A Life Together In The Army: Vietnam, The Home Front, And Service To The Nation

William J. Major. Jr. & Terry (McCully) Major


William J. Major, Jr., was born in August 1942, and grew up around the world as an Army Brat with his two sisters and three brothers. His family eventually settled on the east coast (Tea Neck, New Jersey, and Huntington, Long Island). His father served as an Infantry Officer in the 29th Division during World War II who landed on D-Day, and his mother was a Canadian from Prince Edward Island. The family lived in Japan during the Korean War and, as a means of employing the Japanese in the post-WWII era, had three maids and a houseboy. As a boy, William Major, Jr., met his future wife while working as a dishwasher in her parents’ restaurant. Terry’s dad was Irish and her mom was Italian. As kids, Terry and William “really disliked each other” and only started dating during Cow year. William attended New York Military Academy, participating in football, basketball, lacrosse, and track. It was here that the West Point lacrosse coach first noticed him. Reporting to West Point in the summer of 1960, he “got tired of being yelled at” on R-Day, and remembers the shower formations during Beast Barracks. He enjoyed playing lacrosse for Ace Adams and recalled the importance of team spirit. While William was at West Point, Terry was at the University of Connecticut. Two weeks after William commissioned as an Infantry Officer, he and Terry were married at the West Point Chapel on June 20, 1964, before honeymooning in Bermuda. They were first stationed in Ft. Carson, Colorado, with the 2nd Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment in what was reflagged as the 4th Infantry Division. They enjoyed climbing Pike’s Peak and participating in unit social functions (teas and coffees). In 1966, his unit reflagged as the 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry, assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, and they deployed to Vietnam while Terry moved back east, where she worked for American Airlines at LaGuardia, initially on the ticket counter and then in the Admirals Lounge. As the Executive Officer for his unit, William flew to Vietnam on Navy C-130s while the rest of his unit arrived aboard ship. At every refueling stop, William sent Terry a postcard. In Vietnam, his unit gained confidence by conducting short patrols before engaging in longer operations. He took command of D Company, 5/7 Cavalry after the company commander’s leg became infected and he was evacuated. Several times, they patrolled through the Ia Drang Valley, and on one occasion destroyed an NVA regiment there. After several months in command, he was injured jumping from a helicopter into tall elephant grass in an air assault when his RTO landed on William’s back, injuring his spine. Eventually, William was evacuated to a hospital in Japan, and Terry was able to arrange to fly there to see him. When he returned from Vietnam, he was assigned to the Headquarters Company of 4th Battalion, 54th Infantry at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. In 1968, William returned to Vietnam with the 23rd Infantry Division while Terry returned home to her family’s house, working in their restaurant in Montauk. In Vietnam, William was the Assistant G-3 and Colin Powell’s deputy. He describes some of the operations the division conducted during this tour. Upon returning from Vietnam, he served as an Infantry Branch representative, overseeing OCS and the Basic Course. His next assignment was with the 4th Infantry Division, where he served as a Brigade S1 and an Executive Officer in the 2nd Battalion, 61st Infantry. In 1976, he returned to West Point, teaching in the Office of Military Instruction (current DMI) and later serving as a TAC. While teaching in OMI, he set up the Recondo program at Camp Buckner. In 1978, he earned a Master’s Degree in counseling from Long Island University. From 1979 to 1982, the family was stationed in Germany while William was the G3 of the Allied Command Mobile Force. When the family returned from Europe in 1982, he was assigned to the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Command, serving as “the senior Army guy on a Navy staff.” Whaile at CINCLANT, he helped plan operations in Grenada and Panama. Next, in 1984, he took charge of Support Command for the Central Army Group, followed by command of the 26th Support Group. In 1991, William retired from the Army. He then took a job in Saudi Arabia working for the crown prince, fielding Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the Saudi Army. Later, he and Terry were in the restaurant business in Florida. Their son Bill attended West Point, graduating in 1994. At the end of the interview, they share what West Point means to them.


conflicts Vietnam War Cold War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Army Athletics Military Techniques Military Family Life After Military
interviewer David Siry
date 14 October 2022


name William J. Major. Jr. & Terry (McCully) Major
institution USMA & University of Connecticut
graduation year 1964
service Infantry
unit 2nd BN, 61st IN, 4th ID; D CO 5/7 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division; HHC 4th BN, 54th IN; 23rd ID; 2nd Battalion, 61st Infantry, 4th ID; OMI, West Point; CINCLANT; Support Command for the Central Army Group & 26th Support Group
service dates 1964 1991