Lieutenant General (Retired) William P. Yarborough

Distinguished Member of the Regiment

(Above: Captain William P. Yarborough as S-2 of the Provisional Parachute Group in February 1942)


NAME: William P. Yarborough

ASN: O-20362


DATE OF BIRTH: 12 May 1912

DATES OF SERVICE: 12 Jun 1936 to ?? ??? 1971


12 Jun 1936 - 2d Lieutenant
12 Jun 1939 - 1st Lieutenant
10 Oct 1940 – Captain (Temporary)
01 Feb 1942 – Major (Temporary)
19 May 1943 - Lieutenant Colonel (Temporary)
15 Feb 1945 - Colonel (Temporary)
12 Jun 1946 - Captain
01 Jul 1948 - Major
27 Aug 1952 – Colonel (Temporary)
07 Jul 1953 - Lieutenant Colonel
24 Jun 1961 - Brigadier General (Temporary)
12 Jul 1961 - Colonel
21 Jul 1962 – Brigadier General
01 Nov 1963 - Major General (Temporary) with DOR: 01Aug 1958
02 May 1966 – Major General with DOR: 04 Jun 1963
1968 - Lieutenant General


1936 to Feb 1940 - 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, Fort McKinley, Luzon, Philippines
Feb 1940 to Dec 1940 - 29th Infantry Regiment, Fort Benning, GA
Dec 1940 to 1941 – Commander, C Company, 501st Parachute Battalion
1941 to 1942 – Test Officer and S-2, Provisional Parachute Group and AB Command
Jun 1942 to Oct 1942 - Airborne Advisor, Hqs II Corps, ETO
Nov 1942 to Dec 1943 - Executive Officer, Paratroop Task Force, North Africa
Jan 1943 to Feb 1943 - Asst G-3, Headquarters 5th Army, North Africa
Mar 1943 to Jul 1943 - 2d Bn, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division
Aug 1943 to Sep 1943 - Asst G-3, Headquarters, 5th Army, Italy
Sep 1943 to Aug 1944 – Battalion Commander, 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, Italy
Aug 1944 to Sep 1944 – Commander, 509th Parachute Infantry Combat Team, France
Oct 1944 to Jan 1945 - Command and General Staff College, Ft Leavenworth, Kansas
Jan 1945 to May 1945 - Commanding Officer, 473d Infantry Regimental Combat Team, Italy
May 1945 to Jun 1945 - Provost Marshal, 15th Army Group, ETO
Jul 1945 to Jul 1947 - Provost Marshal, Vienna Area Command and U. S. Forces, Austria
Jul 1947 to Dec 1949 - Director, Dept TI&E, Army Information School, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.
Jan 1950 to Dec 1950 - British Staff College, Student
Jan 1951 to Jul 1952 - Operations Officer, General Staff, Joint Military Assistance Advisory Group, London, England
Aug 1952 to Feb 1956 - Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa. (Student and Faculty)
Apr 1956 to Feb 1957 - Deputy Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Mar 1957 to Jul 1957 - Faculty, Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.
Sep 1957 to Apr 1958 - Commander, 1st Battle Group, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division., Fort Benning, GA
Apr 1958 to Oct 1958 - Commander, 1st Battle Group, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division., USAREUR
Nov 1958 to Dec 1959 - Commander, 66th Counter Intelligence Corps Group, Stuttgart, Germany
Jan 1960 to Dec 1960 - Commander, 66th Military Intelligence Group, Stuttgart, Germany
Jan 1961 to Jun 1961 - Commander, USA Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, NC
Jun 1961 to Feb 1965 - Commanding General, United States Army John F. Kennedy Center for Special Warfare and Commandant, U. S. Army Special Warfare School, Fort Bragg, NC
Feb 1965 to Nov 1965 - Senior Member, United Nations Command, Military Armistice Commission, Korea
Nov 1965 to Nov 1966 - Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations for Special Operations, Department of the Army, Washington, DC
Nov 1966 to 1968 - Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, Washington, DC
1968 to 1969 – Commander General, I Corps, Korea
1969 to 1971 - Chief of Staff/ Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Pacific


Algeria - French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples - Foggia, Anzio, Rome - Arno, Southern France, North Apennines, Po Valley


Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit with three Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Italian Bronze Medal for Valor
Italian Cross for Valor
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
Regimental Badge 3d Zouaves
Korean Order of Merit Second Class
European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead and eight bronze star devices
Combat Infantryman Badge
Master Parachutist Badge with Four Combat Jump Stars (Oran, Youks les Bains, Sicily, Southern France)
Cambodian Parachutist Badge
Korean Parachutist Badge
Philippine Parachutist Badge
Thai Parachutist Badge
Vietnamese Parachutist Badge
Distinguished (Presidential) Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster
Brazilian Order of Military Merit, Degree of Commander


WILLIAM PELHAM YARBOROUGH Lieutenant General (Ret.), U. S. Army

May 12, 1912 – December 6, 2005

William Pelham Yarborough was born May 12, 1912 in Seattle, Washington. He is the son of Colonel Leroy W. Yarborough of Hastings, NE and Addessia Hooker Yarborough, of Topeka, KS. He attended high school at San Raphael Military Academy in California and later at Columbus, Georgia. Following graduation from West Point with a Bachelors of Science Degree and commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on 12 June 1936 he married Norma Mae Tuttle on 26 December 1936, daughter of Colonel W. B. Tuttle U.S. Army Ret.). 2Lt. Yarborough was assigned to the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts at Fort McKinley, Luzon, Philippines. On 12 Jun 1939 he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. In February 1940, he was transferred to the 29th Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia. On 10 Oct 1940 he was given temporary promotion to Captain and joined the newly formed 501st Parachute Battalion served as Commander of C Company. Later, as Test Officer for the Provisional Parachute Group in 1941, he designed the paratrooper's boot, the paratrooper's uniform, the parachutist's qualification badge, and a number of aerial delivery containers for which he received U. S. patents.

On 01 Feb 1942 Yarborough was promoted to the temporary rank of Major. In July 1942 Maj. Yarborough was selected by General Mark Clark to be his Airborne Advisor and in that capacity accompanied General Clark to England. As a working member of the London Planning Group, he developed the initial concept and plan for the airborne phase of the North African Invasion. When the Paratroop Task Force departed Land's End, England on November 7, 1942, General Yarborough as executive officer accompanied it on its flight over Spain toward its target objectives in Algeria.

08 Nov 1942 - Maj. William P. Yarborough, ASN: O-20362 Unit: HHC 2nd Bn 509th PIR Participated in Operation VILLAN (TORCH) Plane: 1 Seat: 14

This was the longest operational flight ever made by parachute troops. In the course of the ensuing action the airplane in which he was flying was shot down by Vichy French fighter aircraft over the Sebkra d’Oran. A number of parachutists were killed and wounded in the action. After participating in combat operations to capture Tafaroui Airdrome in Algeria he parachuted into Youks les Bains Airfield near Tebessa, Algeria near the Tunisian border a week later, fighting with a combined French and U. S. Paratroop Task Force in Tunisia until January 1943, when he returned to the United States.

In March 1943 he returned to North Africa as Commander of the 2d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, and led his unit through the Sicilian Invasion. On 19 May 1943 Yarborough was temporarily promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Later, landing at Salerno, Italy, on D-Day as the airborne officer of G-3, Fifth Army, he organized the night drop zone to receive the latest elements of the 82nd, which had flown from Sicily to relieve' the beleaguered beachhead.

Just prior to the fall of Naples Yarborough was given command of the 509th Parachute Battalion.

11 Jan 1944 - Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough ASN: O-20362 Unit: HHC 509th PIB Duty Assignment: Battalion Commander Signed SO 4

22 Jan 1944 - Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough ASN: O-20362 Unit: HQ 509th PIB Duty Assignment: Battalion Commander Signed SO 7

His unit, as part of Darby's Ranger Force, made the initial landings at Anzio-Nettuno and held a key position on the beachhead for two months.

10 Apr 1944 - Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough ASN: O-20362 Unit: HHC 509th PIB Duty Assignment: Battalion Commander, GO 5 Award of Combat Infantryman Badge

17 Apr 1944 - Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough ASN: O-20362 Unit: HQ 509th PIB Duty Assignment: Battalion Commander Signed SO 26

12 Jul 1944 - Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough ASN: O-20362 Published: GO 66 NATOUSA Award of Legion of Merit listed on page 385 in the book Stand in the Door by Charles H. Doyle and Terrell Stewart

Later under his command the 509th and two attached - parachute battalions spearheaded the invasion into Southern France, landing on a mountaintop near Le Muy before dawn. Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo, along the Cote d’Azur fell to the parachutists who then turned northward into the Maritime Alps to protect the right flank of the U. S. Seventh Army as it moved north.

18 Sep 1944 - Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough ASN: O-20362 Duty Assignment: Battalion Commander Signed SO 8

14 Oct 1944 - Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough ASN: O-20362 Unit: HHC 509th PIB Battalion Commander ? To 14 Oct 44 Southern France Listed on pages: 29, 36, 38, 66, 79, 105, 106, 116 in the book First Airborne Task Force by Michel De Trez

Lt. Col. Yarborough returned briefly to the United States to attend the 21st course of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He returned to Europe in January 1945 as commander of the 473d Infantry Regimental Combat Team, which fought its way up the Ligurian Coast to Genoa and the French Border as World War II came to an end. On 15 Feb 1945 Yarborough was temporarily promoted to Colonel.

In June 1945 the 473d Infantry Regiment was shipped back to the United States for deactivation and Col. Yarborough, remaining in Europe, was named as Provost Marshal; first of the 15th Army Group, and later of the U. S. Forces in Austria and the Vienna Area Command. In the latter position he organized the famous Four Power International Patrol of Russian, French, British, and American military police and was dramatized by the film The Third Man. During this period Yarborough met the ailing Russian ballet star Vaslav Nijinsky and his wife Romola and aided in smuggling the couple through the Russian sector to freedom in the Austrian countryside and eventually to England.

On 12 Jun 1946 Yarborough was permanently promoted to Captain. From 1947 to 1949 Yarborough served as Director of the Department of Troop Information and Education at the Armed Forces Information School, Carlisle Bar racks, Pennsylvania. On 01 Jul 1948 Yarborough was permanently promoted to Major. In 1950 he returned to Europe for the third time to attend the British Staff College at Camberly, England. Upon graduation he was assigned to the NATO Plans Section of the Joint American Military Advisory Group to Europe, stationed in London.

He entered the Army War College as a student in 1952 and after graduation served on its faculty for three years. On 27 Aug 1952 Yarborough was temporarily promoted to Colonel. On 07 Jul 1953 Yarborough was permanently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

In 1956 he became Deputy Chief of the U. S. Military Advisory and Assistance Group to Cambodia. He remained in this assignment until he returned to the Army War College for a temporary tour prior to assuming command of the 1st Battle Group, 7th Infantry at Fort Benning, Georgia, later moving it to Aschaffenburg, Germany. Leaving the Battle Group in 1958, he commanded the 66th Counterintelligence Corps Group in Stuttgart for two years until his reassignment to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In January 1961, he was appointed commander/commandant of the US Army Special Warfare Center/School for Special Warfare at Fort Bragg, NC. On 24 Jun 1961 Yarborough was temporarily promoted to Brigadier General. On 12 Jul 1961 Yarborough was permanently promoted to Colonel. Remaining until 1965, he was instrumental in the build-up of Special Forces, overseeing the activation of four new Groups. He also worked diligently to increase the professional and academic standard of the JFK School, bringing in national figures in anthropology, history, science, and inviting leading political figures to speak. He initiated an exhaustive review of training programs and doctrine, and wrote numerous monographs on subjects pertaining to Special Operations, which are still relevant today. It was also under his management that foreign students were fully integrated into training and language instruction was expanded. He established five new courses including the Military Assistance Training Advisor School, the Unconventional Warfare course and the Counter-Terrorism course. He also initiated a staff study that later resulted in the movement of the US Army Civil Affairs School from Fort Gordon, GA to Fort Bragg.

It was during his tenure as Commander of the Special Warfare Center that in 1961, he arranged for President Kennedy to visit Fort Bragg, resulting in the authorization of the Green Beret for wear as the official headgear of Special Forces.

On 21 Jul 1962 Yarborough was permanently promoted to Brigadier General. On 01 Nov 1963 Yarborough was temporarily promoted to Major General with DOR: 01Aug 1958. After his tenure at the Special Warfare School, he served as Senior Member, UN Command Military Armistice Commission, Panmunjom, Korea where he was the chief spokesman and negotiator for the UN Command in talks with the North Koreans and Chinese. He then was assigned as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Special Operations in the Pentagon with the responsibility of all Special Forces, PSYOP and Civil Affairs units and activities. In this position, he completed exhaustive studies on the state of insurgencies in Thailand and Latin America. A year later, he became the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence on the Army General Staff where he monitored the Army’s intelligence training programs, provided finished intelligence materials to the Army General Staff and directed the Army’s personnel security program. He also directed the programs in which foreign military attaches assigned to Washington were involved and was responsible for their accreditation by DA.

During the final years of his career, Yarborough was the Army’s top intelligence officer at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. He assumed the command of I Corps in Korea in 1968, a position he held for a year. I Corps consisted of both conventional and nuclear weapons, two American divisions and three Korean Division and a Korean Marine Corps Brigade, numbering approximately 100,000 men. On 02 May 1966 Yarborough was permanently promoted to Major General with DOR: 04 Jun 1963. In 1968 Yarborough was permanently promoted to Lieutenant General. In 1969, he was assigned as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander in Chief, US Army Pacific, responsible for directing a wide variety of Army activities in the Pacific Rim, including planning joint training exercises, response to natural disasters and monitoring intelligence operations. He retired from the Army in 1971.

In 1971, the Army tasked him to prepare a classified Asian study on the state of the Asian continent after the Vietnam Conflict. He also was a guest speaker for the National Strategy Information Center where he gave talks such as the Changing Balance of Military Power or the history of Special Forces to various groups around the country. He also was asked to visit various countries such as Rhodesia and Mozambique for the State Department. From his visits, he wrote various talking papers still in use today.

Lieutenant General Yarborough was a member of the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs. He is also an honorary member of the British SAS Regiment and a member of the St. John’s Lodge 260, F&AM. He wrote two books: Bail Out Over North Africa and So You Want A Volunteer Army. General Yarborough was married to his wife Norma for over 60 years. They had three children: 2 girls and one boy. Mrs. Yarborough passed away in 1999. He was honored in the fall of 2005 with the donation of a bust in his honor at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC.

1993 - Contributor to the international Military and Defense Encyclopedia

1994 - MacMillan Encyclopedia of the American Military

1999 - Norma Mae Tuttle Yarborough passed away

LTG (RET) William P. Yarborough collection papers and artifacts donated to Mugar Memorial Library, Boston University.

06 Dec 2005 - Passed away buried in Arlington National Military Cemetery.


General Yarborough was interested in journalism and had a number of articles published. Lecturer on irregular warfare at National War College, Army War College, Naval War College, Marine Corps Schools, Armed Forces Staff College, business, patriotic and Reserve groups. He was also interested in photography, enjoyed hunting and fishing, and was a collector of antique weapons, armor and military prints.


Fellow, Company of Military Historians
National Sojourners (Past President)
St. John's 260 F&AM
Association of the United States Army
Association of Graduates, U. S. Military Academy

CHILDREN: Norma Kay (Deceased) LTC (Ret.) William Lee Yarborough, U. S. Army, Special Forces and Patricia Mae


RELIGION: Protestant (Episcopalian)

COUNTRIES VISITED: Philippine Islands, Cambodia, North Africa, Italy England, Germany, France, Austria, Iran, Ethiopia, Greece, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama, Japan, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos.


U. S. Delegation, Inter-American Defense Board
U. S. Delegation, Joint Brazil-United States Defense Commission
U. S. Section, Joint Mexican-United States Defense Commission
U. S. Section, Permanent Joint Board on Defense, Canada-United States
U. S. Section, Canada-United States Military Cooperation Committee

Lt. Col. Yarborough ordered back to the States to attend Command and General Staff College departs his 509th Headquarters in Lantosque, France in late Sep or early Oct 1944.


BOOK: Bail Out over North Africa


Official Military Biography

Official Military Interview


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