COL William "Bill" Giese was a VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 09/02/2022 at the age of 88.4
Wellington, FL
Flight Classes 61-6Q and 57-2
Date of Birth 04/04/1934
Served in the U.S. Army
Served in Vietnam with 162 AHC in 66-67, 11 CAB in 67, 238 AVN in 68, 1 AVN BDE in 71, EAGLE CAB in 72
Call signs in Vietnam COPPERHEAD 16, RED DOG 1, EAGLE 6
This information was provided by Obit

More detail on this person: US Army Colonel (Ret) William (Bill) Giese II died Friday September 2, 2022 in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was 88 years old. Bill is survived by his former-spouse Elizabeth (Bettye) Giese, son William (Billy) Giese of Pensacola, FL; daughter Ellen LaFleur of St Petersburg, FL; Lauren Noll and son-in-law John Noll of West Palm Beach FL; Garnet Warner and son-in-law James Warner of Las Vegas, NV; his grandchildren Alec LaFleur, Scarlett and Jimmy Warner, and Lucas and Julianna DiSalvo. He was preceded in death by his sister Joanne Macko and parents, William and Edith Giese of Racine, Wisconsin. Colonel Giese grew up in Racine, Wisconsin where he began his lifelong passion for the game of golf. His father William Giese was an accomplished saxophone player and passed on that love to his son. When Billy was in high school and the phone calls came in for his dad to play gigs, """Billy""" would take them for himself! His plans to be a pro golfer were dashed when, as he was on his way to California to become a Professional Golfer, his number was pulled for the draft. He entered the Army on January 18th, 1955 on what would be the start of a long and illustrious military career. While Colonel Giese""'s recollection, based on his written personal history, was that he volunteered for Officer Candidate School, a different story has emerged. After who knows what transpired, a Captain name Jim called him to the office one day and said something like, """Look Giese, you""'ve got a lot of potential but I""'ve to two pieces of paper here and don""'t care which one you sign.""" Turns out one was to the stockade and one was to Officer Candidate School (OCS). Giese was commissioned an Infantry Officer upon graduation from OCS on September 6, 1955. In 1958, he was assigned to Kitzigen, Germany to be a General""'s pilot. Upon learning about Bill""'s golf experience, he was asked to construct a 9-hole golf course, which he did. He even stayed on a few months as their golf pro. Bill would meet his future wife Betty LaFleur in the Officers Club in Kitzigen. She was on a date, but he was able to convince her to have her date take her home after which he promptly picked her up. Upon his return from Germany, he was to Fort Benning Infantry School, where he was selected to be the Commander of the Fort Benning Honor Guard Company, where he served for 18 months. Here he met Jack Dugan and Joe Campbell who would be lifelong friends. Bill, knowing that you needed a degree to advance in rank, earned his Bachelor""'s Degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1962. He married Bettye in 1963 they were assigned to HQ, US Forces Korea where Bill worked on the Army Aviation Staff for one year. Several helicopter fatal accidents had occurred in Korea from aviators striking above ground electrical wires throughout Korea. He was given the task of developing a """wire map""" of Korea for distribution to all aviation units in country which helped immensely. In Korea, he would meet more lifelong friends, Reed Suddaby and Snow Anazalone. Bettye returned early from Korea to Racine, Wisconsin to have their first child Ellen. Upon returning stateside, Bill earned his Master""'s Degree from American University in Ft. Benning, Georgia in 1963. In 1964, Bill was then assigned to Fort Rucker, Alabama, the US Army Aviation Training Center. Army Aviation was rapidly expanding, Rucker needed additional training facilities. He was sent to Fort Stewart, Georgia to evaluate an old tank training base. His evaluation of the terrain, buildings, tank stalls would allow aviation basic training to begin within 3 months. It was approved and Fort Stewart began helicopter training in 6 months, solving the problem. Giese volunteered for Vietnam in 1966 and was assigned to the 182nd Assault Helicopter Company stationed at Phouc Vinh, Vietnam, in support of the 1st Infantry Division. Bill was the Armed Helicopter Platoon leader, now a Major. Billy was born that year and would not meet his dad until he was almost 1 year old. After completing this tour of combat, he was sent to Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for one year of studies. Bettye informed him of a third child, Lauren, on the way. From there he was sent back to Fort Riley, Kansas to train, organize and get ready to deploy an Armed Helicopter Company to Vietnam. After several months of training, Giese was notified that he had been selected """below the zone""" (earlier than normal) for O-5, Lieutenant Colonel. At his new rank, he was no longer eligible to deploy with his helicopter company and was transferred to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana. Here, after moving three times while pregnant, Betty gave birth to Lauren. Garnet would follow 15 months later. In 1971, Bill volunteered for Vietnam again with the hope of getting command of an Aviation Helicopter Battalion. He went AWOL from the replacement facility while awaiting Vietnam orders and proceeded to the headquarters of Vietnam Aviation Commander led by a Two Star General. He surprised the Chief of Staff Colonel Joe Rogers, who he went to flight school with and was promptly given an assignment on his staff. One Sunday morning, his intercom sounded and it was the commanding general requesting his presence at his office down the hall. He directly asked Giese if he still wanted to command a battalion to which he responded """Yes.""" He was told to proceed immediately to command Eagle Combat Aviation Battalion near Quinn Yong where he had just released the Battalion Commander. Giese had a very successful 8 months of as a Battalion Commander and was proud to be the last combat aviation battalion to leave before the war was over. One fond memory of his time in Vietnam was taking Henry Fonda (on a USO tour in 1967 in Phu Loy) up in a gunship (helicopter). This was certainly not a sanctioned event and was done under the radar. In 2004, the USO moved its main operations from the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, to new offices in Arlington, VA. Among one of the items found during the move was a letter from Fonda to the USO, dated 27 April 1967. He explained in his distinct handwriting that his USO tour in Vietnam was """the most rewarding experience of my life, and I will be forever grateful that I was given this opportunity.""" We like to think that Mr. Fonda""'s experience in the gunship with Bill had something to do with that. After Vietnam, he returned to the Pentagon to work in the office of Department of the Army Personnel Directorate. His biggest accomplishment during that tour was bringing to policy the idea of if you don""'t get promoted to E-6 you would no longer be allowed to re-enlist but be separated. The other services also developed similar rules. After two years, he was selected for the Army War College of Carlisle Barracks, PA where he attended with Colin Powell. Near the end of that tour, he was assigned to the US Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. While at the Infantry School, he was selected for and promoted to Full Colonel, O-6. About two years later, he was selected to be an Army attachAc to the Ambassadors Office in Lisbon, Portugal. The whole family proceeded to Washington, DC for one year training before departing for Lisbon. About 2/3 of the way through training the Lisbon Ambassador (Frank Carlucci) extended his Army AttachAc for one more year which put Bill in limbo. He was allowed to choose his next assignment and ended up at MacDill AFB, Florida (just 2 blocks from friend Joe Campbell) and scratched the AttachAc tour. The family lived in St. Petersburg which would forever be considered home to his family. In 1981, the family moved to Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii where they fell in love with Ft. Kamehameha, the Army section of housing at the rear of the base. With their back yard facing the entrance to Pearl Harbor, a quick bus ride to the base beach, the North Shore and Waikiki, what was not to love. Bettye and the children would return to St. Petersburg after one year and would divorce on 9/2/1982. Bill would eventually return to St. Petersburg and retire from MacDill Airforce Base on 4/30/1985 at the age of 51. Colonel William Giese completed 30 years, 8 months of active military service; moved or reassigned 24 times and traveled extensively while getting a college (Masters) degree. Giese earned many medals during his time in the Army including: Defense Superior Service Medal/Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (5 Campaigns), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Valorous Unit Award, Civil Actions Honor Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross. He has also honored in the US Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame After retirement, Bill moved back to Hawaii to become the Executive Director of the Aloha Division of the PGA. It was a dream job that he loved passionately, and the perks were amazing! Joe Campbell still recalls their amazing day golfing at Kapalua. After returning stateside and moving a few more times, he ended up in Destin, Florida with his partner Peggy Mathews for 10 years. They travelled extensively (44 trips in all) and enjoyed each other""'s company a lot. In his later years, he moved near daughter Lauren in West Palm Beach, Florida to oversee his care. After 3 years on the waitlist, Bill""'s turn finally arrived to go on the Honor Flight to Washington DC. Honor Flights are dedicated to honoring veterans with a trip to Washington, DC to visit their memorials at absolutely no cost to the veteran. His daughter Lauren was to accompany him as his Guardian. Unfortunately Bill fell ill and passed away before he could go. In his honor Lauren will be accompanying another veteran on a flight on November 5th, 2022. Bill had a lot of laughs in these last years. He was surrounded by caring people in a comfortable environment. He was well taken care of by Lauren and her husband John, new friends he met as well as his long-time caregiver Vincella. In hospice, a few days before his passing, he was able to have a final video call with Joe Campbell where Bill smiled as Joe recounted funny stories. He fought until the very end and the family is grateful he is now at peace. Colonel Giese will be cremated and his interment at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. with Full Military Honors will be at a later date. After his passing, Honor Flight notified the family the Bill has been selected to receive the """Flags of our Hero""'s""" honor on the November 5th flight that honors a deceased veteran unable to make the flight. Bill will be honored both on the flight with an honor guard and with a ceremony and memorial at the Vietnam Memorial. In lieu of flowers """ please make donations to Honor Flight Published by on Oct. 30, 2022.

Burial information: Arlington National Cemetery ,Washington, D.C.

This information was last updated 04/26/2023

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Date posted on this site: 06/15/2024

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