Retired Gen. William Hartzog Dies at 79

Retired Gen. William Hartzog Dies at 79

Picture of Retired Gen. William Hartzog
Photo by: U.S. Army

Retired Gen. William Hartzog, whose 35 years in the Army included command of the 1st Infantry Division, Army South and Army Training and Doctrine Command, died Oct. 15 at the age of 79.

The Wilmington, North Carolina, native and lifetime member of the Association of the U.S. Army was commissioned in 1963 after graduating from The Citadel, and he retired in 1998.

A Vietnam combat veteran who taught at the U.S. Military Academy and was a joint operations officer at U.S. Southern Command during the 1989 Panama invasion, Hartzog may be best remembered for his efforts at TRADOC to move the Army to become a post-Cold War force that embraced information technology and digitized weapons. 

In a 1998 interview as he was retiring from the Army, Hartzog said that he hoped, with the aid of sensors and satellites, to have fully digitized divisions that would electronically locate and attack enemy forces while minimizing U.S. casualties. “I’ve just given them a better tool kit,” he told the Daily Press, a Newport News, Virginia, newspaper.

He wasn’t worried about soldiers accepting technology. “The youngsters today, the 18- to 25-year-olds, are formed already when they enter the military. So that the technologies that are a little scary to us are not to them at all,” he said in the interview.

Smaller budgets, like what the Army was facing at the end of the Cold War, require effort, he said. “You have to re-order our forces so that they are more useful and more applicable to the world as it is,” he said. “You've got to change your training modems and find ways to train that don't require as many dollars or as much time or as much live training, which is the most expensive training to do.”

In retirement, Hartzog served as Army Historical Foundation president and chairman and wrote a book, America’s Military Heritage.