Among the students and alumni who serve in the Korean War (1950-53) is Major Gen. William Dean, a 1922 UC Berkeley graduate, who commands the 24th Infantry at the outbreak of the war. His valor in South Korea during the Battle of Taejon earns him the Medal of Honor in 1951, with the citation commending him for having “personally and alone attacked an enemy tank while armed only with a hand grenade. He also directed the fire of his tanks from an exposed position with neither cover nor concealment while under observed artillery and small-arm fire. When the town of Taejon was finally overrun he refused to insure his own safety by leaving with the leading elements but remained behind organizing his retreating forces, directing stragglers, and was last seen assisting the wounded to a place of safety.”
While retreating from Taejon, Dean – separated from his soldiers and badly wounded – is captured by the North Koreans and becomes the highest ranking prisoner of war during the Korean War . A POW for three years, he later writes about his confinement in his 1973 autobiography, “General Dean’s Story.” A ticker-tape parade is thrown for Dean in New York City when he returns to the United States in 1953, and he is featured on the cover of the Dec. 7, 1953 issue of TIME magazine. Dean continues his career as deputy commanding general of the Sixth U.S. Army in the Presidio of San Francisco.
Later, a room is named after Dean in the Hearst Gymnasium, UC Berkeley’s ROTC headquarters, and some of the much-decorated veteran’s memorabilia is displayed there.