|Oliver W. Dillard, Sr.|
|Born||September 28, 1926|
|Place of birth||Margaret, Alabama|
|Years of service||1945-1980|
World War II|
Distinguished Service Medal (2)|
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Oliver Williams Dillard, Sr. (born September 28, 1926) is a retired American major general, the fifth black officer in the United States Army to attain flag rank.
General Dillard is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame and Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame, at Fort Huachuca, Arizona and Fort Benning, Georgia respectively.
He was the first black graduate of the National War College in 1965. General Dillard also served as the first black general officer in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the last J2 (senior Intelligence officer) for the U.S. Military Assistance Command – Vietnam, the first U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, and the first black Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence for the US Army Europe. Dillard retired from the Army in 1980, after a career spanning 34 years.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Education
- 3 Military career
- 4 Awards & Decorations
- 5 Dates of rank
- 6 Retirement
- 7 Personal life
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life[edit | edit source]
Born in Margaret, Alabama, Dillard is the son of Josiephine Dillard (née Williams) and Stonewall Jackson Dillard. His father was a graduate of Tuskegee Institute and a school teacher. In 1942, Oliver graduated Valedictorian from Fairfield Industrial High School in Fairfield, Alabama, and received a scholarship to Tuskegee Institute. One of Tuskegee's top students, he was elected to the Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society. He was a Tuskegee Institute Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) student for two years and student instructor for one year. Dillard received the Outstanding ROTC Student Award for 1943 and 1944. He was also their American Legion Honor Medal award winner.
Education[edit | edit source]
Dillard postponed his academic studies after being drafted in 1945. Following attendance at the United States Army Command and General Staff College (class of 1957/1958), he completed his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Omaha, now the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He also attended George Washington University, where he received a Master of Science in International Affairs in 1965. Dillard completed the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair, District of Columbia that year.
Military career[edit | edit source]
Enlisted Service[edit | edit source]
Dillard attended Basic Training at Fort McClellan, Alabama in June 1945. Army troop transports delivered Dillard and his group of Black replacements to Bremerhaven en route to Weißenburg in Bayern, Germany, and an assignment to 349th Field Artillery Group. Dillard was selected to serve as company clerk upon his arrival on January 1, 1946. He worked his way through the ranks and was rewarded, attaining Technical Sergeant.
Dillard successfully completed the OCS selection process and was approved for attendance at the Infantry OCS at Fort Benning in January 1947. He received a commission as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry after graduating from Infantry OCS in July 1947.
Commissioned Service[edit | edit source]
Second Lieutenant Dillard was the Honor Graduate of his Infantry Officers Basic Course. Subsequently, he was assigned to the 365th Infantry Regiment at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he held numerous assignments as a lieutenant ending as a Battalion S3. In June 1950, he joined the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division stationed at Camp Gifu, Gifu, Gifu, Japan.
Korean War[edit | edit source]
Lieutenant Dillard deployed with the 24th Infantry Regiment to the Republic of Korea as part of the response to North Korean aggression. Upon landing at Pusan, Dillard and the 25th Infantry Division were initially positioned some one hundred miles north of Pusan and given the mission of blocking and delaying advancing North Korean forces moving down the Naktong River valley from the northwest.
On July 21, 1950, Lieutenant Dillard’s platoon was the lead element as the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry—supported by other elements of the 24th Regimental Combat Team—conducted the first major offensive mission by the 25th Infantry Division with its recapture of the vital road junction town of Yecheon driving out the North Korean defenders, and repulsing a North Korean attempts to retake the town. It was considered by the Congress and the United States Department of Defense as the first sizable American ground victory of the war. A thorough accounting of Dillard’s exploits are described in Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Bradley Biggs' October 2003 Military Review article, “The ‘Deuce-Four’ in Korea.” A veteran of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (United States), Colonel Biggs described General Dillard as “a superb officer” and commended him for his use of surprise and speed during the battle of Yecheon. Following recovery in Japan from wounds received on August 6, 1950, Dillard received his first Military Intelligence assignment as a Battalion S2.
While Dillard was assigned as the Battalion S2 for 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (United States), he was awarded the Silver Star for his actions near Masan, Republic of Korea from September 14–15, 1950. While setting the defense of the battalion with his Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Blair, Dillard responded to enemy action occurring in Company L’s area. He and a small group reinforced the company defense location and fought with heroic effectiveness. His assistant division commander, Brigadier General Joseph S. Bradley—a distinguished war hero from World War II and Korea—awarded the Silver Star to Captain Dillard.
Following his year in combat and participation in five campaigns, Captain Dillard attended the Infantry Officers Advanced Course where he graduated 6th in his class. From 1952 to 1954, he served as Assistant Professor of Military Science at North Carolina Agricultural and Technology (A&T) State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Dillard imparted his recent Korea experience and his experiences as an ROTC cadet at Tuskegee Institute to his North Carolina A&T cadets, including Charles Bussey, who became a major general and served as chief of Army public affairs from 1984 to 1987.
In 1954, Captain Dillard was assigned to 4th Infantry Division (United States) in Gelnhausen, Federal Republic of Germany, where he commanded Company C, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment (United States). After observing then Captain Dillard for several months, the Regimental Commander—Colonel (later Major General) Kenneth W. Collins—moved him to the position of Regimental Communications Officer, a position of importance to a Cold War infantry unit. When the 4th Infantry Division was inactivated, General Dillard became the Chief, Map Reading Committee at the Seventh Army Noncommissioned Officers Academy in Munich, Germany.
Following his Germany assignment, Major Dillard graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), where he was one of only three Black officers in his class, in 1958. He graduated in the top third of his class. After CGSC, he completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Omaha under the Army’s Bootstrap Program, which leveraged his earlier studies at Tuskegee Institute.
Major Dillard was subsequently assigned to the G3 Section, Headquarters First United States Army at Fort Jay, New York, and served as Operations and Plans Officer and subsequently as Exercise G3 for Exercises IROQUOIS HATCHET and MOHAWK ARROW. He departed First United States Army in December 1960 and was assigned to the U.S. Military Mission to Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia, initially as deputy Chief of Mission and later as the Operations Officer. He received unprecedented access to the Armed Forces of Liberia operations and intelligence planning process. Dillard became a valued coach and mentor to Liberian officers and assisted them in integrating advanced staff techniques and processes into their planning. He also helped prepare a Liberian company, designated the Reinforced Security Company, for assistance to the United Nations Operation in the Congo.
Military Intelligence[edit | edit source]
After a number of years since his first Intelligence assignment in Korea, Lieutenant Colonel Dillard was assigned to Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI), Department of the Army in 1963. He used his recent experiences in Korea, Germany and Africa to adeptly lead the Foreign Intelligence Assistance Section, Special Warfare and Foreign Assistance Branch, with an additional duty as Chief of Europe, Africa, and Middle East Section. In 1965, Dillard graduated from the National War College; the first Black officer to do so. Subsequently, he was assigned to the Special Studies Directorate, US Army Combat Developments Command’s Institute of Special Studies at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he served as Operations and Training Staff Officer, Special Studies Division, and later as Chief of Analysis/ Coordination Branch, Study Division 3. In 1967, Colonel Dillard was assigned to command a battalion of the 5th Combat Support Training Brigade at Fort Dix, and later he commanded the Brigade for a year.
Vietnam Advisor[edit | edit source]
Thành phố Kon Tum
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Following attendance at the Foreign Service Institute’s Vietnam Training Center, in 1969 Colonel Dillard reported for duty at US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MAC-V), as a Province Senior Advisor (PSA) for Kon Tum Province. While assigned as the PSA for Advisory Team 41, Military Region II, his success was documented in the Washington Post as the example for how to build a close relationship with the Province Chief, Nguyen Hop Doan, and his civilian deputy, Ken Lyvers, a United States Agency for International Development employee. Together, they grew the Provincial and Popular Forces to defend the Province and organized the villages and hamlets—Vietnamese and Montagnard—to feed and defend themselves.
After two years of exeplary service in the PSA Program, in 1971 General Dillard returned to the Office of ACSI, the Army Staff, where he served as the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence—the first Black officer in this position. From this position, he pushed hard to: (1) move the Army Intelligence Center to Fort Huachuca, Arizona; his testimony before Congress was compelling; (2) further develop the MI branch; (3) get tactical MI Battalions in the Divisions; and (4) field the Guardrail aerial platform. Secretary of the Army Robert F. Froehlke pinned on Dillard's star—promoting him to Brigadier General, and making him the fifth Black general in Army history and arguably its first Black Intelligence general officer—at a Pentagon ceremony, which was covered by The Afro-American newspaper.
Vietnam Senior Staff Officer[edit | edit source]
At the behest of General Frederick C. Weyand, General Dillard returned to MAC-V headquarters in Saigon for duty as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS). In this position, he worked with General Weyand and Ambassador William Colby on CORDS plans and operations throughout Vietnam. Following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and as American and third country forces began withdrawing from Vietnam, General Dillard was assigned as MAC-V’s last Director of Intelligence, and departed on March 29, 1973 when MAC-V disbanded.
Senior Intelligence Officer[edit | edit source]
As part of Operation STEADFAST, General Dillard served as first Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence (DCSINT) for the new United States Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) at Fort McPherson, Georgia. He and his staff addressed four major problems with intelligence organizations: (1) inadequate analytical capability; (2) lack of collection assets at the lower levels; (3) inadequacy of secure communications support; and (4) the "unwanted guests" mentality since the intelligence units were attached, not organic.
In 1974, Major General Robert Leahy Fair selected General Dillard to be his Assistant Division Commander for Maneuver, 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas. Having had recent Intelligence assignments, General Dillard worked diligently for operations-intelligence integration as the 2nd Armored Division prepared for its return of forces to Germany (Exercise Reforger) mission, and their annual Reforger exercise supporting the Army’s operational plans.
From 1975 to 1978, Major General Dillard served as the DSCINT, United States Army Europe (USAREUR) and Seventh Army in Heidelberg, Germany, where Army Intelligence played a significant role in the defense of Europe. His use of United States Army Security Agency (ASA), and its successor United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), assets ensured a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding and countering Soviet forces at the height of the Cold War.
As his final assignment, Major General Dillard served as the Commanding General, United States Army Readiness Region II at Fort Dix, New Jersey until 1980 when he retired. He used his knowledge of combat arms and the Intelligence battlefield operating system to assess and train Reserve Component units assigned to First United States Army.
Awards & Decorations[edit | edit source]
General Dillard’s awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with V Device and one Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star (two awards), Army Staff Identification Badge, and Vietnam Distinguished Service Order (1st and 2nd Class). He also received two civilian awards from the Republic of Vietnam: the Vietnam Rural Revolutionary Development Medal and the Vietnam Ethnic Development Service Medal (1st Class).
Dates of rank[edit | edit source]
Retirement[edit | edit source]
General Dillard’s contributions to the Army did not end on February 1, 1980 when he retired. As a result of his friendship with Lieutenant General Julius W. Becton, Jr.—the VII Corps Commander at the time—and General Dillard’s recent retirement, General Becton had General Dillard travel to various installations in Germany and speak as a part of Black History month activities. In March 1980, General Dillard participated in a Study conference, “Black Officer Accession and Retention,” at the US Army War College that clarified information concerning the O5 promotion articles that appeared in the Army Times; his inputs highlighted required actions for the Army to increase the number of Black officer and their quality.
General Dillard was a 1974 charter member of The Rocks, Inc.—the largest professional military officers’ organization with a majority African-American membership—and was committed to assisting with professional development and social events to improve the officer corps. He, and the 24th Infantry Regiment Association, led an effort to vindicate the actions of the 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea in 1950 and counter the history written by Roy Appleman in his book South to Naktong, North to the Yalu.
He traveled to Korea two times, and was interviewed numerous times for the Center for Military History’s book Black Soldier/White Army. His efforts were also described in a November 1989 Los Angeles Times article by John Broder “COLUMN ONE: War and Black GIs’ Memories." During one of General Dillard’s visits to Korea, he spoke to a group of Black officers assembled from installations throughout the Korean Peninsula on his Korean War experiences and the importance of their service.
On June 1, 2011, Dillard was awarded the Military Intelligence Corps Association's LTC Thomas W. Knowlton Award for Excellence in Intelligence, commemorating his significant role in Army Military Intelligence history, beginning in 1950.
General Dillard was inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame on May 4, 2012. On September 14, 2012, he was inducted into the Army Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, becoming the 226th recipient of this honor.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
General Dillard is married to the former Helen Stephens of Margaret, Alabama. They have four children.
References[edit | edit source]
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