William Rhea’s Biography
The late Command Sergeant Major William Rhea graduated Valedictorian from Langston High School in 1964. He was an outstanding Langston High School Tiger football and basketball player, class secretary, and a member of Hi-Y. He went on to attend ETSU for one year, then he joined the US Army and served for more than thirty years ascending to the highest enlisted grade.
During his time in the Army, he completed his civilian education through the New York Regions education system with a non-thesis Master’s in Military Science. He was highlighted on the front page of the Chicago Tribune as the Army’s Top Recruiter for multiple years. He served multiple years in combat and received numerous awards and decorations, some for saving the lives of other soldiers. He was the original leader of the Army’s Special Operations Aviation Unit that is known as the “Night Stalkers”. CSM Rhea credited God’s graces for the ability to do many things after returning from special missions, numerous injuries and surgeries. CSM Rhea retired from the Army in September 1997.
After his retirement, he assisted Veterans in receiving benefits they deserved and earned. He was a lifetime member of the Killeen, Texas and the Johnson City, Tennessee NAACP Military Veteran’s Panel. CSM Rhea was an avid speed reader and completed several courses to learn this valuable skill inspired by cousin and educator, Callie Redd.
In 2015, CSM Rhea actively served the Johnson City community with his work through the Pro-To Club, Community Benevolence Outreach, and Carver Recreation Center. He was a committed supporter of youth education through tutoring and youth scholarships. The Westlawn Cemetery was also cleaned up and restored with the help of William Rhea and volunteers he enlisted from the community. Faithful church member and fellowship supporter, CSM William Rhea passed away in Killeen, Texas on March 31, 2019.