3rd SMA - Silas L. Copeland

3rd SMA - Silas L. Copeland

Born: April 2, 1920, Embryfield, Texas
Died: December 4, 2001


  • 1942 Inducted into service, Huntsville, Texas, and Basic Training, St. Petersburg, Florida
  • 1942-45 Refueling specialist, Base Squadron, Biggs Army Airfield, Texas
  • 1945 Tank Commander and Platoon Sergeant, Company E, 66th Armored Regiment, 2d Armored Division, Germany
  • 1945-50 Operations and Intelligence Sergeant, 67th Tank Battalion and 82d Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Armored Division, Ft.Hood, Texas
  • 1950-51 Operations Sergeant, Reconnaissance and Intelligence Platoon Sergeant, 2d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Japan, Korea
  • 1951-53 Assistant Instructor, ROTC, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
  • 1953-54 First Sergeant, 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, Germany
  • 1954-57 Operations Sergeant, Sergeant Major, 4th Tank Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Ft. Hood, Texas
  • 1957-58 Instructor, ROTC, Centenary College, Shreveport, Louisiana
  • 1958-59 First Sergeant, Troop B, 8th Cavalry Squadron, 8th Infantry Division, Germany
  • 1960-62 Sergeant Major, 8th Cavalry Squadron, 8th Infantry Division, Germany
  • 1962-63 Sergeant Major, 2d Battalion, 37th Armor, 2d Armored Division, Ft. Hood, Texas
  • 1963-66 Division Sergeant Major, 2d Armored Division, Ft. Hood
  • 1966-68 Brigade Sergeant Major, 2d Brigade, 4th Armored Division, Germany
  • 1968-69 Division Sergeant Major, 4th Armored Division, Germany
  • 1969-70 Division Sergeant Major, lst Infantry Division, Vietnam
  • 1970 Division Sergeant Major, 4th Infantry Division, Vietnam
  • 1970-73 Sergeant Major of the Army

Significant Accomplishments as SMA 

By the time his tenure ended, SMA Copeland had strengthened the Office of the Sergeant Major of the Army; the Noncommissioned Officer Education System was up and running; and the first class had graduated from the new Sergeants Major Academy. There had also been a steady stream of changes in the enlisted acquisition, promotion, and training system as the Army moved along the road to an all-volunteer force. SMA Copeland’s proudest accomplishment, however, was having influenced "the noncommissioned officer corps to alter their method of operating," persuading "noncommissioned officers to change their thinking and leading of troops; and to treat a human being as a human being, with dignity and respect."

Selected Decorations and Awards

  • Distinguished Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star Medal with V Device with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Air Medal
  • Army Commendation Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • European Campaign Medal
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Army of Occupation Medal (Germany)
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Korean Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • United Nations Korean Service Medal
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Combat Infantryman Badge

In Memory of SMA (Ret.) Silas Copeland (01/21/2002)
A letter from Colonel James M. Durham, USA, Retired in regards to SMA (Ret.) Silas Copeland.