Military Wiki
Leon L. Van Autreve
SMA Leon L. Van Autreve
Born (1920-01-29)January 29, 1920
Died March 14, 2002(2002-03-14) (aged 82)
Place of birth Eeklo, Belgium
Place of death San Antonio, Texas
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1941–1945, 1948–1975
Rank Sergeant Major of the Army

Leon L. Van Autreve was the fourth Sergeant Major of the Army. He was sworn in on July 1, 1973 and served until June, 1975. He was born in Eeklo, Belgium, on January 29, 1920 and died March 14, 2002, in San Antonio, Texas.

Military career

He entered the U.S. 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 at the University of Toledo until 1958. From ROTC duty he was assigned to Continental Army Command (CONARC) Armor Board at Fort Knox, Kentucky, remaining there until reassignment to Korea in 1960. Upon completion of his tour in Korea, Sergeant Major 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, Sergeant Major 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

SMA Van Autreve saw increasing the standards of the Army's noncommissioned officer corps as his highest priority. As part of the rejuvenation of the NCO Corps, SMA 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.[1]


Sergeant Major Van Autreve attended George Washington University, University of Toledo, University of Maryland and Alaska Methodist University, and was a member of Phi Alpha Theta.


In 1994, the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club designated Fort Sam Houston, Texas, as the SMA Van Autreve Chapter.[2]

Awards and decorations

CIB2.gif Combat Infantry Badge, second award
US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif Basic Parachutist Badge
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
Soldier's Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with award numeral 2
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Presidential Unit Citation
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Unit Commendation with oak leaf cluster
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Ribbon
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation
Army Good Conduct Medal with five silver loops
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Silver star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Medal with six campaign stars and arrowhead device
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Silver star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with six service stars
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "".
The Sergeants Major of the Army, Daniel K. Elder, Center of Military History, United States Army Washington, D.C. 2003.

Military offices
Preceded by
Silas L. Copeland
Sergeant Major of the Army
Succeeded by
William G. Bainbridge

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