WEST POINT, N.Y. – Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam during a major escalation of the war, was buried Saturday at the U.S. Military Academy (search), where he was once superintendent.
The World War II (search) combat veteran died Monday at the age of 91 of natural causes at the South Carolina retirement home where he lived with his wife, Katherine.
"He left his mark in history," a chaplain, Lt. Col. John J. Cook (search), said in a graveside eulogy. "The season of war is gone ... Now he'll enter a season of rest."
Following a private chapel service attended by about 50 people, Westmoreland's widow received the flag from his coffin from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker.
A 17-gun salute echoed at the West Point (search) cemetery as the coffin was accompanied by a detail of cadets with rifles and the academy band.
Westmoreland attained the rank of colonel by the age of 30 and was promoted to brigadier general during the Korean War. He became the superintendent of West Point and by 1964, he was a three-star general commanding American troops in Vietnam.
American support for the war declined near the end of Westmoreland's tenure when enemy forces launched attacks throughout South Vietnam in the 1968 Tet Offensive, even striking the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.
Westmoreland asked for reinforcements but was recalled to Washington to serve as Army chief of staff for four years. He retired from active duty in 1972.
The war ended in 1975 with the withdrawal of U.S. troops and communist North Vietnam taking control of the country.
"The war was lost by the politicians, not the soldiers," said Mark DelMaestro, who said he served on a Navy supply boat in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. "He was a soldier's soldier."