Tuesday, October 12, 2004

William A. Patch, 77, retired major general

William A. Patch, retired major general and former commander of the Army Training Center and Fort Dix in New Jersey, died Aug. 1 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville after battling Alzheimer’s disease. He was 77.

Gen. Patch, who was born in Columbus, Miss., graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1948. He graduated from the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, and the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.

He served as a company commander in the 24th Infantry Division during the Korean War, when he was wounded in combat. After the war, he served as company commander in Europe with the 18th Infantry Division and as aide-de-camp to the chief of staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Paris. Subsequent tours of duty were as a tactical officer and Army instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy and as executive officer and deputy battle group commander of the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Gen. Patch served two tours in Vietnam, first as commander of Detachment C-2, 5th Special Forces Group in 1965 and again as commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, in 1968. Returning to the United States, he became chief of the tactics group at the Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga.

He then served as deputy director and then director of Army enlisted personnel in Washington. His next assignment was as assistant division commander of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, after which he returned to the United States to become commander of the Army Training Center and Fort Dix.

Gen. Patch retired in 1978. He moved to the family farm in Leesburg, Va., where he lived during the summer, and to Marco Island, Fla., during the winter. He was on the board of directors of the Landon School in Bethesda, from which he graduated in 1943.

Among his awards are the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with V device and four oak leaf clusters and Purple Heart. A senior parachutist, he wore the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with star.

He is survived by his wife, Helena Fletcher Patch; two sons, Alexander M. Patch of Potomac and Robert D. Patch of Greenwich, Conn.; and five grandchildren. His eldest son, William A. Patch Jr., died in 1987.

Donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Washington Chapter, 5 Thomas Circle NW, Washington, DC 20005.

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