Today in history, December 20, 1944, Dwight D. Eisenhower Received his 5th General Star.
Ike’s military career began around September 1910, when he learned of an announcement of a competitive examination for applicants to the service academies. He also discovered that due to his age, 19, he was no longer eligible to enter the Naval Academy, his first choice. He took the exam and scored second among the eight candidates. When the highest ranking candidate failed the physical requirement, Eisenhower secured an appointment to West Point. Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in June 1911. He graduated in June 1915.
Second Lieutenant Eisenhower’s first assignment was at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In the years that followed Eisenhower’s duties included the Army’s 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy, the Tank Corps, the Battle Monuments Commission, football coaching, and training recruits for World War I.
His Panama service (1922-24) introduced him to General Fox Conner who took him under his wing and encouraged him to read widely in history, military science, and philosophy and was instrumental in Eisenhower’s acceptance by the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Eisenhower graduated first in the 1926 class of 245 officers.
After assignments in the War Department (1929-35), he accompanied Gen. Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines as an assistant military advisor; his principal duty was helping MacArthur and his staff develop a viable Filipino Army.
Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Eisenhower was again called to the War Department where Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall placed him in charge of plans for the Pacific War. Two months later, Marshall promoted him to chief of the War Plans Division where he received his second general’s star.
In June 1942, Marshall sent him to England on a special mission to build cooperation among the Allies as Commanding General, U.S. Army, European Theater. Eisenhower arrived in England on June 24, 1942, and except for a brief stateside visit in January 1944, he was separated from his family until June 1945, following the end of the war in Europe.
General Eisenhower served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from November 1945 until February 1948. He resigned from the Army on February 7, 1948 to serve as president of Columbia University.
In 1950, at President Truman’s request Eisenhower took a leave of absence from Columbia to command the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, during the following two years he would stay in touch with Columbia and especially with the American Assembly, a university innovation to which he had devoted substantial energy and time.
On June 1, 1952 Eisenhower returned to the United States to campaign actively for the presidency.
-from the Eisenhower Library
JFK and the Green Berets
On October 12, 1961 President Kennedy visited Fort Bragg and the US Army Special Warfare Center, home of Army Special Forces. In the course of his meeting with Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, the President commented on their hats: “Those are nice. How do you like the Green Beret?” General Yarborough replied, “They’re fine, Sir. We’ve wanted them a long time.”
Soon after, the President authorized the “Green Beret” as the official headgear for all US Army Special Forces and these Unconventional Warriors were thereafter and ever known as “The Green Berets.”
Read more about President Kennedy and the Green Berets on the Kennedy Library Website.
"During World War II, of course, I ate my share of SPAM along with millions of other soldiers. I’ll even confess to a few unkind remarks about it — uttered during the strain of battle, you understand."
-Eisenhower’s letter to the President of the Hormel Foods Board regarding SPAM
In 1966, Eisenhower wrote to H.H. “Tim” Corey (President and later Chairman of the Board of Hormel Foods) at the request of a mutual friend to recognize the 75th anniversary of the company. The tongue-in-cheek letter recounts Eisenhower’s remembrances of Spam during WWII.
PHOTO CAPTION: This unsigned file copy of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s letter to H.H. Corey was retained by his staff to document what he wrote.
-From the Eisenhower Library
Downed pilot George Bush is rescued by the Navy submarine, USS Finback. 9/2/44.
George Bush flew a TBM Avenger for the United States Navy during World War II.
He joined the Navy on June 12, 1942 when he turned 18. One of his most memorable missions was when George and his crew of two other men were flying over one of the Japanese islands and their plane was badly damaged.
He had to bail out into enemy waters where he was luckily saved by one of the United States’ fast submarines; the USS Finback. He stayed on the sub for a month before returning back to friendly territory.
“…it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense..”
Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948, in which President Harry S. Truman bans the segregation of the Armed Forces
As one of several actions taken to meet the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Civil Rights, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order on July 26, 1948, abolishing segregation in the armed forces and ordering full integration of all the services. Executive Order 9981 stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” The order also established an advisory committee to examine the rules, practices, and procedures of the armed services and recommend ways to make desegregation a reality. There was considerable resistance to the executive order from the military, but by the end of the Korean conflict, almost all the military was integrated.
via Our Documents
Desegregation of the Armed Forces
Sixty-five years ago today, President Harry S. Truman issued his Executive Order that desegregated the armed forces and called for equality of treatment and opportunity for all.
Twenty years after the issuance of the Order, in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson sent this note to former President Truman, honoring that anniversary and Truman’s historic action.
-from the Truman Library
Ike Signs a “Short Snorter”
Sargent Griffith Harris of Cos Cob, Connecticut, holds his helmet while General Dwight D. Eisenhower signs his short-snorter. The General was on a flying trip to France. July 26, 1944.
During World War II, flight crews would sign a paper money bill together for good luck in the skies.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Presidential Prayers for Peace on Memorial Day
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day — a time set aside to honor fallen soldiers of the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers. The first Decoration Day was observed on May 30, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War. On that day, the largest known ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery.
Over time, people adopted the name Memorial Day, and ceremonies were held across the country to honor all U.S. soldiers who had died at war. On May 11, 1950, Congress issued a joint resolution requesting that the President proclaim a “Prayer for Peace” on each Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be held on the last Monday of every May.
This Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who have served our country.
Photo: President Harry S. Truman laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Memorial Day ceremonies. 5/30/48.
The S.S. Mayaguez Crisis — This Week in 1975
President Ford briefs the Bipartisan Congressional Leadership on the seizure of the American merchant ship S.S. Mayaguez on May 14, 1975.
The Mayaguez had been seized in international waters off the coast of Cambodia on May 12. Over the next two days President Ford and the National Security Council closely monitored the situation, ultimately deciding to use air strikes and send in Marines to rescue the boat’s crew.
President Ford received word that the Mayaguez and its entire crew had been safely recovered shortly after 11:00 p.m. on the 14th, and at 12:30 a.m. he made the official announcement to the press.
In accordance with the War Powers Act, on May 15 President Ford sent a letter to the Speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate regarding the Mayaguez incident. Read the President’s account of his actions here.
-from the Ford Library