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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 22

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
MacArthur Close‑Up
William Addleman Ganoe

published by
Vantage Press
New York, 1962

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 24
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p167  The Man

If Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sylvanus Thayer was the Father of the Military Academy, then Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.MacArthur was its Savior. A close study of the records will reveal that in many ways he surpassed the Father.

The impression he left on West Point, and the estimate of his worth by many qualified military men, is summed up in a letter from Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Danford to me:

"When MacArthur knocks at Saint Peter's gate for admission, and Saint Peter's face lights up when he sets eyes on him, the good Saint will leave the gate in charge of an assistant, and will himself escort the Soldier-Statesman to the VIP area, and they will say to Caesar, Alexander and Napoleon, 'Move over, gentlemen, here's MacArthur.' "

Other military minds might not be so imaginative as Danford's, but I sense they would arrive at a similar summation.

However, if there be those who would be prejudiced by hearsay, let me ask what other man bolstered one nation to meet a war successfully, rebuilt another militarily and liberated it, conquered another and gave it democratic government, and half saved another — which he would have saved altogether had it not been for faraway powers who were averse to victory?

If there be those who would question his personal courage, let them find another who has officially won a Medal of Honor, three D. S. C.'s, seven Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts. If one wishes, he will find in the files in Washington a recommendation for another Medal of Honor which could not be awarded publicly because of a top‑secret deed. Who else in two wars has won twelve separate recognitions for risking his life for his country above and beyond the call of duty? General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Menoher said of him that, on the field of battle, where acts of heroism and valor were commonplace, his were outstanding.

 p168  If there be those who would look down their noses at medals for heroism, I can furnish them firsthand testimony. As a member of the Medals Board in Europe in the last war, I can vouch for the ceaseless effort to investigate the veriest iota of proof in every recommendation. A general meant no more than a corporal. High and low were refused because of below‑par qualifications. I can recollect the awarding of only two Medals of Honor, one to a sergeant and another to a private.​a

If there be those who accuse MacArthur of the crime of showmanship, may I point out a few shrinking violets like King David, Joan of Arc, John Paul Jones, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Jeb Stuart, Billy Sunday and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Georgie Patton.º Space forbids citing a hundred other successful leaders who did not hesitate to assume striking roles to magnetize their followers.

Yet that crime of showmanship seems for some to eclipse MacArthur's world-wide benefactions. I can think of no commander in all history who performed such far‑flung exploits as attacking and attacking over thousands of miles of ocean, often with inadequate forces, island fortresses manned by the fiercest of fighters.

Little men seeing only little things have always been with us. There were those who couldn't see Washington through his wealth and wine, Scott through his fuss and feathers, Lincoln through his mussed hair and dirty stories, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Grant through his butchery and bottle, and Cleveland through his duck shooting and trumped‑up stories of wife beating. The same types can't see MacArthur through his corncob pipe, embroidered cap, picture poses, aristocratic airs and rumors of a brewery in Manila.

Coming historians will discover in MacArthur a figure whose moral courage was as stout as his physical, whose dignified utterances, unsoiled by profanity, unhalted by hesitancy and unjostled by hot emotions, whose loftiness of purpose, misunderstood at times by those squinting up the heights, lifted him above the smaller passions and meaner impulses of lesser souls. They will look back through the perspective of time to recreate beyond the glory of his triumphs a man of self-denial,  p169 whose West Point redemption was met by curtailment, whose domestic fullness came uncommonly late, whose gigantic tasks were undertaken at an age when most men have been retired, and whose service ostracized him to rude and royal places in foreign lands, when his stifled yearning was for his own fireside and country. They will see a knight whose shining armor blinded some to the greatness of the heart beneath, the calm reason in the hour of peril and the keen sense of misery over the useless slaughter of his soldiers. They will discern the peculiar patience with which he waited, quickness with which he thrust, hardness with which he struck, doggedness with which he clung, as well as his genius to overcome handicaps. No, this old soldier will never die — much less fade away.

Gradually and imperceptibly, as the decades roll along, generations will discover that no nobler figure ever stood as a bulwark in four nations' lives — any nation's life — and will view him with a reverence which will hush them in the presence of his memory.

Thayer's Note:

a According to the United States Army's Center of Military History, as of June 2016, 482 Medals of Honor have been awarded for heroism in World War II, although many of the recipients were not in the Army, or not in Europe, and not all of them had been awarded at the time Ganoe was writing. 475 of them are listed at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

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