A FEW EXTRAORDINARY MEN
Who was George S. Patton? If there is such a thing as a born soldier, General Patton was one. He was regarded as one of the most successful military commanders of World War 2. He came from a military family, having had relatives fighting for the colonies in the American Revolutionary War, the War Between the States, and the Mexican war when he served under General Blackjack Pershing trying to capture the bandit Pancho Villa. Following success at the Virginia Military Academy he went to West Point and graduated as a 2nd Lt. in 1909. While serving under Pershing he impressed the senior officer to the point where he was promoted to Captain. When World War 1 started tanks were in their infancy, but Patton recognized their worth early on and became an outspoken advocate for their usage.
In World War 2 Patton became one of the first officers of the Armored Force and continued on with his knowledge of warfare, strategy and in particular, tanks. He was, by all accounts, a gruff commander both loved and feared by his troops as well as the enemy. Patton wanted to continue his streaking across Europe right into Berlin, but was stopped from doing so…some say it was a political move. In any event, when a professional soldier was needed, George Smith Patton answered the call.
The American Revolutionary War produced many great heroes, not the least of which was General Anthony Wayne, nicknamed Mad Anthony. At the time the war broke out he was a member of Congress in the United States House of Representatives. Wayne adopted a military career at the outset of the American Revolutionary War, where his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to brigadier general and the name Mad Anthony. He later served as General in Chief of the Army and commanded the Legion of the United States. He never finished college although he was in the graduating class…instead he became a land surveyor in Nova Scotia and eventually returned to Pennsylvania, married and served in that state’s legislature. During the American Revolution he actually served under Benedict Arnold during an unsuccessful invasion of Canada. Wayne was in the battles of Germantown, Brandywine and Monmouth, among others. His leadership at the battle of Stony Point was the high point of his career and he was given a medal by the Continental Congress for that action.
Wayne used a strategy of bayonets-only in skirmishes which served him well and probably helped establish the nickname of Mad Anthony.
The 33rd President of the United States was a Captain in World War 1. In the last months of World War I, he served in combat in France as an artillery officer with his National Guard unit. He owned a haberdashery business in Kansas City, Missouri, got interested in politics and became a United States Senator in 1934. He gained national prominence as chairman of a committee, formed in March 1941, which exposed waste, fraud, and corruption in Federal Government wartime contracts.
He helped set up the United Nations and was already the President when Germany surrendered on his birthday. Even though the war in Europe was ending, there was plenty going on in the Pacific. At some point, as the our military forces island-hopped closer and closer to the Japanese mainland it was determined that an invasion of the homeland might produce losses of up to a million American servicemen. He was instrumental in developing the Marshall Plan which was to rebuild the conquered Europe. It never occurred to him to take over conquered countries, but to help them come back from the war. He was also instrumental in the formation of NATO and oversaw the Berlin Airlift. Probably most people remember him, if they recognize him at all, for his famous firing of General McArthur and the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan. He was the plain-speaking man from Independence, Missouri, Harry S. Truman.
Alvin Cullum York…also known as Sergeant York was a hero of World War 1. He came from a poor family in Tennessee, being raised in a two room log cabin, much like Abraham Lincoln. Alvin only got a partial formal education, being necessary to help raise the crops on the family farm and hunt for food as well. He went to Harriman, Tennessee and worked in construction and then went into logging.
York was what used to be called a battler and was known to have participated in several barroom brawls. Although he wasn’t exactly what became known as a conscientious objector at the time, his mother had instilled some sense of the value of life into her son. He was drafted into the army in November 1917 even while his status was being determined. He told the draft board that he was worried clean through. He didn't want to go and kill. He believed in his Bible, where it said thou shalt not kill. There is some dispute as to whether or not he kept a diary during the war, in which he might have written his objections. During one engagement with the Germans, York and seven men managed to capture 132 enemy soldiers, and for that he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In every time of need America has had men and women of valor, who stepped forward and did what had to be done.