Meeting of September 21, 2010

Don Hayden on “The Amazing MacArthurs”

man in a 19th-century general's uniform

Major General Arthur MacArthur

(Meeting description provided by Charlie Sweeny.) Few nations have had the likes of the brave père et fils MacArthur. Both were awarded the Medal of Honor for battlefield leadership and bravery.

The father, Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, was born in Massachusetts. He served throughout the Civil War in the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. At age 20 he was made lieutenant colonel. He was wounded three times and was brevetted (meritorious promotion in rank) four times. He was Sheridan’s “Boy Colonel of the West.” He was cited for “Gallant and Meritorious Service” in battles at Perryville, Stones River, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Dalton, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Jonesboro, and Franklin. He fought in the Indian Wars as a regular army officer (1866-1886).

In 1898, he became a brigadier general in the Philippine Island part of the Spanish American War. Again he was cited for gallantry and conspicuous service and was advanced to Major General. He led the main effort against the insurgents. He became the corps commander and succeeded to the job of Military Governor. As Governor, he helped lay the foundations of a new, free and independent nation. He introduced the writ of habeas corpus, revisions of Spanish law, and a free public school system.

In 1906 he became the ranking U.S. Army officer as a lieutenant general. He retired in 1909 and died in Milwaukee in 1912.

general in uniform with a corncob pipe

Douglas MacArthur

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, son of General Arthur MacArthur, was born at Little Rock Barracks, Arkansas, in 1880. He graduated first in his class at West Point in 1903. He went to the Philippines and then Korea, studying the Far East. He took part in the Vera Cruz Expedition of 1914. The First World War service found him as the commanding general in France of the 42nd Rainbow Division, the first of his decorated service. From 1919-1922, he was superintendent of West Point. From 1928 to 1930, he was the C.O. of the Department of the Philippines. He was elevated to Chief of Staff of the Army (1930-1935). In 1935 he went back to the Philippines as military advisor until army retirement in 1937. As field marshal (1936), he led the Commonwealth army.

World War II events led to the U.S. Army recalling MacArthur on July 26, 1941 to duty as Commander of U.S. and Commonwealth Troops. Japan attacked the Philippines in December. The Japanese defeated the U.S. in April and May. President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to go to Australia just prior to the surrender of Bataan and to command the Allied war efforts. The slow way back started in late 1942 with an offensive in New Guinea. The war continued with the 1944 return to the liberation of the Philippines. As a five-star general, he received the enemy surrender in 1945 and then became the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in charge of occupying Japan.

As the Supremo, MacArthur showed his fabulous knowledge of legal systems and constitutional needs in reorganizing Japanese Government. (Your Secretary in 1985, when visiting Japan, was told by the tour guide in Tokyo that General MacArthur had given Japan the best government, the most fair government, that it had ever had.)

The Communist attack on South Korea in June of 1959 found need again for MacArthur. As C.O. of the U.N. troops, he led them from initial defeat to a rout of the North Koreans following the fabulous Inchon Landing. MacArthur pushed north to near China. Chinese invasion immediately followed. President Truman relieved MacArthur in 1951 in an effort to contain the hostilities. MacArthur died in 1964.


Thank you, Dr. Hayden. Your presentation was much appreciated.