Kean, William, 2* Major General, Commanding General 11th
Armored Division, born 09-07-1897 in Buffalo, New York,
graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1918, age 21 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. After receiving his commission, Kean was assigned to the U.S.M.A. as a student officer. He then carried out an observation tour of battlefronts in Italy, Belgium and France, and was an observer of the Allied occupation in Germany. In late 1919 he returned to the United States and completed the Infantry Officer Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. Kean carried out numerous assignments of increasing rank and responsibility, including a posting to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. In 1925 he graduated from the Signal Officer Course, and in 1939 he was a graduate of the Command and General Staff College.
Lieutenant General Omar Bradley
center, Commanding the U.S. 12th Army Group, confers with Major General Elwood Richard Quesada
left, and Major General William Benjamin Kean at 1st U.S. Army Headquarters, 3 miles east of Le Tilleul, France. In March, 1943 Kean was assigned as Chief of Staff of the 28th
Infantry Division, nickname “Keystone Division”
Senior officers watching operations from the bridge of USS Augusta (CA-31), off Normandy, 08-06-1944. They are (from left to right): Rear Admiral Alan Goodrich Kirk
Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, Rear Admiral Arthur Dewey Struble
(with binoculars), and Major General William B. Kean. The 28th
is also one of the most decorated infantry divisions in the United States Army. The division returned to U.S. on 02-08-1945 and was inactivated on 13-12-1945. The 28th
captured 8.661 prisoners and their casualties during the 196 days of combat, killed 1.901, wounded 9.157, missing 2.599, captured 2.247. The United States Army suffered 318.274 killed and missing in all theatres of the war. Just a month later he was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned as Chief of Staff for the U.S. II Corps
, then fighting in North Africa under the command of Omar “Brad” Bradley
. After the Anzio landings, Operation Shingle, Major General, Geoffrey Keyes
was assigned commander of II Corps. The corps fought from Monte Cassino, moved up the western side of Italy, and ended up on the right flank of US Fifth Army in May 1945. The II Corps inactivated in Austria on 10-10-1945, following Germany’s surrender. In late 1943 Kean was assigned as Chief of Staff for First U.S. Army
, motto “first in deed” commanded by Courtney Hodges
, receiving promotion to Major General. Kean served in this position until the end of the war, and remained in Europe during the post-war occupation of Germany. While with II Corps Kean played a role in the incident in which General Georg Smith Patton
was accused of slapping a soldier. After Bradley had investigated, he entrusted the only copy of the written report to Kean, who was directed not to show it to anyone without Bradley’s permission. During his assignment with First Army, Kean was one of the key planners of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. In August 1948 Kean became commander of the 25th
Infantry Division, nickname “Red Diamond”. After capturing some 19.000 German soldiers, the division continued to Frankfurt-am-Main, clearing and policing the town and its environs, 27–29 March. In April the division, under Major General Albert Eger Brown
who died very old age of 95, on 12-10-1984, took part in clearing the Ruhr Pocket and then drove across the Czechoslovak border, 1 May, reaching Volary and Vimperk as the war in Europe ended. The Division spent 270 days in combat and sustained 2.083 Soldiers killed, 9.278 wounded, 1.073 missing, with 101 Soldiers captured. Under his command the division successfully blocked the approaches to the port city Pusan in the summer of 1950, for which it received the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. In 1951 Kean was assigned to command the III Corps, first at Camp Roberts, California and later at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro. In October of that year he led a 5.000 man task force as it took part in an exercise at the Nevada Test Site. During this event, atomic weapons tests were conducted to measure the effects on military members in close proximity. In July 1952 Kean was named commander of Fifth United States Army
in Chicago, Illinois and promoted to Lieutenant General. He remained in this assignment until retiring from the Army in 1954.
Death and burial ground of Kean, William Benjamin Jr.
After retiring Kean lived in Belleair and Winter Park, Florida. He died in Winter Park, age 83, on 10-03-1981 and is buried with his wife Alta Katharine, who died old age 89, on 1993, on Arlington National Cemetery, Section 4. Close by the grave of Brigade General, Commanding Officer Combat Command B, 1st
Armored Division, Frank Albert Allen Jr.
Also buried in Section 4, 2* Major General, Commanding General 11th
Armored Division, Holmes Eger Dager
and 4* Navy Admiral, Civil Engineer Corps. Father of the “Seabees”, Ben Moreell, the Flyer Ace Marion Carl, Major General, Commander 22nd Regiment on D-Day, Charles Lanham and General, Commander Army Ground Forces, Ben “Yohoo” Lear