Sergeant William H. Dean, Jr. (1913–1944)

William H. Dean, Jr. (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)
ResidencesCivilian Occupation
Delaware (moved to New Jersey as an adult)Prison guard at the New Jersey State Penitentiary
BranchService Number
U.S. Army6714548
TheaterUnit
EuropeanCommunications Platoon, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division
AwardsCampaigns/Battles
Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman BadgeNormandy, Northern France/Luxembourg, Hürtgen Forest
Military Occupational Specialty
595 (field wire chief)

Early Life, Family, & Prewar Careers

Corporal William H. Dean, Jr. holding his Outstanding Soldier-Athlete Trophy in 1934 (Courtesy of the Dean family)

William Homewood Dean, Jr. was born in Newark, Delaware on the afternoon of December 9, 1913.  He was the son of William H. Dean, Sr. (a laborer and later landscape gardener, 1881–1950) and Maybelle M. Dean (née Press, 1881–1966).  He had an older sister and two younger sisters.  His great-great-grandfather Joseph Dean (1784–1861) founded the Dean Woolen Mill, one of the town’s largest employers; his great-grandfather William Dean (1820–1887) ran the mill until it was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day, 1886. 

As of April 8, 1930, the Dean family was living at 6 Prospect Avenue in Newark.  Dean volunteered for the U.S. Army on October 14, 1933 and served in the 51st Signal Battalion at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.  Due to his athleticism and last name, he was nicknamed “Dizzy Dean,” after the famous baseball player.

According to a summary of his career in General Order No. 58 (Headquarters Fort Monmouth dated May 19, 1959), Dean

pursued and competed three courses at The Signal School: the Morse Telegraph Operators Course, completed 2 March 1934; Lineman’s Course, completed 21 May 1934 and another Lineman’s Course in the Battalion School which he completed 30 April 1935.  Promoted to Private First Class, Regular Army, 29 July 1935, and to Corporal, 26 March 1936, he participated in the First and Second Army Maneuvers held in 1935 and 1936 respectively.  Corporal Dean was very well qualified in open wire pole line construction and aerial cable construction.  He exhibited qualities of leadership and initiative, was hardworking, loyal, honest, and intelligent.  With a colorful style of play and an impressive athletic record in basketball, football, baseball, and track, Corporal Dean won the Outstanding Soldier-Athlete Trophy at Fort Monmouth in 1934.

Corporal Dean was honorably discharged on October 13, 1936.  He reenlisted for a second stint on November 2, 1936 and was honorably discharged again on May 12, 1937.  

Dean was working for the Fischer Baking Company when he married Laura Louise Kellers (1913–1995) in Breton Woods, New Jersey on July 29, 1939.  The couple had one daughter.

Dean and his wife were recorded on the census on April 19, 1940 living at 814 Main Street in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  When Dean registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was described as standing 6 feet, 1½ inches tall and weighing 180 lbs., with blond hair and blue eyes.  An addendum on his draft card dated May 5, 1941 stated that Dean had moved to 1568 Hamilton Avenue in Trenton.  By that point, he was working as a guard at the New Jersey State Penitentiary nearby.


World War II

Dean was drafted back into the U.S. Army in the summer of 1943.  Dean’s enlistment data card and State of Delaware Individual Military Service Record (filled out by a member of his family after the war) stated that he rejoined the U.S. Army in Camden, New Jersey on August 11, 1943.  An article in the Asbury Park Evening Press as wall as a headstone application stated that he rejoined the U.S. Army on September 1, 1943. (Most likely, the earlier date is when he was inducted and the latter is when he went on active duty.)

Dean reentered the service as a private but advanced rapidly. He was promoted from private to private first class on November 6, 1943.  By December 1943, he was a lineman, telephone & telegraph in Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 255th Infantry Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi.  On December 23, 1943, Dean was promoted from private 1st class to technician 5th grade (at the same pay grade as corporal, which he had reached during his stint in the Regular Army in the 1930s).

He likely transferred out of the unit soon after.  According to a history of the 63rd Infantry Division, “In December 1943, all privates, privates first class, along with some noncommissioned and junior officers were reassigned to other divisions alerted for overseas movement.”

By February 25, 1944, Technician 5th Grade Dean was a member of Communications Platoon, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky.  He shipped out from the New York Port of Embarkation on April 6, 1944, arriving in England ten days later.  On the afternoon of June 20, 1944, Headquarters Company boarded a ship at Southampton.  The transport set sail at 0500 hours on the morning of June 23, 1944.  Their ship arrived at Utah Beach at 1500 hours; the unit disembarked around 2300 hours that night.

Dean earned the Bronze Star Medal during the Battle of Normandy. The citation (dated September 14, 1944 and using his grade at the time the medal was awarded), stated:

For distinguishing himself by heroic achievement in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States on 4 July 1944 near Carentan, France.  Sergeant Dean, as a member of the battalion wire section established, maintained and repaired communications with subordinate and higher headquarters under intense enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire.

Dean was promoted from technician 5th grade to sergeant on July 18, 1944.  After the breakout from Normandy, Sergeant Dean’s division saw further action in Northern France and Luxembourg during the fall of 1944.  


Großhau, Germany on December 1, 1944 (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo by Technician 5th Grade A.J. Gedicks. National Archives, courtesy of Wim Doms)

The Battle of the Hürtgen Forest

Sergeant Dean’s unit left Luxembourg on December 2, 1944.  The following day, they arrived in Großhau (Grosshau), Germany, during the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest; according to The Story of the 330th Across Europe, “Artillery and mortar concentrations were many and intense.”

One barrage began on the morning of December 7, 1944.  According to the 330th Infantry Regiment Journal, at 1145 hours, 3rd Battalion reported that its communications building had collapsed after being hit by an artillery shell.  A follow-up report at 1635 hours stated that 13 men from the platoon had been killed; just one soldier was pulled from the rubble alive.  

The December 8, 1944 Headquarters Company, 330th Infantry Regiment morning report listed the men from Communications Platoon who were killed during the previous day’s incident, adopted below with Military Occupational Specialty (M.O.S.) annotated for each man:

Staff Sergeant Edward J. Devlin, 31188341, 542 (communications chief)

Staff Sergeant George E. Green, 35611034, 740 (radio operator, intermediate speed)

Sergeant William H. Dean, Jr., 6714548, 595 (field wire chief)

Technician 5th Grade Bob E. Higgins, 39338924, 641 (field lineman)

Technician 5th Grade John H. Newton, 34394344, 641 (field lineman)

Technician 5th Grade Andrew S. Trimeloni, 33254197, 806 (code clerk)

Private 1st Class Rosario C. Colella, 31361341, 776 (radio operator, low speed)

Private 1st Class Wilfred A. Maus, 37625116, 776 (radio operator, low speed)

Private 1st Class Robert J. Davis, 35225765, 641 (field lineman)

Private 1st Class Jerome Fisher, 33556565, 650 (telephone switchboard operator)

Private 1st Class Abraham Levy, 37318524, 776 (radio operator, low speed)

Private William D. Criss, 35736001, 675 (messenger)

Private Casimir J. Woshchynski, 42052358, 641 (field lineman)

A second Bronze Star Medal was presented to Sergeant Dean’s daughter in April 1946. General Order No. 58 summarized Sergeant Dean’s awards as follows:

Bronze Star Medal with letter “V” Device; First Oak-Leaf Cluster to the Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart (Posthumous); Good Conduct Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars for the Normandy, Northern France, and Rhineland Campaigns; World War II Victory Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge, and Expert Badge with Rifle Bar.

Sergeant Dean was buried in Mount Prospect Cemetery, Neptune Township, New Jersey in 1947.  In 1959, a baseball field at Fort Monmouth was renamed Dean Field in his honor.

Dean Field dedication plaque at Fort Monmouth; it erroneously listed his place of death as Carentan, the location where he earned the Bronze Star (Courtesy of the Dean family)

Documents

Click to any document to view a larger copy.


Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Sergeant Dean’s daughter for contributing many of the documents cited in this article.  Let me also express my appreciation to Myra Miller and Willem Doms for providing important documents, and to Yves Bellanger and Thijs Hodiamont for their advice; all were essential in telling this story.  Finally, thanks to the Delaware Public Archives for the use of the photo of Sergeant Dean.


Bibliography

“3 Men Killed, Two Missing, 7 Are Injured.” Asbury Park Sunday Press, December 31, 1944.  Pg. 1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/54430589/william-h-dean-jr-death/

330th Infantry Regiment After Action Report, December 1944 https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/AAR/AAR_330_DEC1944.pdf

330th Infantry Regiment Casualties and Awards https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/various/330th_Casualties_Awards.pdf

330th Infantry Journal, December 7, 1944, courtesy of Willem Doms.

Applications for Headstones, compiled 01/01/1925 – 06/30/1970, documenting the period ca. 1776 – 1970.  Record Group 92, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774 –1985.  National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2375/images/40050_644066_0368-00225

Brown, Maskell E.  Letter dated February 25, 1944.  Courtesy of the Dean Family.

“Community Service Here Sunday to Honor Fallen Heroes of War.” Asbury Park Evening Press, November 20, 1947.  Pg. 1.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/55077603/william-h-dean-jr/

“Couple Takes Nuptial Vows.”  The Daily Record, August 1, 1939.  Pg. 4.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/78188783/dean-kellers-wedding/

Dean, Maybell.  William Homewood Dean, Jr. Individual Military Service Record, circa July 9, 1946.  Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware.  https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/18363/rec/2

Decorations and Awards. Headquarters 83rd Infantry Division dated September 14, 1944.

General Order No. 58 (Headquarters Fort Monmouth dated May 19, 1959).  Courtesy of the Dean family.

Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment morning reports.  July through December 1944.  https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/MR/MR_330_Hq_Co_3rd_Bn_JUL1944.pdf https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/MR/MR_330_Hq_Co_3rd_Bn_DEC1944.pdf

“History of the 63rd Infantry Division.”  Home of the 63rd Infantry Division Association, USAR website.  https://www.63rdinfdivassnusar.com/history

Our Part in the War: Third Battalion 330th Inf https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/various/330th_3rdBn_Our_part_in_the_war.pdf

Silverman, Lowell.  “Dean Woolen Mills Fire, 1886.”  Histories of Newark 1758–2008. Wallflowers Press, 2007.

“SGT William Homewood Dean Jr.”  Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/21331310/william-homewood-dean

The Story of the 330th Infantry Across Europe https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/documents/330th/various/The_Story_of_the_330th_across_Europe.pdf

“Table of Organization and Equipment No. 7-16: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Infantry Battalion.”  War Department, February 26, 1944.  Military Research Service. http://www.militaryresearch.org/7-16%2026Feb44.pdf

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930.  National Archives at Washington, D.C.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4531890_00841    

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940.  National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-02365-00413   

U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954. Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/record/703967657-dean-william-h?terms=06714548

World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/record/83228148-william-h-dean-jr

WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947.  Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System.  National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44025_02_00029-00564


Last updated on June 5, 2021

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