludendorff Bridge against Germany forces, which was later made into the 1969 film, Bridge at Remagen.”

“In 1946, he assumed command of the 504th Parachute Infantry of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.,” he said. “He served in Korea in 1952 and survived a near-fatal jump when his parachute failed to open until 100 feet before impact. In Vietnam, his wife, Mrs. Kitsy Van Deusen Westmoreland, and their three children lived in Saigon, 1964-1965, during the first year that Westmoreland served as Commanding General, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Appointed Chief of Staff of the Army by LBJ in 1968, Westmoreland served the majority of his term under President Nixon.”

“After 36 years and three wars, the Westmorelands retired to Charleston in 1972 and enjoyed a very active retirement of travel and speaking engagements. He published a memoir, A Soldier Reports, in 1976.”

“In the collection, there are a lot of good photos of the general in the field with the soldiers and with so many military leaders and people who are still familiar to us today, like LBJ, Bob Hope, JFK, Martha Raye, President Nixon,” Cuthrell said. “The collection consists of approximately 113 linear feet of cartons holding papers, scrapbooks, original art work. There are many different formats, including photographs, letters, books, audio, film and vinyl.”

“One of the real strengths of the collection are the many books and letters the general received after his retirement, such as letters from veterans who wrote to him, telling him how much he meant to them, with many of them writing that they would follow him into battle again.”

Several of these letters, as well as photographs and other items, are part of the "A Life in Service" exhibit in the South Carolina Political Collection’s Gallery in Hollings Library.

For more information about the exhibit, contact . For more information about Hollings Library, including operating hours and directions, visit