Fort Bliss, TX (KDBC) — Fort Bliss leaders dedicated the home of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy commandant to the first sergeant major of the Army, William O. Wooldridge, in a ceremony here, April 5. The house on Fort Bliss’ Sheridan Road was named “Wooldridge House.”
Wooldridge served as the sergeant major of the Army from July 1966 to August 1968.
“Many will call it a house, but for my wife and I, we call it home,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant and current resident of the Wooldridge House. “A home that is filled with love, family and most certainly fond memories – today we dedicate our home to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Wooldridge.”
Malloy said Wooldridge’s efforts as the first sergeant major of the Army still resonate within the noncommissioned officer education system.
“Sergeant Major of the Army Wooldridge was a pioneer of sorts when he became our first sergeant major of the Army,” Malloy said. “His leadership and his actions that followed laid the groundwork for our noncommissioned officer education system as we know it today.”
Dedicating the USASMA commandant’s quarters to the first sergeant major of the Army was appropriate, Malloy said, because Wooldridge spent a lot of his retirement walking inside USASMA’s halls speaking to future sergeants major.
“The academy was always a place he enjoyed spending his free time,” Malloy said. “(Wooldridge) was upfront and candid when he discussed a topic with you. During a recent discussion I had with our current sergeant major of the Army, (Raymond F. Chandler III), he told me when he first met Sergeant Major of the Army Wooldridge, shortly after becoming the command sergeant major of the academy, just minutes into his visit with … Wooldridge … looked up at then – Command Sgt. Maj. Chandler and said, ‘Sergeant major, you need a haircut.’ So he went and got a haircut. This was the noncommissioned officer in Sergeant Major of the Army Wooldridge.”
Wooldridge’s widow, Patty, was the guest of honor at the dedication. She shared her own story about her husband’s commitment to the Army and its Soldiers.
“Recently, a Soldier that my husband had met told me a story,” said Patty Wooldridge. “He said my husband had asked him what his job was, and the Soldier said, ‘Well, sir, they have me working in the mail room and I don’t like that job.’ This Soldier had gotten a brain injury and Bill told him, with his arm around his neck, ‘Whatever you do, whatever your job is, you do it for the Army. You do it for your family. You do it for the nation. Always remember that – whatever your job is it takes us all.’ I hope that is a lasting piece of encouragement from my husband. I know, in the tradition of sergeants major, that this house will always be a welcoming place for NCOs and for the Soldiers,” said Patty Wooldridge.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Wooldridge was a veteran of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and earned two Silver Stars. After his retirement from the Army in 1972, he and his wife chose the El Paso area as their home. He passed away March 5, 2012 and is interred at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.