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World War II Remembered: The Generals and the Admirals: American Generals

Walter Bedell Smith 10/5/1895 - 8/9/1961

Smith, Walter Bedell (Oct. 5, 1895 - Aug. 9, 1961), soldier and diplomat, was born in Indianapolis, Ind., the son of William Long Smith and Ida Frances Bedell, both buyers for the Pettis Dry Goods Company. While still a student at Manual Training High School, Smith decided to enter military service, and in 1910 he enlisted as a private in the Indiana National Guard. He first went on active duty during the 1913 flood in Indianapolis and in 1916 served with the Mexican border expedition. He enrolled briefly at Butler University but had to withdraw because of his father's illness. After working as a mechanic, he was ordered back to active duty during World War I. On July 1, 1917, he married Mary Eleanor (Norrie) Cline; they had no children.

In November 1917, Smith completed the officers' training camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Officers' Reserve Corps. He was assigned to the Thirty-ninth Infantry, Fourth Division, at Camp Greene, N.C., and on Apr. 20, 1918, sailed with the division to France. He fought with the French at ChÏteau-Thierry and in the third Battle of the Marne. After being wounded by shrapnel, Smith returned to the United States.

Smith's assignments during the interwar period equipped him with organizing, administrative, and planning skills crucial to managing modern warfare. He served first in Washington, D.C., with the Bureau of Military Intelligence. From there he went to staff assignments in various posts. In April 1925 he became assistant to the chief coordinator of the Bureau of the Budget and later was deputy chief coordinator and vice-chairman of the Federal Liquidation Board. He was assigned to the Forty-fifth Infantry at Fort William McKinley, in the Philippines, 1929-1931.

While at the Infantry School, Smith captured the attention of Omar N. Bradley and George C. Marshall. Both men put Smith's name on their lists of future leaders. In October 1939, General Marshall called Smith to Washington to aid him in building up the army. Promotions now came rapidly. Smith became a lieutenant colonel in April 1941, a colonel in August 1941, a brigadier general in February 1942, a major general in December 1942, and a lieutenant general in January 1943.

Marshall made Smith assistant secretary and then, in September 1941, secretary of the General Staff. In this job Smith coordinated the work of staff agencies. The Joint Chiefs of Staff--comprising the military heads of the army, air force, and navy, and a personal representative of the president--was established early in 1942. This group, with the British military leaders, formed the Combined Chiefs of Staff, which formulated the grand strategy of the war. In February 1942 Smith was named secretary of the Joint Chiefs and United States secretary to the Combined Chiefs, posts in which he played a key role in establishing the smooth functioning of the two groups.

In September 1942, Smith joined General Dwight D. Eisenhower as his chief of staff. He served in London while Eisenhower gathered the forces for the cross-Channel invasion and then followed the general during Allied assaults on North Africa in November 1942, on Sicily in July 1943, on Italy in September 1943, and on France in June 1944. After the surrender of Germany in May 1945, Smith remained with Eisenhower until that December.

During this period Smith established his reputation as one of the finest chiefs of staff in history. He often represented Eisenhower at conferences involving the Allied high command. Some of his important contributions involved his role as a diplomat--he handled the surrender negotiations of Italy, and he helped Eisenhower in the complex negotiations with France.

Although Smith returned from Europe in January 1946 as chief of the Operations and Planning Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Harry S. Truman appointed him ambassador to Russia (1946-1949) two months later. Smith was a negotiator during the crucial period when relations between the two countries deteriorated into the cold war. He believed that Russia had always been imperialist and that Soviet Russia would continue its expansionist efforts. But he felt that the Soviets wanted to avoid war and that the Communist world was not an impregnable monolith. He argued that the break between Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia and Premier Josef Stalin of Russia was real and that the United States should support Tito and encourage similar defections.

In March 1949, Smith became commander of the First Army, with headquarters at Governors Island, N.Y. In 1951 he received the fourth star of a full general. In the wake of charges of inept intelligence contributing to the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, President Truman named him director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In this position Smith exercised the toughness and administrative skill for which he was noted. He discharged many employees and made structural changes that moved the intelligence community toward greater coordination and centralization. He eliminated outside controls from the covert operations section and merged it with the CIA's covert intelligence-gathering section. He also established a support arm to provide personnel, logistics, and training.

When Eisenhower became president, he moved Smith from the CIA to the State Department as undersecretary. Smith saw himself as "the policy chief of staff" for Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. In May 1954 he was the United States representative to the Geneva Far Eastern Conference, called to discuss the possible reunification of Korea and a settlement of the war in Indochina. He resigned as undersecretary in October 1954 to become vice-chairman of American Machine and Foundry Company, a position he held until his death in Washington, D.C.

Smith was not an initiator of policy--he was always the chief of staff. A careful assessment of his role in formulating or modifying policies has not yet been made. Critics saw him as quick-tempered, harsh, abrupt, and arbitrary. Supporters would probably substitute terms such as "terse" and "exact." Supporters would also point to his personal warmth in relaxed moments.

But, in the estimation of nearly everyone, he was a nearly perfect chief of staff. Army leaders must make decisions upon whose outcome the lives of soldiers and the fate of the nation depend. In order to do this, a commander needs a second self, an assistant who can be, in Eisenhower's phrase, "general manager." The chief of staff coordinates and controls the activities of the staff divisions. Stephen E. Ambrose, in The Supreme Commander (1970), summarized Smith's role: "He decided who could see Eisenhower and who could not, handled much of Eisenhower's civil affairs and diplomatic duties, had almost unlimited responsibility and authority in all matters except promotion of officers and operational directives, was the 'no' man in the office, and frequently represented Eisenhower at meetings." Smith's achievements were the more remarkable because he was a "bootstrap" soldier without a college education, let alone a West Point degree.

"Walter Bedell Smith." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.

James Maurice Gavin 3/22/1907 - 2/23/1990

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Orphaned at birth, Gavin became a ward of New York State. It is believed that his mother was Katherine Ryan, but the identity of his father is unknown. Martin and Mary (Terrel) Gavin adopted him when he was two and took him to Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, an anthracite coal–mining town where his adoptive father worked as a miner. His early life was unhappy. At the age of seventeen, determined not to be a miner, Gavin ran away from home and went back to New York, where he joined the army without parental consent, declaring himself an orphan. He graduated from West Point in 1929 but was humiliated when he washed out of flight training. He married Irma Baulsir on 5 September 1929. They had one daughter and divorced in 1943. In the army Gavin was made first lieutenant in 1934 and captain in 1939, following which he taught tactics at West Point until 1941. On 31 July 1948 he married Jean Emert Duncan. They had three daughters.

Gavin's military career blossomed in World War II. He rose from paratrooper through various command positions and eventually leadership of the forces that invaded Sicily and, then, Italy. Though Gavin became famous for his command brilliance in World War II, it was following the war that he became a creative examiner of American military and foreign policy. A lieutenant general at the age of thirty-seven, he was on the fast track to becoming Army Chief of Staff. In 1958, however, he abruptly resigned from the army following disputes over the development of ballistic missiles. The Arthur D. Little research company in Massachusetts offered him a lucrative salary and a vice presidency, a job that gave him access to a new group of political leaders, such as those surrounding Senator John F. Kennedy, who was running for U.S. president in 1960. Gavin became an adviser to Kennedy's campaign—contributing, significantly, the suggestion for development of a "peace corps" that would allow Americans to use their education and skills throughout the world.

After Kennedy's election, Gavin was asked to serve as ambassador to France, the idea being that a soldier with his credentials would be able to work with Charles de Gaulle, the venerable military commander and then president of France. Relations with France were prickly. The United States was concerned that France would not be amenable to Western cooperation in international affairs. There was considerable evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency was involved in operations that ran counter to French interests; therefore, Gavin's task was difficult. He also had trouble financing his stay in France. He had been made president of Arthur D. Little, and the company graciously offered to pay his salary and finance an eighteen-month leave. Kennedy assured Gavin that appropriations were forthcoming to sustain him and his family.

Gavin's relations with de Gaulle were stiff at first but grew more cordial as a general trust developed. The U.S. State Department, headed by Dean Rusk, was alarmed by Gavin's brash estimates of the French view toward granting Algerian independence and exclusion of Great Britain from the common market. Gavin gained a coup of sorts, however, by helping manage the triumphant visit of President Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, to France. He also gained assurances from the president that he had no fear for his job. After eighteen months, however, he knew the State Department had gained the upper hand.

Civil rights demonstrations ripped the nation during the Kennedy administration as black leaders and sympathetic northerners marched on southern states to force access to public institutions. Gavin, who had served in Arizona with black regiments, was not oblivious to the segregation issue. He had insisted that the all-black 555th Regiment, which had not been committed to combat in World War II, march with the Eighty-second Airborne Division in the New York victory parade. He became increasingly engaged in cultural politics and in formulating ideas for foreign aid. He also promoted using the United Nations, creating schools for training of Foreign Service personnel, developing free-trade zones with Latin America, and pushing the Peace Corps as the means of changing international perceptions of the United States.

Gavin saw the Kennedy administration as a vehicle for dramatic change and, personally, as a vehicle for his ideas. Kennedy's assassination was a tragic blow. The rise of Lyndon Johnson was a double blow to Gavin's hopes for change. The escalation of America's role in the Asian war whetted Gavin's appetite for dealing with the issue of keeping "limited" wars contained. He saw immediately that the policies of Johnson and his advisers would enlarge the war until it became unmanageable. He spoke out against saturation bombing, which he felt simply hardened resistance. He suggested the creation of secure enclaves of U.S. troops in strategic areas to support the South Vietnamese, whom, he thought, had to be trained to fight their own war. Withdrawal of U.S. forces was always a consideration to Gavin, and he rejected the notion of domino Communist expansion as a naive perception of Asian politics. He was joined in some of his ideas by the redoubtable General Matthew Ridgway, who had commanded forces during the invasion of Normandy in World War II and later served as Army Chief of Staff.

A new cadre of officers, men bloodied by the Korean experience and by the cold war conflict, were caught up in making their mark in Vietnam. General William West-moreland, once a young friend of the Gavins, was now commanding the military in Vietnam and was an adherent of Washington's policy. Gavin wrote an open letter published in Harper's magazine in November 1966 that called for the end of bombing and consideration of withdrawal from a war that could not be won. The piece caused a sensation, but it did not alter policy. Gavin, spelling out his thinking, testified against the war before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by J. William Fulbright.

Gavin turned to writing a book, an omnibus of ideas written with the Newsweek feature writer Arthur T. Hadley and published in 1968. Called Crisis Now: Crisis in the Cities; Crisis in Vietnam; and Commitment to Change, it may have been designed as a political campaign vehicle as well, for Gavin was interested in offering himself as a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party nomination. Senator Robert Kennedy's end run on Eugene McCarthy thwarted that idea, but soon Kennedy was assassinated. Gavin was dismayed. He gave little thought to the notion that he was regarded as a gadfly critic determined to keep his face and name before the public. He gave up his own plans and became a sometime adviser to Nelson Rockefeller's campaign for the presidency.

Gavin always clung to the military training and experiences that had given him fame and now fortune. His connection with Arthur D. Little was, despite rationalization, a use of his military connection for private gain. He stayed close to the airborne legend, attending reunions and making appearances at veterans gatherings. His outside activities concerned the Little company, which began to question his leadership and to seek a successor to Gavin. He agreed to a successor and continued writing his World War II memoir as well as collaborating on a biography.

Gavin searched for his natural parents without success through the Catholic Church in New York and Ireland. He found a Katherine Ryan on paper but not in the flesh. Just as with his large efforts to effect change, his attempts to find his heritage were unsuccessful. His health began to fail. He had severe back pain as a result of a parachute jump in Holland during the war, and then Parkinson's disease bent and eventually broke him. Though his home was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the location of some of the finest medical facilities in the world, ever the soldier, Gavin turned to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., for care and treatment. He published his memoir, On to Berlin, in 1978, following his retirement from Arthur D. Little in 1977. He had a second home in Florida, but he passed his final years in Washington and eventually the Keswick Home in Baltimore, Maryland. He was buried with full military honors at West Point.

Gavin challenged conventional government and military thinking in the 1960s and sacrificed his career in defense of his beliefs regarding the direction of defense spending and military intervention in Southeast Asia. Despite his limited early education, he was a creative military and social thinker who used his corporate status to prevail upon government to listen to his ideas concerning effective use of American influence on Europe and on undeveloped nations.

Gavin's Crisis Now (1968) presents a synopsis of his thinking about domestic and world problems, and his War and Peace in the Space Age (1958) displays his early thinking on foreign policy. Gavin's war memoir, On to Berlin: Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943–1946 (1978), provides a useful foundation for understanding his creativity as a commander. His article entitled "A Communication on Vietnam," in Harper's (Feb. 1966), is worth reading. See also his testimony to the Fulbright Committee,"Conflicts Between United States Capabilities and Foreign Commitments" (1967). The final chapters of T. Michael Booth and Duncan Spencer, Paratrooper: The Life of Gen. James M. Gavin (1994), are also useful. An extensive obituary is in the New York Times (25 Feb. 1990).

Cardoso, Jack J. "James M. Gavin." Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures. Ed. Arnold Markoe and Kenneth T.Jackson.   New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 26 Mar. 2012.

Claire Lee Chennault 9/06/1890 - 7/27/1958

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Chennault, Claire Lee (Sept. 6, 1893 - July 27, 1958), military leader and airline executive, was born in Commerce, Tex., the son of John Stonewall Chennault, a farmer, and Jessie Lee. He grew up in rural northeastern Louisiana and was a bright though reluctant student. In 1909-1910, while at Louisiana State University (where he took ROTC training), he applied for admission to both West Point and Annapolis, but decided against a military career. He did a brief stint of study at the State Normal School at Natchitoches and received a teaching credential in 1910. On Dec. 25, 1911, he married Nell Thompson; they had eight children.

For several years Chennault taught public school and held other jobs, but he knew he wanted to fly. He was repeatedly rejected for flight training after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, but was commissioned a first lieutenant in the infantry reserve. While stationed in San Antonio, Tex., he learned to fly at Kelly Field; he won his rating as a fighter pilot in 1919. Discharged from the army a year later, he farmed briefly in Louisiana, and on Sept. 24, 1920, was commissioned a first lieutenant in the new Army Air Service.

Chennault's subsequent assignments included service with the Ninety-Fourth Fighter Squadron at Ellington Field, Tex., and command of the Nineteenth Pursuit Squadron, stationed at Wheeler Field, Hawaii. He was promoted to captain in 1929, while serving at Brooks Field, Tex. From 1930 to 1937 he was at the Air Corps Tactical School, Langley Field, Va. (later moved to Montgomery, Ala.), first as a student then as instructor. While there he organized and led the Air Corps acrobatic exhibition team (popularly known as "Three Men on a Flying Trapeze"). During these years he developed the theories of air tactics he later applied against the Japanese in China; in 1935 he published them in a textbook, The Role of Defensive Pursuit.

Chennault attacked the fashionable theory that bombers could operate without escort by virtue of their speed and firepower; he perfected team combat tactics, experimented with airdrop supply and paratroop techniques, and crusaded for greater firepower and range in fighter aircraft. His vigorous public advocacy of these views made him unpopular with the dominant strategic bombing school in the Army Air Corps. In April 1937, suffering from overwork, chronic bronchial trouble, and partial deafness, he accepted retirement for physical disability with the rank of captain.

The day after retiring, Chennault left for the Far East to survey the Chinese air force for Mme. Chiang Kai-shek. After the Japanese invasion in July, he became personal adviser to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and supervised the training of the Chinese air force by American instructors at bases in southwestern China. Late in 1940 Chiang sent him to the United States to enlist support for an American-manned and -equipped air force. He faced bitter opposition, particularly from the Army Air Corps chief, General H. H. Arnold. But China had friends in high places, including President Roosevelt, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau. Chennault was able to recruit some 100 pilots and to buy the same number of new Curtiss-Wright P-40B fighters. By midsummer of 1941 his American Volunteer Group (AVG)--soon nicknamed the Flying Tigers from the tiger-shark teeth, tongue, and eyes painted on the noses of the aircraft--was training at a Royal Air Force base at Toungoo, Burma. After the Japanese invasion the main base was moved to Kunming in southern Yunnan, China.

From mid-December until its incorporation into the United States Army in July 1942, the AVG ran up a remarkable record. Chennault trained his men to fight in pairs, stressing accurate gunnery and hit-and-run tactics to exploit the P-40's firepower, ruggedness, and speed in diving and level flight against the fast-turning but fragile and lightly armed Japanese Zero fighters. His ground crews were drilled in rapid refueling and repair, and the virtually foolproof Chinese air-raid warning net protected his small force from surprise attack. With the RAF the AVG kept Rangoon and the Burma Road open for two and a half months in 1942; it was a key factor in defeating the Japanese invasion of Yunnan that spring, and it stopped enemy bombing of China's cities. At a cost of four pilots lost in air combat out of a total of twenty-six for all causes, it destroyed at least 299, and probably another 153, enemy aircraft. During the next three years, Chennault's expanded forces (China Air Task Force and, after March 1943, the Fourteenth Air Force) destroyed some 2,600 enemy aircraft and probably 1,500 more, sank 2,300,000 tons of enemy merchant shipping, and killed 66,700 enemy troops, losing about 500 aircraft in combat.

During most of the war Chennault was at odds with his American superiors, especially the China-Burma-India theater commander, Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell. But Chiang Kai-shek's confidence in him never wavered, and he won the respect of Lieutenant General Albert C. Wedemeyer, who replaced Stilwell after his forced recall in October 1944. The Stilwell-Chennault feud transcended professional disagreement; each saw the other as personally unprincipled, prejudiced, and power-hungry.

Late in 1942 Chennault was able, with the help of Wendell Willkie, to bring his strategic ideas to Roosevelt's attention. He asserted that with 150 fighters and smaller numbers of bombers, maintained at full strength, he could cripple the Japanese air force in less than a year and then bomb Japan into submission. Stilwell's view, supported by most of the high command, was that Japan would react to such a threat by overrunning the American air bases in eastern China and that the Chinese armies could not stop them. Chennault rated Chinese capabilities higher. In May 1943 Roosevelt gave him a free hand and a six-month priority on tonnage flown over the "Hump" from India. After suffering heavy damage, the Japanese launched their offensive in 1944 and captured the main American bases, as predicted. The Fourteenth Air Force continued to operate with growing effect from other bases farther west.

By 1945 China had become a military backwater. In the spring Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall and General Arnold forced Chennault's ouster, on the basis of Stilwell's charges of insubordination. Chennault retired the following October with the rank of major general. Chiang Kai-shek awarded him China's highest honor, the Order of the White Sun and Blue Sky.

After the war Chennault became a leading champion of resistance to Communism in the Far East. In 1946 he retired to China and organized a civil airline, with himself as president, to carry relief supplies into the interior under contract to the Chinese Nationalist Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. CAT, as the airline was popularly known, was reorganized as Civil Air Transport in January 1948, and by the end of that year its expanding relief and commercial operations had made it one of the world's largest air cargo carriers. During the ensuing Chinese civil war CAT continued to work for the Nationalists, airlifting supplies to isolated garrisons and evacuating troops and refugees before the advancing Communists. As the first of the Central Intelligence Agency's commercial "proprietaries," CAT provided logistical support to CIA operations in Korea, Indochina, North Vietnam, Laos, and Tibet. CAT transports had a major supply role in the Korean War, and during the siege of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 kept the garrison supplied until it was overrun.

After divorcing his first wife in 1946, Chennault married Anna Chan, a Chinese journalist, on Dec. 21, 1947; they had two daughters. In July 1958, by Act of Congress, he was awarded the honorary rank of lieutenant general. He died later that month in New Orleans, La.

"Claire Lee Chennault." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 26 Mar. 2012.

George Catlett Marshall 12/31/1880 - 10/16/1959

George Catlett Marshall (1880-1959), American soldier and statesman, was one of the most important military leaders during World War II.

George C. Marshall was born at Uniontown, Pa., on Dec. 31, 1880. He early chose a military career and graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1902. His first assignment was in the Philippines (1902-1903). In World War I he served as chief of operations of the 1st Army and chief of staff of the 1st Army Corps. In these capacities he directed operations in France at Saint-Mihiel in September 1918 and then transferred a military force of almost 250,000 men to the front in the Argonne. At the end of the war he was assigned to the staff of Gen. John Pershing (1919-1924) and served in China (1924-1927). From 1927 to 1932 Marshall was in charge of instruction at the military school at Fort Benning, Ga., where he left an important mark on American military doctrine and made contact with many of the military figures who were to play important roles in World War II.

In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Marshall chief of staff of the army, and during the next 2 years he had a central role in preparing for United States entrance into World War II. Austere in person, Marshall was an administrator of the first order. He was a strong advocate of universal military training and played an important role in the passage of the draft law of 1941.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came in December 1941. This surprise attack has been the subject of much controversy. Marshall has been criticized for his failure to give more specific warning to the commanders on the spot, for the War Department, when informed of the increasing diplomatic tension, never alerted the Hawaiian base except against sabotage. Much of the responsibility must lie, however, with the local commanders.

Marshall directed the war operations from 1941 to 1945. He would have dearly liked to be in command of the operations in Europe, but he accepted with his customary coolness, detachment, and patriotism the nomination of Dwight Eisenhower to that important post. Marshall had, however, a highly positive influence on the general strategy of the war. His belief that the primary task was the defeat of Germany's Adolf Hitler brought him into conflict with Gen. Douglas MacArthur and with powerful elements in the Navy, but his view prevailed.

Marshall not only organized the immense armed forces of the United States but served as an adviser to President Roosevelt at the wartime conferences at Casablanca, Teheran, and Yalta. On the President's death in 1945, he retained his post and enjoyed the entire confidence of the new president, Harry Truman. Marshall was present at Potsdam in July 1945 and shared in the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.

Resigning in November 1945, Marshall undertook, with reluctance but in obedience to his strong sense of duty, a mission to China. His purpose was to bring about an understanding between the Nationalist government of Gen. Chiang Kai-shek and the growing Communist forces under Mao Tse-tung. He failed in this effort because of the intransigence of both sides.

On Jan. 21, 1947, Marshall was named secretary of state. He had a principal part in negotiations with the Soviet Union. More important, at Harvard on June 5, 1947, he propounded the plan for the rehabilitation of Europe (the Marshall Plan). The credit for this plan must go in no small part to the men Marshall had placed around him, notably William Clayton, Dean Acheson, and George Kennan, but Marshall lent it the immense prestige of his name. (In 1953 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on this plan.) He was also central in the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Marshall resigned in January 1949 but was called back by President Truman to serve as secretary of defense in the period of the Korean War. His voice was important during the crisis created by Gen. Douglas MacArthur's defiance of the civil authority, when MacArthur took the war across the 38th parallel into North Korea. Marshall favored removal of the general.

There has rarely been a more disinterested public servant than Marshall. His judgments were sound rather than brilliant, but his record of achievement stands almost unequaled. Primarily a military man, he served with immense distinction in other fields, and he had much to do with bringing out many of the distinguished soldiers of the war period. Marshall died in Washington Oct. 16, 1959, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

"Marshall, George Catlett (1880-1959)." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.

Joseph Warren Stilwell 3/19/1883 - 10/12/1946

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Joseph Warren Stilwell (1883-1946) was the Army officer in charge of U.S. affairs in China during World War II.

Joseph Stilwell was born on March 19, 1883, at Palatka, Fla. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1914. During World War I he served with the IV Corps in combat intelligence, winning the Distinguished Service Medal.

In 1919 Stilwell was appointed to study Chinese at the University of California, Berkeley. The following year he sailed for the first of three tours of duty in China. After 1935 he served as military attaché to the Chinese government. Stilwell's work as a tactician and trainer impressed his superiors in Washington.

Following the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. War Department, to sustain and strengthen Chinese resistance to the Japanese invaders, ordered Stilwell to improve the Chinese army as chief of staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, take command of all United States forces in the China-Burma-India theater, and direct all Chinese forces in Burma (now Myanmar). In April 1942, however, the Japanese defeated Stilwell's forces in Burma and cut off the Burma Road, a Chinese supply line. When the road was finally reopened in 1945, it was named after Stilwell.

Known as "Vinegar Joe" because of his integrity, his refusal to ingratiate himself with others, and the demands he placed on those around him, Stilwell despised Chiang Kai-shek and made no effort to conceal it. He recoiled at the administrative paralysis in the wartime Chinese capital. Three times, directly and indirectly, Chiang sought Stilwell's recall. In 1944 Stilwell was to command all Chinese forces, but Chiang managed through President Franklin Roosevelt to force Stilwell's removal from China. Stilwell warned the American government against the Chinese central government, placing more faith in the more efficient Chinese Communists at Yenan. At the time of his death at San Francisco, Calif., on Oct. 12, 1946, Stilwell commanded the 6th Army.

"Stilwell, Joseph Warren (1883-1946)." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.

Mark Wayne Clark 5/1/1896 - 4/17/1984

The American army officer Mark Wayne Clark (1896-1984) held important commands in Europe and Asia and became one of America's leading anti-Communist propagandists.

Mark Clark was born in Madison Barracks, N.Y., on May 1, 1896. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1917, he fought during World War I as an infantry officer in France, where he was wounded and decorated. He attended the Army's postgraduate schools between the wars and was widely known as a competent, ambitious officer.

In June 1942 Clark became Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's deputy for the invasion of French North Africa that began on Nov. 8, 1942. The next day Clark--whose code name, "Eagle," fitted both his personality and his appearance, since he had a thin but prominent nose--flew into Algiers, where he worked out an armistice with the French. The basis of the deal was American recognition of the French fascist Adm. Jean Darlan as governor of French North Africa. The "Darlan deal" brought a storm of abuse on Clark's and Eisenhower's heads; placing a fascist in charge of the first territory occupied by the Americans in World War II appeared to make a mockery of the principles for which the Allies claimed to be fighting. After Darlan's assassination on Dec. 24, 1942, the indignation faded.

Much to his annoyance, Clark did not hold a combat command in either the Tunisian or Sicilian campaigns. Instead, Eisenhower had him train the U.S. 5th Army for the invasion of Italy that would begin on Sept. 8, 1943.

At the outset Clark's forces just managed to cling to their first beachhead at Salerno south of Naples, and the Italian campaign that followed was one of endless frustration. Clark and the British forces on his right flank were always short of supplies and manpower, and progress up the Italian peninsula was painfully slow. Not until June 5, 1944, did Clark drive the Germans from Rome, a feat almost ignored by the world since the Normandy invasion began the next day. During the remainder of 1944 and the first 4 months of 1945, Clark's troops crept up the peninsula, forgotten by most of the world. For a man of Clark's ambition and keen desire for publicity, it was a trying time.

After the German surrender Clark became commander in chief of the American occupation forces in Austria. He quickly adopted an attitude of extreme hostility toward his Soviet counterparts on the Allied Control Commission for Austria. He was impatient with what he called the "cream puff and feather duster approach to communism" and advocated a get-tough policy with the Russians. He loudly protested against what he considered to be the "appeasement" of the Soviet Union by the United States.

In 1947 Clark served as deputy secretary of state, meeting with the Council of Foreign Ministers to negotiate a peace treaty for Austria. No progress was made at the talks, and late in the year Clark returned to the United States to take command of the 6th Army. Two years later he became chief of Army Field Forces, which made him responsible for the training of the Army. In the spring of 1952 he became commander in chief of the United Nations command in Korea, as well as commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. By the time Clark took over in Korea there was a virtual stalemate on the battlefront, and his major concerns were a prisoner-of-war mutiny and the armistice negotiations. On the military front his tactic was to inflict maximum casualties on the Chinese enemy. Fourteen months after he arrived, he signed the armistice agreement and fighting ended. Clark was unhappy with the outcome of the Korean War. He had hoped the United Nations would be able to defeat the North Koreans and Chinese and reunify Korea under Syngman Rhee.

Clark left the Army in 1954 to become president of the Citadel Military College of South Carolina, a position he held until his retirement in 1966. He remained a prominent anti-Communist, especially sensitive to what he considered a serious threat of communism from within the United States. He died on April 17,1984.

"Mark Wayne Clark." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.

James Harold Doolittle 12/14/1896 - 9/27/1993

James Harold Doolittle (1896-1993) was a pilot who set two early transcontinental flying time records, pioneered advancements in aviation, led the Tokyo raid in 1942, and commanded the Eighth Air Force attack on Germany.

James Harold Doolittle was born in Alameda, California, on December 14, 1896, the only child of Frank, a carpenter, and Rosa Shephard Doolittle. Most of his youth was spent in Nome, Alaska, and Los Angeles, where he graduated from Manual Arts High School in 1914. Delicate as a child and small of stature, Doolittle nevertheless developed a love of adventure and a scrappy disposition, taking up motorbike riding and boxing as he grew older. His enthusiasm for homemade gliders developed into a lifelong commitment to aviation.

After two years at Los Angeles Junior College, Doolittle enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley to study mining engineering. He never completed his studies (several years later he was awarded a bachelor's degree, however), for in September 1917 he enrolled in the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army hoping to become a pilot. He was commissioned a second lieutenant on March 9, 1918. A few months earlier he had married Josephine "Joe" Daniels. They had two sons.

Service as an Army Pilot

Doolittle saw no overseas duty during World War I, but remained in the service after the war ended and received a first lieutenant's commission in the Regular Army in 1920. A member of Billy Mitchell's team during the controversial bomber versus battleship tests of 1921, Doolittle himself emerged as a public figure in 1922 when he flew from Pablo Beach (near Jacksonville), Florida, to San Diego in less than 22 hours flying time, the first to span the continent in less than 24 hours. Nine years later, in the course of winning the Bendix Trophy race, he recorded the first transcontinental flying time of less than 12 hours. Selected to be one of the first participants in the army's new program in aeronautical engineering, he received a doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1925.

During the 1920s and early 1930s Doolittle, both as a student and as a pilot, made several important contributions to the advancement of aviation. Besides the two transcontinental speed records he established, he set additional speed records and in various ways added to the understanding of acceleration's effects. He became the first North American to fly across the Andes; and, perhaps most important, after further studies and research at the Full Flight Laboratory he made the first blind flight and landing on September 24, 1929. Doolittle's participation in the development and use of instruments such as the Sperry artificial horizon would do much to increase the safety of flying, enabling it to take place in varying weather conditions.

Given a major's rank in the reserves, Doolittle left active military service to join the Shell Oil Company in 1930. With his mother and mother-in-law in need of special medical attention he felt he needed the higher income he could earn in private industry. He did promotional and sales work for Shell and on occasion for Curtiss-Wright throughout the 1930s. Although he gave up racing in 1932, believing that after several close calls he had used up his luck, he remained active as a pilot.

World War II Hero

With the start of World War II in Europe, Doolittle asked his long-time friend, General Henry "Hap" Arnold, who was now chief of the Army Air Corps, to return him to active duty. On July 1, 1940, Doolittle re-entered uniformed service as a major assigned to straighten out aircraft production bottlenecks. After America's entry into the war he sought combat duty but instead was attached to Arnold's staff with the rank of lieutenant colonel. This new position ultimately involved him in one of the war's most daring achievements--the April 1942 bombing of Tokyo.

Doolittle was put in charge of the intensive training required in flying such a large plane from the deck of a carrier--there was no possibility of landing on the carrier after completion of the mission--and managed to talk Arnold into letting him lead the attack itself. On April 18, 1942, the 16 planes he commanded flew from the carrier Hornet to bomb assorted targets in Tokyo and a few other Japanese cities and then on to landings in China. Although none of the planes landed intact in China, all but two of the crews reached safety. While some have considered the Doolittle raid, as it became known, strategically unsound in terms of the negligible damage it could inflict upon Japan, it was soon immortalized in the book and film Thirty Seconds over Tokyo and undeniably raised American morale while causing concern to the Japanese.

Doolittle was given a rare double promotion to brigadier general and then was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony. He was sent to Europe to command Dwight Eisenhower's air units during the planned invasion of North Africa, after which Doolittle was promoted to major general. He had been coolly received by Eisenhower, but gradually won his commander's confidence and stayed with him throughout the remainder of World War II in Europe.

In his early commands Doolittle, who often flew missions himself, had been obliged to develop effective air forces, but the Eighth had already been built into a successful unit by its previous commander, Lieutenant General Ira Eaker. Nevertheless, Doolittle profited from the advent of more and better planes, particularly the P-51 fighter which allowed his forces to achieve air superiority over the heart of Germany itself. A firm believer in strategic bombing, Doolittle commanded the Eighth Air Force during its greatest successes: the first American bombing of Berlin, the sustained bombing campaigns against Germany's oil industry and various manufacturing and rail facilities, and finally the virtual destruction of the Luftwaffe, the German air force.

End of the War

With the end of the war in Europe Doolittle was ordered to Okinawa to establish with new planes and personnel what would in effect be a new Eighth Air Force, but Japan surrendered before it became operational. At 49 Doolittle was the youngest lieutenant general in U.S. service and the only reservist to reach that rank (1944). Believing that he was not the right man to serve in a postwar air force due for retrenchment, Doolittle returned to reserve status in 1946 and resumed work for Shell. He remained a Shell vice president until 1958, taking occasional leave to do public service both for the Air Force and for various government bodies, among them a special board that President Truman named to report on airport safety and location.

After he left Shell, Doolittle settled in Santa Monica, California, served until 1961 as board chairman of the aerospace division of TRW, then joined Mutual of Omaha. He had given up flying in 1961. Although much of Doolittle's career was spent in civilian pursuits, he will always be remembered for his pioneering achievements in aviation in the 1920s, for his successful command of the Eighth Air Force, and particularly for his leadership of the Tokyo raid in April 1942. Doolittle, recalled Arnold, "was fearless, technically brilliant, a leader who not only could be counted upon to do a task himself if it were humanly possible, but could impart his spirit to others."

Presidential Honors

Doolittle's contributions were recognized and honored by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. In Reagan's Farewell Address to the American People (1989) he said, "We've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion, but what's important: Why the pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant." Later the same year, Doolittle was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush.

He died on September 27, 1993, at his son's home in Pebble Beach, California, following a stroke earlier that month.

"James Harold Doolittle." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.

Omar Nelson Bradley - 2/12/1893 - 4/08/1981

U.S. General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981) was one of the outstanding Allied combat commanders in World War II.

Omar Bradley was born in Clark, Missouri, on February 12, 1893. After his father's death he moved with his mother to Moberly, where he graduated from high school. He attended West Point, graduating in 1915 as a second lieutenant of infantry. During World War I he became a temporary major.

After the war Bradley served in various military capacities and graduated from both the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1934 he graduated from the Army War College and went to Washington, D.C., for General Staff duty in 1938, becoming assistant secretary of the General Staff. In February 1941, promoted from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general, he became commandant of the Infantry School. He was promoted to major general in February 1942 and assigned to command the 82d Infantry Division and later the 28th Infantry Division.

Early in 1943 Bradley became Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal representative in the field in North Africa. Bradley soon rose to commander of the II Corps, which drove through German lines in northern Tunisia, captured Hill 609, took Bizerte, and helped end the war in Africa. He then was promoted to lieutenant general and in July 1943 invaded Sicily with his II Corps.

In the summer of 1943 Bradley was selected to command the 1st U.S. Army in the Normandy invasion and was designated commanding general, 1st U.S. Army Group. On June 6, 1944, his 1st Army landed in France and smashed through the German lines at Saint-Lô, resulting in the speedy liberation of France in July. On Aug. 1, 1944, he took command of the 12th Army Group, which eventually comprised the 1st, 3d, 9th, and 15th American armies, the largest body of American soldiers ever to serve under one field commander. In the spring of 1945, after his armies had broken the German winter attacks, captured the Siegfried Line, and reached the Rhine, Bradley was promoted to four-star general.

In August 1945 Bradley became administrator of veterans affairs; in February 1948, the chief of staff, U.S. Army, succeeding General Eisenhower; and in August 1949, the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving two terms. He was appointed to the rank of general of the Army in September 1950, making him the fourth five-star general officer in the American Army.

Bradley held many United States and foreign military decorations and university honorary degrees. After 43 years of active service he was placed on the unassigned list in August 1953. He then pursued a business career, serving as Chairman of the Board of the Bulova Watch Company from 1958-73.

Bradley lived his last years in Texas, occasionally providing lectures on military leadership. He died having contributed 69 years of service to the U.S. military. Throughout his career Bradley was known as "The GI's General," so it was only fitting that President Ronald Reagan eulogized Bradley with "He was the GI's general because he was, always, a GI."

"Bradley, Omar Nelson (1893-1981)." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 26 Mar. 2012.

Douglas MacArthur 1/26/1880 - 4/5/1964

Courtesy of

The American general Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) attained widespread fame through his military activities in the Pacific during World War II and the cold war.

Douglas MacArthur was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on January 26, 1880, the descendant of a long line of military men. His father, Arthur MacArthur, was a well-known general. Educated in a haphazard fashion on Western frontier posts, Douglas MacArthur recalled, "I learned to ride and shoot even before I could read or write." A poor-to-average student, MacArthur began to excel upon entering the military academy at West Point, New York, in 1899. Under the watchful eye of his mother, who followed her son to the military academy, he compiled an outstanding record. Proud, and convinced of his destiny as a military leader, MacArthur graduated first in his class in 1903, with the highest scholastic average at the academy in 25 years.

MacArthur sailed to the Philippines for his first military assignment. In 1904 he was promoted to first lieutenant and that October was ordered to become his father's aide-de-camp in Japan. Shortly thereafter he embarked upon a tour of the Far East, which he later termed the "most important preparation of my entire life."

Rising Military Career

Returning to the United States, MacArthur began his meteoric rise through the military ranks. In 1906 he was appointed aide-de-camp to President Theodore Roosevelt and in 1913 became a member of the general staff. As colonel of the "Rainbow Division" during World War I, MacArthur emerged as a talented and flamboyant military leader, returning from combat with a wide assortment of military decorations. Following the war, he became a brigadier general and superintendent of West Point, where he remained until 1922. After another sojourn in the Philippines, MacArthur was appointed chief of staff of the U.S. Army in 1930, a post he held through 1935.

The interwar years were frustrating ones for professional soldiers, and MacArthur led a troubled existence. In 1922 he married Louise Cromwell Brooks; in 1929 they were divorced. Gloomy about the social unrest of the 1930s, he warned a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania audience in 1932: "Pacifism and its bedfellow, Communism, are all about us.... Day by day this cancer eats deeper into the body politic." His uneasiness perhaps explains his savage assault in June 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, on the thousands of ragged veterans of World War I who had massed in Washington, D.C. to petition Congress for early payment of their war service bonuses. Camped with their wives and children in a miserable shantytown, they were set upon by tanks, four troops of cavalry with drawn sabers, and a column of steel-helmeted infantry with fixed bayonets--all led by MacArthur. He sought to justify this action by contending that he had narrowly averted a Communist revolution.

MacArthur found a more appropriate field for his endeavors in 1935, when President Franklin Roosevelt dispatched him to the Philippines to develop a defensive strategy for the islands. In 1937 he married Jean Marie Faircloth. Retiring from the U.S. Army, he continued his work for the government of the Philippines. With the heightening crisis in Asia, he was recalled to active duty as a lieutenant general and commander of U.S. forces in the Far East in July 1941.

Despite advance warning, the Japanese invasion of December 1941 badly defeated MacArthur's forces in the Philippines. In part, this reflected Japanese military superiority, but it also followed from MacArthur's assessment of Japan's unwillingness to attack the Philippines. The American and Filipino forces were forced to retreat to Bataan. MacArthur was determined to hold the Philippines but the situation was hopeless, and he was ordered to withdraw to Australia to take command of Pacific operations. Reluctantly MacArthur agreed, and accompanied by his wife and child, he set out on a daring escape by PT boat. Dismayed by the bitter American defeat and by the apparent abandonment of the men at Bataan, he vowed upon arrival, "I came through and I shall return."

Success in the Pacific

After the Philippine debacle, MacArthur began the long campaign to smash Japanese military power in the Pacific. Hampered in the early months by shortages of men and supplies, MacArthur's forces eventually won substantial victories. Although his personal responsibility for the battles and the extent of the casualties inflicted by his command were inflated by the skillful news management of his staff, there can be little question of the general's success in New Guinea and in the Philippines. Despite the urgings of other military leaders to bypass the Philippines in the drive on Tokyo, MacArthur convinced President Roosevelt that an invasion was necessary. In October 1944 MacArthur waded onto the invasion beach at Leyte and delivered his prepared address into a waiting microphone: "People of the Philippines: I have returned.... Rally to me." For MacArthur, as for millions of Americans, it was an inspiring moment--one that even eclipsed in drama his acceptance of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.

With the end of World War II, President Harry Truman appointed MacArthur supreme commander of the Allied Powers in Japan. MacArthur set out in the next 6 years to remold Japanese society. His rule proved unexpectedly benevolent. The Occupation successfully encouraged the creation of democratic institutions, religious freedom, civil liberties, land reform, emancipation of women, and formation of trade unions. It did little, however, to check the monopolistic control of Japanese industry.

The outbreak of fighting in Korea in 1950 resulted in MacArthur's appointment as commander of the United Nations forces in July. Engaged in a desperate holding action against North Korean forces in the first months of combat, MacArthur launched a brilliant counterattack at Inchon which routed the North Korean armies. Advancing his troops to the Yalu River, the boundary between North Korea and China, MacArthur inexplicably discounted the possibility of Chinese intervention and assured his troops that they would be home for Christmas dinner. In November, however, massive Chinese armies sent the UN forces reeling in retreat. Angered and humiliated, MacArthur publicly called for the extension of the war to China. President Truman, who wanted to limit American involvement in Korea and had repeatedly warned MacArthur to desist from issuing inflammatory statements on his own initiative, finally relieved the general of his command in April 1951.

"Old Soldiers Never Die"

MacArthur's return to the United States was greeted by massive public expressions of support for the general and condemnations of the President. On April 19, 1951, he presented his case to a joint session of Congress, attracting a tremendous radio and television audience. His speech ended on a sentimental note that stirred millions of Americans, "I now close my military career and just fade away...." But MacArthur became more active than he had predicted. After testifying at great length before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, he barnstormed across the country, lambasting the Truman administration and assuming the leadership of those Americans who believed that the President and his advisers had "sold out" Asia to communism.

In December 1952 president-elect Dwight Eisenhower met with MacArthur to hear the general's views on ending the Korean War. MacArthur advocated a peace conference which, if unsuccessful, would be followed by "the atomic bombing of enemy military concentrations and installations in North Korea and the sowing of fields of suitable radioactive materials," the bombing of China, and the landing of Chinese Nationalist troops in Manchuria to overthrow the Communist government. To his chagrin, MacArthur was not consulted again.

Perhaps aware that his political appeal was ebbing, MacArthur had accepted a job as chairman of the board of the Remington Rand Corporation in August 1952. Thereafter, shaken by illness, he retreated to a life of relative obscurity. A soldier to the end, he died in the Army's Walter Reed Hospital on April 5, 1964. His wife, Jean, died on January 22, 2000, at the age of 101.

"Douglas MacArthur." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.

Alexander McCarrell Patch 11/23/1889 - 11/21/1945

Courtesy of Explore PA History

Patch, Alexander McCarrell (Nov. 23, 1889 - Nov. 21, 1945), army officer, was born at Fort Huachuca, Arizona Territory, where his father, a West Point graduate, was on duty. He was the second son and second of three children of Alexander McCarrell Patch and Annie (Moore) Patch, both of whom had grown up in Washington, Pa. The family soon returned to Pennsylvania, for his father, having lost a leg in an accident incurred while chasing horse thieves, was retired for disability in 1890. Settling in Lebanon County, he became an executive of the Cornwall Railroad. Young Patch, after earlier schooling and a year at Lehigh University, followed his father to West Point. He graduated in 1913, having excelled in field and track, and was assigned to the 18th Infantry in Texas. While on leave in Washington, D. C., on Nov. 20, 1915, he married Julia Adrienne Littell, daughter of Gen. Isaac William Littell. They had two children, Alexander and Julia Ann.

When the United States entered World War I, Patch accompanied the 18th Infantry to France, where in June 1917 it became a part of the new 1st Division. Machine guns were new to the division, and Patch was among the first Americans to be schooled by the British in their use; for several months in 1918 he directed the A.E.F. Machine Gun School. During the Meuse-Argonne campaign he commanded his regiment's second battalion. In 1918 he was a victim of the influenza epidemic, which left him chronically susceptible to pneumonia whenever overtaxed.

During the next two decades Patch alternated between regimental duty and assignments as a military student and instructor. He had three tours of duty on the faculty of the Staunton (Va.) Military Academy, and the Shenandoah Valley became his permanent home. In 1924 he attended the Command and General Staff School, and in 1931 he entered the Army War College. At that time the army was moving toward greater mechanization, seeking newer automatic weapons, and developing a slimmer division. Major Patch's term paper dealt with a mechanized division of only three regiments. A classmate, Major George S. Patton, Jr. [Supp. 3], who likewise proposed a mechanized division, was greatly impressed with Patch's concepts. For three years (1936-39) Patch, now a lieutenant colonel, served on the Infantry Board. The three-regiment or "triangular" division was then being formed and field-tested, and Patch made many improvements in it, placing automatic weapons and antitank guns in the combat units. In August 1940 he became commander of the 47th Infantry.

Six weeks after Pearl Harbor, Gen. George C. Marshall selected Patch, whom he had watched since World War I, to command the task force destined to defend New Caledonia, a strategic island astride sea lanes to Australia. Raw American units, arriving in piecemeal fashion, had to be deployed quickly, but by late May 1942 Patch (now a major general) had assembled them into a fighting team, the Americal Division. That December he was placed in command of American ground operations in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi zone. He immediately organized two army divisions and one Marine division into one of America's first separate corps, the XIV. On Jan. 10, 1943, he launched a well-planned and brilliantly executed attack which crushed the enemy's resistance. Tired and needing rest, Patch was ordered home at mid-March personally by Marshall, who wanted an experienced commander to form a new IV corps for European duty.

On Mar. 1, 1944, Patch was given command of the U. S. Seventh Army, which was scheduled to invade southern France in concert with an Allied advance from a northern beachhead in Normandy. Within a few months he had assembled his assault forces, which included a full-sized French army. That August he was given the temporary rank of lieutenant general. On Napoleon's birthday, Aug. 15, he began his landings along the Riviera, an operation so perfectly executed that it remains a model in the annals of amphibious warfare. By the end of August his Allied columns held Marseilles and Toulon and were advancing up the Rhone Valley; on Sept. 11, they joined Gen. George Patton's Third Army near Epinal, having trapped sizable German formations. Despite his men's exhausted condition, and hobbled by a 450-mile supply line, Patch gambled on forcing the Burgundy gateway and descending the rift of the Rhine. At mid-September the guns of Belfort barred his way, and there Patch met his first and only tactical draw. Fleshed out with new divisions, Patch's army moved on the Saverne Gap with the objective of seizing Strasbourg; during the fighting that October his son, Capt. Alexander Patch III, was killed in action.

With Marseilles as a port and a smooth-working supply line, Patch enjoyed a logistical advantage over all other Allied commanders. On Nov. 13 he struck along the Marne-Rhine canal. His infantry advanced well, and he held his armor patiently, timing the very moment when it should break through the enemy's lines. In ten days, Patch was the first American commander to reach the Rhine, and on his fifty-fifth birthday he occupied Strasbourg. Well in front of Patton on his left, Patch hastened his army into Alsace, preparatory to jumping the Rhine; but his American superiors, after an all-day debate, directed him to advance west of the Rhine and, when Patton was ready, to join him in enveloping the Saar. Though bitterly disappointed, Patch reoriented his advance, and within three weeks was through the Wissembourg Gap into the Palatinate. During January 1945 he met and repelled Hitler's last major offensive on the western front. When Germany collapsed, Patch's army controlled Brenner Pass, 900 miles from the Riviera.

Marshall ordered Patch home in June to ready the Fourth Army for Pacific duty. When Japan capitulated, Patch headed abroad to study the army's postwar structure and spent a month in Europe collecting data. That November, exhausted and realizing his need for medical attention, he entered Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas; he died six days later of pneumonia. His remains were buried at West Point.

Patch's services were recognized by many governments, but he was so modest a man that he often objected to receiving the decorations. He was an able professional officer with high standards of conduct. Because of his reddish, close-cropped hair and light blue eyes intimate friends addressed him as "Sandy"; they remembered him for his deadpan wit. Tall, lean, and erect, he enjoyed hunting and riding. Rudyard Kipling's works were his hobby, and he owned some valuable first editions. He was an Episcopalian. His devotion in life centered around his family, his countryside in the Shenandoah Valley, and his classmates at West Point. Posthumously, in 1954, he became a general in the Army of the United States.

"Alexander McCarrell Patch." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.

Walter Campbell Short 3/30/1880 - 9/3/1949

Walter Short (1880-1949) commanded the Hawaiian Department of the United States Army when the Japanese launched a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The attack came as a complete surprise and inflicted perhaps the most decisive defeat ever suffered by U.S. forces. Short was held responsible and forced to retire from the military.

Walter Campbell Short was born in the rural Illinois town of Fillmore on March 30, 1880. As the son of a physician, he enjoyed a comfortable upbringing. Short attended the University of Illinois, graduating in 1901. He then obtained a position as teacher of mathematics at the Western Military Academy for one year before accepting a commission in the U.S. Army in March 1902.

Short's progress through the military hierarchy was unremarkable but fairly impressive for a peacetime period. After a brief stint at the Presidio in San Francisco, California, he spent a five-year period with the 25th Infantry Division, based at Ft. Reno, Oklahoma. During this time, Short became acquainted with George Marshall, who would later become Army chief of staff during World War II. Short was posted overseas to the U.S. territory of the Philippines in 1907-1908 and then served with commands in Nebraska, California, and the territory of Alaska. He received promotions to the posts of secretary of the Army School of Musketry and commander in the 12th Infantry Division at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in the fall of 1914. He married in November of that year.

Short's first action assignment was with the 16th Infantry Division during the U.S. pursuit of Pancho Villa in Mexico in March 1916. Following this operation, he was assigned to train troops in the use of small arms and was subsequently transferred to Georgia. Upon the U.S. entry into World War I in 1917, Short went to France with the 1st Infantry Division, where he served with distinction as a staff officer and received the Distinguished Service Medal for his work in the development of machine gun tactics and the training of machine gunners. Short saw combat in several of the largest battles involving U.S. forces during that war and was promoted to the temporary wartime rank of lieutenant colonel. In April 1918, Short was transferred to the training section of the Army General Staff, the position in which he served until war's end in November.

Immediately after the war, Short was named the assistant chief of staff for training in the Third Army. He was transferred to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in 1919 to become an instructor in the Army General Services School. Shortly thereafter, Short's temporary promotion expired, and he was reassigned with the rank of captain as the assistant chief of staff for operations and supply of the 6th Division, based in Illinois.

Short's slow but steady progress continued in the 1920s. He was promoted to major in July 1920, and completed the Army School of the Line the following year. In 1922, Short published a military textbook on machine gun use and tactics. He served in the Far Eastern Section of the Military Intelligence Division from 1920 until 1923. Following this service, Short was promoted to lieutenant colonel and attended the Army War College, from which he graduated in 1925. He served as an instructor at the Army Command and General Staff School at Ft. Leavenworth from 1928 until 1930. He was assistant chief of insular affairs and an officer in the Sixth Infantry Division at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, before becoming assistant commandant of the Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Short was promoted to brigadier general in December 1936. He took command of the Second Infantry Brigade at Ft. Ontario, New York in February 1938. He was reassigned to command of the First Infantry Brigade at Ft. Wadsworth in June 1938, becoming commander of a larger force, the First Infantry Division, in 1939. Short received a further promotion, to major general, in 1940 and was reassigned to Columbia, South Carolina. He was selected to command a corps during army maneuvers later in the year.

In February 1941, Short's old acquaintance George Marshall, now Army chief of staff, appointed him to command the Army's Hawaiian Department and promoted him to the temporary rank of lieutenant general. In this position, Short was responsible for the ground defense of the Hawaiian Islands and jointly responsible with the U.S. Navy for the Islands' aerial defense.

On the eve of World War II, Short had enjoyed a successful military career. He had extensive experience as a staff and training officer, and some experience as a commander of troops. His rise through the ranks had been steady and somewhat rapid given the peacetime stagnation of the U.S. armed forces.

Pearl Harbor

In the fall of 1941, tensions between the Japanese, the United States, and the European powers in the Pacific were reaching the breaking point. Code breakers in the United States were able to decode significant portions of Japanese diplomatic and naval communications, and were certain that an attack would be forthcoming. As such, war warnings were issued to all commanders in the Pacific, including Short and Admiral Kimmel on November 27, 1941. Short misinterpreted the message, which was vague in recommending a course of action to field commanders, as a warning to guard against sabotage of his forces by local Japanese sympathizers. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, achieving complete surprise and inflicting perhaps the most decisive defeat ever suffered by U.S. forces.

The defeat at Pearl Harbor spurred the U.S. to enter World War II and fueled a national passion for revenge that would contribute to the eventual defeat of Japan. It also created feelings of shock and shame as armed forces personnel, government officials, and civilians wondered how American forces could have been surprised so completely, given the universally recognized tense political climate in the Pacific in the days prior to the raid. In such an atmosphere, the search for scapegoats was inevitable, and General Short and Admiral Kimmel were the most obvious targets for blame.


On December 16, 1941, President Roosevelt appointed a commission to investigate the events leading up to the defeat at Pearl Harbor, and he relieved both Kimmel and Short of their commands on December 18. The commission's report, issued in January 1942, cited both Hawaiian commanders for errors in judgment and authorized Chief of Staff Marshall to retire them from active service. Marshall acted upon this recommendation. Short was demoted to the rank of major general and forced to retire on February 28, 1942. He was not allowed to testify in his own behalf during these proceedings.

A military inquiry into the defeat also began early in 1942 and came to its conclusion in October 1944. This inquiry found Short responsible in part for the lack of preparation at Pearl Harbor, but also found fault with Chief of Staff Marshall for issuing vague and contradictory orders regarding preparations for war with Japan.

After his retirement from the military, Short took a position as a traffic manager for the Ford Motor Company in Dallas, Texas, where he remained until 1946. At that time he was able to testify before a congressional committee investigating the Pearl Harbor battle. In his testimony, Short argued that important information that could have averted the surprise had been withheld from him by both political and military agencies. He also freely admitted personal errors in judgment that had made the defeat more decisive than it otherwise would have been. Despite his testimony, the congressional committee concluded that Short and Kimmel were responsible for the defeat.

Verdict of History

In the years since the disaster at Pearl Harbor, historians have found less fault with Short and Kimmel than did their peers. Preparedness orders issued by Marshall on November 27, 1941, were indeed vague. These orders led to Short's decision to bunch his aircraft on the ground making them easier to defend against sabotage by local Japanese sympathizers, but also easy targets for the military attackers. Revisionists have also postulated that President Roosevelt knew where and when the Japanese attack would occur and deliberately withheld this information from Short to ensure that they would attack and draw the U.S. into the war. Although code breakers in the U.S. knew that an attack was coming somewhere in the Pacific near the end of 1941, there is no hard evidence to verify that anyone knew that the attack would fall on Hawaii or any other U.S. territory. Furthermore, there is plentiful evidence that Marshall and Roosevelt were as shocked as everyone else when Pearl Harbor was attacked, although neither one may have regretted the subsequent U.S. entry into the war. Finally, it must be noted that the potential of naval aviation was grossly underrated by virtually all military establishments in 1941, and that many Japanese admirals opposed the Pearl Harbor raid on the basis that naval aircraft would not be able to decisively defeat a land or surface force.

As Gordon Prange so aptly stated in Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History, "One may sympathize with Short, understand his motives, and agree that Washington (DC) did not give him all the facts in its possession. But these things cannot mitigate the fact that Short failed in the event for which his whole professional life had been a preparation. He was a good man and a competent general who meant all his actions for the best. However, according to the adage, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And the private hell in which Short spent the rest of his life had at least some paving stones of his own quarrying." Short died in Dallas, Texas, on March 9, 1949.

"Walter Short." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Vol. 19. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 4 May 2012.