Dean, William Frishe Sr., 01-08-899, in Carlyle, Illinois, to Charles Watts Dean, who worked as a dentist, and Elizabeth Frishe Dean, who was of German descent. William Dean had two siblings, a brother named David and a sister named Elizabeth. Dean states in his biography his interest in the military began at a very young age, upon seeing the United States Military Academy cadets in the 1904 Saint Louis Exposition performing military drill. In his childhood, Dean was interested in physical fitness, and began weightlifting and running, activities he would continue throughout much of his life. His first jobs included selling magazines for spending money. Growing up in Carlyle, Dean was the town’s main paperboy for The Saturday Evening Post. After graduating from high school, Dean applied to the US Military Academy , but was rejected. He then tried to enlist in the United States Army during World War I, but he was too young to do so without his parents’ permission, and his mother refused. Dean instead attended University of California at Berkeley studying pre-law. During this time, he also took a variety of side jobs, including a stevedore at the San Francisco docks, a motorman, and briefly as a patrolman for the Berkeley Police Department, where he worked under police chief August Vollmer . Vollmer was a leading figure in the development of the field of criminal justice in the United States in the early 20th century. He was also the first police chief of Berkeley, California and died age 79, on 04-11-1955. Dean originally sought to attain a Doctor of Law degree but only completed a Bachelor of Arts degree from Berkley in 1922 before joining the Army. Dean, who had been a member of Berkley’s ROTC, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the California Army National Guard in 1921, before being given an active duty commission in the infantry on 13-10-1923. His first assignment was to the US 38th Infantry Regiment , 3rd Infantry Division, “Marne Division” at Fort Douglas, Utah. Dean was promoted to captain in 1936, and major in 1940. Upon this promotion, Dean was assigned to Washington D.C. on the United States Department of War on the General Staff, first as a junior member, then as assistant secretary, then as executive officer in the Requirement Division of the Ground Forces Headquarters, a department concerned with the acquisition of new weapons and electronics, and training literature. Following the United States’ entry into World War II, Dean was promoted to the temporary ranks of lieutenant colonel in 1941, and colonel in 1942. He was promoted to Brigadier General later that year and made head of the Requirements Division in 1943. He held this office only briefly, before being assigned as assistant commander of the US 44th Infantry Division , under Major General James I. Muir in late 1943. Earlier commander of the 44th was General William Beiderlinden. The division was to sail for the European Theater and Dean went with them despite being injured shortly before departure in a flamethrower accident which claimed the lives of two other soldiers. Dean was promoted to Major General in late 1943. The 44th Infantry Division landed in France via Omaha Beach on 15-09-19944. It trained for a month before entering combat on 18-10-1944, when it relieved the US 79th Infantry Division in the vicinity of Foret de Parroy, east of Luneville, to take part in the Seventh United States Army drive to secure several passes in the Vosges Mountains. Former commander of the 79th was Anthony McAuliffe , the later famous defender of Bastogne. The division was hit by a heavy counterattack by forces of Nazi Germany on October 25–26. The attack was repulsed and the 44th remained in the sector for several weeks. On 13-11-1944, it attacked northeast, advancing through the Vosges Mountains east of Leintrey to Dossenheim, and capturing Avricourt, on November 17. The division then pushed on to liberate Strasbourg with the French 2nd Armored Division. Commander Philippe Leclere de Hautecloque
. After regrouping, the 44th Infantry Division returned to the attack, taking Ratzwiller and entering the Ensemble de Bitche along the Maginot Line. The US 44th Infantry Division troops fighting at Mannheim in 1945. When division commander Major General Robert Lily Spragins was injured and relieved of command in December 1944, Spragins died age 55, on 26-12-1964. Dean was promoted to command the division. That month, the division was caught up in the German Army offensive in the Alsace, known as Operation Nordwind. Fort Simserhof was captured by the Germans on December 19 and the 44th Infantry Division was forced to retreat to defensive positions east of Sarreguemines. On December 21–23, the 44th threw back three attempts by the Germans to cross the Blies River. An aggressive defense of the Sarreguemines area was continued throughout February and most of March 1945. The division moved across the Rhine River at Worms, Germany on March 26, in the wake of the 3rd Infantry Division. The 44th relieved the 3rd on March 26–27 and crossed the Neckar River to attack and capture Mannheim, Germany on March 28–29. Shifting to the west bank of the Main River, the division crossed that river at Grosse Auheim in early April, and engaged in a three-week period of training. Returning to the lines, the division resumed its attack on April 18 in conjunction with the US 10th Armored Division. the 44th took Ehingen on April 23, crossed the Danube River. It then attacked southeast into Austria, taking Füssen, Berg, and Wertach as part of a drive to Imst. Pursuing the disintegrating German forces through Fern Pass and into Inn Valley, the 44th was in Imst by May 4. The city of Landeck surrendered on May 5. The 19th German Army under General der Panzertruppe, Erich Brandenburger had surrendered at Innsbruck the same day, and the division was involved in processing German prisoners until V-E Day on May 8. Brandenburg died age 62, on 21-06-1955, in Bonn.Dean’s troops took 30.000 prisoners of war in the surrender of the German army. Dean was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, and the Army Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership of the division during the war. After a short period of occupation duty, the 44th Infantry Division returned to the United States in July 1945 where it began training for deployment to the Pacific Theater. As part of Operation Coronet it was intended that Dean would lead the division during the planned invasion of Honshū, but the war came to an end before this took place and the operation was subsequently cancelled. Dean then oversaw the draw down of the division until he was relieved of command on 01-11-1945. The 44th Infantry Division was disbanded by the end of that month. Dean met Mildred Dern of Salt Lake City, Utah when one of Dern’s friends was injured in a fall from one of Dean’s polo ponies during his 1923–1926 tour at Fort Douglas. The two were married in 1926. The couple had two children, Majorie June Dean, born in 1927 and William Dean, Jr., born 1929. June married Robert Williams, a US Army Captain, while William Jr. attended West Point Academy in 1950. Dean maintained an athletic lifestyle for much of his life, picking up weightlifting and running when he was young, coaching basketball and, in his later years, he played tennis. He maintained a steady athletic regimen for the majority of his life, even insisting upon it during his imprisonment. In his later life, Dean maintained a self-deprecating outlook on his actions in Korea, and maintained he did not feel he deserved the Medal of Honor . Of his time in Korea, Dean later said, “I wouldn’t have awarded myself a wooden star for what I did as a commander.” In his autobiography, he opted instead to highlight the command decisions he regretted making and contend, “There were heroes in Korea, but I was not one of them.” In 1951, Congress voted to award Dean the Medal of Honor for his actions during the defense of Taejon. The Medal was presented by US President, Harry Ship Truman on 16-02-1951 to Dean’s wife, son William Dean Jr. and daughter Marjorie June Dean. Dean himself was still reported missing in action in Korea and thought to be dead. During the confused retreat from that city, Dean was separated from his soldiers and badly injured, and was eventually captured by the North Koreans. He remained in North Korean custody near P’yongyang for the remainder of the war.
Death and burial ground of Dean, William Frishe Sr.
After the end of the conflict, Dean returned to the United States to a hero’s welcome. He retired from the Army soon after and lived a quiet life until his death, age 82, on 24-08-1981 and is buried San Francisco National Cemetery.