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Douglas Macarthur

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Douglas MacArthur: The American Caesar
Douglas MacArthur Is one of the United States greatest war heroes. He was a brilliant commander that was blessed with the instinctive gift for the strategy and tactics of military combat. Even though his critics found him extremely arrogant the Unites States military needed him on the battlefield in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. He was a man who lived his life by the West Point code of Duty, Honor, and Country and did it proudly.
Douglas MacArthur was born at the Arsenal Barracks in Little Rock Arkansas on January 26, 1880 to Arthur and Mary Pinkney MacArthur. He was the youngest of three children in the MacArthur home. His brother’s names were Malcolm an Arthur, but his brother Malcolm died when they were children. His father Arthur MacArthur fought in the civil war and served as Theodor Roosevelt’s highest-ranking military officer, which spelled out Douglas’s military future. On June 3, 1899 he was enrolled at the Unite States Military Academy at West Point. During his time At West Point MacArthur managed the Cadet Football team and received his letter as an outfielder in the first Army vs. Navy baseball game (Douglas). MacArthur was not just an athlete while attending West Point he also excelled in academic and military strategy. He scored one of the highest scholastic averages in West Point history and was top of his class in his first, second and final year at West Point. MacArthur graduated in June of 1903 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant of the engineers in the United States Army and his distinguished military career had started (Long 4-227).
Douglas Macarthur’s first assignment was in the Philippines, where he was engaged on survey and construction work. This is where he experienced his first gunfight with two guerillas fighters. He later stated, “ Like all frontiersmen, I was expect with a pistol. I dropped them both dead in their tracks, but not before one had blazed away at me with his antiquated rife. The slug tore through the top of my campaign hat”(Long 4-227). In 1905 MacArthur was sent to Japan to join his father as his aide-de-camp while he reported on the Russo- Japanese War. For nine months Douglas and his father travelled and talked leaders in China, South-East Asia and India (Long 4-227). Up until World War I MacArthur had several reassignments not knowing that his military career would stand out in the Great War.
On April 6th 1917 Woodrow Wilson signed the declaration of war against Germany and the United States mobilized. On August 5th 1917 MacArthur was promoted to colonel of infantry and chief of staff of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division (Long 4-227). On the battle fields of France MacArthur made a name for him self as a great leader and sometime thought of as brave to the point of reckless. He had nicknames like “The Fighting Dude” and “The Beau Brummel of the A.E.F.”. In 1918 MacArthur contributed in the St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Sedan offensives and at the age of 38 he was made general, the youngest in the war (Douglas). During World War I MacArthur was wounded twice, gassed twice, decorated thirteen times and sited seven times for acts of extreme bravery under enemy fire. His greatest honor came near the end of the war when General Pershing presented MacArthur with a distinguished service cross in a battlefield ceremony (Long 4-227). When the armistice was signed in 1919 MacArthur sailed back to the United States with a new and utterly different challenge. In 1919 Douglas MacArthur at the age of 39 was made Superintendent of the United States military Academy. The academy had been depleted by the war and was dealing with a brutal hazing incident. MacArthur sought to diversify the academic curriculum and push for major changes in the physical fitness and intramural athletic programs because he knew the demands of modern warfare (West). After three years as superintendent MacArthur resigned with Fred Winchester Sladen as his predecessor. Through the 1920’s MacArthur held various military posts and was married to Louise Brooks who he divorced in 1929. In 1930 at the age of 50 MacArthur was promoted to general and named the United States army chief of staff by Herbert Hoover (Douglas). On July 28 1932 tanks and calvery swept through Washington D.C. to disperse the Bonus Army. The Bonus Army was more then 20,000 army veterans who set up camp and demanded that the United States Government pay them the cash bonus they were promised. The orders given to the troops were to disperse the protesters and that is what they did. After the protest was over many thought that the United States and MacArthur’s actions were brutal, unnecessary and unconstitutional. After these actions taken against World War I veterans MacArthur became on of the most disliked men in the United Stated (Simkin)
. Despite this incident Franklin D. Roosevelt made him chief of staff. After two years he received an oak leaf cluster to add to his distinguished service medal and his term as chief of staff was over at the age of 55. From 1935 to 1941 MacArthur was the military advisor of the Philippine Commonwealth. On June 7 1941 the Japanese bombed the pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor and the fallowing day they bombed and invaded Philippine Commonwealth and destroyed half of MacArthur's air force. He was forced to retreat to Bataan where they made their stand against the Japanese but after some time MacArthur was forced to escape to Australia. This is where he made his famous battle cry “I have come trough and I shall return” (Douglas). The American forces re-organized and MacArthur was made supreme commander of the southwest pacific area and Chester Nimitz as Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet. MacArthur developed what became known as his island hopping tactics. This strategy involved amphibious landings on vulnerable islands, bypassing Japanese troop on fortified islands. This had the advantage of avoiding frontal assaults and thus reducing the number of American casualties (Simkin). This strategy worked beautifully and cut off over 100,000 Japanese at Rabaul and surrounded the forces in New Guinea. In 1944 MacArthur started his assault on the Philippines. The first objective was to bomb and capture Leyte, an island positioned between Luzon and Mindanao. This was fallowed by the battle of Leyte Gulf, which leads to the sinking of four Japanese carriers, three destroyers and ten cruisers. The biggest island in the Philippines Luzon was taken on March 4 1945. Macarthur’s last major amphibious assault was on the island of Okinawa, which was just 350 miles from the Japanese mainland. The island was taken on the June 21, 1945; the capture of Okinawa cost the Americans 49,000 in casualties of whom 12,520 died. More than 110,000 Japanese were killed on the island (Simkin). On August 10 1945 the Japanese surrendered and the Second World War was over. At this time MacArthur was named Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and appointed him as head of the Allied occupation of Japan (Long 4-27). When the North Korean army invaded South Korea in 1950, MacArthur was placed in command of the newly created United Nations forces. He was effective in driving back the attack of the North Koreans. However, he failed to anticipate impending attacks by Chinese forces and was soon forced to retreat. After his this defeat, MacArthur was vocal about his belief that the war should be expanded to include China, despite warnings from President Truman that he should keep his opinions to himself. Exasperated by MacArthur’s refusal to do so, Truman finally relieved him of his command in April 1951(Douglas). Douglas MacArthur died in Walter Reed General Hospital on April 5, 1964 at the age of 84. Both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson authorized a state funeral for MacArthur, Johnson ordered that he be buried “with all the honor a grateful nation can bestow on a departed hero" (Long 4-227). General MacArthur was a gifted soldier and brilliant military strategist. He is one of the greatest leaders the United States has ever seen and without him the outcomes of many U.S. conflicts may have not turned into the great victories we know today. His life and his legacy can be characterized by one of his own quotes, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away" (Long 4-227).

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