Although born in Georgia, Army Brig. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV's roots in Hawaii can be traced back two generations to his grandfather who was stationed at Schofield Barracks when it was attacked by the Japanese in 1941.
Caldwells and Army
go back a long way
Gregg K. Kakesako / email@example.com
Caldwell, 48, recalls that his father -- who later also rose to the rank of a three-star general in the Army -- remembers hearing "loud explosions" on Dec. 7, 1941. "Like everyone else then, he thought it was just maneuvers, not realizing that an attack was going on."
Caldwell's father, William Caldwell III, attended Leilehua High School for three years and later graduated from West Point as a member of the class of 1948. "He returned here, taking his R&R (rest and recuperation) with my mother during the Vietnam War."
Caldwell's grandfather -- Col. William Caldwell II -- was an Army dentist stationed at Schofield Barracks when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military installations.
"My father said his biggest impression was that there was a lot of planes flying that day and that it was nothing like he ever saw before," Caldwell recalled from his cottage on Schofield Barracks' General's Loop.
"You have to remember he was only 16 then, and wasn't able to distinguish between the different types by the sound of their engines or anything like that."
Caldwell said his father was impressed by the movie "Pearl Harbor" because "it caught the general feeling of the times, of people waking to what they thought was going to be a normal day of activities."
After graduation from West Point in 1976, Caldwell participated in "Operation Just Cause" in Panama and in "Desert Shield" and "Desert Storm" in 1990 and 1991. He served a tour in the White House as a fellow in the president's office before he was sent to the islands.
Caldwell's first Hawaii assignment came in 1993 when he commanded the 25th Infantry Division's Wolfhound battalion. In 1994, he was sent to Haiti as a political military officer in the U.S. embassy when the Tropic Lightning division was deployed to the Caribbean country. After the division returned to Hawaii, Caldwell remained in Haiti as a liaison officer for the United Nations.
When he returned to the mainland, Caldwell was named as the commander of the 1st "Warrior" Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in New York.
For the past year, Caldwell has served as an assistant division commander in charge of operations before he was assigned to Camp Smith last month. He is currently deputy director for operations (J-3) for the U.S. Pacific Command.
Caldwell said it was while his father was stationed at West Point when he was either in the eighth or ninth grade that he realized that he wanted to make the Army a career because he was impressed by the conduct of the cadets who worked as summer counselors.
"The West Point cadets were such great guys," Caldwell added. "They taught athletics during the summer ... and I wanted to be like them."
When Caldwell was promoted to a brigadier general last year his father attended the pinning ceremony, bringing with him a sentimental token.
"He surprised me," Caldwell said. "He had saved a set of stars he had worn as a one-star general and he had brought them and pinned them on me."
For Caldwell and his wife, Stephanie, a Methodist minister, "Hawaii is an ideal place to raise a family."
The couple have a 2-year-old son, William B. Caldwell V, "Will" for short; and 5-month-old daughter, Anna Kathryn.
"This couldn't be a better environment for our family," said Caldwell. "It's a great place to live, if you love the outdoors like Stephanie and I do. Stephanie and I love hiking, swimming and all the activities that are the islands."