The U.S. would not have won World War II without the leadership of generals with adequate military skills and who were committed to the welfare of the country. So to remember the heroic acts of our brave men, this article will look at the 5 top US WW2 generals.
5 Top US WW2 Generals
George C. Marshall
George C. Marshall served the United States both in his capacity as a statesman and army officer.
He joined the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) at Lexington at age 17. He had a slow start at the military institution, but it improved over time. He took leadership courses during his training, which saw him finish the last year at the institute (1901) as the first captain of the corps of Cadets.
In his first year of service in 1902, he was commissioned as the second lieutenant of infantry after taking a competitive examination to join the United States Army. Pennsylvania’s senators and the VMI Superintendent Scott Shipp also backed his army application.
Immediately after being commissioned, he was sent to serve with the 30th infantry regiment in the Philippines-American War. During the war, he served as a platoon leader and company commander. Marshall continued to develop his skills and take military-related courses throughout his career. While still taking part in the war in the Philippines, he pursued a course in modern warfare, completed an infantry-Calvary school course in 1907, and graduated first in the Army Staff College class in 1908.
After the end of the Philippines War in 1916, he returned to the U.S. and served as aide-de-camp to General J. Franklin Bell, the commander of the Western Department. In 1917, America declared war on Germany, and he accompanied Bell to the Governor’s Island in New York to run the Department of the East. Shortly afterward, he was assigned as the commander to oversee the 1st division of service in France.
During World War I, he helped with planning, training, and operations. Later on, in 1917, he became the assistant chief of staff of operation for the 1st division. In 1918, he led the 1st Division through a remarkable victory at the Battle of Cantigny. He conducted an elaborate pre-attack plan whereby he traveled alone under the cover of darkness to view and mentally map out the terrain. In 1920, he was awarded the Citation Star for this heroic strategy.
By 1939, at the beginning of World War II, George had risen through the ranks to become the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. He oversaw massive expansion and empowerment of the U.S. Army through his experience as a trainer. He also picked and recommended the top commands for the army.
One of his key strategies for World War II was producing large numbers of soldiers. By 1942, he had grown the army fortyfold by turning civilians into soldiers. He approved the training of civilians with Army Land Forces skills, including infantry skills, combat tactics, and weapons proficiency. He also saw the raising of new divisions and the development of new equipment and weapons and was instrumental in preparing the strategy for the U.S. Army and Army Air Forces to invade Europe during World War II.
George had a quiet confidence. He had great talent and charisma in presenting his case to both civilians and soldiers and an exemplary ability to inspire his subordinates to do their best. Some people found him aloof and cold, those close to him described him as warm and passionate.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Born in 1890 in Texas, Dwight was raised in a Christian family. In high school, he excelled at sports and had a moderate interest in studies. After high school, he joined the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York.
Early in his career, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and sent to San Antonio Texas. There, he met his wife, Mamie Geneva Doud. They later had two children.
He served during World War I as a commander of a training center and was later promoted to become captain and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Between 1922 and 1924, he was deployed to the Panama Canal Zone under the leadership of Commander Brig. Gen. Fox Conner.
Conner assisted him to join the Army’s Command and General Staff School in Kansas. He graduated first in class and later joined Army War College, served in France during World War I, and wrote a guidebook of the ww1 battlefields. Later on, in 1933, he became an aide to the Army Chief Staff General Douglas MacArthur.
In 1935, he accompanied MacArthur to the Philippines to oversee the reorganization of the Commonwealth army. While there, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and also awarded the Distinguished Service Star.
He returned to the U.S. shortly after the beginning of World War II after Germany invaded Poland. In March 1941, he was promoted to the position of a full colonel and three months later to the chief of staff of the Third Army. Later, he caught the attention of the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George C. Marshall, and came on board to help plan for World War II.
In December 1943, Dwight was appointed by President Roosevelt as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II. He planned and oversaw the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch and Normandy from the Western Front between 1942-1943 and 1944-1945, respectively. After the war, he served as the Army Chief of Staff, Supreme Commander of the Nato, and the president of Columbia University. He was elected as the 34th President of the United States between 1953 and 1961. He died shortly after leaving office.
Douglas was raised in a military family and followed in his father’s footsteps. He joined the West Texas Military Academy while still in high school. After graduating, he joined the United States Military Academy in West Point and graduated top of his class in 1903.
In 1914, he led the reconnaissance mission during the United States occupation in Veracruz, which saw him nominated for the Medal of honor. He was promoted from major to colonel and later served as a Chief of Staff of the 42nd Division in 1917.
During World War I, he rose through the ranks to become the brigadier general. He also received numerous for his exemplary service, including two Distinguished Service Cross awards and seven Silver Star Awards.
After World War I, he served as a Superintendent of the U.S. Military academy in West Point between 1919 to 1922. His next assignment was in 1924 to the Philippines as a field marshal. He played an instrumental role in quelling the Philippines Scout Mutiny.
In 1925, he became the youngest major general. He continued to serve the country in different capacities, including as the president of the American Olympic Committee. In 1930, he was appointed the chief of staff of the U.S Army, and in 1935, the Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines. In 1937, he retired from the U.S Army.
However, he was called back to duty in 1941 at the height of World War II in the capacity of a Commander of the United States Army Forces in the Far East. His main role was to command the allied forces in the Southwest Pacific. Part of his strategy included driving the Japanese out of Papua.
In 1944, he returned to liberate the Philippines against the Japanese. Later that year, he was promoted to become the general of the army and overall commander of the Army Forces in the Pacific. In 1945, at the end of World War II, he accepted Japan’s surrender.
After World War II, his expertise came into play during the Korean War as he led the United Nations Command troops in Korea. He was initially successful but had a falling out with President Truman, leading to his removal from command. He returned home and later became the chairman of the Remington Rand and died in 1964 at 84 years old.
Omar was born in 1893 in Randolph County, Missouri. He started his career as a boilermaker and later joined the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was in the same class as Dwight D. Eisenhower.
After graduating in 1915, he worked as a guard in copper mines in Montana during World War I. After the war, he took up teaching back at the United States Military Academy, at West Point. He also served in other roles within the army, including in the War Department under the leadership of George Marshall. He rose through the ranks to become the commander of the United States Army Infantry School.
Omar was a senior officer in the United States Army during World War II. At the onset of the war, he oversaw the transformation of the 82nd Infantry Division into an Airborne division, the first one of its kind.
He became a first-line commander during Operation Torch under General George S. Patton. When Patton was reassigned, Bradley took over command of the Allied invasion in Sicily and II Corps in the Tunisia Campaign. He led the First United States Army in defending the Normandy Invasion and took command of the First United States Army, made up of more than 1.3 million members.
After World War II, he was appointed as the head of the Veteran Administration. In 1948, he was appointed the Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Later on, in 1949, he became the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He continued to rank highly to become the General of the United States Army in 1950. He was the last of the few army officials who were promoted to the five-star rank in the Army.
He supported President Truman in the Korean War containment and influenced the dismissal of Douglas MacArthur. He retired from active duty in the army in 1953. He continued to serve public and business areas until he died in 1981 at the age of 88 years.
Mark W. Clark
Like the rest of the generals highlighted in this article, Mark served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
He was a company commander in France during World War I at the young age of 22 years. However, he was seriously wounded during the war but recovered fully over time.
Then U.S. Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall, noticed Clark’s abilities. Marshall made him a commander of the United States Fifth Army during World War II. He later commanded the 15th Army Group in the Italy Campaign. He is best known for leading the Fifth Army in the capture of Rome in 1944.
However, this decision was quite controversial. He went against his superior officer General Sir Harold Alexander and allowed the German 10th Army to slip away while in pursuit of Rome, yet Rome was not a major threat.
In 1945, he was promoted to the rank of a four-star general. At 48, he was the youngest general ever awarded the rank. He was awarded many more medals in the course of his career, including the Distinguished Service Cross, which is the second-highest award in the U.S. Army.
He left a legacy of the Clarks Task Force – an intelligence community he founded and led between 1953 and 1955 whose task was to review all the federal intelligence activities and make recommendations. He retired in 1965 and passed on in 1984.
Top US WW2 Generals: Conclusion
Each of the above generals played a crucial role in World War II. All of them were highly skilled and experienced for the job. While their personalities differed, they were committed to ensuring that America succeeded.