for Advanced of Studies of the United States Army
Noncommissioned Officer is sad to have learned of
passing of the 2nd Sergeant Major of the Army SMA (Ret.) George
W. Dunaway who served as SMA between September 1968 to September
1970. Born July 24, 1922 in Richmond, VA, SMA Dunaway enlisted
in the Virginia Army National Guard’s 29th Division in January
1940 and was mobilized with the Division in February 1941. In
1943 he volunteered for parachute training, then later
Pathfinder and glider instruction. He spent the majority of his
career in Airborne Infantry assignments, serving with the 501st
Airborne Battalion; the 187th, 505th, 517th and 542d Parachute
Infantry Regiments, along with service in the 82d and 101st
Airborne Divisions and the Special Forces.
Dunaway served in France in World War II with
the 517th RCT and fought in Germany and Belgium where he
participated in the Battle of the Bulge, the first of his three
combat tours. He left Europe and went to Ft Benning where he
reenlisted and eventually was assigned to Ft Bragg with the
505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR). In September 1950 he
and select members of his battalion were sent to Nevada to
participate in nuclear testing and their affects as part of an
exercise called “Tower Blast.” He would go on to serve as the
Regimental Sergeant Major of the 505th PIR in 1952.
He continued to serve in assignments of
increasing responsibility with the 505th and was reassigned to
the 187th RCT in Japan until it redeployed to Ft Bragg, and then
to Ft Campbell. He served with the “Rakkasans” continuously
until 1961, when he was assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group
in Okinawa. It was there he introduced one of his trademarks,
the Special Forces blazer. He went on to serve as the Sergeant
Major for the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam. In June 1967
he was assigned as the Division Sergeant Major for the 101st
Airborne Division at Fort Campbell and accompanied them back to
Vietnam. It was from there he was selected as the second
Sergeant Major of the Army.
Dunaway was the second and last Sergeants Major
of the Army to be selected personally by the Chief of Staff as
subsequent SMAs were selected by a special board of officers and
the incumbent. During his two-year tenure, Dunaway affected many
policies and an Army during an unpopular time. Some of his
personal achievements included his ability to influence the
policy for wear of the Pathfinder special skill badge
simultaneously with airborne wings. It was also during his
tenure the Army implemented the newly developed Noncommissioned
Officer Education System and he furthered the implementation of
the Sergeants Major Academy.
SMA Dunaway was able to impact on policies
relating to the Command Sergeants Major program during his term,
along with standardizing titles between Sergeants Major and
Command Sergeants Major. Additionally, he was instrumental in
correcting what he believed a longstanding problem---the lack of
additional pay for drill instructors, an incentive he believed
was instrumental to attract and retain good soldiers to the
Though the term of the Sergeant Major of the
Army is to coincide with the tenure of the Chief of Staff,
Dunaway recommended it be limited to the two years both he and
his predecessor would serve. He not only believed it allowed
other equally deserving Command Sergeants Major to serve in that
position, but that it would allow senior enlisted soldiers with
recent experience with troops to provide a fresh flow of ideas
to the Chief of Staff. Sergeant Major of the Army. George W.
Dunaway retired on September 30, 1970 after 30 years of faithful
service as a soldier. He continued to support the Army in
retirement, and as recently as January 8, 2008 participated in
the Sergeants Major of the Army conference in Fort Bliss, Texas.
He remarked during an interview later in life that “I am not
only proud of having been Sergeant Major of the Army, I am proud
to have been a soldier. When you think of the freedom you enjoy
in this country, think of the sacrifices the soldier has made to
keep us free.” Sadly he passed away on February 6, 2008 in Las
Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal (with
"V" Device), Purple Heart, Air Medal (with "V" Device), Army
Commendation Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Good Conduct Medal,
American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal,
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II
Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service
Medal, Vietnamese Armed Forces Honor Medal, Second Class, the
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Silver Star), Republic of
Vietnam Campaign Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, the Pathfinder
Badge, and the Combat Infantryman Badge with Star.
"New Voice at the Top for the
Enlisted Man." ARMY (November 1968): 47-48.
"Let's PULL Together:
Professionalism- Unity- Leadership- Loyalty: A Winning
Combination." Army Digest (June 1969): 27-28.
"New Emphasis Aims at Putting
More Strength in 'Backbone of the Army.'" ARMY (October
"'People Benefits' Will Get
More Emphasis in '70s." ARMY (October 1970): 33-35
"Turning 227: Army birthday
celebrated" Las Vegas Review-Journal, (June 15, 2002).
"NOTED VETERAN: 'Soldier's
soldier,' 85, dies," Las Vegas Review-Journal, (Feb 7, 2008).
professional...is a dynamic, growing being who has learned from
the past, acts in the present, but above all, focuses on
accomplishing his mission.” -SMA George W. Dunaway, "Let’s PULL
Together: Professionalism- Unity- Leadership- Loyalty: A Winning
Combination." Army Digest, Jun 1969, p. 28.
equipment and weaponry will continually change and improve, and
the size of the military will expand as needed, decreasing
during times of peace. But the unyielding will of the soldier
and the dedication of professional military leaders will not
change. -SMA George W. Dunaway, Center of Military History
Interview, 1990, p. 66.
must give [soldiers] reasons to have confidence and pride in
themselves, in their leaders, and in their units. Only then will
you have loyalty.” -SMA George W. Dunaway, Center of Military
History Interview, 1990, p. 60.
American soldier...is unbeatable in war.... We cannot give the
American soldier too much credit.... He deserves everything we
can do for him and he deserves all the respect we can show
him.... Whether or not a war is popular among the nation’s
people, and whether or not it is supported by the legislators,
has no bearing on what the soldiers do and think. They perform
their duties magnificently and bravely. They don’t make the
policies, and they don’t declare war. But they fight, they
bleed, and they die. And they do it unhesitatingly. They should
be appreciated and recognized for it, without regard for the
political aspects of the war.” -SMA George W. Dunaway, Center
of Military History Interview, 1990, pp. 41, 65.