Lloyd B. Ramsey
Major General
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Commander, American Division

A soldier who arose to become a divisional commander in the U.S. Army, Lloyd was born to William Harold Ramsey and Mary Ellen Barnett Ramsey in Somerset, Kentucky. Lloyd was an athlete who held down a job early in his childhood. At A&P Grocery Store he worked from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., receiving a dollar a day and two dollars on Saturday, but still called it "good pay". He toiled just as hard in high school football, and "walked on" (joined the team with no scholarship) at the University of Kentucky. In spring practice as a freshman he broke his neck and wore a cast and a brace for about six months. Meanwhile at the university he arose to the rank of cadet colonel in R.O.T.C., but didn't apply for commission to the regular army. He preferred to be a football coach. A sergeant, however, talked him into spending a year as a second lieutenant. "So I tried it and thirty-four years later I didn't like it and I got out," he remarks with a chuckle. He entered the army on 1 July 1940. He served at Fort Thomas, Kentucky for a month, then at Fort Knox where he was in charge of demonstration troops for ROTC personnel. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina he helped organize the 9th Infantry Division. "There were three 2nd lieutenants and one lieutenant colonel there," he says. He held the titles of regimental commander, and regimental executive officer, commanded three battalions and all the companies. On February 22, 1941 he married Glenda Burton, a young woman from his hometown. (They would have three children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.) On December 7, 1941, he recalls he and Glenda were babysitting his company commander's children when they heard the news on the radio of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was first sent to a North Carolina town to guard railroads. Rank came quickly in wartime. On 1 September 1941, he was promoted to first lieutenant. By the next September he was captain and in February of 1943 a major. In peacetime in that era, he recalls, a first lieutenant would remain in that rank "about 15 years at least," he says. He was a captain when he was sent to England to help plan the invasion of North Africa. He made the landing on November 8, 1943 in "the Algiers area with very little resistance." The resistance came from French army forces. "They were a little difficult to deal with in those days," he remarks. His first major engagement was the battle of Kasserine Pass, when he was executive officer of 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry. He recalls his first day in combat as "something you never expected so you didn't know what it was going to be," he recalls. Soon, he was selected as an aide to a four-star British officer, General Harold Alexander, deputy commander to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Soon, Ramsey was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, Omar Bradley, and Winston Churchill. "A fine individual," he says of the British prime minister. "I spent three days with him in North Africa and three days with him in Sicily. He recalls having dinner with Alexander and General George S. Patton. After dinner, Patton queried the young officer about all he knew about the British. "I got the impression that he respected Alexander but he had nothing good to say about Montgomery." Ramsey remarks. He recalls that General Montgomery was the one who set up the timetable and how to proceed in moving across North Africa. "Montgomery got the glory but Alexander was the one who got it in motion and oversaw everything," he says. Ramsey wanted to return to commanding troops, and asked for assignment in 3rd Division, and became executive officer of 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, known as "The Cotton Balers". His theory for commanding men was "Take a man for what he is and not for what you want him to be," he remarks. "If you let him do when he can do and not what you want him to do you're better off." In November of 1943, Ramsey, asking to be relieved so he could command troops, requested 3rd Division, known as the "Rock of the Marne Division". He became executive officer of 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry (known as "The Cotton Balers").. In describing the American soldier he says: "He didn't know what he was going to do, but most of them you could depend on. If you gave them good leadership you could depend on them doing what you told them to do," he says. He also called them "very innovative". He found the Italian civilians "very helpful". Lloyd fought at the Anzio Beachhead from January 31, 1944 until May when the Allies broke out against the Germans. At Anzio, he was almost hit by a German 88-millimeter shell. He had been in a CP (command post) in a tunnel. As he neared the tunnel's entrance he heard a shell screaming towards him. "I tried to duck down and my pistol and my canteen, I think, caught and I couldn't get back down in and the shell landed about six to twelve feet away from me. I was covered with mud and everything but it didn't explode," he recalls. He was wounded five times in WWII, earning five Purple Hearts. Lloyd also made the landing in southern France. "The 3rd Division had three prior landings and they knew how to invade a hostile shore. So that helped us a lot," he says. Eventually, his L Company of 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry was the first troops in Hitler's mountain retreat, Berchtesgaden. After the war Ramsey taught leadership at Fort Benning's infantry school, then worked at several staff positions throughout the 1940s and 1950s, which kept him out of the Korean War. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1964 and then major general in 1968. That year he was sent to Vietnam as deputy commander of logistics command, based in Saigon. In 1969 he took command of 23rd Infantry Division (Americal), headquartered at Chu Lai. It was the largest division in Vietnam with 28,000 troops. It was also under the command of 3rd Marine Amphibious Force in the I Corps area in the northern part of South Vietnam. Major General Ramsey flew by helicopter to oversee his troops, often taking off at 7 a.m. and not returning until 7 or 8 p.m. His area was about 125 miles long. He tried to be out in the field with the men every day. On March 17, 1970, about 4 p.m., his helicopter crashed. It took 18 hours for rescuers to find the site. He was badly injured while a lieutenant colonel and crew chief were killed. "The armored seat and the good Lord saved my life," he remarks. The crash ended his career. "I've been in pain ever since the crash, but it's not too bad that I can't live with it," he remarks. When he retired he and Glenda moved to Wisteria, Virginia. Glenda is deceased. He now lives in Roanoke.