Lieutenant General William H. Duncan retired after more than 35 years of distinguished military service in 1987. Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1952, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry, serving in the 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team and in Korea during the Korea Conflict, in the 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Division.
He was awarded the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, the Commendation Medal and numerous service medals. Upon resigning from the Regular Army in 1955 he joined the Pennsylvania National Guard, with the 111th Infantry Regimental Combat Team, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He was promoted to rank of Major of Infantry as the Operations and Training Officer.
In February 1963, he accepted a commission as a Major, Medical Corps in the Delaware Army National Guard and became Commanding Officer of the 116th Surgical Hospital (Mobile Army). General Duncan transferred to the Signal Corps Branch in 1970. He reached the grade of Major General, qualified in the Signal Corps and served as the Commander of the 261st Signal Command (Theater Army).
Mobilization missions in which he participated were to the Third United States Army, the Army Component of Central Command, the Joint Rapid Deployment Force to Southwest Asia and to WESTCOM, the Army Component to the Pacific Command.
General Duncan was awarded the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Medal, their highest peacetime award; the Delaware Conspicuous Service Cross (Fifth Award) and promoted to the State rank of Lieutenant General. He holds the Delaware Distinguished Service Medal and the Delaware Medal for Military Merit (Eight Awards).
He has held appointments by the Secretary of the Army to the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Army on Reserve Affairs and the Army Reserve Forces Policy Committee and subsequently held an appointment by the Secretary of Defense to the Reserve Forces Policy Board. He served three times as the President of the gubernatorial committee to recommend the individual to serve as Adjutant General of Delaware. He has served five times as a member of the General Officer Selection Board for the National Guard.
General Duncan is a Director, Army Historical Foundation, 1998- present. He is also the Chairman of the National Guard Heritage Painting Committee, Washington DC, 2001 –present. He is the formerChairman of the Delaware Military Heritage and Education Foundation, 1999 –2010. He is the author of several articles on military history.
General Duncan attended Delaware public schools, graduating from P.S. duPont High School, Wilmington Delaware in 1947. He attended the University of Delaware before appointment to West Point in 1948. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Military Academy in 1952 and graduated with a Doctor of Medicine from Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1959. He participated in post-doctoral training in psychiatry and obstetrics in addition to his rotating internship at the Delaware Hospital, 1959-1960.
His civilian career was equally distinguished; beginning with a Family Practice established in Wilmington Delaware in July 1960. He was named as part-time Director of Medical Education for the Delaware Hospital and subsequently Director of Emergency Services. In 1967 he was appointed Director of Ambulatory Services for the Wilmington Medical Center. He was named Vice President of Medical Affairs at Saint Francis Hospital in Wilmington in 1975. He “retired” from St. Francis in 1993. General Duncan was appointed as the Senior Medical Examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration from 1969-1993. General Duncan currently practices general medicine and allergy with Calvert Ear, Nose and Throat Associates in Annapolis, Maryland.
He has held numerous appointments as a medical consultant, lecturer, instructor, trainer, peer reviewer, and arbitrator in positions of administrative responsibility spanning five decades. His interests are not limited to military and medical topics. To name just a few of his innumerable associations, he has been an active participant in Crittendon Center for unwed mothers; Temple University Medical School Alumni Association, Board member for the YMCA of Delaware, the Executive Board for the Del-Mar-Va Council, Boy Scouts of America, and Director of the Historical Society of Delaware.
General Duncan married the former Doris May Goodley of Brandywine Hundred. They had three children, Charles, Laurie, and William. She died in 2000. General Duncan married Beth Rhodes, M.D. of Huntingtown, Maryland in 2005. He has a stepdaughter Kristina by this second marriage.
As an interesting historical footnote, General Duncan is the son of Delaware career National Guardsman, Colonel S.B. I. Duncan, for whom the Duncan Readiness Center is named