Douglas MacArthur (26 January 1880 – 5 April 1964) was an
American five-star general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army.
He was Chief of Staff of the
United States Army
United States Army during the 1930s and
played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines
Campaign, which made him and his father Arthur MacArthur Jr., the
first father and son to be awarded the medal. He was one of only five
men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the US Army,
and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine
Raised in a military family in the American Old West, MacArthur was
valedictorian at the West Texas Military Academy, and First Captain at
United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated
top of the class of 1903. During the 1914 United States occupation of
Veracruz, he conducted a reconnaissance mission, for which he was
nominated for the Medal of Honor. In 1917, he was promoted from major
to colonel and became chief of staff of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division.
In the fighting on the Western Front during World War I, he rose to
the rank of brigadier general, was again nominated for a Medal of
Honor, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice and the
Silver Star seven times.
From 1919 to 1922, MacArthur served as Superintendent of the U.S.
Military Academy at West Point, where he attempted a series of
reforms. His next assignment was in the Philippines, where in 1924 he
was instrumental in quelling the Philippine Scout Mutiny. In 1925, he
became the Army's youngest major general. He served on the court
martial of Brigadier General
Billy Mitchell and was president of the
American Olympic Committee during the
1928 Summer Olympics
1928 Summer Olympics in
Amsterdam. In 1930, he became Chief of Staff of the United States
Army. As such, he was involved in the expulsion of the Bonus Army
protesters from Washington, D.C. in 1932, and the establishment and
organization of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He retired from the
US Army in 1937 to become Military Advisor to the Commonwealth
Government of the Philippines.
MacArthur was recalled to active duty in 1941 as commander of United
States Army Forces in the Far East. A series of disasters followed,
starting with the destruction of his air forces on 8 December 1941,
and the invasion of the
Philippines by the Japanese. MacArthur's
forces were soon compelled to withdraw to Bataan, where they held out
until May 1942. In March 1942, MacArthur, his family and his staff
Corregidor Island in PT boats and escaped to Australia,
where MacArthur became Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area. Upon
his arrival in Australia, MacArthur gave a speech in which he famously
promised "I shall return" to the Philippines. After more than two
years of fighting in the Pacific, he fulfilled that promise. For his
defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor.
He officially accepted Japan's surrender on 2 September 1945, aboard
USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay, and oversaw the occupation of
Japan from 1945 to 1951. As the effective ruler of Japan, he oversaw
sweeping economic, political and social changes. He led the United
Nations Command in the
Korean War until he was removed from command by
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman on 11 April 1951. He later became chairman
of the board of Remington Rand.
1 Early life and education
2 Junior officer
3 Veracruz expedition
4 World War I
4.1 Rainbow Division
4.2 Champagne-Marne Offensive
Battle of Saint-Mihiel
Battle of Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensive
5 Between the wars
5.1 Superintendent of the United States Military Academy
5.2 Army's youngest major general
5.3 Chief of Staff
5.4 Field Marshal of the Philippine Army
6 World War II
Philippines Campaign (1941–42)
6.1.1 Escape to Australia and Medal of Honor
New Guinea Campaign
6.2.1 General Headquarters
6.2.2 Papuan Campaign
New Guinea Campaign
Philippines Campaign (1944–45)
6.3.3 Southern Philippines
7 Occupation of Japan
7.1 Protecting the Emperor
7.2 War crimes trials
7.3 Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers
8 Korean War
8.1 South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu
8.2 Removal from command
9 Later life
10 Death and legacy
10.1 Honors and awards
10.2 In popular culture
14 Further reading
15 External links
Early life and education
A military brat,
Douglas MacArthur was born 26 January 1880, at Little
Rock Barracks, Little Rock, Arkansas, to Arthur MacArthur, Jr., a U.S.
Army captain, and his wife, Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur (nicknamed
"Pinky"). Arthur, Jr. was the son of Scottish-born jurist and
politician Arthur MacArthur, Sr., Arthur would later receive the
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor for his actions with the
Union Army in the Battle of
Missionary Ridge during the American Civil War, and be promoted to
the rank of lieutenant general. Pinkney came from a prominent
Norfolk, Virginia, family. Two of her brothers had fought for the
South in the Civil War, and refused to attend her wedding. Arthur
and Pinky had three sons, of whom Douglas was the youngest, following
Arthur III, born on 1 August 1876, and Malcolm, born on 17 October
1878. The family lived on a succession of Army posts in the
American Old West. Conditions were primitive, and Malcolm died of
measles in 1883. In his memoir, Reminiscences, MacArthur wrote "I
learned to ride and shoot even before I could read or write—indeed,
almost before I could walk and talk."
Douglas MacArthur as a student at West Texas Military Academy in the
This time on the frontier ended in July 1889 when the family moved to
Washington, D.C., where Douglas attended the Force Public School.
His father was posted to San Antonio, Texas, in September 1893. While
there MacArthur attended the West Texas Military Academy, where he
was awarded the gold medal for "scholarship and deportment". He also
participated on the school tennis team, and played quarterback on the
school football team and shortstop on its baseball team. He was named
valedictorian, with a final year average of 97.33 out of 100.
MacArthur's father and grandfather unsuccessfully sought to secure
Douglas a presidential appointment to the United States Military
Academy at West Point, first from President
Grover Cleveland and then
from President William McKinley. After these two rejections,
he was given coaching and private tutoring by Milwaukee high school
teacher Gertrude Hull. He then passed the examination for an
appointment from Congressman Theobald Otjen, scoring 93.3 on the
test. He later wrote: "It was a lesson I never forgot.
Preparedness is the key to success and victory."
MacArthur entered West Point on 13 June 1899, and his mother also
moved there to a suite at Craney's Hotel, overlooking the grounds of
Hazing was widespread at West Point at this time, and
MacArthur and his classmate
Ulysses S. Grant III
Ulysses S. Grant III were singled out for
special attention by southern cadets as sons of generals with mothers
living at Craney's. When Cadet Oscar Booz left West Point after being
hazed and subsequently died of tuberculosis, there was a congressional
inquiry. MacArthur was called to appear before a special Congressional
committee in 1901, where he testified against cadets implicated in
hazing, but downplayed his own hazing even though the other cadets
gave the full story to the committee. Congress subsequently outlawed
acts "of a harassing, tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting or
humiliating nature", although hazing continued. MacArthur was a
corporal in Company B in his second year, a first sergeant in Company
A in his third year and First Captain in his final year. He played
left field for the baseball team, and academically earned 2424.12
merits out of a possible 2470.00 or 98.14, the third highest score
ever recorded, graduating first in his 93-man class on 11 June
1903. At the time it was customary for the top-ranking cadets to
be commissioned into the
United States Army
United States Army Corps of Engineers, so
MacArthur was commissioned as a second lieutenant in that corps.
MacArthur spent his graduation furlough with his parents at Fort
Mason, California, where his father, now a major general, was serving
as commander of the Department of the Pacific. Afterward, he joined
the 3rd Engineer Battalion, which departed for the
October 1903. MacArthur was sent to Iloilo, where he supervised the
construction of a wharf at Camp Jossman. He went on to conduct surveys
Calbayog City and Cebu City. In November 1903, while
working on Guimaras, he was ambushed by a pair of Filipino brigands or
guerrillas; he shot and killed both with his pistol. He was
promoted to first lieutenant in
Manila in April 1904. In October
1904, his tour of duty was cut short when he contracted malaria and
dhobi itch during a survey on Bataan. He returned to San Francisco,
where he was assigned to the California Debris Commission. In July
1905, he became chief engineer of the Division of the Pacific.
In October 1905, MacArthur received orders to proceed to Tokyo for
appointment as aide-de-camp to his father. A man who knew the
MacArthurs at this time wrote that: "Arthur MacArthur was the most
flamboyantly egotistical man I had ever seen, until I met his
son." They inspected Japanese military bases at Nagasaki,
Kyoto, then headed to India via Shanghai, Hong Kong,
Singapore, reaching Calcutta in January 1906. In India, they visited
Madras, Tuticorin, Quetta, Karachi, the Northwest Frontier and the
Khyber Pass. They then sailed to China via Bangkok and Saigon, and
toured Canton, Tsingtao, Peking, Tientsin, Hankow and
returning to Japan in June. The next month they returned to the United
States, where Arthur MacArthur resumed his duties at Fort Mason,
still with Douglas as his aide. In September, Douglas received orders
to report to the 2nd Engineer Battalion at the Washington Barracks and
enroll in the Engineer School. While there he also served as "an aide
to assist at White House functions" at the request of President
In August 1907, MacArthur was sent to the engineer district office in
Milwaukee, where his parents were living. In April 1908, he was posted
to Fort Leavenworth, where he was given his first command, Company K,
3rd Engineer Battalion. He became battalion adjutant in 1909 and
then engineer officer at
Fort Leavenworth in 1910. MacArthur was
promoted to captain in February 1911 and was appointed as head of the
Military Engineering Department and the Field Engineer School. He
participated in exercises at San Antonio, Texas, with the Maneuver
Division in 1911 and served in Panama on detached duty in January and
February 1912. The sudden death of their father on 5 September 1912
brought Douglas and his brother Arthur back to Milwaukee to care for
their mother, whose health had deteriorated. MacArthur requested a
transfer to Washington, D.C. so his mother could be near Johns Hopkins
Hospital. Army Chief of Staff, Major General Leonard Wood, took up the
matter with Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who arranged for
MacArthur to be posted to the Office of the Chief of Staff in
On 21 April 1914, President
Woodrow Wilson ordered the occupation of
Veracruz. MacArthur joined the headquarters staff that was sent to the
area, arriving on 1 May 1914. He realized that the logistic support of
an advance from Veracruz would require the use of the railroad.
Finding plenty of railroad cars in Veracruz but no locomotives,
MacArthur set out to verify a report that there were a number of
locomotives in Alvarado, Veracruz. For $150 in gold, he acquired a
handcar and the services of three Mexicans, whom he disarmed.
MacArthur and his party located five engines in Alvarado, two of which
were only switchers, but the other three locomotives were exactly what
was required. On the way back to Veracruz, his party was set upon by
five armed men. The party made a run for it and outdistanced all but
two of the armed men, whom MacArthur shot. Soon after, they were
attacked by a group of about fifteen horsemen. MacArthur took three
bullet holes in his clothes but was unharmed. One of his companions
was lightly wounded before the horsemen finally decided to retire
after MacArthur shot four of them. Further on, the party was attacked
a third time by three mounted men. MacArthur received another bullet
hole in his shirt, but his men, using their handcar, managed to outrun
all but one of their attackers. MacArthur shot both that man and his
horse, and the party had to remove the horse's carcass from the track
A fellow officer wrote to Wood recommending that MacArthur's name be
put forward for the Medal of Honor. Wood did so, and Chief of Staff
Hugh L. Scott
Hugh L. Scott convened a board to consider the award. The board
questioned "the advisability of this enterprise having been undertaken
without the knowledge of the commanding general on the ground".
This was Brigadier General Frederick Funston, a Medal of Honor
recipient himself, who considered awarding the medal to MacArthur
"entirely appropriate and justifiable." However the board feared
that "to bestow the award recommended might encourage any other staff
officer, under similar conditions, to ignore the local commander,
possibly interfering with the latter's plans"; consequently, MacArthur
received no award at all.
World War I
Brigadier General MacArthur holding a crop at a French chateau,
MacArthur returned to the War Department, where he was promoted to
major on 11 December 1915. In June 1916, he was assigned as head of
the Bureau of Information at the office of the Secretary of War,
Newton D. Baker. MacArthur has since been regarded as the Army's first
press officer. Following the declaration of war on Germany on 6 April
1917, Baker and MacArthur secured an agreement from President Wilson
for the use of the National Guard on the Western Front. MacArthur
suggested sending first a division organized from units of different
states, so as to avoid the appearance of favoritism toward any
particular state. Baker approved the creation of this formation, which
became the 42nd ("Rainbow") Division, and appointed Major General
William A. Mann, the head of the National Guard Bureau, as its
commander; MacArthur was its chief of staff, with the rank of colonel.
At MacArthur's request, this commission was in the infantry rather
than the engineers.
The 42nd Division was assembled in August and September 1917 at Camp
Mills, New York, where its training emphasized open-field combat
rather than trench warfare. It sailed in a convoy from Hoboken, New
Jersey, for France on 18 October 1917. On 19 December, Mann was
replaced as division commander by Major General Charles T.
The 42nd Division entered the line in the quiet
Lunéville sector in
February 1918. On 26 February, MacArthur and Captain Thomas T. Handy
accompanied a French trench raid in which MacArthur assisted in the
capture of a number of German prisoners. The commander of the French
VII Corps, Major General Georges de Bazelaire, decorated MacArthur
with the Croix de Guerre. Menoher recommended MacArthur for a Silver
Star, which he later received. The
Silver Star Medal was not
instituted until 8 August 1932, but small Silver Citation Stars were
authorized to be worn on the campaign ribbons of those cited in orders
for gallantry, similar to the British mention in despatches. When
Silver Star Medal was instituted, it was retroactively awarded to
those who had been awarded Silver Citation Stars. On 9 March, the
42nd Division launched three raids of its own on German trenches in
the Salient du Feys. MacArthur accompanied a company of the 168th
Infantry. This time, his leadership was rewarded with the
Distinguished Service Cross. A few days later, MacArthur, who was
strict about his men carrying their gas masks but often neglected to
bring his own, was gassed. He recovered in time to show Secretary
Baker around the area on 19 March.
MacArthur was promoted to brigadier general on 26 June. In late
June, the 42nd Division was shifted to
Châlons-en-Champagne to oppose
the impending German Champagne-Marne Offensive. Général d'Armée
Henri Gouraud of the French Fourth Army elected to meet the attack
with a defense in depth, holding the front line area as thinly as
possible and meeting the German attack on his second line of defense.
His plan succeeded, and MacArthur was awarded a second Silver
Star. The 42nd Division participated in the subsequent Allied
counter-offensive, and MacArthur was awarded a third
Silver Star on 29
July. Two days later, Menoher relieved Brigadier General Robert A.
Brown of the 84th Infantry Brigade of his command, and replaced him
with MacArthur. Hearing reports that the enemy had withdrawn,
MacArthur went forward on 2 August to see for himself. He later
It was 3:30 that morning when I started from our right at Sergy.
Taking runners from each outpost liaison group to the next, moving by
way of what had been No Man's Land, I will never forget that trip. The
dead were so thick in spots we tumbled over them. There must have been
at least 2,000 of those sprawled bodies. I identified the insignia of
six of the best German divisions. The stench was suffocating. Not a
tree was standing. The moans and cries of wounded men sounded
everywhere. Sniper bullets sung like the buzzing of a hive of angry
bees. An occasional shellburst always drew an angry oath from my
guide. I counted almost a hundred disabled guns various size and
several times that number of abandoned machine guns.
MacArthur reported back to Menoher and Lieutenant General Hunter
Liggett that the Germans had indeed withdrawn, and was awarded a
fourth Silver Star. He was also awarded a second Croix de guerre
and made a commandeur of the Légion d'honneur.
Battle of Saint-Mihiel
Battle of Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensive
The 42nd Division earned a few weeks rest, returning to the line
Battle of Saint-Mihiel
Battle of Saint-Mihiel on 12 September 1918. The Allied
advance proceeded rapidly and MacArthur was awarded a fifth Silver
Star for his leadership of the 84th Infantry Brigade. He received
Silver Star for his participation in a raid on the night of
25–26 September. The 42nd Division was relieved on the night of 30
September and moved to the Argonne sector where it relieved the 1st
Division on the night of 11 October. On a reconnaissance the next day,
MacArthur was gassed again, earning a second Wound Chevron.
General Pershing (second from left) decorates Brigadier General
MacArthur (third from left) with the Distinguished Service Cross.
Charles T. Menoher
Charles T. Menoher (left) reads out the citation while
George E. Leach
George E. Leach (fourth from left) and Lieutenant Colonel
William Joseph Donovan
William Joseph Donovan await their decorations.
The 42nd Division's participation in the
Meuse-Argonne Offensive began
on 14 October when it attacked with both brigades. That evening, a
conference was called to discuss the attack, during which Charles
Pelot Summerall, commander of the First Infantry Division and V Corps,
telephoned and demanded that Châtillon be taken by 18:00 the next
evening. An aerial photograph had been obtained that showed a gap in
the German barbed wire to the northeast of Châtillon. Lieutenant
Colonel Walter E. Bare—the commander of the 167th
Infantry—proposed an attack from that direction, where the defenses
seemed least imposing, covered by a machine-gun barrage. MacArthur
adopted this plan. He was wounded, but not severely, while
verifying the existence of the gap in the barbed wire.
Summerall nominated MacArthur for the
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor and promotion to
major general, but he received neither. Instead he was awarded a
second Distinguished Service Cross. The 42nd Division returned to
the line for the last time on the night of 4–5 November 1918. In
the final advance on Sedan. MacArthur later wrote that this operation
"narrowly missed being one of the great tragedies of American
history." An order to disregard unit boundaries led to units
crossing into each other's zones. In the resulting chaos, MacArthur
was taken prisoner by men of the 1st Division, who mistook him for a
German general. His performance in the attack on the Meuse heights
led to his being awarded a seventh Silver Star. On 10 November, a day
before the armistice that ended the fighting, MacArthur was appointed
commander of the 42nd Division. For his service as chief of staff and
commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade, he was awarded the
Distinguished Service Medal.
His period in command was brief, for on 22 November he, like other
brigadier generals, was replaced, and returned to the 84th Infantry
Brigade. The 42nd Division was chosen to participate in the occupation
of the Rhineland, occupying the Ahrweiler district. In April 1919,
they entrained for Brest and Saint-Nazaire, where they boarded ships
to return to the United States. MacArthur traveled on the ocean liner
SS Leviathan, which reached New York on 25 April 1919.
Between the wars
Superintendent of the United States Military Academy
MacArthur as West Point Superintendent
In 1919, MacArthur became Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy
at West Point, which Chief of Staff
Peyton March felt had become out
of date in many respects and was much in need of reform. Accepting
the post allowed MacArthur to retain his rank of brigadier general,
instead of being reduced to his substantive rank of major like many of
his contemporaries. When MacArthur moved into the superintendent's
house with his mother in June 1919, he became the youngest
Sylvanus Thayer in 1817. However, whereas
Thayer had faced opposition from outside the Army, MacArthur had to
overcome resistance from graduates and the academic board.
MacArthur's vision of what was required of an officer came not just
from his recent experience of combat in France but also from that of
the occupation of the
Rhineland in Germany. The military government of
Rhineland had required the Army to deal with political, economic
and social problems but he had found that many West Point graduates
had little or no knowledge of fields outside of the military
sciences. During the war, West Point had been reduced to an
officer candidate school, with five classes graduated in two years.
Cadet and staff morale was low and hazing "at an all-time peak of
viciousness". MacArthur's first change turned out to be the
easiest. Congress had set the length of the course at three years.
MacArthur was able to get the four-year course restored.
During the debate over the length of the course, The New York Times
brought up the issue of the cloistered and undemocratic nature of
student life at West Point. Also, starting with Harvard University
in 1869, civilian universities had begun grading students on academic
performance alone, but West Point had retained the old "whole man"
concept of education. MacArthur sought to modernize the system,
expanding the concept of military character to include bearing,
leadership, efficiency and athletic performance. He formalized the
Cadet Honor Code
Cadet Honor Code in 1922 when he formed the Cadet
Honor Committee to review alleged code violations. Elected by the
cadets themselves, it had no authority to punish, but acted as a kind
of grand jury, reporting offenses to the commandant. MacArthur
attempted to end hazing by using officers rather than upperclassmen to
train the plebes.
Instead of the traditional summer camp at Fort Clinton, MacArthur had
the cadets trained to use modern weapons by regular army sergeants at
Fort Dix; they then marched back to West Point with full packs. He
attempted to modernize the curriculum by adding liberal arts,
government and economics courses, but encountered strong resistance
from the Academic Board. In Military Art classes, the study of the
campaigns of the
American Civil War
American Civil War was replaced with the study of
those of World War I. In History class, more emphasis was placed on
the Far East. MacArthur expanded the sports program, increasing the
number of intramural sports and requiring all cadets to
participate. He allowed upper class cadets to leave the
reservation, and sanctioned a cadet newspaper, The Brag, forerunner of
today's West Pointer. He also permitted cadets to travel to watch
their football team play, and gave them an allowance of $5 ($70 in
modern dollars) a month. Professors and alumni alike protested
these radical moves. Most of MacArthur's West Point reforms were
soon discarded but, in the ensuing years, his ideas became accepted
and his innovations were gradually restored.
Army's youngest major general
MacArthur became romantically involved with socialite and
multi-millionaire heiress Louise Cromwell Brooks. They were married at
her family's villa in Palm Beach, Florida on 14 February 1922. Rumors
circulated that General Pershing, who had also courted Louise, had
threatened to exile them to the
Philippines if they were married. This
was denied by Pershing as "all damn poppycock." In October 1922,
MacArthur left West Point and sailed to the
Philippines with Louise
and her two children, Walter and Louise, to assume command of the
Military District of Manila. MacArthur was fond of the children,
and spent much of his free time with them.
The revolts in the
Philippines had been suppressed, the islands were
peaceful now, and in the wake of the Washington Naval Treaty, the
garrison was being reduced. MacArthur's friendships with Filipinos
Manuel Quezon offended some people. "The old idea of colonial
exploitation", he later conceded, "still had its vigorous
supporters." In February and March 1923 MacArthur returned to
Washington to see his mother, who was ill from a heart ailment. She
recovered, but it was the last time he saw his brother Arthur, who
died suddenly from appendicitis in December 1923. In June 1923,
MacArthur assumed command of the 23rd Infantry Brigade of the
Philippine Division. On 7 July 1924, he was informed that a mutiny had
broken out amongst the
Philippine Scouts over grievances concerning
pay and allowances. Over 200 were arrested and there were fears of an
insurrection. MacArthur was able to calm the situation, but his
subsequent efforts to improve the salaries of Filipino troops were
frustrated by financial stringency and racial prejudice. On 17 January
1925, at the age of 44, he was promoted, becoming the Army's youngest
Returning to the U.S., MacArthur took command of the IV Corps Area,
Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia, on 2 May 1925.
However, he encountered southern prejudice because he was the son of a
Union Army officer, and requested to be relieved. A few months
later, he assumed command of the III Corps area, based at Fort McHenry
in Baltimore, Maryland, which allowed MacArthur and Louise to move to
her Rainbow Hill estate near Garrison, Maryland. However, this
relocation also led to what he later described as "one of the most
distasteful orders I ever received": a direction to serve on the
court martial of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. MacArthur was the
youngest of the thirteen judges, none of whom had aviation experience.
Three of them, including Summerall, the president of the court, were
removed when defense challenges revealed bias against Mitchell.
Despite MacArthur's claim that he had voted to acquit, Mitchell was
found guilty as charged and convicted. MacArthur felt "that a
senior officer should not be silenced for being at variance with his
superiors in rank and with accepted doctrine."
In 1927, MacArthur and Louise separated, and she moved to New York
City. In August that year, William C. Prout—the president of the
American Olympic Committee—died suddenly and the committee elected
MacArthur as their new president. His main task was to prepare the
U.S. team for the
1928 Summer Olympics
1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. MacArthur saw
the team as representatives of the United States, and its task was to
win medals. "We have not come 3,000 miles", he told them, "just to
lose gracefully." The Americans had a successful meet, earning 24
gold medals, and setting 17 Olympic records and seven world
records. Upon returning to the U.S., MacArthur received orders to
assume command of the Philippine Department. In 1929, while he was
in Manila, Louise obtained a divorce, ostensibly on the grounds of
"failure to provide". In view of Louise's great wealth, William
Manchester described this legal fiction as "preposterous".
Chief of Staff
By 1930, MacArthur was still, at age 50, the youngest of the U.S.
Army's major generals, and the best known. He left the
19 September 1930 and for a brief time was in command of the IX Corps
Area in San Francisco. On 21 November, he was sworn in as Chief of
Staff of the United States Army, with the rank of general. While
in Washington, he would ride home each day to have lunch with his
mother. At his desk, he would wear a Japanese ceremonial kimono, cool
himself with an oriental fan, and smoke cigarettes in a jeweled
cigarette holder. In the evenings, he liked to read military history
books. About this time, he began referring to himself as
"MacArthur". He had already hired a public relations staff to
promote his image with the American public, together with a set of
ideas he was known to favor, namely: a belief that America needed a
strongman leader to deal with the possibility that Communists might
lead all of the great masses of unemployed into a revolution; that
America's destiny was in the Asia-Pacific region; and a strong
hostility to the British Empire. One contemporary described
MacArthur as the greatest actor to ever serve as a U.S Army general
while another wrote that MacArthur had a court rather than a
The onset of the
Great Depression forced Congress to make cuts in the
Army's personnel and budget. Some 53 bases were closed, but MacArthur
managed to prevent attempts to reduce the number of regular officers
from 12,000 to 10,000. MacArthur's main programs included the
development of new mobilization plans. He grouped the nine corps areas
together under four armies, which were charged with responsibility for
training and frontier defense. He also negotiated the
MacArthur-Pratt agreement with the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral
William V. Pratt. This was the first of a series of inter-service
agreements over the following decades that defined the
responsibilities of the different services with respect to aviation.
This agreement placed coastal air defense under the Army. In March
1935, MacArthur activated a centralized air command, General
Headquarters Air Force, under Major General Frank M. Andrews.
Bonus Army marchers confront the police
One of MacArthur's most controversial acts came in 1932, when the
"Bonus Army" of veterans converged on Washington. He sent tents and
camp equipment to the demonstrators, along with mobile kitchens, until
an outburst in Congress caused the kitchens to be withdrawn. MacArthur
was concerned that the demonstration had been taken over by communists
and pacifists but the General Staff's intelligence division reported
that only three of the march's 26 key leaders were communists.
MacArthur went over contingency plans for civil disorder in the
capital. Mechanized equipment was brought to Fort Myer, where
anti-riot training was conducted.
On 28 July 1932, a clash between the District police and demonstrators
resulted in two men being shot. President
Herbert Hoover ordered
MacArthur to "surround the affected area and clear it without
delay." MacArthur brought up troops and tanks and, against the
advice of Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, decided to accompany the troops,
although he was not in charge of the operation. The troops advanced
with bayonets and sabers drawn under a shower of bricks and rocks, but
no shots were fired. In less than four hours, they cleared the Bonus
Army's campground using tear gas. The gas canisters started a number
of fires, causing the only death during the riots. While not as
violent as other anti-riot operations, it was nevertheless a public
relations disaster. However, the defeat of the "Bonus Army" while
unpopular with the American people at large, did make MacArthur into
the hero of the more right-wing elements in the Republican Party who
believed that the general had saved America from a communist
revolution in 1932.
CCC workers construct a road
In 1934, MacArthur sued journalists Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen
for defamation after they described his treatment of the Bonus
marchers as "unwarranted, unnecessary, insubordinate, harsh and
brutal". In turn, they threatened to call
Isabel Rosario Cooper as
a witness. MacArthur had met Isabel, a Eurasian woman, while in the
Philippines, and she had become his mistress. MacArthur was forced to
settle out of court, secretly paying Pearson $15,000.
President Hoover was defeated in the 1932 election by Franklin D.
Roosevelt. MacArthur and Roosevelt had worked together before World
War I and, despite political differences, remained friends. MacArthur
New Deal through the Army's operation of the Civilian
Conservation Corps. He ensured that detailed plans were drawn up for
its employment and decentralized its administration to the corps
areas, which became an important factor in the program's success.
MacArthur's support for a strong military, and his public criticism of
pacifism and isolationism, made him unpopular with the Roosevelt
Perhaps the most incendiary exchange between Roosevelt and MacArthur
occurred over an administration proposal to cut 51% of the Army's
budget. In response, MacArthur lectured Roosevelt that "when we lost
the next war, and an American boy, lying in the mud with an enemy
bayonet through his belly and an enemy foot on his dying throat, spat
out his last curse, I wanted the name not to be MacArthur, but
Roosevelt." In response, Roosevelt yelled "you must not talk that way
to the President!" MacArthur offered to resign, but Roosevelt refused
his request, and MacArthur then staggered out of the White House and
vomited on the front steps.
In spite of such exchanges, MacArthur was extended an extra year as
chief of staff, and ended his tour in October 1935. For his
service as chief of staff, he was awarded a second Distinguished
Service Medal. He was retroactively awarded two Purple Hearts for his
World War I service, a decoration that he authorized in 1932
based loosely on the defunct Military Badge of Merit. MacArthur also
insisted on being the first recipient of the Purple Heart, which he
had engraved with "#1."
Field Marshal of the Philippine Army
When the Commonwealth of the
Philippines achieved semi-independent
status in 1935, President of the
Manuel Quezon asked
MacArthur to supervise the creation of a Philippine Army. Quezon and
MacArthur had been personal friends since the latter's father had been
Governor-General of the Philippines, 35 years earlier. With President
Roosevelt's approval, MacArthur accepted the assignment. It was agreed
that MacArthur would receive the rank of field marshal, with its
salary and allowances, in addition to his major general's salary as
Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the
Philippines. It would be his fifth tour in the Far East.
MacArthur sailed from San Francisco on the SS President Hoover in
October 1935, accompanied by his mother and sister-in-law. He
brought Eisenhower and Major
James B. Ord
James B. Ord along as his
assistants. Another passenger on the President Hoover was Jean
Marie Faircloth, an unmarried 37-year-old socialite. Over the next two
years, MacArthur and Faircloth were frequently seen together. His
mother became gravely ill during the voyage and died in
Manila on 3
Ceremony at Camp Murphy, 15 August 1941, marking the induction of the
Philippine Army Air Corps. Behind MacArthur, from left to right, are
Lieutenant Colonel Richard K. Sutherland, Colonel Harold H. George,
William F. Marquat
William F. Marquat and Major LeGrande A. Diller.
President Quezon officially conferred the title of field marshal on
MacArthur in a ceremony at
Malacañan Palace on 24 August 1936, and
presented him with a gold baton and a unique uniform. The
Philippine Army was formed from conscription. Training was conducted
by a regular cadre, and the
Philippine Military Academy
Philippine Military Academy was created
along the lines of West Point to train officers. MacArthur and
Eisenhower found that few of the training camps had been constructed
and the first group of 20,000 trainees did not report until early
1937. Equipment and weapons were "more or less obsolete" American
cast offs, and the budget of six million was completely
inadequate. MacArthur's requests for equipment fell on deaf ears,
although MacArthur and his naval advisor, Lieutenant Colonel Sidney L.
Huff, persuaded the Navy to initiate the development of the PT
boat. Much hope was placed in the
Philippine Army Air Corps, but
the first squadron was not organized until 1939.
MacArthur married Jean Faircloth in a civil ceremony on 30 April
1937. Their marriage produced a son, Arthur MacArthur IV, who was
Manila on 21 February 1938. On 31 December 1937,
MacArthur officially retired from the Army. He ceased to represent the
U.S. as military adviser to the government, but remained as Quezon's
adviser in a civilian capacity. Eisenhower returned to the U.S.,
and was replaced as MacArthur's chief of staff by Lieutenant Colonel
Richard K. Sutherland, while
Richard J. Marshall
Richard J. Marshall became deputy chief
World War II
Douglas MacArthur in World War II
Philippines Campaign (1941–42)
Philippines Campaign (1941–42)
26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts) move into Pozorrubio past an M3
On 26 July 1941, Roosevelt federalized the Philippine Army, recalled
MacArthur to active duty in the U.S. Army as a major general, and
named him commander of U.S. Army Forces in the
Far East (USAFFE).
MacArthur was promoted to lieutenant general the following day,
and then to general on 20 December.  On 31 July 1941, the
Philippine Department had 22,000 troops assigned, 12,000 of whom were
Philippine Scouts. The main component was the Philippine Division,
under the command of Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright. The
initial American plan for the defense of the
Philippines called for
the main body of the troops to retreat to the
Bataan peninsula in
Manila Bay to hold out against the Japanese until a relief force could
arrive. MacArthur changed this plan to one of attempting to hold
Luzon and using B-17 Flying Fortresses to sink Japanese ships
that approached the islands. MacArthur persuaded the
decision-makers in Washington that his plans represented the best
deterrent to prevent Japan from choosing war and of winning a war if
worse did come to worse.
Between July and December 1941, the garrison received 8,500
reinforcements. After years of parsimony, much equipment was
shipped. By November, a backlog of 1,100,000 shipping tons of
equipment intended for the
Philippines had accumulated in U.S. ports
and depots awaiting vessels. In addition, the Navy intercept
station in the islands, known as Station CAST, had an ultra secret
Purple cipher machine, which decrypted Japanese diplomatic messages,
and partial codebooks for the latest
JN-25 naval code. Station CAST
sent MacArthur its entire output, via Sutherland, the only officer on
his staff authorized to see it.
At 03:30 local time on 8 December 1941 (about 09:00 on 7 December in
Hawaii), Sutherland learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor and
informed MacArthur. At 05:30, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army,
General George Marshall, ordered MacArthur to execute the existing war
plan, Rainbow Five. MacArthur did nothing. On three occasions, the
commander of the
Far East Air Force, Major General Lewis H. Brereton,
requested permission to attack Japanese bases in Formosa, in
accordance with prewar intentions, but was denied by Sutherland. Not
until 11:00 did Brereton speak with MacArthur about it, and obtained
permission. MacArthur later denied having the conversation.
At 12:30, nine hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, aircraft of
Japan's 11th Air Fleet achieved complete tactical surprise when they
attacked Clark Field and the nearby fighter base at Iba Field, and
destroyed or disabled 18 of
Far East Air Force's 35 B-17s, 53 of its
107 P-40s, three P-35s, and more than 25 other aircraft. Most were
destroyed on the ground. Substantial damage was done to the bases, and
casualties totaled 80 killed and 150 wounded. What was left of
Far East Air Force was all but destroyed over the next few
MacArthur (center) with his Chief of Staff, Major General Richard K.
Sutherland, in the Headquarters tunnel on Corregidor, Philippines, on
1 March 1942
MacArthur attempted to slow the Japanese advance with an initial
defense against the Japanese landings. MacArthur's plan for holding
Luzon against the Japanese collapsed as it spread out the
American-Filipino forces too thin. However, he reconsidered his
confidence in the ability of his Filipino troops after the Japanese
landing force made a rapid advance after landing at
Lingayen Gulf on
21 December, and ordered a retreat to Bataan. Within two
days of the Japanese landing at Lingayen Gulf, MacArthur had reverted
to pre-July 1941 plan of attempting to hold only
Bataan while waiting
for a relief force to come. Most of the American and some of the
Filipino troops were able to retreat back to Baatan, but without most
of their supplies, which were abandoned in the confusion. Manila
was declared an open city at midnight on 24 December, without any
consultation with Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commanding the Asiatic
Fleet, forcing the Navy to destroy considerable amounts of valuable
On the evening of 24 December, MacArthur moved his headquarters to the
island fortress of
Manila Bay arriving at 21:30, with
his headquarters reporting to Washington as being open on the
25th. A series of air raids by the Japanese destroyed all
the exposed structures on the island and USAFFE headquarters was moved
into the Malinta Tunnel. Later, most of the headquarters moved to
Bataan, leaving only the nucleus with MacArthur. The troops on
Bataan knew that they had been written off but continued to fight.
Some blamed Roosevelt and MacArthur for their predicament. A ballad
sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" called him
"Dugout Doug". However, most clung to the belief that somehow
MacArthur "would reach down and pull something out of his hat."
On 1 January 1942, MacArthur accepted $500,000 from President Quezon
Philippines as payment for his pre-war service. MacArthur's
staff members also received payments: $75,000 for Sutherland, $45,000
for Richard Marshall, and $20,000 for Huff.
Eisenhower—after being appointed Supreme Commander Allied
Expeditionary Force (AEF)—was also offered money by Quezon, but
declined. These payments were known only to a few in
Washington, including President Roosevelt and Secretary of War Henry
L. Stimson, until they were made public by historian Carol Petillo in
1979. While the payments had been fully legal, the
revelation tarnished MacArthur's reputation.
Escape to Australia and Medal of Honor
Main article: Douglas MacArthur's escape from the Philippines
Plaque affixed to MacArthur barracks at the U.S. Military Academy,
inscribed with MacArthur's
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor citation.
In February 1942, as Japanese forces tightened their grip on the
Philippines, MacArthur was ordered by President Roosevelt to relocate
to Australia. On the night of 12 March 1942, MacArthur and a
select group that included his wife Jean, son Arthur, and Arthur's
Cantonese amah, Ah Cheu, fled Corregidor. MacArthur and his party
Del Monte Airfield
Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao, where B-17s picked them up,
and flew them to Australia. His famous speech, in which he
said, "I came through and I shall return", was first made on Terowie
railway station in South Australia, on 20 March. Washington asked
MacArthur to amend his promise to "We shall return". He ignored the
Bataan surrendered on 9 April, and
Corregidor on 6 May.
George Marshall decided that MacArthur would be awarded the Medal of
Honor, a decoration for which he had twice previously been nominated,
"to offset any propaganda by the enemy directed at his leaving his
command". Eisenhower pointed out that MacArthur had not actually
performed any acts of valor as required by law, but Marshall cited the
1927 award of the medal to
Charles Lindbergh as a precedent. Special
legislation had been passed to authorize Lindbergh's medal, but while
similar legislation was introduced authorizing the medal for MacArthur
J. Parnell Thomas
J. Parnell Thomas and James E. Van Zandt, Marshall felt
strongly that a serving general should receive the medal from the
President and the War Department. MacArthur chose to accept it on
the basis that "this award was intended not so much for me personally
as it is a recognition of the indomitable courage of the gallant army
which it was my honor to command." Arthur and Douglas MacArthur
thus became the first father and son to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
They remained the only pair until 2001, when
Theodore Roosevelt was
awarded posthumously for his service during the Spanish–American
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. having received one posthumously for his
service during World War II. MacArthur's citation, written
by George Marshall, read:
For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to
resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the
call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the
heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan
Peninsula. He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received
world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority
of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal
danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in
each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance
of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people
in their Armed Forces.
As the symbol of the forces resisting the Japanese, MacArthur received
many other accolades. The Native American tribes of the Southwest
chose him as a "Chief of Chiefs", which he acknowledged as from "my
oldest friends, the companions of my boyhood days on the Western
frontier". He was touched when he was named Father of the Year
for 1942, and wrote to the National Father's Day Committee that:
By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact, but I am
prouder, infinitely prouder to be a father. A soldier destroys in
order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has
the potentialities of death; the other embodies creation and life. And
while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are
mightier still. It is my hope that my son when I am gone will remember
me, not from battle, but in the home, repeating with him our simple
daily prayer, "Our father, Who art in Heaven."
New Guinea Campaign
New Guinea Campaign
On 18 April 1942, MacArthur was appointed Supreme Commander of Allied
Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). Lieutenant General George
Brett became Commander, Allied Air Forces, and Vice Admiral Herbert F.
Leary became Commander, Allied Naval Forces. Since the bulk of
land forces in the theater were Australian,
George Marshall insisted
an Australian be appointed as Commander, Allied Land Forces, and the
job went to General Sir Thomas Blamey. Although predominantly
Australian and American, MacArthur's command also included small
numbers of personnel from the Netherlands East Indies, the United
Kingdom, and other countries.
MacArthur established a close relationship with the Prime Minister of
Australia, John Curtin, and was probably the second most-powerful
person in the country after the prime minister, although many
Australians resented MacArthur as a foreign general who had been
imposed upon them. MacArthur had little confidence in Brett's
abilities as commander of Allied Air Forces, and in
August 1942 selected Major General
George C. Kenney
George C. Kenney to replace
him. Kenney's application of air power in support of
Blamey's troops would prove crucial.
Australian Prime Minister
John Curtin (right) confers with MacArthur
The staff of MacArthur's General Headquarters (GHQ) was built around
the nucleus that had escaped from the
Philippines with him, who became
known as the "
Bataan Gang". Though Roosevelt and George Marshall
pressed for Dutch and Australian officers to be assigned to GHQ, the
heads of all the staff divisions were American and such officers of
other nationalities as were assigned served under them. Initially
located in Melbourne, GHQ moved to Brisbane—the northernmost
city in Australia with the necessary communications facilities—in
July 1942, occupying the Australian Mutual Provident Society
building (renamed after the war as MacArthur Chambers).
MacArthur formed his own signals intelligence organization, known as
the Central Bureau, from Australian intelligence units and American
cryptanalysts who had escaped from the Philippines. This unit
Ultra information to Willoughby for analysis. After a
press release revealed details of the Japanese naval dispositions
during the Battle of the Coral Sea, at which a Japanese attempt to
Port Moresby was turned back, Roosevelt ordered that
censorship be imposed in Australia, and the Advisory War Council
granted GHQ censorship authority over the Australian press. Australian
newspapers were restricted to what was reported in the daily GHQ
communiqué. Veteran correspondents considered the
communiqués, which MacArthur drafted personally, "a total farce" and
"Alice-in-Wonderland information handed out at high level."
Anticipating that the Japanese would strike at
Port Moresby again, the
garrison was strengthened and MacArthur ordered the establishment of
new bases at
Milne Bay to cover its flanks. The
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway in June 1942 led to consideration of a limited
offensive in the Pacific. MacArthur's proposal for an attack on the
Japanese base at Rabaul met with objections from the Navy, which
favored a less ambitious approach, and objected to an Army general
being in command of what would be an amphibious operation. The
resulting compromise called for a three-stage advance. The first
stage, the seizure of the Tulagi area, would be conducted by the
Pacific Ocean Areas, under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. The later stages
would be under MacArthur's command.
Senior Allied commanders in
New Guinea in October 1942. Left to right:
Frank Forde (Australian Minister for the Army); MacArthur; General
Sir Thomas Blamey, Allied Land Forces; Lieutenant General George C.
Kenney, Allied Air Forces; Lieutenant General Edmund Herring, New
Guinea Force; Brigadier General Kenneth Walker, V Bomber Command.
The Japanese struck first, landing at Buna in July, and at Milne
Bay in August. The Australians repulsed the Japanese at Milne
Bay, but a series of defeats in the
Kokoda Track campaign
Kokoda Track campaign had a
depressing effect back in Australia. On 30 August, MacArthur radioed
Washington that unless action was taken,
New Guinea Force
New Guinea Force would be
overwhelmed. He sent Blamey to
Port Moresby to take personal
command. Having committed all available Australian troops,
MacArthur decided to send American forces. The 32nd Infantry Division,
a poorly trained National Guard division, was selected. A series
of embarrassing reverses in the
Battle of Buna–Gona
Battle of Buna–Gona led to outspoken
criticism of the American troops by the Australians. MacArthur then
ordered Lieutenant General
Robert L. Eichelberger
Robert L. Eichelberger to assume command of
the Americans, and "take Buna, or not come back alive."
MacArthur moved the advanced echelon of GHQ to
Port Moresby on 6
November 1942. After Buna finally fell on 3 January 1943,
MacArthur awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to twelve officers
for "precise execution of operations". This use of the country's
second highest award aroused resentment, because while some, like
Eichelberger and George Alan Vasey, had fought in the field, others,
like Sutherland and Willoughby, had not. For his part, MacArthur
was awarded his third Distinguished Service Medal, and the
Australian government had him appointed an honorary Knight Grand Cross
of the Order of the Bath.
New Guinea Campaign
At the Pacific Military Conference in March 1943, the Joint Chiefs of
Staff approved MacArthur's plan for Operation Cartwheel, the advance
on Rabaul. MacArthur explained his strategy:
My strategic conception for the Pacific Theater, which I outlined
after the Papuan Campaign and have since consistently advocated,
contemplates massive strokes against only main strategic objectives,
utilizing surprise and air-ground striking power supported and
assisted by the fleet. This is the very opposite of what is termed
"island hopping" which is the gradual pushing back of the enemy by
direct frontal pressure with the consequent heavy casualties which
will certainly be involved. Key points must of course be taken but a
wise choice of such will obviate the need for storming the mass of
islands now in enemy possession. "Island hopping" with extravagant
losses and slow progress ... is not my idea of how to end the war
as soon and as cheaply as possible. New conditions require for
solution and new weapons require for maximum application new and
imaginative methods. Wars are never won in the past.
Conference in Hawaii, July 1944. Left to right: General MacArthur,
President Roosevelt, Admiral Leahy, Admiral Nimitz.
In New Guinea, a country without roads, large-scale transportation of
men and materiel would have to be accomplished by aircraft or ships. A
multi-pronged approach was employed to solve this problem.
Disassembled landing craft were shipped to Australia, where they were
assembled in Cairns. The range of these small landing craft was
to be greatly extended by the landing ships of the VII Amphibious
Force, which began arriving in late 1942, and formed part of the newly
formed Seventh Fleet. Since the
Seventh Fleet had no aircraft
carriers, the range of naval operations was limited by that of the
fighter aircraft of the Fifth Air Force.
Lieutenant General Walter Krueger's Sixth Army headquarters arrived in
SWPA in early 1943 but MacArthur had only three American divisions,
and they were tired and depleted from the fighting at Battle of
Buna–Gona and Battle of Guadalcanal. As a result, "it became obvious
that any military offensive in the South-West Pacific in 1943 would
have to be carried out mainly by the Australian Army." The
offensive began with the landing at Lae by the Australian 9th Division
on 4 September 1943. The next day, MacArthur watched the landing at
Nadzab by paratroops of the 503rd Parachute Infantry. His B-17 made
the trip on three engines because one failed soon after leaving Port
Moresby, but he insisted that it fly on to Nadzab. For this, he
was awarded the Air Medal.
The Australian 7th and 9th Divisions converged on Lae, which fell on
16 September. MacArthur advanced his timetable, and ordered the 7th to
capture Kaiapit and Dumpu, while the 9th mounted an amphibious assault
on Finschhafen. Here, the offensive bogged down, partly because
MacArthur had based his decision to assault Finschhafen on
Willoughby's assessment that there were only 350 Japanese defenders at
Finschhafen, when in fact there were nearly 5,000. A furious battle
In early November, MacArthur's plan for a westward advance along the
New Guinea to the
Philippines was incorporated into plans for
the war against Japan. Three months later, airmen reported
no signs of enemy activity in the Admiralty Islands. Although
Willoughby did not agree that the islands had been evacuated,
MacArthur ordered an amphibious landing there, commencing the
Admiralty Islands campaign. He accompanied the assault force aboard
the light cruiser Phoenix, the flagship of Vice Admiral Thomas C.
Kinkaid, the new commander of the Seventh Fleet, and came ashore seven
hours after the first wave of landing craft, for which he was awarded
the Bronze Star. It took six weeks of fierce fighting before the
1st Cavalry Division captured the islands.
MacArthur had one of the most powerful PR machines of any Allied
general during the war, which made him into an extremely popular war
hero with the American people. In late 1943–early 1944, there
was a serious effort by the conservative faction in the Republican
Party centered in the Midwest to have MacArthur seek the Republican
nomination to be the candidate for the presidency in the 1944
election, as they regarded the two men most likely to win the
Republican nomination, namely
Wendell Willkie and Governor Thomas E.
Dewey of New York, as too liberal. For a time, MacArthur, who had
long seen himself as a potential president, was in the words of the
Gerhard Weinberg "very interested" in running as the
Republican candidate in 1944. However, MacArthur's vow to
"return" to the
Philippines had not been fulfilled in early 1944 and
he decided not to run for president until he had liberated the
Furthermore, Weinberg had argued that it is probable that Roosevelt,
who knew of the "enormous gratuity" MacArthur had accepted from Quezon
in 1942, had used his knowledge of this transaction to blackmail
MacArthur into not running for president. Finally, despite the
best efforts of the conservative Republicans to put MacArthur's name
on the ballot, on April 4, 1944, Governor Dewey won such a convincing
victory in the Wisconsin primary (regarded as a significant victory
given that the Midwest was a stronghold of the conservative
Republicans opposed to Dewey) as to ensure that he would win the
Republican nomination to be the GOP's candidate for president in
MacArthur now bypassed the Japanese forces at
Hansa Bay and Wewak, and
assaulted Hollandia and Aitape, which Willoughby reported to be
lightly defended based on intelligence gathered in the Battle of Sio.
MacArthur's bold thrust by going 600 miles up the coast had surprised
and confused the Japanese high command, who had not anticipated that
MacArthur would take such risks. Although they were out of range
of the Fifth Air Force's fighters based in the
Ramu Valley, the timing
of the operation allowed the aircraft carriers of Nimitz's Pacific
Fleet to provide air support. Though risky, the operation turned
out to be another success. MacArthur caught the Japanese off balance
and cut off Lieutenant General Hatazō Adachi's Japanese XVIII Army in
Wewak area. Because the Japanese were not expecting an attack, the
garrison was weak, and Allied casualties were correspondingly light.
However, the terrain turned out to be less suitable for airbase
development than first thought, forcing MacArthur to seek better
locations further west. While bypassing Japanese forces had great
tactical merit, it had the strategic drawback of tying up Allied
troops to contain them. Moreover, Adachi was far from beaten, which he
demonstrated in the Battle of Driniumor River.
Philippines Campaign (1944–45)
Philippines Campaign (1944–45)
In July 1944, President Roosevelt summoned MacArthur to meet with him
in Hawaii "to determine the phase of action against Japan." Nimitz
made the case for attacking Formosa. MacArthur stressed America's
moral obligation to liberate the Philippines. In September, Admiral
William Halsey, Jr.'s carriers made a series of air strikes on the
Philippines. Opposition was feeble and Halsey concluded, incorrectly,
Leyte was "wide open" and possibly undefended, and recommended
that projected operations be skipped in favor of an assault on
"I have returned" — General MacArthur returns to the Philippines
with Philippine President
Sergio Osmeña to his right, Philippine
Foreign Affairs Secretary Carlos P. Romulo at his rear, and Sutherland
on his left. Photo taken by Gaetano Faillace. This iconic image is
re-created in larger-than-life statues at MacArthur Landing Memorial
On 20 October 1944, troops of Krueger's Sixth Army landed on Leyte,
while MacArthur watched from the light cruiser USS Nashville.
That afternoon he arrived off the beach. The advance had not
progressed far; snipers were still active and the area was under
sporadic mortar fire. When his whaleboat grounded in knee-deep water,
MacArthur requested a landing craft, but the beachmaster was too busy
to grant his request. MacArthur was compelled to wade ashore. In
his prepared speech, he said:
People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty
God our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in
the blood of our two peoples. We have come dedicated and committed to
the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily
lives, and of restoring upon a foundation of indestructible strength,
the liberties of your people.
Douglas MacArthur (center), accompanied by Lieutenant Generals
George C. Kenney
George C. Kenney and
Richard K. Sutherland
Richard K. Sutherland and Major General Verne D.
Mudge (Commanding General, First Cavalry Division), inspecting the
Leyte Island, 20 October 1944 with a crowd of onlookers.
Leyte was out of range of Kenney's land-based aircraft,
MacArthur was dependent on carrier aircraft. Japanese air
activity soon increased, with raids on Tacloban, where MacArthur
decided to establish his headquarters, and on the fleet offshore.
MacArthur enjoyed staying on Nashville's bridge during air raids,
although several bombs landed close by, and two nearby cruisers were
hit. Over the next few days, the Japanese counterattacked in the
Leyte Gulf, resulting in a near-disaster that MacArthur
attributed to the command being divided between himself and
Nimitz. Nor did the campaign ashore proceed smoothly. Heavy
monsoonal rains disrupted the airbase construction program. Carrier
aircraft proved to be no substitute for land-based aircraft, and the
lack of air cover permitted the Japanese to pour troops into Leyte.
Adverse weather and tough Japanese resistance slowed the American
advance, resulting in a protracted campaign.
By the end of December, Krueger's headquarters estimated that 5,000
Japanese remained on Leyte, and on 26 December MacArthur issued a
communiqué announcing that "the campaign can now be regarded as
closed except for minor mopping up." Yet Eichelberger's Eighth Army
killed another 27,000 Japanese on
Leyte before the campaign ended in
May 1945. On 18 December 1944, MacArthur was promoted to the new
five-star rank of General of the Army, placing him in the company of
Marshall, Eisenhower, Henry "Hap" Arnold, the only four men to achieve
the rank in World War II. Including Omar Bradley, MacArthur was one of
only five men to achieve the title of General of the Army since the 5
August 1888 death of Philip Sheridan, and he was one of only five
American officers to hold the rank as a five-star general. MacArthur
was senior to all but Marshall. The rank was created by an Act of
Congress when Public Law 78–482 was passed on 14 December
1944, as a temporary rank, subject to reversion to permanent
rank six months after the end of the war. The temporary rank was then
declared permanent 23 March 1946 by Public Law 333 of the 79th
Congress, which also awarded full pay and allowances in the grade to
those on the retired list.
MacArthur's next move was the invasion of Mindoro, where there were
good potential airfield sites. Willoughby estimated, correctly as it
turned out, that the island had only about 1,000 Japanese defenders.
The problem this time was getting there. Kinkaid balked at sending
escort carriers into the restricted waters of the Sulu Sea, and Kenney
could not guarantee land based air cover. The operation was clearly
hazardous, and MacArthur's staff talked him out of accompanying the
invasion on Nashville. As the invasion force entered the Sulu Sea, a
kamikaze struck Nashville, killing 133 people and wounding 190 more.
Australian and American engineers had three airstrips in operation
within two weeks, but the resupply convoys were repeatedly attacked by
kamikazes. During this time, MacArthur quarreled with Sutherland,
notorious for his abrasiveness, over the latter's mistress, Captain
Elaine Clark. MacArthur had instructed Sutherland not to be bring
Clark to Leyte, due to a personal undertaking to Curtin that
Australian women on the GHQ staff would not be taken to the
Philippines, but Sutherland had brought her along anyway.
Off Leyte, October 1944 Left to right: Lieutenant General George
Kenney, Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, President Sergio
Osmeña, General Douglas MacArthur
The way was now clear for the invasion of Luzon. This time, based on
different interpretations of the same intelligence data, Willoughby
estimated the strength of General Tomoyuki Yamashita's forces on Luzon
at 137,000, while Sixth Army estimated it at 234,000. MacArthur's
response was "Bunk!". He felt that even Willoughby's estimate was
too high. "Audacity, calculated risk, and a clear strategic aim were
MacArthur's attributes", and he disregarded the estimates. In
fact, they were too low; Yamashita had more than 287,000 troops on
Luzon. This time, MacArthur traveled aboard the light cruiser
USS Boise, watching as the ship was nearly hit by a bomb and
torpedoes fired by midget submarines. His communiqué read: "The
decisive battle for the liberation of the
Philippines and the control
of the Southwest Pacific is at hand. General MacArthur is in personal
command at the front and landed with his assault troops."
MacArthur's primary concern was the capture of the port of
the airbase at Clark Field, which were required to support future
operations. He urged his commanders on. On 25 January 1945, he
moved his advanced headquarters forward to Hacienda Luisita, closer to
the front than Krueger's. He ordered the 1st Cavalry Division to
conduct a rapid advance on Manila. It reached the northern outskirts
Manila on 3 February, but, unknown to the Americans, Rear
Sanji Iwabuchi had decided to defend
Manila to the death. The
Manila raged for the next three weeks. To spare the
civilian population, MacArthur prohibited the use of air strikes,
but thousands of civilians died in the crossfire or Japanese
massacres. He also refused to restrict the traffic of civilians
who clogged the roads in and out of Manila, placing humanitarian
concerns above military ones except in emergencies. For his part
in the capture of Manila, MacArthur was awarded his third
Distinguished Service Cross.
After taking Manila, MacArthur installed one of his Filipino friends,
Manuel Roxas—who also happened to be one of the few people who knew
about the huge sum of money Quezon had given MacArthur in 1942—into
a position of power that ensured Roxas was to become the next Filipino
president. Roxas had been a leading Japanese collaborator serving
in the puppet government of José Laurel, but MacArthur claimed that
Roxas had secretly been an American agent all the long. About
MacArthur's claim that Roxas was really part of the resistance, the
Gerhard Weinberg wrote that "...evidence to this
effect has yet to surface", and that by favoring the Japanese
collaborator Roxas, MacArthur ensured there was no serious effort to
address the issue of Filipino collaboration with the Japanese after
After the Battle of Manila, MacArthur turned his attention to
Yamashita, who had retreated into the mountains of central and
northern Luzon. Yamashita chose to fight a defensive campaign,
being pushed back slowly by Krueger, and was still holding out at the
time the war ended, much to MacArthur's intense annoyance as he had
wished to liberate the entire
Philippines before the war ended.
On 2 September 1945, Yamashita (who had a hard time believing that the
Emperor had ordered Japan to sign an armistice) came down from the
mountains to surrender with some 100,000 of his men.
MacArthur signs Japanese surrender instrument aboard USS Missouri.
American General Jonathan Wainwright and British General Arthur
Percival stand behind him.
Although MacArthur had no specific directive to do so, and the
Luzon was far from over, he committed his forces to
liberate the remainder of the Philippines. In the GHQ communiqué
on 5 July, he announced that the
Philippines had been liberated and
all operations ended, although Yamashita still held out in northern
Luzon. Starting in May 1945, MacArthur used his Australian troops
in the invasion of Borneo. He accompanied the assault on Labuan, and
visited the troops ashore. While returning to GHQ in Manila, he
visited Davao, where he told Eichelberger that no more than 4,000
Japanese remained alive on Mindanao. A few months later, six times
that number surrendered. In July 1945, he was awarded his fourth
Distinguished Service Medal.
As part of preparations for Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan,
MacArthur became commander in chief U.S. Army Forces Pacific (AFPAC)
in April 1945, assuming command of all Army and Army Air Force units
in the Pacific except the Twentieth Air Force. At the same time,
Nimitz became commander of all naval forces. Command in the Pacific
therefore remained divided. During his planning of the invasion
of Japan, MacArthur stressed to the decision-makers in Washington that
it was essential to have the Soviet Union enter the war as he argued
it was crucial to have the Red Army tie down the Kwantung army in
Manchuria. The invasion was pre-empted by the surrender of Japan
in August 1945. On 2 September MacArthur accepted the formal Japanese
surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri, thus ending
hostilities in World War II. In recognition of his role as a
maritime strategist, the U.S. Navy awarded him the Navy Distinguished
Occupation of Japan
Further information: Occupation of Japan
Protecting the Emperor
On 29 August 1945, MacArthur was ordered to exercise authority through
the Japanese government machinery, including the Emperor
Hirohito. MacArthur's headquarters was located in the Dai Ichi
Life Insurance Building in Tokyo. Unlike in Germany, where the Allies
had in May 1945 abolished the German state, the Americans chose to
allow the Japanese state to continue to exist, albeit under their
ultimate control. Unlike Germany, there was a certain partnership
between the occupiers and occupied as MacArthur decided to rule Japan
via the Emperor and most of the rest of the Japanese elite. The
Emperor was a living god to the Japanese people, and MacArthur found
that ruling via the Emperor made his job in running Japan much easier
than it otherwise would have been.
MacArthur and the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, at their first meeting,
MacArthur took the view that a few "militarist" extremists had
"hijacked" Japan starting in 1931 with the Mukden Incident, the
Emperor was a pro-Western "moderate" who had been powerless to stop
the militarists, and thus bore no responsibility for any of the war
crimes committed by the Japanese between 1931 and 1945. The
Herbert P. Bix described the relationship between
the general and the Emperor as: "the Allied commander would use the
Emperor, and the Emperor would cooperate in being used. Their
relationship became one of expediency and mutual protection, of more
political benefit to
Hirohito than to MacArthur because
more to lose–the entire panoply of symbolic, legitimizing properties
of the imperial throne".
At the same time, MacArthur undermined the imperial mystique when his
staff released the famous picture of his first meeting with the
Emperor, the impact of which on the Japanese public was electric as
the Japanese people for the first time saw the Emperor as a mere man
overshadowed by the much taller MacArthur instead of the living god he
had always been portrayed as. Up to 1945, the Emperor had been a
remote, mysterious figure to his people, rarely seen in public and
always silent, whose photographs were always taken from a certain
angle to make him look taller and more impressive than he really was.
No Japanese photographer would have taken such a photo of the Emperor
being overshadowed by MacArthur. The Japanese government immediately
banned the photo of the Emperor with MacArthur on the grounds that it
damaged the imperial mystique, but MacArthur rescinded the ban and
ordered all of the Japanese newspapers to print it. The photo was
intended as a message to the Emperor about who was going to be the
senior partner in their relationship.
As he needed the Emperor, MacArthur protected him from any effort to
hold accountable for his actions, and allowed him to issue statements
that incorrectly portrayed the emerging democratic post-war era as a
continuation of the Meiji era reforms. MacArthur did not allow
any investigations of the Emperor, and instead in October 1945 ordered
his staff "in the interests of peaceful occupation and rehabilitation
of Japan, prevention of revolution and communism, all facts
surrounding the execution of the declaration of war and subsequent
position of the Emperor which tend to show fraud, menace or duress be
marshalled". In January 1946, MacArthur reported to Washington
that the Emperor could not be indicted for war crimes on the grounds:
His indictment will unquestionably cause a tremendous convulsion among
the Japanese people, the repercussions of which cannot be
overestimated. He is a symbol which unites all Japanese. Destroy him
and the nation will disintegrate...It is quite possible that a million
troops would be required which would have to be maintained for an
indefinite number of years.
To protect the Emperor from being indicted, MacArthur had one of his
staff, Brigadier General
Bonner Fellers tell the genrō Admiral
Mitsumasa Yonai on 6 March 1946:
To counter this situation, it would be most convenient if the Japanese
side could prove to us that the Emperor is completely blameless. I
think the forthcoming trials offer the best opportunity to do that.
Tojo, in particular should be made to bear all responsibility at his
trial. I want you to have Tojo say as follows: "At the imperial
conference prior to the start of the war, I already decided to push
for war even if his majesty the emperor was against going to war with
the United States."
From the viewpoint of both sides, having one especially evil figure in
the form of General Hideki Tojo, on whom everything that went wrong
could be blamed, was most politically convenient. At a second
meeting on 22 March 1946, Fellers told Admiral Yonai as recorded by
his interpreter Mizota Shuichi:
The most influential advocate of un-American thought in the United
States is Cohen (a Jew and a Communist), the top adviser to Secretary
of State Byrnes. As I told Yonai... it is extremely disadvantageous to
MacArthur's standing in the United States to put on trial the very
Emperor who is cooperating with him and facilitating the smooth
administration of the occupation. This is the reason for my request...
"I wonder whether what I said to Admiral Yonai the other day has
already been conveyed to Tojo?".
MacArthur's attempts to shield the Emperor from indictment and to have
all the blame taken by General Tojo were successful, which as Herbert
P. Bix commented, "...had a lasting and profoundly distorting impact
on the Japanese understanding of the lost war".
War crimes trials
The defendants at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials
MacArthur was responsible for confirming and enforcing the sentences
for war crimes handed down by the International Military Tribunal for
the Far East. In late 1945, Allied military commissions in
various cities of the Orient tried 5,700 Japanese, Taiwanese and
Koreans for war crimes. About 4,300 were convicted, almost 1,000
sentenced to death, and hundreds given life imprisonment. The charges
arose from incidents that included the Rape of Nanking, the Bataan
Death March and
Manila massacre. The trial in
Manila of Yamashita
was criticized because he was hanged for Iwabuchi's
which he had not ordered and of which he was probably unaware.
Iwabuchi had killed himself as the battle for
Manila was ending.
MacArthur gave immunity to
Shiro Ishii and other members of the
bacteriological research units in exchange for germ warfare data based
on human experimentation. He also exempted the Emperor and all
members of the imperial family implicated in war crimes, including
Princes such as Chichibu, Asaka, Takeda, Higashikuni and Fushimi, from
criminal prosecutions. MacArthur confirmed that the emperor's
abdication would not be necessary. In doing so, he ignored the
advice of many members of the imperial family and Japanese
intellectuals who publicly called for the abdication of the Emperor
and the implementation of a regency.
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Japan, MacArthur
and his staff helped Japan rebuild itself, eradicate militarism and
ultra-nationalism, promote political civil liberties, institute
democratic government, and chart a new course that ultimately made
Japan one of the world's leading industrial powers. The U.S. was
firmly in control of Japan to oversee its reconstruction, and
MacArthur was effectively the interim leader of Japan from 1945 until
1948. In 1946, MacArthur's staff drafted a new constitution that
renounced war and stripped the Emperor of his military authority. The
constitution—which became effective on 3 May 1947—instituted a
parliamentary system of government, under which the Emperor acted only
on the advice of his ministers. It included the famous Article 9,
which outlawed belligerency as an instrument of state policy and the
maintenance of a standing army. The constitution also enfranchised
women, guaranteed fundamental human rights, outlawed racial
discrimination, strengthened the powers of Parliament and the Cabinet,
and decentralized the police and local government.
A major land reform was also conducted, led by
Wolf Ladejinsky of
MacArthur's SCAP staff. Between 1947 and 1949, approximately 4,700,000
acres (1,900,000 ha), or 38% of Japan's cultivated land, was
purchased from the landlords under the government's reform program,
and 4,600,000 acres (1,860,000 ha) was resold to the farmers who
worked them. By 1950, 89% of all agricultural land was owner-operated
and only 11% was tenant-operated. MacArthur's efforts to
encourage trade union membership met with phenomenal success, and by
1947, 48% of the non-agricultural workforce was unionized. Some of
MacArthur's reforms were rescinded in 1948 when his unilateral control
of Japan was ended by the increased involvement of the State
Department. During the Occupation, SCAP successfully, if not
entirely, abolished many of the financial coalitions known as the
Zaibatsu, which had previously monopolized industry. Eventually,
looser industrial groupings known as
Keiretsu evolved. The reforms
alarmed many in the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, who
believed they conflicted with the prospect of Japan and its industrial
capacity as a bulwark against the spread of communism in Asia.
In 1948, MacArthur made a bid to win the Republican nomination to be
the GOP candidate for president, which was the most serious of several
efforts he made over the years. MacArthur's status as one of
America's most popular war heroes together with his reputation as the
statesman who had "transformed" Japan gave him a strong basis for
running for president, but MacArthur's lack of connections within the
GOP were a major handicap. MacArthur's strongest supporters came
from the quasi-isolationist, Midwestern wing of the Republicans and
embraced men such as Brigadier General Hanford MacNider, Philip La
Follette, and Brigadier General Robert E. Wood, a diverse collection
of "Old Right" and Progressive Republicans only united by a belief
that the U.S. was too much involved in Europe for its own good.
MacArthur declined to campaign for the presidency himself, but he
privately encouraged his supporters to put his name on the
ballot. MacArthur had always stated he would retire when a peace
treaty was signed with Japan, and his push in the fall of 1947 to have
the U.S sign a peace treaty with Japan was intended to allow him to
retire on a high note, and thus campaign for the presidency. For the
same reasons, Truman subverted MacArthur's efforts to have peace
treaty signed in 1947, saying that more time was needed before the U.S
could formally make peace with Japan.
Without a peace treaty, MacArthur decided not to resign while at the
same time writing letters to Wood saying he would be more than happy
to accept the Republican nomination if it were offered to him. In
late 1947 and early 1948, MacArthur received several Republican
grandees in Tokyo. On 9 March 1948 MacArthur issued a press
statement declaring his interest in being the Republican candidate for
president, saying he would be honored if the Republican Party were to
nominate him, but would not resign from the Army to campaign for the
presidency. The press statement had been forced by Wood, who told
MacArthur that it was impossible to campaign for a man who was not
officially running for president, and that MacArthur could either
declare his candidacy or see Wood cease campaigning for him.
MacArthur's supporters made a major effort to win the Wisconsin
Republican primary held on 6 April 1948. MacArthur's refusal to
campaign badly hurt his chances and it was won to everybody's surprise
by Harold Stassen. The defeat in Wisconsin followed by defeat in
Nebraska effectively ended MacArthur's chances of winning the
Republican nomination, but MacArthur refused to withdraw his name
1948 Republican National Convention
1948 Republican National Convention which was won by
Thomas Dewey of New York.
In an address to Congress on 19 April 1951, MacArthur declared:
The Japanese people since the war have undergone the greatest
reformation recorded in modern history. With a commendable will,
eagerness to learn, and marked capacity to understand, they have from
the ashes left in war's wake erected in Japan an edifice dedicated to
the supremacy of individual liberty and personal dignity, and in the
ensuing process there has been created a truly representative
government committed to the advance of political morality, freedom of
economic enterprise, and social justice.
MacArthur handed over power to the Japanese government in 1949, but
remained in Japan until relieved by President
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman on 11
April 1951. The San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on 8 September
1951, marked the end of the Allied occupation, and when it went into
effect on 28 April 1952, Japan was once again an independent
state. The Japanese subsequently gave him the nickname Gaijin
Shogun ("foreign military ruler") but not until around the time of his
death in 1964.
Further information: Korean War
South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu
On 25 June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, starting the Korean
United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 82,
which authorized a United Nations (UN) force to assist South
Korea. The UN empowered the American government to select a
commander, and the
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended
MacArthur. He therefore became Commander-in-Chief of the United
Nations Command (UNCOM), while remaining SCAP in Japan and Commander
of the USAFFE. All South Korean forces were also placed under his
command. As they retreated before the North Korean onslaught,
MacArthur received permission to commit U.S. ground forces. All the
first units to arrive could do was trade men and ground for time,
falling back to the Pusan Perimeter. By the end of August, the
crisis subsided. North Korean attacks on the perimeter had tapered
off. While the North Korean force numbered 88,000 troops, Lieutenant
General Walton Walker's Eighth Army now numbered 180,000, and he had
more tanks and artillery pieces.
MacArthur observes the naval shelling of Inchon from USS Mount
McKinley, 15 September 1950 with Brigadier General Courtney Whitney
(left) and Major General
Edward M. Almond
Edward M. Almond (right).
In 1949, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General of the
Army Omar Bradley, had predicted that "large scale combined amphibious
operations ... will never occur again", but by July 1950,
MacArthur was planning just such an operation. MacArthur compared
his plan with that of General
James Wolfe at the Battle of the Plains
of Abraham, and brushed aside the problems of tides, hydrography and
terrain. In September, despite lingering concerns from superiors,
MacArthur's soldiers and marines made a successful landing at Inchon,
deep behind North Korean lines. Launched with naval and close air
support, the landing outflanked the North Koreans, recaptured Seoul
and forced them to retreat northward in disarray. Visiting the
battlefield on 17 September, MacArthur surveyed six
T-34 tanks that
had been knocked out by Marines, ignoring sniper fire around him,
except to note that the North Korean marksmen were poorly
On 11 September, Truman issued orders for an advance beyond the 38th
parallel into North Korea. MacArthur now planned another amphibious
Wonsan on the east coast, but it fell to South Korean
troops before the 1st Marine Division could reach it by sea. In
October, MacArthur met with Truman at the Wake Island Conference, with
Truman emulating Roosevelt's wartime meeting with MacArthur in
Hawaii. The president awarded MacArthur his fifth Distinguished
Service Medal. Briefly questioned about the Chinese threat,
MacArthur dismissed it, saying that he hoped to be able to withdraw
the Eighth Army to Japan by Christmas, and to release a division for
service in Europe in January. He regarded the possibility of Soviet
intervention as a more serious threat.
A month later, things had changed. The enemy were engaged by the UN
forces at the
Battle of Unsan
Battle of Unsan in late October, which demonstrated the
presence of Chinese soldiers in Korea and rendered significant losses
to the American and other UN troops. Nevertheless, Willoughby
downplayed the evidence about Chinese intervention in the war. He
estimated that up to 71,000 Chinese soldiers were in the country,
while the true number was closer to 300,000. He was not alone in
this miscalculation. On 24 November, the Central Intelligence Agency
reported to Truman that while there could be as many as 200,000
Chinese troops in Korea, "there is no evidence that the Chinese
Communists plan major offensive operations."
That day, MacArthur flew to Walker's headquarters and he later wrote:
For five hours I toured the front lines. In talking to a group of
officers I told them of General Bradley's desire and hope to have two
divisions home by Christmas ... What I had seen at the front line
worried me greatly. The R.O.K. troops were not yet in good shape, and
the entire line was deplorably weak in numbers. If the Chinese were
actually in heavy force, I decided I would withdraw our troops and
abandon any attempt to move north. I decided to reconnoiter and try to
see with my own eyes, and interpret with my own long experience what
was going on ...
MacArthur flew over the front line himself in his Douglas C-54
Skymaster but saw no signs of a Chinese build up and therefore decided
to wait before ordering an advance or withdrawal. Evidence of the
Chinese activity was hidden to MacArthur: the Chinese Army traveled at
night and dug in during the day. For his reconnaissance efforts,
MacArthur was nonetheless awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and
honorary combat pilot's wings.
The next day, 25 November 1950, Walker's Eighth Army was attacked by
the Chinese Army and soon the UN forces were in retreat. MacArthur
provided the Chief of Staff, General
J. Lawton Collins
J. Lawton Collins with a series
of nine successive withdrawal lines. On 23 December, Walker was
killed when his jeep collided with a truck, and was replaced by
Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway, whom MacArthur had selected in
case of such an eventuality. Ridgway noted that MacArthur's
"prestige, which had gained an extraordinary luster after Inch'on, was
badly tarnished. His credibility suffered in the unforeseen outcome of
the November offensive ..."
Collins discussed the possible use of nuclear weapons in Korea with
MacArthur in December, and later asked him for a list of targets in
the Soviet Union in case it entered the war. MacArthur testified
before the Congress in 1951 that he had never recommended the use of
nuclear weapons. He did at one point consider a plan to cut off North
Korea with radioactive poisons; he did not recommend it at the time,
although he later broached the matter with Eisenhower, then
president-elect, in 1952. In 1954, in an interview published after his
death, he stated he had wanted to drop atomic bombs on enemy bases,
but in 1960, he challenged a statement by Truman that he had advocated
using atomic bombs. Truman issued a retraction, stating that he had no
evidence of the claim; it was merely his personal
In April 1951, the
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff drafted orders for MacArthur
authorizing nuclear attacks on Manchuria and the
Shantung Peninsula if
the Chinese launched airstrikes originating from there against his
forces. The next day Truman met with the chairman of the United
States Atomic Energy Commission, Gordon Dean, and arranged for
the transfer of nine Mark 4 nuclear bombs to military control.
Dean was apprehensive about delegating the decision on how they should
be used to MacArthur, who lacked expert technical knowledge of the
weapons and their effects. The Joint Chiefs were not entirely
comfortable about giving them to MacArthur either, for fear that he
might prematurely carry out his orders. Instead, they decided
that the nuclear strike force would report to the Strategic Air
Removal from command
Main article: President Truman's relief of General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur (rear), Jean MacArthur, and son Arthur MacArthur IV
returning to the
Philippines for a visit in 1950.
Within weeks of the Chinese attack, MacArthur was forced to retreat
from North Korea.
Seoul fell in January 1951, and both Truman and
MacArthur were forced to contemplate the prospect of abandoning Korea
entirely. European countries did not share MacArthur's world
view, distrusted his judgment, and were afraid that he might use his
stature and influence with the American public to re-focus American
policy away from Europe and towards Asia. They were concerned that
this might lead to a major war with China, possibly involving nuclear
weapons. Since in February 1950 the Soviet Union and China had
signed a defensive alliance committing each to go to war if the other
party was attacked, the possibility that an American attack on China
would cause World War III was considered to be very real at the time.
In a visit to the United States in December 1950, the British prime
minister, Clement Attlee, had raised the fears of the British and
other European governments that "General MacArthur was running the
Under Ridgway's command, the Eighth Army pressed north again in
January. He inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese, recaptured
Seoul in March 1951, and pushed on to the 38th Parallel. With the
improved military situation, Truman now saw the opportunity to offer a
negotiated peace but, on 24 March, MacArthur called upon China to
admit that it had been defeated, simultaneously challenging both the
Chinese and his own superiors. Truman's proposed announcement was
On 5 April, Representative Joseph William Martin, Jr., the Republican
leader in the House of Representatives, read aloud on the floor of the
House a letter from MacArthur critical of Truman's Europe-first policy
and limited-war strategy. The letter concluded with:
It seems strangely difficult for some to realize that here in Asia is
where the communist conspirators have elected to make their play for
global conquest, and that we have joined the issue thus raised on the
battlefield; that here we fight Europe's war with arms while the
diplomats there still fight it with words; that if we lose the war to
communism in Asia the fall of Europe is inevitable, win it and Europe
most probably would avoid war and yet preserve freedom. As you pointed
out, we must win. There is no substitute for victory.
In March 1951 secret United States intercepts of diplomatic dispatches
disclosed clandestine conversations in which General MacArthur
expressed confidence to the Tokyo embassies of Spain and Portugal that
he would succeed in expanding the
Korean War into a full-scale
conflict with the Chinese Communists. When the intercepts came to the
attention of President Truman, he was enraged to learn that MacArthur
was not only trying to increase public support for his position on
conducting the war, but had secretly informed foreign governments that
he planned to initiate actions that were counter to United States
policy. The President was unable to act immediately since he could not
afford to reveal the existence of the intercepts and because of
MacArthur's popularity with the public and political support in
Congress. However, following the release on April 5 by Representative
Martin of MacArthur's letter, Truman concluded he could relieve
MacArthur of his commands without incurring unacceptable political
Truman summoned Secretary of Defense George Marshall, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs Omar Bradley, Secretary of State
Dean Acheson and Averell
Harriman to discuss what to do about MacArthur. They concurred
MacArthur should be relieved of his command, but made no
recommendation to do so. Although they felt that it was correct "from
a purely military point of view", they were aware that there were
important political considerations as well. Truman and Acheson
agreed that MacArthur was insubordinate, but the Joint Chiefs avoided
any suggestion of this. Insubordination was a military offense,
and MacArthur could have requested a public court martial similar to
that of Billy Mitchell. The outcome of such a trial was uncertain, and
it might well have found him not guilty and ordered his
reinstatement. The Joint Chiefs agreed that there was "little
evidence that General MacArthur had ever failed to carry out a direct
order of the Joint Chiefs, or acted in opposition to an order." "In
point of fact", Bradley insisted, "MacArthur had stretched but not
legally violated any JCS directives. He had violated the President's 6
December directive [not to make public statements on policy matters],
relayed to him by the JCS, but this did not constitute violation of a
JCS order." Truman ordered MacArthur's relief by Ridgway, and the
order went out on 10 April with Bradley's signature.
In a 3 December 1973 article in Time magazine, Truman was quoted as
saying in the early 1960s:
I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the
President. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch,
although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it
was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.
The relief of the famous general by the unpopular politician for
communicating with Congress led to a constitutional crisis, and a
storm of public controversy. Polls showed that the majority of the
public disapproved of the decision to relieve MacArthur. By
February 1952, almost nine months later, Truman's approval rating had
fallen to 22 percent. As of 2014[update], that remains the lowest
Gallup Poll approval rating recorded by any serving
president. As the increasingly unpopular war in Korea
dragged on, Truman's administration was beset with a series of
corruption scandals, and he eventually decided not to run for
re-election. Beginning on 3 May 1951, a Joint Senate
Committee—chaired by Democrat Richard Russell, Jr.—investigated
MacArthur's removal. It concluded that "the removal of General
MacArthur was within the constitutional powers of the President but
the circumstances were a shock to national pride."
A euphoric ticker-tape parade for MacArthur took place in Chicago on
26 April 1951. MacArthur is in the second car.
MacArthur speaking at
Soldier Field in Chicago in 1951
Closing words of MacArthur's final address to a joint session of
A day after his arrival in San Francisco from Korea on 18 April 1951,
MacArthur had flown with his family to Washington, D.C. where he was
scheduled to address a joint session of Congress. It was his and
Jean's first visit to the continental United States since 1937, when
they had been married; Arthur IV, now aged 13, had never been to the
U.S. And, on April 19, 1951, MacArthur made his last official
appearance in a farewell address to the U.S. Congress presenting and
defending his side of his disagreement with Truman over the conduct of
the Korean War. During his speech, he was interrupted by fifty
ovations. MacArthur ended the address saying:
I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army,
even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of
my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since
I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams
have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of
the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most
proudly that "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military
career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as
God gave him the light to see that duty.
MacArthur received public adulation, which aroused expectations that
he would run for president, but he was not a candidate. MacArthur
carried out a speaking tour in 1951–52 attacking the Truman
administration for "appeasement in Asia" and for mismanaging the
economy. Initially attracting large crowds, by early 1952
MacArthur's speeches were attracting smaller and smaller numbers of
people as many complained that MacArthur seemed more interested in
settling scores with Truman and praising himself than in offering up a
constructive vision for the nation. MacArthur felt uncomfortable
campaigning for the Republican nomination, and hoped that at the
Republican convention, a deadlock would ensue between Senator Robert
Taft and General Eisenhower, which would end with the GOP nominating
him as the best compromise. MacArthur's unwillingness to campaign
for the presidency seriously hurt his ability to win the nomination.
In the end, MacArthur endorsed Senator Robert A. Taft, and was keynote
speaker at the 1952 Republican National Convention. Taft lost the
nomination to Eisenhower, who went on to win the 1952 election by a
landslide. Once elected, Eisenhower consulted with MacArthur
about ending the war in Korea.
Douglas MacArthur Memorial
Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia. The statue is a
duplicate of the one at West Point. The base houses a time capsule
which contains various MacArthur, Norfolk and MacArthur Foundation
Jean MacArthur spent their last years together in the
penthouse of the Waldorf Towers, a part of the Waldorf-Astoria
Hotel. He was elected chairman of the board of Remington Rand. In
that year, he earned a salary of $68,000 (equivalent to $612,000 in
2016), in addition to $20,000 pay and allowances as a General of the
Army. The Waldorf became the setting for an annual birthday party
on 26 January thrown by the general's former deputy chief engineer,
Major General Leif J. Sverdrup. At the 1960 celebration for
MacArthur's 80th birthday, many of his friends were startled by the
general's obviously deteriorating health. The next day, he collapsed
and was rushed into surgery at St. Luke's Hospital to control a
severely swollen prostate.
After his recovery, MacArthur methodically began to carry out the
closing acts of his life. He visited the White House for a final
reunion with Eisenhower. In 1961, he made a "sentimental journey" to
the Philippines, where he was decorated by President Carlos P. Garcia
with the Philippine Legion of Honor. MacArthur also accepted a
$900,000 (equivalent to $7.25 million in 2016) advance from Henry Luce
for the rights to his memoirs, and wrote the volume that would
eventually be published as Reminiscences. Sections began to
appear in serialized form in
Life magazine in the months before his
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy solicited MacArthur's counsel in 1961. The
first of two meetings was held shortly after the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
MacArthur was extremely critical of the military advice given to
Kennedy, and cautioned the young President to avoid a U.S. military
build-up in Vietnam, pointing out that domestic problems should be
given a much greater priority. Shortly before his death,
MacArthur gave similar advice to President Lyndon B. Johnson.
In 1962, West Point honored the increasingly frail MacArthur with the
Sylvanus Thayer Award for outstanding service to the nation, which had
gone to Eisenhower the year before. MacArthur's speech to the cadets
in accepting the award had as its theme "Duty, Honor, Country":
The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of
old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through
the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous
beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of
yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching
melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long
roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of
musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the
evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point. Always there
echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country. Today marks my final roll
call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my
last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The
Corps. I bid you farewell.
In 1963, President Kennedy asked MacArthur to help mediate a dispute
National Collegiate Athletic Association
National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Amateur
Athletic Union over control of amateur sports in the country. The
dispute threatened to derail the participation of the United States in
the 1964 Summer Olympics. His presence helped to broker a deal, and
participation in the games went on as planned.
Death and legacy
MacArthur's sarcophagus at the
MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk
Douglas MacArthur died at
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Walter Reed Army Medical Center on 5 April
1964, of biliary cirrhosis. Kennedy had authorized a state
funeral before his own death in 1963, and Johnson confirmed the
directive, ordering that MacArthur be buried "with all the honor a
grateful nation can bestow on a departed hero." On 7 April his
body was taken to New York City, where it lay in an open casket at the
Seventh Regiment Armory
Seventh Regiment Armory for about 12 hours. That night it was
taken on a funeral train to Union Station and transported by a funeral
procession to the Capitol, where it lay in state. An estimated 150,000
people filed by the bier.
MacArthur had requested to be buried in Norfolk, Virginia, where his
mother had been born and where his parents had married. Accordingly,
on 11 April, his funeral service was held in St Paul's Episcopal
Church in Norfolk and his body was finally laid to rest in the rotunda
Douglas MacArthur Memorial
Douglas MacArthur Memorial (the former
Norfolk City Hall
Norfolk City Hall and
In 1960, the mayor of Norfolk had proposed using funds raised by
public contribution to remodel the old
Norfolk City Hall
Norfolk City Hall as a memorial
to General MacArthur and as a repository for his papers, decorations,
and mementos he had accepted. Restored and remodeled, the MacArthur
Memorial contains nine museum galleries whose contents reflect the
general's 50 years of military service. At the heart of the memorial
is a rotunda. In its center lies a sunken circular crypt with two
marble sarcophagi, one for MacArthur, the other for Jean, who
continued to live in the Waldorf Towers until her own death in
MacArthur Chambers in Brisbane, Australia, hosts the MacArthur
Museum on the 8th floor where MacArthur had his office.
MacArthur commemorative postage stamp
MacArthur has a contested legacy. In the
Philippines in 1942, he
suffered a defeat that
Gavin Long described as "the greatest in the
history of American foreign wars." Despite this, "in a fragile
period of the American psyche when the general American public, still
stunned by the shock of Pearl Harbor and uncertain what lay ahead in
Europe, desperately needed a hero, they wholeheartedly embraced
Douglas MacArthur—good press copy that he was. There simply were no
other choices that came close to matching his mystique, not to mention
his evocative lone-wolf stand—something that has always resonated
MacArthur's concept of the role of the soldier as encompassing a broad
spectrum of roles that included civil affairs, quelling riots and
low-level conflict, was dismissed by the majority of officers who had
fought in Europe during World War II, and afterwards saw the Army's
role as fighting the Soviet Union. Unlike them, in his victories
New Guinea in 1944, the
Philippines in 1945 and Korea in 1950, he
fought outnumbered, and relied on maneuver and surprise for
success. The American Sinologist John Fairbank called MacArthur
"our greatest soldier".
On the other hand, Truman once remarked that he did not understand how
US Army could "produce men such as Robert E. Lee, John J.
Pershing, Eisenhower and Bradley and at the same time produce Custers,
Pattons and MacArthur." His relief of MacArthur cast a long
shadow over American civil-military relations for decades. When Lyndon
Johnson met with
William Westmoreland in Honolulu in 1966, he told
him: "General, I have a lot riding on you. I hope you don't pull a
MacArthur on me." MacArthur's relief "left a lasting current of
popular sentiment that in matters of war and peace, the military
really knows best", a philosophy which became known as
MacArthur remains a controversial and enigmatic figure. He has been
portrayed as a reactionary, although he was in many respects ahead of
his time. He championed a progressive approach to the reconstruction
of Japanese society, arguing that all occupations ultimately ended
badly for the occupier and the occupied. He was often out of step with
his contemporaries, such as in 1941 when he contended that Nazi
Germany could not defeat the Soviet Union, when he argued that North
Korea and China were no mere Soviet puppets, and throughout his career
in his insistence that the future lay in the Far East. As such,
MacArthur implicitly rejected White American contemporary notions of
their own racial superiority. He always treated Filipino and Japanese
leaders with respect as equals. At the same time, his Victorian
sensibilities recoiled at leveling
Manila with aerial bombing, an
attitude the hardened World War II generation regarded as old
fashioned. When asked about MacArthur, Field Marshal Sir Thomas
Blamey once said that "The best and the worst things you hear about
him are both true."
Honors and awards
Main article: Service summary of Douglas MacArthur
For a more comprehensive list, see List of places named for Douglas
West entrance of the
MacArthur Tunnel in San Francisco, California
During his lifetime, MacArthur earned over 100 military decorations
from the U.S. and other countries including the Medal of Honor, the
Légion d'honneur and Croix de guerre, the Order of the Crown
of Italy, the
Order of Orange-Nassau
Order of Orange-Nassau from the Netherlands, the
Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the
Order of the Bath
Order of the Bath from Australia,
and the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers, Grand Cordon
MacArthur was enormously popular with the American public. Streets,
public works, and children were named after him. Even a dance step was
named after him. In 1955, his promotion to General of the Armies
was proposed in Congress, but the proposal was shelved.
Since 1987 the General
Douglas MacArthur Leadership Awards are
presented annually by the
United States Army
United States Army on behalf of the General
Douglas MacArthur Foundation to recognize company grade officers
(lieutenants and captains) and junior warrant officers (warrant
officer one and chief warrant officer two) who have demonstrated the
attributes of "duty, honor, country" in their professional lives and
in service to their communities.
Douglas MacArthur Foundation presents the MacArthur Cadet
Awards in recognition of outstanding cadets within the Association of
Military Colleges and Schools of the United States. The MacArthur
Award is presented annually to seniors at these military schools. The
award is designed to encourage cadets to emulate the leadership
qualities shown by General Douglas MacArthur, as a student at West
Texas Military Institute and the U.S. Military Academy. Approximately
40 schools are authorized to provide the award to its top cadet each
The MacArthur Leadership Award at the Royal Military College of Canada
Kingston, Ontario is awarded to the graduating officer cadet who
demonstrates outstanding leadership performance based on the credo of
Duty-Honor-Country and potential for future military service.
In popular culture
Several actors have portrayed MacArthur on-screen.
Dayton Lummis in The Court-Martial of
Billy Mitchell (1955)
Henry Fonda in the television movie Collision Course: Truman vs.
Gregory Peck in MacArthur (1977)
Laurence Olivier in Inchon (1981)
Daniel von Bargen in Truman (1995)
Robert Dawson in The Sun (2005)
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones in Emperor (2012)
Liam Neeson in Operation Chromite (2016)
Michael Ironside in Tokyo Trial (2016)
In music, the 1951 song "Old Soldiers Never Die" by Bing Crosby
and by baritone singer
Vaughan Monroe is named after the speech by
MacArthur, and he is mentioned by name in the song.
MacArthur, Douglas (1942). Waldrop, Frank C, ed. MacArthur on War. New
York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce. OCLC 1163286.
—— (1952). Revitalizing a Nation; a Statement of Beliefs,
Opinions, and Policies Embodied in the Public Pronouncements of
Douglas MacArthur. Chicago: Heritage Foundation.
—— (1964). Reminiscences. New York: McGraw-Hill.
—— (1965). Whan Jr, Vorin E, ed. A Soldier Speaks; Public Papers
and Speeches of General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur. New York:
Praeger. OCLC 456849.
—— (1965). Courage was the Rule: General Douglas MacArthur's Own
Story (Juvenile audience) (Abridged ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
—— (1965). Duty, Honor, Country; a Pictorial Autobiography (1st
ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. OCLC 1342695.
—— (1966). Willoughby, Charles A, ed. Reports of General MacArthur
(4 Volumes). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
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^ "MacArthur Statue". MacArthur Memorial. April 2009. Retrieved 10
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^ Long 1969, p. 227.
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^ Senate Joint Resolution 26, 21 January 1955
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of the Ravenna, Nebraska Area. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse.
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Philosophical Investigation of The Virtues And Vices of General
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Historiography and Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Connecticut:
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New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-7351-0354-2.
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Remaking of Japan, 1945–1952. American Diplomatic History. Kent,
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Japanese During the American Occupation. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman
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an American Hero. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-83419-7.
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Government in Germany and Japan, 1944–1952. Carbondale, Illinois:
Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-1115-6.
Works by or about
Douglas MacArthur at Internet Archive
"Douglas MacArthur". Hall of Valor. Military Times.
"The MacArthur Memorial".
"The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History". City of Little
"Obituary: Commander of Armies That Turned Back Japan Led a Brigade in
World War I". New York Times. 6 April 1964.
"MacArthur". PBS. Archived from the original on 18 February
"Douglas MacArthur". History.
The short film Big Picture: The
Douglas MacArthur Story is available
for free download at the Internet Archive
Truman Fires MacArthur, Aftermath: Original Letters
Senate joint resolution to authorize the appointment of General of the
Douglas MacArthur as
General of the Armies
General of the Armies of the United States
Douglas MacArthur on IMDb
FBI file on General
Douglas MacArthur at vault.fbi.gov
"MacArthur Museum Brisbane". AMP Building, Cnr of Queen and Edward
Sts, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Appearances on C-SPAN
Newspaper clippings about
Douglas MacArthur in the 20th Century Press
Archives of the
German National Library of Economics
German National Library of Economics (ZBW).
Samuel Escue Tillman
Superintendent of the United States Military Academy
Fred Winchester Sladen
Charles P. Summerall
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Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers
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Escape from the Philippines
Wake Island Conference
President Truman's relief
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Arthur MacArthur IV
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Isabel Rosario Cooper (mistress)
Arthur MacArthur Jr.
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Douglas MacArthur II
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Appointment in Tokyo
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American Caesar (biography)
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Frederic B. Pratt
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Robert M. Thompson (1912–1920)
Gustavus T. Kirby (1920–1924)
Robert M. Thompson (1924–1926)
William C. Prout (1926–1927)
Henry G. Lapham (interim 1927)
Douglas MacArthur (1927–1928)
Avery Brundage (1928–1953)
Tug Wilson (1953–1965)
Doug Roby (1965–1968)
Franklin Orth (1969–1970)
Clifford H. Buck (interim 1970, elected 1970–1973)
Philip O. Krumm (1973–1977)
Robert Kane (1977–1981)
William E. Simon
William E. Simon (1981–1985)
John B. Kelly Jr. (1985)
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Other 1944 elections: House
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Alben W. Barkley
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National Football Foundation Gold Medal winners
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Silver Anniversary Awards (NCAA) - All Honored Jim Brown, Willie
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