|Born||26 Jan 1880|
|Died||5 Apr 1964|
|Country||United States, Philippines|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Douglas MacArthur was born into the military, literally. He was born at the Arsenal base at Little Rock, Arkansas, to Arthur MacArthur, a Medal of Honor recipient for being the Army officer who led a courageous charge up Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga in the Civil War. In 1900, Arthur MacArthur traveled to the Philippines as the US governor general of the islands, while Douglas achieved magnificent marks at West Point. In 1903 MacArthur joined the Corps of Engineers as a second lieutenant, after which he was assigned to his father as an aide until 1905. As his father's aide he observed the Japanese troops during the Russo-Japanese War, then took a tour of the Pacific Rim. Before WW1, MacArthur had also served in Central America and within the United States. He reached the rank of colonel soon after WW1, during which he served in France and earned seven Silver Stars (a record), a French Croix de Guerre, two Distinguished Service Medals, and two Purple Hearts. He was promoted to the rank of major general on 10 Nov 1918, the day before the war ended; after the war ended his rank was reverted to the peace time rank of colonel. His bravery of leading his Rainbow Division troops on the front lines earned him the comment "one of the finest and bravest officers I have ever served with" from French general Henri Gouraud.
During the inter-war years, MacArthur served at various locations in addition to becoming the youngest superintendent ever to command West Point. His methods were unorthodox in the books of the conservative West Point graduates: MacArthur was known to put on feet on his desk, allowing cadets to take cigarettes from his gold cigarette box (regulations forbade cadets from smoking), and doing away written reprimands (all reprimands were done face-to-face and without written records). However, many cadets were inspired by his unique style of leadership and his charisma. "He had a way of touching your elbow or shoulder, upping his chin with a slight jerk and crowding into his eye such a warmth of blessing", his adjutant Major William Ganoe said, "he made you feel you'd contributed a boon to the whole human race". To MacArthur, all the minor policies meant little if cadets did not learn of the soldier's honor. He noted in his memoir that
After his term at West Point was completed, seven members of the United States Congress reported enthusiastically, noting that
MacArthur was also an early advocate of mobility, predicting that aircraft, tanks, and submarines would become key weapons of the next major conflict. He reported to his superiors that the next war "is certain to be one of maneuver and movement.... The nation that does not command the air will face deadly odds. Armies and navies to operate successfully must have air cover." This would ring true as the events in WW2 unfolded roughly five years later when the German blitzkrieg rolled across the Germany-Poland border.
Among his other inter-war posts include the unusual position of being the head of the American Olympics Committee. He inspired the athletes as he had done with his soldiers in WW1. "We are here to represent the greatest country on earth", he said. "We did not come here to lose gracefully. We came here to win, and win decisively". And winning he did -- his team set 17 new records and won more victories (131 points) than the next two nations (Finland with 62 points and Germany with 59 points) combined.
In 1930, retired veterans engaged in what was dubbed the Bonus March in Washington DC, protesting for cash bonuses from Congress to ease the pressure asserted by the Great Depression. At first, the protest was rather peaceful, with the government providing tents and even unsuccessfully attempted to set up rolling kitchens (some members of Congress protested it). However, as most veterans left, the perpetrators of the March began to introduce violence. MacArthur was brought in, with his troops, to control the crowd that had grown beyond the capabilities of police. MacArthur described the need to use the Army to disperse the crowd as the result of "careful needling by the Communists" who turned the protesters into a "riotous mob". He proudly announced that the protest-turned-violent was dispersed without a single life lost and without significant bloodshed, but journalists soon dug up a story of a baby who suffocated on tear gas used by MacArthur's troops. He became a target of political attacks, some truthful and some slanderous; a poster of MacArthur in full dress uniform wielding a bloody saber at the head of a cavalry charge was circulated. His name was cleared somewhat in 1949 when John T. Pace, a former American Communist, testified before Congress that he led the communist section of the Bonus March and was given the orders to provoke riots. He told the Congress, while under oath, that he was to "use every trick to bring about bloodshed in the hopes that President Hoover would be forced to call out the army... in the hopes that this might set off the revolution." Fortunately for MacArthur, this did not damage his career. It was around this time Franklin D. Roosevelt, the future president, took notice of MacArthur's political potential. "Douglas, I think you are our best general," he said to MacArthur, "but I believe you would be our worst politician." Perhaps it was an attempt to discourage MacArthur from ever entering politics.
In 1935, in the face of a military budget cut, MacArthur once again risked his career by insulting the decision of the president to his face. Once again, his luck would prevail, and his job saved. However, the actions would not save him from building enemies in Washington DC who wanted him out, as we would see later.
On the civil front, Roosevelt was known for his New Deal programs, and MacArthur played a significant role in them. As the leader of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), he put unemployed young men to work, enrolling 275,000 recruits in less than two months, and efficiently put them to work in forests all around the country. During this time, he had Colonel George Marshall under him, in command of seventeen of the CCC camps in the South. Marshall was not among MacArthur's favorites. After Marshall's success at CCC, General John J. Pershing contacted MacArthur a personal favor to promote Marshall to the rank of brigadier general; MacArthur, instead, sent Marshall as an instructor to the Illinois National Guard. When Marshall became MacArthur's superior during WW2, their rather unpleasant personal history played a role in their working relationship.
MacArthur's mother, Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur, "Pinky", played an important role on his career. She was a source of endless inspirations for him, pushing him to ever strive to become a better person. She constantly reminded him to become a great general like his father and Robert E. Lee (Pinky was born into a southern family that supported the Confederacy during the Civil War), while she also regularly wrote to her contacts in Washington such as Pershing to "remind" them when MacArthur was due for a promotion. When MacArthur was named the Army Chief of Staff, Pinky told his son "[i]f only your father could see you now! Douglas, you're everything he wanted to be". He was the sixth man to hold such title in the history of this position.
In 1935, MacArthur retired from active service as he noted the political pressure at Washington. Upon his retirement joined his old friend Manuel Quezon, now President of Philippines, as his military adviser, taking Dwight Eisenhower as his chief aide. Even though Roosevelt viewed MacArthur as a potential political opponent, as seen by his comment to MacArthur after the Bonus March, he could not dismiss the general's abilities. Upon hearing MacArthur's departure for Manila, he told him "Douglas, if war should suddenly come, don't wait for orders to come home. Grab the first transportation you can find. I want you to command my armies".
During the time in Manila, MacArthur was on the payroll of the Commonwealth of Philippines and not the United States, but he maintained contact with US Army leaders in Washington. Quezon bestowed upon him the title of Field Marshal of his poorly equipped Filipino Army, a title that no American prior or since had ever held. He modeled the Filipino Army after the Swiss citizen-soldier system of conscription that trained 4,000 soldiers yearly in 128 camps, with both numbers increasing annually. He estimated that it would take at least ten years to develop a force capable of deterring foreign aggression on the Philippines; he knew it would not have enough time, but he did not imagine that the Japanese offensive would arrive so quickly. For his efforts of developing the Filipino Army, he was criticized both in the United States as well as in the Philippines as warmongering. In an attempt to clear MacArthur's name, Quezon stress publicly that "[t]he purpose of the plan is to prevent war. Its object is peace without battle." On 27 Jul 1941, Marshall reactivated MacArthur from the United States Army retired list and named him the United States Army Forces in the Far East with headquarters in Manila, with a rank of lieutenant general (MacArthur's rank in retirement was that of a full general, so strangely it was actually a demotion of sorts). It was a last ditch effort to bolster defenses in the Far East, and it was too little and too late.
At the onset of WW2, MacArthur's Filipino Army boasted twelve trained divisions, but the Japanese invasion in Dec 1941 still proved to be too much for this young army to manage. Despite hours of warning (after the Pearl Harbor attack), MacArthur failed to place his aircraft in the sky, resulting in a bulk of his planes, including a large B-17 bomber force, destroyed on the ground. Perhaps an even greater fault he committed was the failure to stockpile food, ammunition, and medical supplies on the Bataan Peninsula. For some time now, the plan dubbed "Rainbow 5" had been in place, detailing that in case of hostilities against Philippines, the defensive forces were to retreat to Bataan, fighting a defensive battle while waiting for the arrival of the United States Navy. With this plan in place prior to the Japanese offensive, MacArthur should have been sending supplies to Bataan according to plan, but that had not been done. That process did not begin until after the Japanese arrived; although he noted the awesome sight of "endless columns of motor transportation" that moved supplies to Bataan "[d]ay and night", it was too late.
MacArthur also achieved an amazing feat, however, that perhaps made up for his failures: he crossed the military-civilian line by cabling Washington, recommending Washington to enter talks with Russia. Russia could curb Japanese aggression, MacArthur reasoned, by opening a northern front. In retrospect that was a wise comment, for that the Russian declaration of war on Japan in the last days of WW2 was one of the major reasons of Japan's surrender. However, it was not in Russia's interest the engage in war with Japan at that time. Before the Japanese attack, MacArthur also entered talks with Australian Prime Minister John Curtin which resulted in the well known Australian declaration that "without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links with the United Kingdom". Those negotiations between the American soldier and the Australian statesman also developed a friendship between them. When MacArthur later arrived in Australia, he asked Curtin to be at his side when Manila would become liberated. Curtin answered that he could not guarantee that the Prime Minister of Australia would be there, but "I can pledge that John Curtin will be." With the recommendation of diplomacy with Russia and his own negotiations with Australia, both actions clearly crossed the traditional line separating military and civilian authorities, and both were often overlooked by historians.
On 22 Feb 1942, MacArthur bid farewell to his friend Quezon, who had finally been convinced to move his government to the United States. Before Quezon boarded the submarine Swordfish, he removed his signet ring and slipped it onto MacArthur's finger. "When they find your body," Quezon said to his Field Marshal, "I want them to know that you fought for my country." Among the items loaded onto the submarine was a small box containing MacArthur's medals, photos, marriage certificate, and other personal items that MacArthur did not wish to become captured by the Japanese.
MacArthur was ordered by Washington to retreat to Australia, telling him that from there he "will assume command of all United States troops". He was given the impression that an American invasion force was to be assembled there, and he would be able to lead this force to reclaim Philippines immediately. He misinterpreted the message, and Roosevelt allowed him to do so. There were no force waiting for him; in fact, Australia hardly had enough men to protect herself, with her armies in North Africa fighting for British interests. Clark Lee of the Associated Press saw MacArthur moments after he received the retreat order, and commented that the eternally vigorous general was "drained of the confidence he had always shown" (though Lee was not made aware what exactly MacArthur was sad about, as the retreat order was classified). He toyed with resigning from his post in the US Army, remaining with his men as a volunteer fighter, but his staff protested, and convinced him to obey his orders and lead the (non-existent) American army to rescue them. The farewell on the night of MacArthur's extrication on 11 Mar 1942 was personal. According to William Manchester, "[MacArthur's] most important farewell was to [Jonathan] Wainwright", his right-hand man in the military and a personal friend. "Goodbye, Jonathan," the general said, in a rare fashion addressing Wainwright by his first name. "When I get back, if you're still on Bataan, I'll make you a lieutenant general." Wainwright responded, heroically and completely ignoring the promise of promotion, "I'll be Bataan if I'm alive." MacArthur left for Australia by ways of a treacherous journey by PT boats through Philippine waters for Mindanao with John Bulkeley's Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three. From Mindanao, he boarded a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber flown by Major Richard Carmichael for Australia; en route, it was noted that everyone, including MacArthur, was air sick, but MacArthur's wife Jean was singled out as the scapegoat for why the group crossed the Australian continent by train rather than flying the rest of the way. In Australia, MacArthur officially accepted the position of supreme commander of Allied forces in the southeast Pacific region. Upon arrival, he made the following note to journalists:
Though rather casually noted, "I shall return" became the powerful symbol which was the spiritual center of Filipino resistance. "It was scraped in the sands of the beaches, it was daubed on the walls of the barrios, it was stamped on the mail, it was whispered in the cloisters of the church", recalled MacArthur. "It became the battle cry of a great underground swell that no Japanese bayonet could still."
From Australia, MacArthur first directed a gambled though successful defense of Port Moresby, and then conducted an island hopping campaign across the South Pacific. He described his island-hopping campaign "hit 'em where they ain't". His campaign's most notable characteristics were to attack small Japanese garrisons and starve major ones and almost never let his army advance further than his air cover. As a result, his campaign was remarkably bloodless. He had lost about the same number of men the entire campaign from Australia to the eve of the Philippines invasion as the single Normandy campaign; another comparison noted that his campaign from Australia to the Philippines cost fewer men than what Eisenhower had lost at the Battle of the Bulge defense. Large garrisons such as Rabaul were left nearly untouched as it was surrounded and isolated. The Japanese troops on Rabaul learned of the fall of other garrisons around them, and exhausted themselves in psyche every day, but the American invaders never came; MacArthur deprived them of their ability to fight simply by going around them, and in the mean time saving the lives of countless Allied soldiers. After the war, Japanese Colonel Matsuichi Juio, an intelligence officer, commented that during the war the Japanese hated MacArthur's strategy where he,
During the war, starting from the first days of the Philippines invasion by the Japanese, he developed distrust for the US Navy, which had good reasons. Chester Nimitz and MacArthur were both territorial with their jurisdictions, and MacArthur was convinced that as early as the pre-war years there was a plot for "the complete absorption of the national defense function by the Navy", therefore lessen the importance of Army generals. Only tough fighting admirals such as William Halsey earned MacArthur's respect. This was something MacArthur denied, however. In his memoir he noted that "[t]here is no greater myth than the stories of the bitter rivalry between Army and Navy", calling them nothing but "[s]ensational extravagances", citing the navy's dedication and performance.
During the Pacific War, MacArthur was the Supreme Allied Commander of the southwestern corner of the Pacific, while Nimitz held the same title in Central Pacific. This vexed MacArthur, who was convinced that, especially when the spearheads of the two forces met in the general vicinity of the Philippines in late-1944, an unified command should be established. Believing that Allied command should be unified, he thought that "the failure to do so in the Pacific cannot be defended in logic, in theory, or in common sense." He attributed the tactical loss of the Battle off Samar during the Leyte Campaign to the lack of a central command authority. He appealed to Washington a number of times, but the wish was not granted.
MacArthur received the Medal of Honor and rise to the rank of Five-Star General before Japan surrendered. While MacArthur eyed the Navy with suspicion, in Washington Roosevelt had fully realized MacArthur as a political enemy, especially as talks of MacArthur running for presidency became widespread. Nevertheless, Roosevelt still appointed him his candidate for the Supreme Allied Commander of the occupation force in Japan. When Japan surrendered, Roosevelt's successor Harry Truman fulfilled Roosevelt's wish. In this role, MacArthur represented the Allied forces and countersigned Japan's surrender document aboard USS Missouri on 2 Sep 1945.
Congratulatory letters and honors flew to MacArthur from all directions, but the two letters from the Congress of the Philippines was one he treasured the most. The first granted him honorary citizenship to the Philippines, and the second informed him that "his name be carried in perpetuity on the company roll calls of the Philippine Army, and at parade roll calls, when his name is called, the senior non-commissioned officer shall answer 'Present in spirit,' and during the lifetime of the General he shall be accredited with a guard of honor composed of 12 men of the Philippine Army." MacArthur noted in his memoir that "[i]t made me weep, something I had not done since my earliest childhood."
As the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), MacArthur organized the war crimes tribunal in Japan. The tribunal sentenced seven to death, including Hideki Tojo. MacArthur had the power to lessen the sentences of those condemned to death, but he chose not to do so; "that was a difficult decision to make," he commented to Sebald later. While the tribunals in Japan were generally conceived as fair and free of vindictiveness, MacArthur was criticized for allegedly urging opposite behavior in Philippines, where Masaharu Homma and Tomoyuki Yamashita were tried and executed hurriedly. Manchester described these two trials as "kangaroo courts which flouted justice with the Supreme Commander's approval and probably at his urging".
While critics attacked MacArthur for his treatment of Homma and Yamashita, others praised him for the wonders he made possible to bring Japan from its economic grave to reconstruction. When MacArthur took over, Japan's industrial capacity was barely 16% of its pre-war capacity. MacArthur brought in tax experts from the United States and secured two billion dollars worth of funding from Congress (though one must note that West Germany, with a population only 20% of Japan's, received three times as much in aid). His economic aid programs also reached the conservative countrysides, where peasant discontent from the confiscatorily high taxes of the last year of the war was entirely eliminated. In addition to economic aid, MacArthur also introduced health reforms. Contraception was introduced, school lunch programs were revamped, cholera was eliminated, and tuberculosis related deaths were decreased significantly. Dr. Crawford Sams later concluded that post-war Japanese's average life expectancy increased as much as eight years for men and fourteen years for women compared to pre-war estimates. A comment by Emperor Showa in spring 1947, as reported by Minister of Agriculture Kozaemon Kimura, summed up the appreciation the Japanese leadership had for MacArthur: "Admiral [Matthew] Perry opened the door of Japan to America. General MacArthur has opened the heart of America to Japan."
In 1950, he was appointed by President Truman as the commander of the United Nations forces during the Korean War. During the early stages of his involvement, he conducted a highly risky amphibious landing on Incheon, Korea, which proved to be wildly successful in enveloping North Korean forces in South Korea, and this victory led to the opportunity that allowed UN forces to pursue into North Korea, making him a national hero all over again.
In Oct 1950, MacArthur traveled to Wake Island to meet with Truman; myth had it that his aircraft had arrived at the same time as Truman so that he would be purposefully absent from the greeting party for Truman. This story was untrue. He had arrived in the previous evening before Truman's arrival, and he was present to greet Truman as usual courtesy dictated.
The Korean War was a main topic of discussion at Wake, and generally Truman gave MacArthur the approval for all he had achieved thus far. MacArthur had also casually asked Truman of his plans for the upcoming 1952 presidential election. Truman countered with the question whether MacArthur had any political ambitions. MacArthur denied such plans, and advised Truman to watch out for Dwight Eisenhower. Truman laughed at the notion, saying that "Eisenhower doesn't know the first thing about politics. Why, if he should become President, his Administration would make Grant's look like a model of perfection."
As MacArthur's forces split into two columns on either coast of North Korea, the Communist Chinese forces joined in the war unexpectedly. MacArthur was criticized for his failure to predict this development; MacArthur attempted to shift the blame on the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence departments. As the situation grew desperate, MacArthur requested President Truman to escalate the situation into a full-scale war by removing the engagement restriction previously imposed. He requested a blockade of the Chinese coast, and recommended a bombardment of Chinese industrial centers by air and sea. He also suggested the use of Chiang Kaishek's Nationalist Chinese forces from Taiwan by allowing Chiang's forces to make raids into mainland China controlled by the Communists. His requests for escalation were twice-denied; the second round of requests even included a bold large scale airborne operation to interfere with Chinese supply lines and the use of radioactive wastes to keep the Chinese supplies from crossing the Korean border. While these demands seem outrageous to some, to MacArthur, victory must be achieved at any cost because it was his duty. While Chinese fighters routinely threatened American aircraft both before and after the entrance of Chinese ground troops, MacArthur was instructed that he was not allowed send aircraft into Chinese air space. He noted strongly that this decision of Truman's was the worst decision to have ever been given in the history of war. When one of his pilots, "wounded unto death, the stump of an arm dangling by his side, gasped at [MacArthur] through the bubbles of blood he spat out, 'General, which side are Washington and the United Nations on?'", he could do little else but to request permission to resign his post. That request, too, was denied by Truman. As the war became a bitter stalemate, he attempted to work through political channels. In a letter to Republican Party congressman Joseph Martin, who later leaked it to the public and earned MacArthur a reprimand from Truman, he was clearly ready to overstep his authority in order to achieve what he perceived as he duty: to win the war. Shortly after, Truman attempted to return to the statu quo by reaching out to the enemies; at the same time, MacArthur, without permission, sent an ultimatum to the Chinese. This move angered Truman as the insubordination was clear, and MacArthur was removed from power on 11 Apr 1951.
The removal of MacArthur from power created a public stir. Even before MacArthur reached his hotel in San Francisco, the hotel was already collecting supportive letters in large sacks. MacArthur's ticker tape parade in New York City was a great deal larger than Eisenhower's only a few years prior. Truman, on the other hand, discovered that letters arrived at the White House against him; those that voiced against his decision outnumbered those that supported it by a ratio of 20 to 1, and his approval rating dropped to the 30s, and it would continue to plummet later in his presidential career. When Truman entered Griffith Stadium, he was booed by the public, the first time a president was booed since 1932. Perhaps the public reaction that touched MacArthur the most was that from the Japanese people. The Diet (Parliament) passed a resolution of gratitude, and Emperor Showa visited him at the embassy in person, the first time a Japanese Emperor had ever visited a foreigner with no standing. The Mainichi newspaper said
MacArthur left Japan on 16 Apr 1951. That morning 250,000 Japanese lined the street at 0630 to say goodbye to their respected former SCAP, General "Makassar". Signs said "We Love You, MacArthur", "With Deep Regret", "Sayonara", and "We are Grateful to the General".
Upon returning to the United States, MacArthur gave a speech at the joint session of the Congress in Apr 1951. Because of the position he had held, his speech had to be screened by members of the Truman administration, which deeply offended MacArthur. When Truman read the speech, he commented that "it was nothing but a bunch of damn bullshit". MacArthur's speech started with
His speech touched upon his career in Asia, of the Communist Chinese expansion, and of his wish for the administration that the Korean War must be escalated to a full war, otherwise the current state of stalemate would only sacrifice the young American generation. He mentioned his recommendations to the president in the past, and urged them again to the Congress, though interestingly he made no mention of his earlier, more aggressive, recommendation of bombing Chinese industries and cities. Throughout the speech, MacArthur was interrupted by applause. The last came immediately as he closed his speech with the following.
After the speech some Congressmen were so moved by MacArthur's words that they became teary-eyed. Truman was quoted in making the comment "damn fool Congressmen crying like a bunch of women", and said the speech was "one hundred percent bullshit".
During the subsequent Senate hearings in regards to MacArthur's track records in Korea, when the general was attacked with the Senators' questions regards to the global situation, MacArthur countered with the argument that he was the Asian theater commander, and he that was the only region of his concern; he argued that his very closeness, both physical and in knowledge, gave him the insight that Washington did not respect. However, that very same argument was also his vulnerability during the Senate hearings, for that he was unable to effectively respond to the comments that perhaps the former SCAP, while demanding a full-scale war in Korea, had no idea of the global situation that the Truman administration and the joint chiefs understood better.
In 1952, MacArthur was unsuccessful in getting his name in the presidential election alongside of his political ally Taft. That year, his former subordinate in Philippines, Eisenhower, became president-elect. MacArthur approached Eisenhower and presented to him a recommendation for the Asia situation; essentially, MacArthur was recommending Eisenhower to, when he officially moved into the White House, to submit an ultimatum to Moscow for all foreign troops to pull out of Korea, Germany, and Japan, and to guarantee these countries' neutrality. Should Moscow refuse, the United States, according to MacArthur's recommendation, should immediately launch a large operation in northern North Korea to cut off Chinese troops, and also to use atomic bombs on Chinese industrial centers. Eisenhower politely listened to MacArthur's recommendations but rejected them as being too aggressive.
After giving up his political goals, MacArthur and his family moved to the Waldorf Towers in New York, New York, United States and continued to live a public life, speaking often and advised political figures. US President John F. Kennedy, for example, consulted with MacArthur on many occasions for his expertise in Asia when the political landscape in Vietnam came under the spotlight. MacArthur also made an emotional visit to the Philippines, announcing to the Filipinos his deep love and respect for the country, and apologized that he could not again make a pledge "I shall return". He was welcomed everywhere in the Philippines as a returning hero.
MacArthur passed away at Walter Reed Medical Center at Washington DC in 1964, succumbing to biliary cirrhosis. President Lyndon Johnson called for 19-gun salutes at every American military base around the entire world to pay respect to the general, while noting that MacArthur ought to be buried "with all the honor a grateful nation can bestow on a departed hero". When the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City, where MacArthur's body rested on 7 Apr, opened to the public, 35,000 people came to pay their last respects. A similar opportunity given to the public in Washington DC drew 150,000 visitors between 8 and 9 Apr. The third in Norfolk, Virginia saw 62,000 visitors filing past the bier. The funeral processions in New York City, Washington DC, and other locations were guarded by servicemen of all military branches of the United States.
Today he rests in peace in Norfolk, Virginia, United States at the MacArthur Memorial.
In his 1978 book American Caesar, Manchester described MacArthur as a man of contradictions:
As Manchester continued on for nearly an entire page in the preamble of his book about MacArthur's contradictions within himself, at a time of war, it all boiled down to his abilities. "Our most brilliant general," said George Marshall about him, despite MacArthur's career-long suspicion of Marshall. "The glorious commander," said Churchill. Lord Alanbrooke, too, had good to say about him: "the greatest general and the best strategist that the war produced". There were, and still are, a great number of critics of MacArthur, but Manchester pointed out that curiously "it is remarkable fact that MacArthur's critics never included men who worked with him."
Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences
William Manchester, American Caesar
David McCullough, Truman
Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign
United States Army Center of Military History
- "Nothing would please me better than if they would give me three months and then attack here."
» On the defense of the Philippine Islands, 5 Dec 1940
- "I'll come back as soon as I can with as much as I can. In the meantime, you've got to hold."
» To Wainwright before leaving Corregidor, 1 Mar 1942
- "It was close; but that's the way it is in war. You win or lose, live or die, and the difference is just an eyelash."
» To Sutherland after reaching Australia, 17 Mar 1942
- "I said, to the people of the Philippines whence I came, I shall return. Tonight, I repeat those words: I shall return!"
» After arrival at Australia, 30 Mar 1942
- "I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."
» Upon landing at Leyte, Philippine Islands, 20 Oct 1944
- "I see that the flagpole still stands. Have your troops hoist the colors to its peak, and let no enemy ever haul them down."
» Upon returning to Corregidor, 2 Mar 1945
- "'Duty,' 'Honor,' 'Country' - those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you want to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn."
» Speech at West Point, 12 May 1962
Douglas MacArthur Timeline
|26 Jan 1880||Douglas MacArthur was born in the Tower Building of the Arsenal Barracks in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States to Army officer Arthur MacArthur, a veteran of the American Civil War and a Medal of Honor recipient.|
|13 Jun 1899||Douglas MacArthur entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in the state of New York, United States.|
|11 Jun 1903||Douglas MacArthur graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the state of New York, United States. He was commissioned at the rank of second lieutenant and was assigned to the US Army Corps of Engineers.|
|1 May 1914||Douglas MacArthur arrived at Veracruz, Mexico as a member of the headquarters staff.|
|11 Dec 1915||Douglas MacArthur was promoted to the rank of major.|
|18 Oct 1917||Douglas MacArthur departed from Hoboken, New Jersey, United States for France for WW1 action aboard USS Covington.|
|26 Feb 1918||Douglas MacArthur assisted in capturing a number of German prisoners during a trench raid. For this action, French Major General Georges de Bazelaire later awarded MacArthur with the Croix de guerre, the first such award given to a member of the American Expeditionary Force.|
|9 Mar 1918||Douglas MacArthur led a company of the US 168th Infantry Regiment during raids on German trenches in the Salient du Feys, France. For this action, MacArthur was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.|
|19 Mar 1918||Douglas MacArthur led US Secretary of War Newton Baker on a tour near the front lines.|
|26 Jun 1918||Douglas MacArthur was promoted to the temporary rank of brigadier general, making him the youngest general in the American Expeditionary Force.|
|28 Jul 1918||Douglas MacArthur was given command on the brigade level in France.|
|29 Jul 1918||Douglas MacArthur received his third Silver Star medal.|
|25 Sep 1918||Douglas MacArthur participated in a raid on German lines that began after nightfall and lasted through the next morning. For this action, he was later awarded his sixth Silver Star medal.|
|12 Oct 1918||Douglas MacArthur was injured by a German chemical weapon.|
|4 Nov 1918||After nightfall, the US 42nd Division launched an offensive on Sedan, France. During the confusion of battle, Douglas MacArthur was mistaken for a German general and was captured by men of the US 1st Division.|
|10 Nov 1918||Douglas MacArthur was appointed the commander of the US 42nd Division at the rank of temporary major general.|
|22 Nov 1918||Douglas MacArthur was transferred to the US 84th Infantry Brigade.|
|18 Apr 1919||Douglas MacArthur departed Brest, France.|
|25 Apr 1919||Douglas MacArthur arrived in New York, New York, United States via ocean liner Leviathan.|
|14 Feb 1922||Douglas MacArthur married Louise Cromwell Brooks at the Cromwell family estate in Palm Beach, Florida, United States.|
|17 Jan 1925||Douglas MacArthur was promoted to the rank of major general, making him the youngest at that rank in the US Army.|
|2 May 1925||Douglas MacArthur returned to the United States from the Philippine Islands to take command of the IV Corps Area based at Fort McPherson, Atlanta, Georgia.|
|17 Jun 1929||Louise Cromwell Brooks MacArthur received decree of divorce from Douglas MacArthur at Reno, Nevada, United States, on the grounds of "failure to provide".|
|19 Sep 1930||Douglas MacArthur departed from the Philippine Islands.|
|21 Nov 1930||Douglas MacArthur became the Chief of Staff of the US Army at the rank of general.|
|28 Jul 1932||During the Bonus Army march in Washington DC, United States, President Herbert Hoover ordered US Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur to bring in troops to "surround the affected area and clear it without delay". The resulting confrontation caused one death, which became a public relations disaster for the US Army.|
|3 Dec 1935||Douglas MacArthur's mother, Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur, passed away in Manila, Philippine Islands.|
|24 Aug 1936||Philippine President Manuel Quezon granted Douglas MacArthur the title of field marshal in the Philippine Army.|
|30 Apr 1937||Douglas MacArthur married Jean Faircloth in a civil ceremony.|
|31 Dec 1937||Douglas MacArthur retired from the US Army, but remained Philippine President Manuel Quezon's advisor as a civilian.|
|21 Feb 1938||Douglas MacArthur's son, Arthur MacArthur IV, was born in Manila, Philippine Islands.|
|26 Apr 1941||General MacArthur issued his third plan for the seizure of the New Britain, New Guinea, and New Ireland area, emphasizing cooperation between the US Army and US Navy as the two services each moved toward the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul.|
|16 Jul 1941||US Army General Leonard Gerow recommended General George Marshall to activate the Philippine Army and to provide it additional funding. He also recommended that Douglas MacArthur to be asked to return from the retired list as the commander in chief in the Philippine Islands.|
|26 Jul 1941||US Army recalled Douglas MacArthur to active service as the commander of units in the Far East; Philippine troops already under MacArthur's command were integrated into the US Army.|
|27 Jul 1941||Douglas MacArthur was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general.|
|15 Aug 1941||Douglas MacArthur oversaw the induction of the Philippine Army Air Corps.|
|1 Sep 1941||Douglas MacArthur mobilized the Filipino military.|
|20 Dec 1941||Douglas MacArthur was promoted to the rank of general.|
|1 Jan 1942||Douglas MacArthur accepted a payment of US$500,000 from Philippine President Manuel Quezon for his pre-war service.|
|10 Jan 1942||Douglas MacArthur traveled from Corregidor to Bataan in the Philippine Islands, visiting forward command posts, speaking to officers but generally refusing to speak to enlisted men. When subjected to sporadic Japanese shelling when walking across a small clearing, he was observed to walk confidently without flinching.|
|22 Feb 1942||Roosevelt personally ordered General MacArthur to leave the Philippine Islands.|
|1 Mar 1942||Douglas MacArthur requested George Brett to send 3 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers to the Philippine Islands for the evacuation of MacArthur, his family, and his staff.|
|10 Mar 1942||US Army General MacArthur once again received orders to evacuate Philippine Islands.|
|11 Mar 1942||Douglas MacArthur, his family, and a small staff departed Corregidor by PT boats; General Jonathan Wainwright remained as commanding officer of US and Filipino forces in the Philippine Islands.|
|14 Mar 1942||Douglas MacArthur arrived at Del Monte Airfield in Bukidnon province, Mindanao, Philippine Islands.|
|16 Mar 1942||2 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers (Lieutenant Frank Bostrom and Captain Bill Lewis) flew from Batchelor Field, Darwin, Australia to Mindanao, Philippine Islands to pick up Douglas MacArthur.|
|17 Mar 1942||Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia. On the same day, the first 3 American Kittyhawk squadrons began operations in Australia.|
|18 Mar 1942||Douglas MacArthur officially accepted the position of the Supreme Commander of Southwest Pacific Area while still aboard a train traveling for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.|
|20 Mar 1942||Douglas MacArthur made the "I came through and I shall return" speech at Terowie, South Australia, Australia while transferring trains.|
|21 Mar 1942||US Army General MacArthur arrived at Kooringa, Australia by train and discovered there would be no army waiting for him to reinforce the Philippine Islands.|
|22 Mar 1942||360 US Army personnel greeted US Army General MacArthur at Melbourne, Australia.|
|18 Apr 1942||General MacArthur was appointed to command the Southwest Pacific Theater.|
|8 Jun 1942||Douglas MacArthur proposed to the Army Chief of Staff a limited offensive to regain positions in the Bismarck Archipelago.|
|30 Aug 1942||Douglas MacArthur sent a radio message to Washington DC, United States, urging a response to counter the Japanese attacks on the Allied New Guinea Force.|
|9 Jan 1943||Douglas MacArthur arrived at Brisbane, Australia.|
|25 Feb 1943||Douglas MacArthur issued his campaign plan for the Southwest Pacific while arguing that a campaign through the Central Pacific would be "time consuming and expensive in our naval power and shipping."|
|10 Sep 1943||Douglas MacArthur met with Rear Admiral Robert Carney and Colonel William Riley at Brisbane, Australia regarding attacks on Rabaul in New Britain, Bougainville in Solomon Islands, and Treasury Islands near Bougainville.|
|20 Oct 1944||The "I have returned" speech was made by MacArthur as he landed at Leyte, Philippine Islands.|
|18 Dec 1944||Douglas MacArthur was promoted to the rank of General of the Army.|
|3 Jan 1945||In preparation for the attacks on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and mainland Japan, Admiral Nimitz was given command of all involved naval forces, while General MacArthur was placed in command of all ground forces.|
|25 Jan 1945||Douglas MacArthur moved his advance headquarters forward to Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, Philippine Islands.|
|30 Jan 1945||Douglas MacArthur ordered Major General Verne Mudge of the US 1st Cavalry Division to conduct a rapid advance on Manila, Philippine Islands.|
|6 Apr 1945||Douglas MacArthur was named the supreme Allied commander in the Pacific.|
|23 Aug 1945||Douglas MacArthur ordered 5,000 Filipino internees in Manila, Philippine Islands freed.|
|29 Aug 1945||Douglas MacArthur was ordered to exercise authority through the Japanese government, thus giving him authority over Emperor Showa. In this capacity, he would oversee the drafting a new constitution, redistribution of land, disbanding monopolistic Zaibatsu firms, among other major initiatives.|
|30 Aug 1945||Douglas MacArthur arrived at Atsugi Airfield near Tokyo, Japan.|
|31 Aug 1945||MacArthur established the Supreme Allied Command in Tokyo, Japan.|
|8 Sep 1945||General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Tokyo, Japan.|
|18 Sep 1945||Douglas MacArthur established his headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.|
|27 Sep 1945||Emperor Showa visited General Douglas MacArthur.|
|26 Nov 1945||Douglas MacArthur confirmed that Emperor Showa of Japan would not be forced to abdicate the throne.|
|29 Jul 1950||Douglas MacArthur arrived in Taiwan, Republic of China.|
|26 Aug 1950||General Douglas MacArthur publicly criticized US President Harry Truman's policy in the Far East in a speech before members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, noting, on the topic of Taiwan, "[n]othing could be more fallacious than the threadbare argument by those who advocate appeasement and defeatism in the Pacific that if we defend Formosa we alienate continental Asia."|
|15 Oct 1950||US President Truman and General MacArthur met at Wake Island. At its conclusion, Truman awarded MacArthur a fourth oak leaf cluster to his US Army Distinguished Service Medal.|
|24 Nov 1950||Douglas MacArthur toured the front lines during the Korean War from the ground and in the air, noting the lack of a Chinese build-up, but decided to hold position due to the poor capability of the South Korean forces.|
|20 Mar 1951||The US Joint Chiefs of Staff sent General MacArthur a preview of the ceasefire proposal that President Truman's office was preparing to send to Communist China. MacArthur would decide to send a communiqué to China on his own before Truman would be able to complete his proposal.|
|24 Mar 1951||Douglas MacArthur called on China to admit that it had been defeated. This action simultaneously challenged China as well as US President Harry Truman.|
|5 Apr 1951||US Congress Representative Joseph William Martin, Jr. revealed a letter from Douglas MacArthur critical of President Harry Truman's limited-war strategy, providing copies of it to the press. On the same day, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff drafted orders authorizing MacArthur to escalate the war by attacking Chinese airfields in Manchuria to the north of Korea and Shandong Province to the west, with nuclear weapons if necessary.|
|6 Apr 1951||US President Truman summoned Secretary of Defense George Marshall, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Omar Bradley, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and Averill Harriman. Marshall and Bradley voice opinions against Douglas MacArthur's strategy for the Korean War despite US Joint Chiefs of Staff's preliminary planning for allowing MacArthur to attack Chinese airfields.|
|8 Apr 1951||The US Joint Chiefs of Staff met and agreed that Douglas MacArthur was not guilty of insubordination, but had simply tested the boundaries.|
|9 Apr 1951||US President Harry Truman decided to relieve Douglas MacArthur of his duties. The order would not go to the Joint Chiefs of Staff until the next day.|
|10 Apr 1951||Chariman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Omar Bradley signed US President Harry Truman's orders to relieve Douglas MacArthur.|
|16 Apr 1951||Douglas MacArthur departed Japan. 250,000 Japanese lined the street at 0630 hours, waving goodbye as his motorcade traveled by.|
|18 Apr 1951||Douglas MacArthur received a ticker-tape parade in San Francisco, California, United States.|
|19 Apr 1951||Douglas MacArthur addressed the US Congress, noting that Japan had undergone "the greatest reformation recorded in modern history".|
|22 Apr 1951||Douglas MacArthur received a ticker-tape parade in New York, New York, United States.|
|25 Apr 1951||Douglas MacArthur spoke to a crowd at Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois, United States.|
|27 Jan 1960||Douglas MacArthur collapsed as he suffered a severely swollen prostate; he was rushed into surgery at St. Luke's Hospital in New York, New York, United States.|
|5 Apr 1964||Douglas MacArthur passed away at the Walter Reed Army Hospital, Washington DC, United States of biliary cirrhosis.|
|7 Apr 1964||Douglas MacArthur's body was moved to the 7th Regiment Armory in New York, New York, United States at 0400 hours where he laid in the Clark Room throughout the day. At 0915 hours, his family arrived for a private memorial service; during the service, dignitaries including Mayor of New York City Robert Wagner, Governor of New York Nelson Rockefeller, and former Governor of New York Thomas Dewey waited to see the MacArthur family. Between 1000 and 2315 hours, the armory was opened to the public, and 35,000 people passed by the bier.|
|8 Apr 1964||The funeral procession of Douglas MacArthur traveled through the streets of New York, New York, United States in the morning, and then his body was placed on a train at Pennsylvania Station for Union Station in Washington DC, United States. The funeral procession in Washington brought him to the Capitol building, where he laid in state for public visit starting at 1645 hours.|
|9 Apr 1964||The rotunda of the Capitol building in Washington DC, United States, where Douglas MacArthur's body laid in state, was closed to the public at 1230 hours; by that time, about 150,000 people had passed by the bier. MacArthur's body was escorted to a ceremony at the Washington National Airport, then he was brought to Norfolk, Virginia, United States via aircraft. At 1800 hours that day, his body was once again placed on a bier for public visit.|
|10 Apr 1964||Douglas MacArthur's body laid in a casket on a bier for public visit at Norfolk, Virginia, United States.|
|11 Apr 1964||At 0700 hours, public visitation of Douglas MacArthur's casket ceased; between 1800 hours on 9 Apr and this time, 62,000 people filed past the bier. At 0930 hours, the last ceremony was held for MacArthur at the rotunda of what was to become the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia, United States. The final act of national mourning took place at sunset when a battery at nearby Fort Monroe fired a 19-gun salute.|
Visitor Submitted Comments
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
» Invasion of the Philippine Islands
» Pacific Strategy Conference
» Battle of Morotai
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 2
» Borneo Campaign
» Japan's Surrender
» Documents Regarding the Removal of MacArthur, 1950-1951
» Imperial Rescript Renouncing Divinity
» Japanese Instrument of Surrender
» Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers General Order No. 1
» American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964
» Tears in the Darkness
» The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today
- » 791 biographies
- » 310 events
- » 30,157 timeline entries
- » 699 ships
- » 308 aircraft models
- » 164 vehicle models
- » 274 weapon models
- » 80 historical documents
- » 68 facilities
- » 345 book reviews
- » 231 maps
- » 19,173 photos, 1,609 in color
Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937