William W. Eagles was born on January 12, 1895, in Albion, Indiana. After graduating from Albion High School in May 1913, he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in June 1917 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry.
Eagles was promoted to major general on November 4, 1943, and relieved Troy H. Middleton, who was promoted to the command of VIII Corps. He led the 45th Infantry Division during late fighting at Anzio. For his service in this capacity, he was decorated with Distinguished Service Medal. He also received the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus and the Bronze Medal of Valor by the Government of Italy.
The 45th Division was subsequently scheduled to invade Southern France and landed at St. Maxime on August 15, 1944. Eagles commanded the division during the liberation of Epinal and Rambervillers in September of that year and advanced to the Vosges mountains. On November 30, Eagles was seriously wounded when the jeep he was riding struck a land mine. He was evacuated to the United States. For his service during Operation Dragoon, Eagles received his second Distinguished Service Medal and Purple Heart. The government of France bestowed him with the Legion of Honor, rank Commander, and Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 with Palm.