Douglas Mac Arthur

Douglas Mac Arthur books and biography


Douglas MacArthur


Douglas MacArthur in 1945
Place of birth Little Rock, Arkansas
Place of death Washington, DC
Allegiance United States Army
Years of service 1903–1937, 1941–1951
Rank General of the Army
Commands Superintendent of West Point
Department of the Philippines
U.S. Army Forces Far East
Supreme Allied Commander Pacific
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Korean War
Awards Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
Silver Star
Bronze Star
Purple Heart

Douglas MacArthur (January 26, 1880 - April 5, 1964), was a famous American general who played a prominent role in the Pacific theater of World War II. He was poised to command the invasion of Japan in November 1945 but was instead instructed to accept their surrender on September 2, 1945. MacArthur oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951 and is credited for making far-ranging democratic changes in that country. He led United Nations forces defending South Korea in 1950-51 against North Korea's invasion. MacArthur was relieved of command by President Harry S Truman in April 1951 for public disagreements with Truman's policies.

MacArthur fought in three major wars (World War I, World War II, Korean War) and rose to the rank of General of the Army. MacArthur remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. While greatly admired by many for what they consider his strategic and tactical brilliance, MacArthur was also considered by some to have had questionable military judgment, and is criticized by many for his actions in command, and especially his challenge to President Truman in 1951.


Early Life and Education

MacArthur was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur Jr., a recipient of the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War, who was the son of jurist and politician Arthur MacArthur, Sr., and Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur of Norfolk, Virginia. He was baptized at Christ Episcopal Church in Little Rock on May 16, 1880.

In his memoir Reminiscences, MacArthur wrote that his first memory was the sound of the bugle, and that he had learned to 'ride and shoot even before I could read or write--indeed, almost before I could walk and talk'.

MacArthur's father was posted to San Antonio, Texas in 1893. There, Douglas attended West Texas Military Academy (now known as T.M.I.: The Episcopal School of Texas), where he became an excellent student. MacArthur entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1898 (accompanied by his mother, who occupied a hotel suite overlooking the grounds of the Academy). An outstanding cadet, he was graduated first in his 93-man class in 1903, with only two other students in the history of West Point surpassing his achievements (Robert E. Lee being one). MacArthur became a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He served as an aide to his father, the appointed Governor General when the Philippines was a U.S. possession. From 1904 to 1914 MacArthur was assigned to engineering duties in the Philippines, Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan, Texas, and Panama. During that time he attended the Engineer School of Application (1906-1907), receiving a degree in 1908, and worked in the Office of the Chief of Engineers.

World War I

Brigadier General MacArthur at a French Chateau, September 1918.
Brigadier General MacArthur at a French Chateau, September 1918.

During World War I MacArthur served in France, as chief of staff of the 42nd ("Rainbow") Division. Upon his promotion to

Inter-war years

As did many of the officers after the War, MacArthur had a difficult time finding a full-time position in the Army. This devastated him. He was not demoted from his war-time rank, as many were. He used all of his father's connections as well as his own to secure any position. One offer included becoming military attache to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He kept his star after the war primarily because of the support of General Peyton March, the new chief of staff. In 1919 MacArthur became superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which was out of date in many respects and much in need of reform. MacArthur ordered drastic changes in the tactical, athletic and disciplinary systems; he modernized the curriculum, adding liberal arts, government and economics courses.

From 1922 to 1930, MacArthur served two tours of duty in the Philippines, the second as commander of the Philippine Department (1928-1930); he also served two tours as commander of corps areas in the states. In 1925 he was promoted to major general, the youngest officer of that rank at the time, and served on the court-martial that convicted Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. In 1928 he headed the U.S. Olympic Committee for the Amsterdam games. He married Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brooks, a wealthy heiress, on February 14, 1922; she had two children from a previous marriage. They were divorced in 1929.

President Herbert Hoover appointed MacArthur Army Chief of Staff in November 1930, with the temporary rank of (four-star) General. He faced severe budget cuts, and at the same time a surge in enlistments because of unemployment. His most controversial actions came in 1932, when Hoover ordered him to disperse the 'Bonus Army' of veterans who were in the capital protesting against the government. MacArthur received negative publicity for using tear gas against the veterans. According to MacArthur, the demonstration had been taken over by Communists and pacifists by the time of his action, with, he claimed, only 'one man in 10 being veterans'. Hundreds of veterans were injured, two were killed, and other casualties, including children, were inflicted among the veterans' families.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt renewed his appointment. In October 1935, the army ranked 16th in size among the world's armies, with 13,000 officers and 126,000 enlisted men. MacArthur's main programs included the development of new mobilization plans, the establishment of a mobile general headquarters air force, and a four-army reorganization which improved administrative efficiency. He supported the New Deal by enthusiastically operating the Civilian Conservation Corps (although, as an outspoken reactionary, he often had bitter disagreements with the New Dealers). He brought along many talented mid-career officers, including George C. Marshall, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, MacArthur made enemies with many members of the Roosevelt Administration and clashed with FDR at times due to his controversial personality and his strong opinions.

When the Commonwealth of the Philippines achieved semi-independent status in 1935, with its own army, the President of the Philippines Manuel L. Quezon asked MacArthur to supervise the creation of a Philippine Army. With Roosevelt's approval MacArthur accepted the assignment. MacArthur had been friends with Quezon when his father was Governor General. MacArthur had two conditions for taking the job: his salary was to be the same as the President's, and his housing had to be equal to that of the President. He felt justified in this since the house that the President was using had been the one Douglas had known as a child, Malacanang Palace. The Palace has been the home of the Spanish Governor General, the American Governor General and all Philippine Presidents to present day.

It was decided to house MacArthur in a suite at the world famous Manila Hotel. The hotel was owned by the Philippine Government. It was on Manila Bay across the park from the Army & Navy Club, MacArthur's favorite haunt. It was conveniently near the U.S. Embassy. Government accountants decided that the best way to handle the cost of the suite was to make MacArthur a hotel employee entitled to housing. MacArthur was given the honorary title of "General Manager". MacArthur ignored the honorary status and took control of hotel management while he lived there. The MacArthur Suite still exists in the hotel.

Despite the fact that Manila was one of the cities most devastated by Japanese bombs in WWII this hotel survived intact. Pictures show the city almost leveled except for the Manila Hotel. Out of respect for MacArthur the pilots had been ordered not to bomb the hotel. MacArthur's suite was occupied by the highest ranking military officer in the islands. MacArthur gave the same order to American pilots when the Philippines were retaken. Legend has it that his suite and personal possessions that were left behind were still intact. MacArthur had tremendous respect for the tradition of "honor among warriors."

MacArthur heavily invested in Philippine mining and industry. Before the Philippine National Bank in New York City closed when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, MacArthur was able to sell all of his holdings and convert all of his pesos to dollars.

Among MacArthur's assistants as Military Adviser to the Commonwealth of the Philippines was Dwight D. Eisenhower.

On April 30, 1937, MacArthur married his second wife, Jean Faircloth; they had one son, and remained together until his death.

When MacArthur retired from the U.S. Army in 1937, he was made a Field Marshal of the Philippine Army, by President Quezon. In July, 1941 Roosevelt recalled him to active duty in the U.S. Army and named him commander of United States Armed Forces in the Far East.

World War II

After the United States entered World War II, MacArthur became Allied commander in the Philippines. He "courted controversy" on several occasions, especially when he over-ruled his air commander, General Lewis H. Brereton, who had requested permission to launch air attacks by the US Far East Air Force (FEAF) against Japanese bases on nearby Taiwan, a plan that MacArthur had labeled suicide. MacArthur instead ordered the planes to be moved, to conserve them from Japanese raids; only half had been moved when FEAF was all but destroyed on the ground, the prelude to a Japanese invasion. The Brereton account of these events is largely discredited, and Geoffrey Perret's biography, Old Soldiers Never Die, lays out the case for negligence on the part of mid-level officers who simply preferred the scenery at Clark Air Base.

MacArthur's headquarters during the Philippines campaign of 1941-42 was on the island fortress of Corregidor; his single trip to the front lines in Bataan led to the disparaging moniker and ditty, "Dugout Doug." Nevertheless, MacArthur's fortress was clearly marked, and was the target of Japanese air attacks, until Manuel Quezon cautioned MacArthur "not to subject himself to danger". In March 1942, as Japanese forces tightened their grip on the Philippines, MacArthur was ordered by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to relocate to Melbourne, Australia, after Quezon and his wife had already left. With his wife and four-year-old son, and a select group of advisers and subordinate military commanders, MacArthur at last fled the Philippines on PT 41 commanded by Lieutenant John D. Bulkeley, and successfully evaded an intense Japanese search for the escaping American general.

MacArthur visiting the Australian House of Representatives in March 1942.
MacArthur visiting the Australian House of Representatives in March 1942.

MacArthur reached the island of Mindanao on March 13, and boarded a B-17 bomber three days later; on 17 March, he arrived at Batchelor Airfield in Australia's Northern Territory, and took The Ghan railway through the Australian outback to Adelaide. His famous speech, in which he said "I came out of Bataan and I shall return", was made at Terowie, South Australia on March 20. During this period, President Manuel L. Quezon decorated MacArthur with the Philippine Distinguished Conduct Star.

MacArthur was appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). To remove all ambiguity, the Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin put MacArthur in direct command of the Australian military, which numerically dominated MacArthur's forces at the time, augmented by a small number of U.S., Dutch and other Allied forces. One of MacArthur's first tasks was to reassure Australians, who feared a Japanese invasion. The fighting at this time was predominantly in and around New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies. On July 20, 1942 SWPA headquarters was moved to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, taking over the AMP Insurance Company building (later known as MacArthur Central).

Australian successes at the Battle of Milne Bay and the Kokoda Track campaign came in late 1942, the first victories by Allied land forces anywhere against the Japanese. When it was reported that many officers in the U.S. 32nd Infantry Division, a hastily-mobilized National Guard unit, had proved incompetent in the Allied offensive against Buna and Gona, the major Japanese beachheads in north-east New Guinea, MacArthur told the U.S. I Corps commander, Robert L. Eichelberger to assume direct control of Allied operations:

Bob, I'm putting you in command at Buna. Relieve Harding ... I want you to remove all officers who won't fight. Relieve regimental and battalion commanders; if necessary, put sergeants in charge of battalions and corporals in charge of companies ... Bob, I want you to take Buna, or not come back alive ... And that goes for your chief of staff, too.

Allied forces under MacArthur's command landed at Leyte Island , on October 20, 1944, fulfilling MacArthur's vow to return to the Philippines. They consolidated their hold on the archipelago in the Battle of Luzon after heavy fighting, and despite a massive Japanese naval counterattack in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. With the reconquest of the islands, MacArthur moved his headquarters to Manila, to plan the invasion of Japan in late 1945. The invasion was pre-empted by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in September, 1945 MacArthur received the formal Japanese surrender which ended World War II.

MacArthur was awarded and received the Medal of Honor for his leadership in the Southwest Pacific Theater. Philippine President Sergio Osmeña also decorated him with the Philippines' highest military award, the Medal of Valor.

Post-World War II Japan

General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito
General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito

MacArthur may have made his greatest contribution to history in the next five and a half years, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan. While initiating some policies and merely implementing others, by force of personality MacArthur became synonymous with the highly successful occupation. His GHQ staff helped a devastated Japan rebuild itself, institute a democratic government, and chart a course that made Japan one of the world's leading industrial powers. The U.S. during his time was firmly in control of Japan to oversee its reconstruction, and MacArthur for a short while was effictively the interim leader of Japan. In 1946, MacArthur's staff drafted a new constitution that renounced war and reduced the emperor to a figurehead; this Constitution remains in use in Japan to this day. MacArthur handed over power to the newly-formed Japanese government in 1949, and remained in Japan until relieved by President Truman on April 11, 1951. Truman replaced SCAP leader MacArthur with General Matthew Ridgway of the U.S. Army.

In late 1945, Allied military commissions tried 4,000 Japanese officers for war crimes. About 3,000 were given prison terms and 920 executed; the charges included the Rape of Nanking, the Bataan Death March, and the sack of Manila. Critics claim that General Yamashita Tomoyuki, Japanese commander in the Philippines, had lost control of his soldiers and should not have been executed. Ultimately, because he failed to resign his post, his command responsibility was found to comprise liability for the actions of Japanese troops; this case has become a precedent and is known as the Yamashita Standard. PBS once called the trials "hasty".[1]

At the end of the war MacArthur secretly granted immunity to the physicians of Unit 731 in exchange for providing America with their research on biological weapons. As a result, only one reference to Japanese experiments with "poisonous serums" on Chinese civilians was heard by the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal in August of 1946. This was actioned by David Sutton, assistant to the Chinese prosecutor.

Korean War

Main article: Korean War

In 1945, as part of the surrender of Japan, the United States agreed with the Soviet Union to divide the Korean peninsula along the 38th parallel. This resulted in the creation of two states: the western-aligned Republic of Korea (ROK) (often referred to as 'South Korea'), and the Soviet-aligned and Communist Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) (generally referred to as 'North Korea'). After the surprise attack by the DPRK military on June 25, 1950 started the Korean War, the United Nations General Assembly authorized a United Nations (UN) force to help South Korea. MacArthur led the UN coalition defense and later counteroffensive, noted for a daring and overwhelmingly successful amphibious landing behind North Korean lines in the Battle of Inchon. The maneuver successfully out-flanked the North Korean army, forcing it to retreat northward in disarray. United Nations forces pursued the DPRK forces, eventually approaching the Yalu river border with the People's Republic of China.

For months leading up to the UN forces' approach to the border between Korea and China, the Chinese had warned that they would become involved, rather than watch the North Koreans be defeated and have an enemy military on their border. During his trip to Wake Island to meet with President of the United States President Harry S. Truman, MacArthur was specifically asked by President Truman about Chinese involvement in the war. MacArthur did not believe that the Chinese would invade.

On November 19, 1950, with the DPRK forces largely destroyed, Chinese military forces crossed the Yalu River, routing the UN forces and forcing them on a long retreat. Calling the Chinese intervention the beginning of "an entirely new war", MacArthur repeatedly requested authorization to strike supplies, troops, and airplanes in Manchuria with conventional weapons and also requested permission to deploy nuclear weapons in Korea. The Truman administration feared that such an action would greatly escalate the war into full-scale conflict with China and possibly draw China's ally, the Soviet Union, into the conflict. Angered by Truman's desire to maintain a "limited war," MacArthur began issuing important statements to the press, warning them of a crushing defeat. This violated the United States Army's tradition of civilian control of the military and foreign policy and was considered an act of insubordination.

In March of 1951, after a UN counterattack commanded by Matthew B. Ridgway again turned the tide of the war in the UN's favor, Truman alerted MacArthur of his intention to initiate 'cease-fire' talks. Such news ended any hopes the general had retained of leading a full-scale war against China, and MacArthur quickly issued his own ultimatum to China. MacArthur's declaration threatened the expansion of the war, and was, by his own aide's later admission, 'designed to undercut' Truman's negotiating position. Such an act unquestionably qualified as rank insubordination, and General Omar Bradley later speculated that MacArthur's disappointment over his inability to wage war on China had "snapped his brilliant but brittle mind." Biographers such as Geoffrey Perret, however, place importance on MacArthur's well known intelligence and strategic skill. MacArthur knew that he would either be relieved of duty or he would get his way and the war would be expanded. In his view, he gambled his career to obtain a favorable war policy that would reunify all of Korea.

On April 11, 1951 President Truman relieved General MacArthur of his military command, leading to a storm of controversy. General Matthew B. Ridgway replaced MacArthur. The war continued at a stalemate for two additional years with thousands of casualties near the 38th parallel.

Return to America

MacArthur returned to Washington, D.C. (his first time in the continental U.S. in 11 years), where he made his last public appearance in a farewell address to the U.S. Congress, interrupted by thirty ovations. (Text and audio.) In his closing speech, he recalled: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." 'And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away - an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-bye.'

On his return from Korea, after his relief by Truman, MacArthur encountered massive public adulation, which aroused expectations that he would run for the Presidency as a Republican in the 1952 election. However, a U.S. Senate Committee investigation of his removal, chaired by Richard Russell, contributed to a marked cooling of the public mood and MacArthur's presidential hopes died away. (MacArthur, in his Reminiscences repeatedly stated that he had no political aspirations.)

In the 1952 Republican presidential nomination contest, rumors were rife that Senator Robert Taft of Ohio offered the vice presidential nomination to MacArthur. Had a Taft-MacArthur ticket defeated Democrat Adlai Stevenson in November, the general would have become President upon Taft's sudden death eight months later in July 1953. However, Taft, who was initially favored to win the GOP nomination, lost the nomination to Dwight Eisenhower. MacArthur later became head of the Remington Rand Corporation.

MacArthur spent the remainder of his life quietly in New York, except for a spectacular "sentimental journey" to the Philippines in 1961, when he was decorated by President Carlos P. Garcia with the Philippine Legion of Honor, rank of Chief Commander. During one of his visits, a section of the Pan-Philippine Highway was renamed to MacArthur Highway in his honor.

President John F. Kennedy solicited MacArthur's counsel in 1961. The first of two meetings was shortly after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. According to White House staffer Kenneth P. O'Donnell, MacArthur was extremely critical of the Pentagon and its military advice to Kennedy. MacArthur also cautioned the young President to avoid a U.S. military build-up in Vietnam, pointing out that domestic problems should be given a much greater priority. Kennedy was said to have come out of the more than three-hour meeting 'stunned' and 'enormously impressed.'

Death and legacy

MacArthur and his second wife, Jean Faircloth, spent the last years of their life together in the penthouse of the Waldorf-Astoria. After his death Jean continued to live in the penthouse until her death. The couple are entombed together in downtown Norfolk, Virginia; their burial site is in the rotunda of a memorial building/museum (formerly the Norfolk city hall) dedicated to his memory, and there is a major shopping mall (MacArthur Center) named for him across the street from the memorial. According to the museum, General MacArthur chose to be buried in Norfolk because of his mother's ancestral ties to the city.

The couple's son, born Arthur MacArthur IV, changed his surname and now lives anonymously as a saxophonist in the New York area.

MacArthur wanted his family to remember him for more than being a soldier. He said, "By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder--infinitely prouder--to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, 'Our Father who art in heaven." [2]

MacArthur's nephew, Douglas MacArthur II (a son of his brother Arthur) served as a diplomat for several years, including the post of Ambassador to Japan and several other countries.

MacArthur Boulevard in Maryland and Washington, D.C. is named in his honor. It runs from Great Falls Park in Potomac, Maryland into the Georgetown neighborhood of D.C.

Summary of service

West Point

  • June 13, 1899 – appointed as a Cadet at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
  • 1900: Is the victim of hazing and becomes involved in a serious scandal where one Cadet is left dead by upperclassman abuse. Maintains his honor, and does not appear as a snitch, by only naming cadets who hazed him who were already expelled from West Point or had previously confessed
  • June 1903 – Graduates first in his class, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers

Early career

  • June 1903: Serves with the 3rd Battalion of Engineers in the Philippine Islands.
  • 1904: Assigned to the California Debris Commission.
  • April 1904: Promoted to First Lieutenant, becomes acting Chief Engineering Officer for the Army Pacific Division based in San Francisco, California
  • October 1904: Reports to Tokyo, Japan to serve as an aide to his father (Major General Arthur MacArthur, Jr.) in the Far East
  • December 1906: Serves as aide-de-camp to President Theodore Roosevelt
  • August 1907: Attends the "Engineering School of Application" in Washington, DC
  • February 1908: Assigned as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Improvements Commission, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • April 1908: Appointed as Commanding Officer, Company K, 3rd Battalion of Engineers. Later that year becomes an instructor at the Mounted Service School, Fort Riley, Kansas
  • April 1909: Becomes Quartermaster for the 3rd Battalion of Engineers
  • February 1911: Promoted to Captain and serves as the Officer-in-Charge of the Engineering Depot at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
  • November 1912: Assigned to the General Staff Corps, for duty as a Member and Recorder of the Board of Engineering Troops
  • April 1913: Appointed as Superintendent of State, War, and Navy Buildings as a member of the General Staff
  • April 1914: Becomes the Assistant Engineering Officer of the military expedition to Veracruz, Mexico
  • December 1915: Promoted to Major, serves as an Engineering Officer on the Army General Staff
  • August 1917: Advanced to the temporary rank of Colonel in the National Army. Reports to Camp Mill, Long Island, New York to begin forming the 42nd Infantry Division.

World War I

  • 1917 - 1918: Becomes Chief of Staff of the 42nd Infantry Division and is credited with naming it the "Rainbow Division". Joins the American Expeditionary Force bound for France
  • June 1918: Appointed a Brigadier General in the National Army and in August is appointed as Commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade.
  • 1918 - 1919: Cited for extreme battlefield bravery and also is wounded in combat and gassed by the enemy. Was known for personally leading troops into battle, often without a weapon of his own. Begins to develop a negative relationship with General of the Armies John Pershing, after feeling that Pershing is wasting the lives of his troops with bad military tactics.
  • May 1919: Returns to the United States a hero, but is distraught over the lack of recognition his Rainbow Division receives for actions in France.

Inter-war years

  • June 1919: Becomes the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point
  • February 1920: Reverts to peacetime rank, but is one of the few officers who does not lose his World War I position. Becomes a brigadier general in the Regular Army. Receives a negative evaluation report from Pershing, now Chief of Staff, who ranks Macarthur 38 out of 45 generals and states that MacArthur has an "exalted view of himself and should remain in his present grade for several years".
  • October 1922: Becomes Commanding General, District of Manila, in the Philippines
  • July 1923: While still serving as District of Manila Commander, also becomes Commander of the 23rd Infantry Brigade
  • January 1925: Promoted to Major General, becoming the youngest two-star general in the U.S. Army. Returns to the United States to become a Corps Commander
  • May 1925: Assigned as IVth Area Corps Commander, U.S. Army, encompassing areas of Atlanta and Georgia
  • 1926 - 1927: Serves as 3rd Corps Commander, based in Baltimore, Maryland
  • 1928: Leads the US Olympic Team to Amsterdam and is then assigned as the Commanding General, Philippine Department, based in Manila.
  • October 1930: Becomes the commander of the Ninth Corps Area based in San Francisco, California
  • November 21, 1930: Appointed as a full General and becomes Chief of Staff of the United States Army
  • June 1932: Presides over the destruction of the "Bonus Army", deemed a low point of his tenure as Army Chief of Staff
  • October 1935: Completes his tour as Chief of Staff and declines retirement from the Army. Per Army regulations, reverts to his permanent rank of Major General and becomes the Chief Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines
  • December 31, 1937: Decides to retire from the United States Army. Is advanced back to the rank of General for listing on the U.S. Army retired rolls
  • 1937 - 1941: Civilian advisor to the Philippine Government on military matters. Is appointed a Field Marshal in the Philippine Army, the only American officer in history accorded with that rank. Begins wearing the cap which is so often associated with him, that being a Field Marshal cover with U.S. Army crest
  • April 1937 - marries Jean Faircloth
  • February 21, 1938 - Arthur MacArthur IV is born

World War II

When Americans stormed ashore at Leyte, it fullfilled a promise made by Gen. Douglas MacArthur made in the dark days following the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese in 1942.
When Americans stormed ashore at Leyte, it fullfilled a promise made by Gen. Douglas MacArthur made in the dark days following the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese in 1942.
Leyte Landing famous monument immortalizing the landing of the Allied Forces
Leyte Landing famous monument immortalizing the landing of the Allied Forces
  • July 26, 1941: Recalled to active service in the United States Army as a Major General
  • July 27, 1941: Appointed Lieutenant General in the Army of the United States and becomes Commanding General of USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East)
  • December 1941: Japanese attack and defeat US Air Force in Philippines
  • December 1941: promoted to General in the Army of the United States
  • December 1941-May 1942; retreat to Bataan and Corregidor in face of Japanese invasion
  • February 1942: Roosevelt orders MacArthur out of the Philippines; MacArthur promises, "I shall return."
  • 1942 - 1943: rebuilds Australian morale; begins the reconquest of the island of New Guinea
  • 1943 - 1944: argues with the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding reconquest of the Philippine Islands. Chiefs propose bypass; MacArthur appeals to President Roosevelt.
  • October 1944: lands at Leyte and begins reconquest of Philippines
  • December 1944: Becomes a General of the Army and is ranked the second highest ranking active duty officer of the U.S. Army, second only to George Marshall
  • 1944 - 1945: Due to logistics issues the Joint Chiefs decided to invade the Philippine Islands. MacArthur again must fight to convince his superiors to invade the entire Philippine Islands, whereas initial plans call for only an invasion of the south. The Joint Chiefs at last agreed that MacArthur is to invade the Philippine Islands at Leyte Gulf and strike towards Manila.
  • February 5, 1945: MacArthur fulfills his promise to return and liberates Manila
  • Summer 1945: in Manila to plan invasions of Japan in October, 1945. Is stunned when the atomic bomb ends the war abruptly, quoted that "this apparatus will make men like me obsolete".
  • September, 1945: Presides over the surrender of Japan and becomes military governor of Japanese home islands. Threatens the Soviet Union with armed conflict should Red Army soldiers attempt to occupy any part of Japan.

Occupation of Japan

  • December 15, 1945 - Orders the end of Shinto as the state religion of Japan
  • 1945 - 1948: Begins sweeping reforms, drafts a new constitution for Japan, and puts an end to centuries of Emperor god-worship

Korean War

  • July 8, 1950: Following the invasion of North Korea into South Korea, MacArthur is named Commander of all United Nations forces in Korea.
  • July 31, 1950: Travels to Taiwan and conducts diplomacy with Chiang Kai-Shek
  • September 15, 1950: Leads UN forces at the Battle of Inchon, seen as one of the greatest military maneuvers in history
  • October 15, 1950: Meets with President Truman on Wake Island after heavy disagreements develop regarding the conduct of the Korean War. When meeting Truman, it is very noticeable that MacArthur does not salute his Commander-in-Chief but rather offers a handshake
  • November - December 1950: With China committed to all-out war against the US on the Korean peninsula, MacArthur advocates for the same in return against China but is prohibited. He is outraged when military leaders in Washington restrict the war to only the Korean theater, meaning that he cannot bomb even the bridges of the Yalu river over which Chinese troops, supplies, and material are streaming across. He is further restricted from bombing their bases in Manchuria. MacArthur expressed his outrage later, saying that "The order not to bomb the Yalu bridges was the most indefensible and ill-conceived decision ever forced on a field commander in our nation's history."
  • April 11, 1951: After several public criticisms of White House policy in Korea, which were seen as undercutting the Commander-in-Chief's position, Harry Truman removes MacArthur from command and orders him to return to the United States. Some suggest Truman may have exchanged MacArthur for a sound nuclear policy in Korea since he did not trust "Brass Hat MacArthur" with nuclear weapons. This claim seems dubious, however, since (as David Horowitz noted in The Free World Colossus) MacArthur was against Truman's use of the bomb against Japan and there seems to be no concrete evidence of a major change in his views..
  • April 19, 1951: At a farewell address before Congress, MacArthur gives his famous "Old Soldiers Never Die" speech [2]
  • May 1951: Retires a second time from the U.S. Army, but is listed as permanently on active duty due to the regulations regarding those who hold Five Star General rank. For administrative reasons, he is assigned in absentee to the Office of the Army Chief of Staff

Later life

  • 1952: Allows name to be placed on primary ballots for Republican nomination, but does not campaign or announce as a candidate. Senator Robert Taft promises supporters to name MacArthur as candidate for Vice President, but Taft loses nomination to Eisenhower.
  • 1955: Is considered for promotion to General of the Armies. The promotion is declined by MacArthur due to logistics involving retirement pay benefits and senority listings within the Army.
  • May 12, 1962 - Gives famous Duty, Honor, Country valedictory speech at West Point
  • Active in U.S. Olympic affairs
  • April 5, 1964: Douglas MacArthur dies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Dates of rank

No pin insignia in 1903 Second Lieutenant, United States Army: June 11, 1903
First Lieutenant, United States Army: April 23, 1904
Captain, United States Army: February 27, 1911
Major, United States Army: December 11, 1915
Colonel, National Army: August 5, 1917
Brigadier General, National Army: June 26, 1918
Brigadier General rank made permanent in the Regular Army: January 20, 1920
Major General, Regular Army: January 17, 1925
General for temporary service as Army Chief of Staff: November 21, 1930
Reverted to permanent rank of Major General, Regular Army: October 1, 1935
Retired in grade as a General on Regular Army rolls: December 31, 1937
Recalled to active service as a Major General in the Regular Army: July 26, 1941
Lieutenant General in the Army of the United States: July 27, 1941
General, Army of the United States: December 18, 1941
General of the Army, Army of the United States: December 18, 1944
General of the Army rank made permanent in the Regular Army: March 23, 1946

In 1955, a bill passed by the United States Congress authorized the President of the United States to promote Douglas MacArthur to the rank of General of the Armies (a similar measure had also been proposed unsuccessfully in 1945). However, due to regulations involving retirement pay and benefits, as well as MacArthur being junior to George C. Marshall (who had not been recommended for the same promotion), MacArthur declined promotion to what many view would have been seen as a Six Star General.

Awards and decorations

During his military career, General MacArthur was awarded the following decorations from both the United States and other allied nations. The awards listed below are those which would have been worn on a military uniform and do not include commemorative medals, unofficial decorations, and non-portable awards.


  • Medal of Honor
  • Distinguished Service Cross with two oak leaf clusters
  • Army Distinguished Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Silver Star six oak leaf clusters, represented by one silver and one bronze oak leaf cluster
  • Bronze Star Medal with Valor device
  • Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster
  • Presidential Unit Citation six oak leaf clusters, represented by one silver and one bronze oak leaf cluster
  • Air Medal
  • Philippine Campaign Medal
  • Mexican Service Medal
  • World War I Victory Medal with five battle clasps (Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector)
  • Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
  • American Defense Service Medal with “Foreign Service” clasp
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two silver service stars and arrowhead device
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Army of Occupation Medal with “Japan” clasp
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Korean Service Medal with three bronze service stars and arrowhead device
  • United Nations Service Medal
  • Command Aviator Badge
  • Army General Staff Identification Badge
  • Fourteen Overseas Service Bars
  • Expert Badge with Rifle and Pistol bars

Foreign awards

  • Knight Grand Cross of the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath
  • French Légion d'honneur
  • French Croix de Guerre
  • French Medaille Militaire
  • Australian Pacific Star
  • Philippine Medal of Valor
  • Philippine Distinguished Service Star
  • Philippine Legion of Honor, Degree of Chief Commander
  • Philippine Defense Medal with one service star
  • Philippine Liberation Medal with four service stars
  • Republic of the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation
  • Philippine Independence Medal
  • Order of the Belgium Crown
  • Belgian Croix de Guerre
  • Belgian Order of the Cross
  • Czechoslovakian Order of the White Lion
  • Polish Virtuti Militari
  • Polish Grand Cross of Polonia Restituta
  • Grand Cross Netherlands Order of Orange-Nassau
  • Yugoslavian Order of the White Eagle
  • Japanese Order of the Rising Sun
  • Republic of Korean Presidential Unit Citation
  • Korean Grand Cross of the Order of Military Valour and Merit
  • Italian Grand Cross of the Military Order
  • Italian War Cross
  • Cuban Grand Cross of Military Merit
  • Ecuadorian Grand Cross Order of Abdon Calderon
  • Chinese Cordon of Pau Ting
  • Greek Medal of Honor
  • Guatemalan Cross of Military Merit
  • Hungarian Grand Cross of Military Merit
  • Order of Mexican Military Merit
  • Grand Cross Order of Romanian Military Merit

See also


  • MacArthur had no middle name, though some Internet sources variously ascribe him a middle initial of "A", "B", "C", "D", "M", or "S". An archivist at the MacArthur Memorial asserts that MacArthur did wear a monogrammed handkerchief with a middle initial of "A", possibly chosen to indicate his father, but the general had no official middle name.
  • Arthur and Douglas MacArthur were the first father and son to each be awarded a Medal of Honor. They remained the only pair until 2001 when Theodore Roosevelt was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his service during the Spanish American War. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. had won one for his service during World War II.

References and notes


  1. ^ Philip R. Piccigallo, The Japanese on Trial: Allied War Crimes Operations in the East, 1945-1951 U Texas Pess; The Tokyo War Crimes Trials (1946-1948), PBS (accessed April 21, 2006)
  2. ^ In Emerson Roy West, Vital Quotations (1968) p.118


  • United States Army service record of Douglas MacArthur, National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri
  • James, D. Clayton. The Years of MacArthur Volume I, 1880-1941 (1970) (ISBN 0-395-10948-5); The Years of MacArthur: vol. 2 1941-45 (1975); (ISBN 0-395-20446-1); The Years of Macarthur: Volume 3: Triumph and Disaster 1945-1964 (1985)(ISBN 0-395-36004-8); Houghton, Mifflin. the stanadard biography
  • Leary, William M. MacArthur and the American Century: A Reader. University of Nebraska Press: 2001. ISBN 0-8032-2930-5. essays by historians
  • Leary, William M. We Shall Return!: Macarthur's Commanders and the Defeat of Japan, 1942-1945 (1988)
  • Long, Gavin Merrick; MacArthur as Military Commander (1969)
  • Richard Lowitt; The Truman-MacArthur Controversy (1967)
  • David W. Lutz; "The Exercise Of Military Judgment: A Philosophical Investigation Of The Virtues And Vices Of General Douglas Macarthur." Journal Of Power And Ethics Vol 1, Issue: 1. 2000. pp 68+
  • Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880–1964. Laurel: 1983. ISBN 0-440-30424-5.
  • Perret, Geoffrey. Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life and Legend of Douglas MacArthur. Random House: 1996. ISBN 0-679-42882-8.
  • Nathan Prefer; Macarthur's New Guinea Campaign (1995)
  • Eugene L. Rasor; General Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964: Historiography and Annotated Bibliography Greenwood Press, 1994
  • Schaller, Michael. Douglas MacArthur: The Far Eastern General. Replica Books: 2001. ISBN 0-7351-0354-2.
  • Howard B. Schonberger; Aftermath of War: Americans and the Remaking of Japan, 1945-1952 Kent State University Press. 1989.
  • Taaffe, Stephen. Macarthur's Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign. University Press of Kansas: 1998. ISBN 0-7006-0870-2.
  • Valley, David J. Gaijin Shogun: General Douglas MacArthur, Stepfather of Postwar Japan. Sektor Company: 2000. ISBN 0-9678175-2-8.
  • Dennis D. Wainstock; Truman, MacArthur, and the Korean War Greenwood Press, 1999
  • Weintraub, Stanley. MacArthur's War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero. Free Press: 2000. ISBN 0-684-83419-7.
  • Robert Wolfe; Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan, 1944-1952 Southern Illinois University Press, (1984)

Primary sources

  • MacArthur, Douglas. Reminiscences. United States Naval Institute: 2001. ISBN 1-55750-483-0.
  • General MacArthur: Letters from the Japanese During the American Occupation. Rowman & Littlefield: 2001. ISBN 0-7425-1115-4.
  • Paul P. Rogers; The Good Years: MacArthur and Sutherland Greenwood Press. 1990, vol 1; vol 2: The Bitter Years: MacArthur and Sutherland (1991). Sutherland was MacArthur's chief of staff, and Rogers was a junior staffer

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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