8 World War II Generals Responsible for Victory

3. Douglas MacArthur

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Just as Eisenhower succeeded in Europe, General Douglas MacArthur did so in the Pacific Theater of war. He had a bit of an uphill climb, as after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, MacArthur couldn’t stop Japan from invading the Philippines. He promised to return to its soil, and in October 1944, he liberated the Philippines from Japanese occupation. MacArthur accepted Japan’s official surrender to the Allies in September 1945 and led the occupation of Japan at the end of the war. MacArthur later served as Commander-in-Chief of the American-led United Nations Command at the beginning of the Korean War. He was relieved of his duties in 1951.

2. George S. Patton

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

General Patton was an aggressive force of nature and a brilliant tactician. His fiery personality was welcomed on the battlefield but could also get him into trouble. Two incidents of Patton striking his subordinates likely kept him from commanding the First United States Army, which was preparing for the invasion of Europe. Patton would take command of the Third United States Army, and his military strategizing was pivotal in thwarting the German counteroffensive during the Battle of the Bulge. While grit and stubbornness got him through most of the war, it was a car accident in 1945 during the U.S. Army’s occupation of Germany that ended his life.

1. George Marshall

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

General George Marshall was President Roosevelt’s Chief of Staff and commanded the U.S. Army during World War II. As such, Marshall was responsible for issuing many of the top generals to their positions. After the war, Marshall served briefly as the Secretary of State and later as Secretary of Defense, both under President Harry S. Truman. He outlined the American proposal for rebuilding postwar Europe, which became known as the Marshall Plan. In 1953, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his postwar work.

No General or Admiral is successful without willing, hardworking subordinates. Those men were often the unsung heroes of the war. They toiled in foxholes and trenches, and they fought their way across Europe or sailed through the tightly patrolled Pacific Ocean. It’s to all of them who served that we salute.

Click to hear a decorated WWII veteran offer insight on the war

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