General Train was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. Orphaned when he was 17, he enlisted in the Army as a private in 1926 and retired 41 years later as a three-star general.
In 1927, then Private Train placed first among Army enlisted men competing for admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from West Point in 1931 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
Later during World War II, General Train served in the Italian campaign in 1943 for several months and then, in October 1944, he joined the 28th Infantry Division fighting on the Siegfried Line. The Siegfried Line was the defensive barrier at the German border to which the German army had retreated in the summer and fall of 1944 after the American and British invasion at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
In trying to break through the Siegfried Line in November 1944, General Train’s division was stopped by fierce German resistance during the Battle of Huertgen Forest, the bloodiest battle of the war in Europe on the American side. After suffering devasting losses, the 28th Division was moved to a quiet sector of the front line in northern Luxemburg and southern Belgium.
This put them directly in the path of the massive German surprise attack called the Battle of the Bulge, launched on December 16, 1944. Gen. Train, then a Lieutenant Colonel, was Assistant Regimental Commander of the 112th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Division. His regiment held its position for the first two days of the attack against overwhelming odds and then participated in the defense of St. Vith in southern Belgium, a key road junction. These defensive actions seriously disrupted the northern sector of the German attack, which ground to a halt on December 26. Two days earlier, on December 24, Gen. Train’s regiment — which had become surrounded by the German forces — was able to safely withdraw to the new American lines with the rest of the St. Vith defenders. General Train was awarded a Silver Star medal for his leadership and bravery during the battle.
General Train also served in Korea in 1950 and 1951 during the intense fighting of the first year of that war. He was responsible for planning for the American Army during five campaigns, beginning with the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter.
Later in his career, General Train commanded the Fourth Infantry Division (1960-1962) and the Army War College (1962-1964). In his final assignment, he commanded the First U.S. Army (1964-1967), where he was responsible for all Army forces and facilities in the northeast of the United States.
General Train’s son, Lt. William F. Train III (born 6/26/1937), was the 6th American “adviser” killed in South Vietnam, 6/16/1962.