Sergeant Major Leon Van Autreve

The Sergeant Major of the Army Leon Van Autreve Scholarship Fund is to provide educational support to Soldiers and family members who have dedicated themselves to service to the Nation by pursuing self-improvement.

The SMA Leon Van Autreve Scholarship Fund will honor the memory of SMA Leon Van Autreve (the fourth SMA). This scholarship will showcase recipients that share SMA Van Autreve’s vision of an Army and Army Family of highly motivated and educated professionals. SMA Van Autreve served in WWII and in Vietnam. He held every leadership position culminating his career as the fourth Sergeant Major of the Army. His war time experience combined with his senior leader positions, he saw increasing the standards of the noncommissioned officer corps as a high priority. To increase professional standards and military education, Van Autreve was instrumental in establishing the Noncommissioned Officer Education System.


Born: January 29, 1920, Eeklo, Belgium
Died: March 14, 2002


  • 1938-40 Clerk, Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 148th Infantry, Ohio Army National Guard, Spencerville, Ohio
  • 1941 Basic Engineer Training, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia
  • 1941 185th Engineer Battalion, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky
  • 1942-44 15th Engineer Battalion (Combat), 9th Infantry Division, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.; North Africa; Sicily; Europe
  • 1945 Headquarters, 723d Railway Operations Battalion, Europe
  • 1946-48 Student, Ohio Northwestern University
  • (break in service, 1949-50)
  • 1950-54 Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, HHC, 54th Engineer Battalion, Germany
  • 1954-58 Senior Instructor, ROTC, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio
  • 1958-59 Member, Continental Army Command Armor Board, Ft. Knox, Kentucky
  • 1960-61 First Sergeant, Company B, 8th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, Republic of Korea
  • 1961-62 Senior Bridge Instructor, Engineer Center, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia
  • 1962-63 Sergeant Major, 91st Engineer Battalion, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia
  • 1963-64 Military Technical Advisory Group, Indonesia
  • 1964-67 Sergeant Major, 317th Engineer Battalion, Germany
  • 1967-68 Brigade Sergeant Major, 20th Engineer Brigade, Vietnam
  • 1969-73 Sergeant Major, U.S. Army, Alaska, Ft. Richardson, Alaska
  • 1973-75 Sergeant Major of the Army

Significant Accomplishments as SMA

SMA Van Autreve saw increasing the standards of the Army's noncommissioned officer corps as his highest priority. As part of the rejuvenation of the NCO Corps, SMA Van Autreve gave NCOs more voice in command decisions, reduced the Army's reliance on soldiers' councils, increased professional standards for NCOs, developed the Noncommissioned Officer Education System, and encouraged NCOs to have the moral courage to police their own ranks.

Selected Decorations and Awards

Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Good Conduct Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Parachutist Badge

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