Leon L. Van Autreve
Sergeant Major of the Army Leon L. Van Autreve
|Born||January 29, 1920|
|Died||March 14, 2002 (aged 82)|
San Antonio, Texas, United States
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1941–1945|
|Rank||Sergeant Major of the Army|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Army Distinguished Service Medal|
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Air Medal (2)
Army Commendation Medal (4)
Leon L. Van Autreve (January 29, 1920 – March 14, 2002) was a United States Army soldier who served as the fourth Sergeant Major of the Army. He was sworn in on July 1, 1973 and served until June, 1975.
Early life and education
Van Autreve was born in Eeklo, Belgium, on January 29, 1920.
Van Autreve entered the United States Army in August 1941 from Delphos, Ohio. After basic training at Fort Belvoir, he served overseas with the 9th Infantry Division and participated in the invasion of Port Lyautey, Africa. He was discharged in August 1945 and enlisted again in March 1948. After a tour in Germany from 1950 to 1954, he served as an instructor with the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Toledo until 1958. From ROTC duty he was assigned to Continental Army Command Armor Board at Fort Knox, Kentucky, remaining there until reassignment to Korea in 1960. Upon completion of his tour in Korea, Van Autreve returned to Fort Belvoir and was promoted to sergeant major in 1962. He served as sergeant major of the 91st Engineer Battalion from 1962 until 1963.
From 1963 to 1964, Van Autreve was stationed in Indonesia, 1964 to 1967 in Germany as sergeant major, 317th Engineer Battalion, and 1967 to 1969 in Vietnam as sergeant major of the 20th Engineer Brigade. In July 1969 he was selected for assignment to Alaska as the command sergeant major, where he remained until he was selected as the Sergeant Major of the Army.
Sergeant Major of the Army
Van Autreve saw increasing the standards of the army's non-commissioned officer (NCO) corps as his highest priority. As part of the rejuvenation of the NCO Corps, Van Autreve gave NCOs more voice in command decisions, reduced the army's reliance on soldiers' councils, increased professional standards for NCOs, developed the Noncommissioned Officer Education System, and encouraged NCOs to have the moral courage to police their own ranks.
Later life and legacy
Van Autreve died on March 14, 2002, in San Antonio, Texas.
Awards and decorations
|Basic Parachutist Badge|
|Army Distinguished Service Medal|
|Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters|
|Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster|
|Air Medal with award numeral 2|
|Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters|
|Presidential Unit Citation|
|Meritorious Unit Commendation with oak leaf cluster|
|Army Good Conduct Medal with five silver loops|
|American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Medal with six campaign stars and arrowhead device|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|Army of Occupation Medal|
|National Defense Service Medal with oak leaf cluster|
|Vietnam Service Medal with six campaign stars|
|Armed Forces Reserve Medal|
|Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation|
|Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal|
This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document: "http://www.army.mil/leaders/sma/former/sma_bio4.html".
The Sergeants Major of the Army, Daniel K. Elder, Center of Military History, United States Army Washington, D.C. 2003.
Silas L. Copeland
| Sergeant Major of the Army
William G. Bainbridge