Douglas MacArthur

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Could I have but a line a century hence crediting a contribution to the advance of peace, I would gladly yield every honor which has been accorded me in war.

Douglas MacArthur (26 January 18805 April 1964) was an American five-star general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. He was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines Campaign, which made him and his father Arthur MacArthur, Jr., the first father and son to be awarded the medal. He was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the US Army, and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army.

Quotes[edit]

I have returned.
"Duty, Honor, Country" — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.
They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
Americans never quit.
America has evolved a model for this new free world... America has demonstrated that peoples of the East and peoples of the West may walk side by side in mutual respect and with mutual benefit.
  • It was close; but that's the way it is in war. You win or lose, live or die — and the difference is just an eyelash.
    • To Gen. Richard Sutherland after their flight over Japanese held territory to reach Australia (17 March 1942) [specific citation needed]
  • I see that the flagpole still stands. Have your troops hoist the colors to its peak, and let no enemy ever haul them down.
    • To Colonel George M. Jones and the 503rd Regimental Combat Team, who recaptured Corregidor (2 March 1945) [specific citation needed]
  • It seems strangely difficult for some to realize that here in Asia is where the Communist conspirators have elected to make their play for global conquest, and that we have joined the issue thus raised on the battlefield; that here we fight Europe’s war with arms while the diplomats there still fight it with words; that if we lose the war to communism in Asia the fall of Europe is inevitable, win it and Europe most probably would avoid war and yet preserve freedom. As you pointed out, we must win. There is no substitute for victory.
    • Letter to Representative Joseph W. Martin, Jr., (20 March 1951); read to the House by Martin on April 5.
  • It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear. While such an economy may produce a sense of seeming prosperity for the moment, it rests on an illusionary foundation of complete unreliability and renders among our political leaders almost a greater fear of peace than is their fear of war.
    • Speech to the Michigan legislature, in Lansing, Michigan (15 May 1952), published in General MacArthur Speeches and Reports 1908-1964 (2000) by Edward T. Imparato, p. 206, much of this was used in speeches of 1951, as quoted in The Twenty-year Revolution from Roosevelt to Eisenhower (1954) by Chesly Manly, p. 3, and Total Insecurity : The Myth Of American Omnipotence (2004) by Carol Brightman, p. 182
  • Talk of imminent threat to our national security through the application of external force is pure nonsense. Our threat is from the insidious forces working from within which have already so drastically altered the character of our free institutions — those institutions we proudly called the American way of life.
    • Speech to the Michigan legislature, in Lansing, Michigan (15 May 1952), published in General MacArthur Speeches and Reports 1908-1964 (2000) by Edward T. Imparato, p. 206; part of this was also used in a speech in Boston, as quoted in TIME magazine (6 August 1951)
  • Only those are fit to live who are not afraid of dying.
    • Richards Topical Encyclopedia (1951)
  • "Duty, Honor, Country" — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn... In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country. Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps. I bid you farewell.
  • Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.
    • Reported in William A. Ganoe, MacArthur Close-Up (1962), p. 137
  • Could I have but a line a century hence crediting a contribution to the advance of peace, I would gladly yield every honor which has been accorded me in war.
    • Macarthur and the American Century: A Reader (2001) edited by William M Leary
  • The Puerto Ricans forming the ranks of the gallant 65th Infantry on the battlefields of Korea … are writing a brilliant record of achievement in battle and I am proud indeed to have them in this command. I wish that we might have many more like them.
  • Our swollen budgets constantly have been misrepresented to the public. Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.
    • Address to the Annual Stockholders Sperry Rand Corporation (30 July 1957), as published in General MacArthur Speeches and Reports 1908-1964 (2000) by Edward T. Imparato, p. 206

1920s[edit]

  • Americans never quit.
    • Comment as president of the American Olympic committee when the manager of the American boxing team in the 1928 Olympic games wanted to withdraw the team because of what he thought was an unfair decision against an American boxer; reported in The New York Times (August 9, 1928), p. 13.

1940s[edit]

Victory broadcast (1945)[edit]

Radio broadcast after the surrender of the Japan on the battleship USS Missouri officially ending World War II (2 September 1945)
We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.
  • Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain with death — the seas bear only commerce — men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world lies quietly at peace. The holy mission has been completed. And in reporting this to you, the people, I speak for the thousands of silent lips, forever stilled among the jungles and the beaches and in the deep waters of the Pacific which marked the way.
  • We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.
    A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concepts of war.
  • Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start workable methods were found in so far as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful. Military alliances, balances of power, Leagues of Nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.
  • We stand in Tokyo today reminiscent of our countryman, Commodore Perry, ninety-two years ago. His purpose was to bring to Japan an era of enlightenment and progress, by lifting the veil of isolation to the friendship, trade, and commerce of the world. But alas the knowledge thereby gained of western science was forged into an instrument of oppression and human enslavement. Freedom of expression, freedom of action, even freedom of thought were denied through appeal to superstition, and through the application of force. We are committed by the Potsdam Declaration of principles to see that the Japanese people are liberated from this condition of slavery. … To the Pacific basin has come the vista of a new emancipated world. Today, freedom is on the offensive, democracy is on the march. Today, in Asia as well as in Europe, unshackled peoples are tasting the full sweetness of liberty, the relief from fear.

1950s[edit]

Farewell address to Congress (1951)[edit]

I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes … But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end.
War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory.
Farewell address to a Joint Session of Congress (19 April 1951) (with MPEG audio)
  • I stand on this rostrum with a sense of deep humility and great pride — humility in the weight of those great American architects of our history who have stood here before me; pride in the reflection that this home of legislative debate represents human liberty in the purest form yet devised.
  • Here are centered the hopes and aspirations and faith of the entire human race. I do not stand here as advocate for any partisan cause, for the issues are fundamental and reach quite beyond the realm of partisan consideration. They must be resolved on the highest plane of national interest if our course is to prove sound and our future protected. I trust, therefore, that you will do me the justice of receiving that which I have to say as solely expressing the considered viewpoint of a fellow American.
  • I address you with neither rancor nor bitterness in the fading twilight of life, with but one purpose in mind: to serve my country. The issues are global and so interlocked that to consider the problems of one sector, oblivious to those of another, is but to court disaster for the whole. While Asia is commonly referred to as the Gateway to Europe, it is no less true that Europe is the Gateway to Asia, and the broad influence of the one cannot fail to have its impact upon the other.
  • In this situation, it becomes vital that our own country orient its policies in consonance with this basic evolutionary condition rather than pursue a course blind to the reality that the colonial era is now past and the Asian peoples covet the right to shape their own free destiny. What they seek now is friendly guidance, understanding, and support — not imperious direction — the dignity of equality and not the shame of subjugation.
  • The Pacific no longer represents menacing avenues of approach for a prospective invader. It assumes, instead, the friendly aspect of a peaceful lake. Our line of defense is a natural one and can be maintained with a minimum of military effort and expense.
  • China, up to 50 years ago, was completely non-homogenous, being compartmented into groups divided against each other. The war-making tendency was almost non-existent, as they still followed the tenets of the Confucian ideal of pacifist culture. At the turn of the century, under the regime of Chang Tso Lin, efforts toward greater homogeneity produced the start of a nationalist urge. This was further and more successfully developed under the leadership of Chiang Kai-Shek, but has been brought to its greatest fruition under the present regime to the point that it has now taken on the character of a united nationalism of increasingly dominant, aggressive tendencies.
  • The Japanese people, since the war, have undergone the greatest reformation recorded in modern history. With a commendable will, eagerness to learn, and marked capacity to understand, they have, from the ashes left in war's wake, erected in Japan an edifice dedicated to the supremacy of individual liberty and personal dignity; and in the ensuing process there has been created a truly representative government committed to the advance of political morality, freedom of economic enterprise, and social justice. Politically, economically, and socially Japan is now abreast of many free nations of the earth and will not again fail the universal trust... I sent all four of our occupation divisions to the Korean battlefront without the slightest qualms as to the effect of the resulting power vacuum upon Japan. The results fully justified my faith. I know of no nation more serene, orderly, and industrious, nor in which higher hopes can be entertained for future constructive service in the advance of the human race.
  • While I was not consulted prior to the President's decision to intervene in support of the Republic of Korea, that decision from a military standpoint, proved a sound one, as we hurled back the invader and decimated his forces. Our victory was complete, and our objectives within reach, when Red China intervened with numerically superior ground forces.
  • While no man in his right mind would advocate sending our ground forces into continental China, and such was never given a thought, the new situation did urgently demand a drastic revision of strategic planning if our political aim was to defeat this new enemy as we had defeated the old.
  • We could hold in Korea by constant maneuver and in an approximate area where our supply line advantages were in balance with the supply line disadvantages of the enemy, but we could hope at best for only an indecisive campaign with its terrible and constant attrition upon our forces if the enemy utilized its full military potential. I have constantly called for the new political decisions essential to a solution.
    Efforts have been made to distort my position. It has been said, in effect, that I was a warmonger. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes. … But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end.
  • War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory.
  • There are some who, for varying reasons, would appease Red China. They are blind to history's clear lesson, for history teaches with unmistakable emphasis that appeasement but begets new and bloodier war. It points to no single instance where this end has justified that means, where appeasement has led to more than a sham peace. Like blackmail, it lays the basis for new and successively greater demands until, as in blackmail, violence becomes the only other alternative.
  • The tragedy of Korea is further heightened by the fact that its military action is confined to its territorial limits. It condemns that nation, which it is our purpose to save, to suffer the devastating impact of full naval and air bombardment while the enemy's sanctuaries are fully protected from such attack and devastation. Of the nations of the world, Korea alone, up to now, is the sole one which has risked its all against communism. The magnificence of the courage and fortitude of the Korean people defies description.
    They have chosen to risk death rather than slavery. Their last words to me were: "Don't scuttle the Pacific!"
  • I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "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.

Speech to the Texas Legislature[edit]

  • I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any potential threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within which, opposed to all of our great traditions, have gravely weakened the structure and tone of our American way of life.

Quotes about MacArthur[edit]

  • The best and the worst things you hear about him are both true.
    • Sir Thomas Blamey, the only Australian Army officer ever to rise to the rank of field marshal, as quoted in Blamey, Controversial Soldier: a Biography of Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey (1973) by John Hetherington, p. 223
  • On a raw November day in 1863, the Twenty-Fourth Wisconsin formed beneath Missionary Ridge outside Chattanooga, Tennessee. Union troops were trying to lift the siege of the town, but Confederate defenders were proving stubborn. Quite suddenly, without orders, Union regiments in the center of the line began to move up the ridge. When their wild advance was over, among the battle flags atop the crest was the standard of the Twenty-Fourth Wisconsin, carried there by its eighteen-year-old "boy colonel," Arthur MacArthur, whose son, Douglas, would spend most of his own military career trying to emulate his father's charge.
    • Walter R. Borneman, The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy and King- The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea (2012), p. 13
  • Popular perception has long suggested that FDR favored the Navy over the Army, but when it came to budgets, deployments, and promotions, he was evenhanded as a commander in chief. On an emotional level, however, Roosevelt's combination inspection-fishing-vacation trips- such as he enjoyed aboard the cruiser Houston- were among his favorite occasions. And his long-standing relationships with the Navy's admirals, particularly the duty-minded Leahy, made him more comfortable having them around. This contrast is underscored by remembering that the Army Chief of Staff from 1930 to 1935 was Douglas MacArthur. The general was still trying to emulate his father's advance up to Missionary Ridge during the Civil War, and his visits to the White House often took on the aura of a state visit. FDR was not intimidated by MacArthur- or anyone else- but neither was he terribly comfortable with him. When MacArthur left Washington for the Philippines and Malin Craig, whom Roosevelt did not know well, became Army Chief of Staff, it was only natural that Roosevelt gravitated toward the loyal and understated Leahy as his chief military adviser.
    • Walter R. Borneman, The Admirals (2012), p. 167
  • Nine hours later, after other Japanese air attacks against northern Luzon were reported, several hundred Mitsubishi bombers and Zero fighters roared over Clark Field outside Manila and destroyed the bulk of American airpower in the Philippines- MacArthur's air force- as it sat on the ground. Even after years of increasingly hostile Japanese intentions and fair evidence that something was building to a head in the Far East, some might be tempted to forgive MacArthur for being the victim of a surprise attack. But how could he still have his airplanes lined up wingtip to wingtip nine hours after being notified of the attack on Pearl Harbor? Two days later, with the Philippine skies largely void of defending planes, another Japanese air attack destroyed the American naval base at Cavite. MacArthur "might have made a better showing at the beaches and passes, and certainly he should have saved his planes on December 8," a newly appointed brigadier general who had long served as the general's aide confided to his diary. "But," wrote Dwight D. Eisenhower, "he's still the hero." The man was clearly fallible, but the legend was not. In the dark days of early 1942, when rallying cries and heroes were in short supply, the legend had to be preserved at all costs. FDR knew it. Leahy appears to have blindly affirmed it. King, Nimitz and Halsey would all come to grips with it in their own ways. But for now, America desperately needed a hero, and Douglas MacArthur was the man of the hour.
    • Walter R. Borneman, The Admirals (2012), p. 227
The man was clearly fallible, but the legend was not. In the dark days of early 1942, when rallying cries and heroes were in short supply, the legend had to be preserved at all costs. America desperately needed a hero, and Douglas MacArthur was the man of the hour.
  • So Weinberger reported to MacArthur's headquarters in Brisbane, where he was a very junior officer on the staff of the legendary general. Nonetheless, he saw enough to have a full appreciation of MacArthur's brilliance. "I saw the plans for the invasion of Japan,: Weinberger says. "the breadth and scope of MacArthur's brilliance. With very few troops, a couple of understrength divisions, and some Australian militia forces, he accomplished an enormous amount in the Pacific." The young intelligence officer also learned directly from MacArthur about judgment and decision making. Weinberger was on duty one night as American forces were moving on a small island, lightly occupied by the Japanese, to take it for a radio base. Suddenly, there were reports of a Japanese ship and Japanese aircraft in the vicinity. Weinberger thought he'd better take this information directly to MacArthur. "So I walked two blocks to his hotel," Weinberger remembers. "I got through the various security and gave him the message He came out in his bathrobe, looking just as erect and imposing as he did in full uniform, that magnificent posture, deep voice. He looked the message over carefully and said, 'Well, Lieutenant, what do you think?' I said, 'General, I think it's a coincidence that they're there. They don't seem to have hostile intent. I would go ahead with the landing.' General MacArthur said, 'That's what I think, too. Good night.'" Weinberger walked back through the night to his post "in fear and trembling- to see if I was wrong or not. Fortunately, it worked out."
    • Tom Brokaw, describing experiences of Caspar Weinberger, 15th U.S. Secretary of Defense, while he was an Army intelligence officer and a member of MacArthur's staff during World War II, in The Greatest Generation (1998), p. 360
  • By the time of the surrender of Corregidor on May 6, MacArthur and his family had escaped to Australia under direct orders from President Roosevelt. (They left Corregidor in the PT boat of Lieutenant John Bulkely, who received the Medal of Honor for his many daring missions in the Philippines in the months from December 8, 1941 to April 10, 1942.) In ordering MacArthur to leave his command, President Roosevelt and General George C. Marshall, his Army Chief of Staff, made a political calculation. They reasoned that an inspirational figure planning a return to his command from Australia was a much more potent force than a dead hero in the Philippines. In Australia General MacArthur was presented with the Medal of Honor. MacArthur had been personally courageous in the face of the bombing attacks on Corregidor, but he did not get the medal for any single specified act of bravery. His award is one of the few of the war that could be described as "symbolic," in large part because MacArthur's Philippine army was an inspiration to the American people during those dark days. MacArthur himself acknowledged this when he accepted the medal, saying that he felt it was "intended not so much for me personally as it is a recognition of the indomitable courage of the gallant army which it has been my honor to command." (MacArthur's medal came seventy-eight years after his father, Arthur, earned a Medal of Honor for rallying Northern troops on November 25, 1863, at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee, during the Civil War. Together the MacArthurs are the only father and son both to receive the Medal of Honor.)
    • Above and Beyond: A History of the Medal of Honor From the Civil War to Vietnam (1985), by the editors of the Boston Publishing Company, p. 200
  • Stepping off in Tokyo, I renewed an old acquaintance with General Douglas MacArthur, then Supreme Commander of the UN Forces. Ours really was an old acquaintanceship dating back to 1910, when my father, Charles C. Clark, then a major of infantry, was attending the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. MacArthur, then a first lieutenant of engineers, used to visit our house regularly, but at the time of the meeting in Tokyo I hadn't seen him for forty years. As we shook hands, MacArthur asked, "How's your mother? Give her my love; I'm a great admirer of hers." I knew that the general's courtly inquiry would please my mother, who has had her husband or son in every big shoot from the Spanish-American War to Korea.
    • Mark W. Clark, From The Danube to the Yalu (1954), p. 25-26.
  • MacArthur could not understand why we had permitted the enemy, the Chinese Communists, to have the advantage of a sanctuary as their base of supply and air operations. He expressed the strong conviction that had we carried the war to the Chinese with air attacks across the Yalu River, or even with the threat of such attacks, the war in Korea would have taken a course far more favorable to the United states and the United Nations. When the Chinese came into the war, masquerading their best armies as "volunteers," we should have hit them hard, MacArthur said. He said he couldn't conceive that our government would fail to retaliate when a nation came to war against us and crossed over the border into the country in which our troops were in battle. MacArthur was particularly bitter that his government had failed to do everything in its power to protect the American and Allied troops under his command when those men were menaced by the Chinese armies that were hurled into the Korean War. I fully agreed with MacArthur that we should not have allowed the enemy a sanctuary north of the Yalu. I have never changed my opinion.
    • Mark W. Clark, From the Danube to the Yalu (1954), p. 26-27
  • It was only two months later that President Truman relieved MacArthur of his command. I was at a camp in the Southern states on a field-training inspection tour at the time. Someone told me the news as I came out of my billet early in the morning. My first thought was, "I wonder if I'm going to get the job." The answer was yes- but not until about a year later. MacArthur's dismissal was not exactly unexpected in view of his feud with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, like most other officers in the Army, I was shocked at the abrupt termination of such a distinguished career.
    • Mark W. Clark, From the Danube to the Yalu (1954), p. 27
  • Arthur MacArthur's importance as a military leader grew as time went on. He became military governor of the Philippines in 1900. As a lieutenant general he served as Assistant Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army in 1906. He retired in 1909. His famous son, Douglas MacArthur, was also a Medal of Honor winner. He became the symbol of American determination to return to the Philippines after their seizure by Japanese forces in World War II. Thus, both father and son were famous generals, both served in the Philippines, and both were awarded the coveted Medal of Honor.
    • Donald E. Cooke, For Conspicuous Gallantry: Winners of the Medal of Honor (1966), p. 87
  • Arthur MacArthur was the most flamboyantly egotistical man I had ever seen, until I met his son.
    • Enoch H. Crowder, aide to Arthur MacArthur, Jr. during the Philippines campaign in 1899, as quoted in American Caesar by William Manchester
  • Another long message on "strategy" to MacArthur. He sent in one extolling the virtues of the flank offensive. Wonder what he thinks we've been studying for all these years. His lecture would be good for plebes.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower in a diary entry on February 8, 1942, as quoted in The Eisenhower Diaries (1981), edited by Robert H. Farrell, p. 47. "Plebes" refers to new cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, the military college that Eisenhower and MacArthur both graduated from.
  • Spent the entire day preparing drafts of president's messages to MacArthur and Quezon. Long, difficult, and irritating. Both are babies.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower in a diary entry on February 9, 1942, as quoted in The Eisenhower Diaries (1981), edited by Robert H. Farrell, p. 47.
  • Message to MacArthur was approved by President and dispatched. I'm dubious about the thing. I cannot help believing that we are disturbed by editorials and reacting to "public opinion" rather than to military logic. "Pa" Watson is certain we must get MacArthur out, as being worth "five army corps." He is doing a good job where he is, but I'm doubtful that he'd do so well in more complicated situations. Bataan is made to order for him. It's in the public eye; it as made him a public hero; it has all the essentials of drama; and he is acknowledged king on the spot. If brought out, public opinion will force him into a position where his love of the limelight may ruin him.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower, on February 23, 1942, The Eisenhower Diaries (1981), edited by Robert H. Farrell, p. 49.
  • Corregidor surrendered last night. Poor Wainwright! He did the fighting... [MacArthur] got such glory as the public could find... MacArthur's tirades, to which TJ and I so often listened to in Manila, would now sound as silly to the public as they then did to us. But he's a hero! Yah.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower, The Eisenhower Diaries (1981), edited by Robert H. Farrell, p. 54. "TJ" refers to T.J. Davis, one of MacArthur's aides at the time.
  • Another Decoration Day finds us still adding to the number of graves that will be decorated in future years. Men are stupid. MacArthur seems to have retired into the Waldorf Towers, from which stronghold he issues statements and occasionally emerges to see a baseball game. The first he does through Whitney- who, I think, is one of the Old Chief's mistakes. I cannot much blame MacA.- I get the impression that he is in a state of "watchful waiting." For what, I wouldn't know, but I do know that in his position I'd be after the bass of Wisconsin, the trout of Wyoming, or vacationing on the beach. Recently I wrote to him- had a nice reply. While I'm determined t stay aloof from all the current snarling and fighting in the United States, I'm most of all determined never to get into the "personality" kind of argument. In that respect the military men (especially including MacA.) have been exemplary.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower, The Eisenhower Diaries (1981), edited by Robert H. Farrell, p. 193.
  • During the Korean War, MacArthur was a law unto himself, in matters both big and small. He quarreled defiantly in public with President Truman, agitating for nuclear war. In their eventual confrontation on Wake Island, MacArthur went so far as to arrive first and then order the president's approaching plane into a holding pattern. MacArthur's commander in chief would thus arrive on the landing strip appearing to be MacArthur's supplicant. In explaining why he subsequently relieved MacArthur of his command, Truman said, "I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the president. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals." Truman was arguably pulling his punches. He could have easily called MacArthur an asshole.
    • Aaron James, in his book Assholes: A Theory (2012), p. 1-2.
  • General, I have a lot riding on you. I hope you don't pull a MacArthur on me.
    • Lyndon Johnson, said to Westmoreland when the two men met in Honolulu in 1966. As quoted in The Truman-MacArthur Tug of War – A Lingering Aftermath (1993) by Stephen A. Danner, p. 14-15
  • The spectacle of the United States Army routing unarmed citizens with tanks and firebrands outraged many Americans. The Bonus Army episode came to symbolize Hoover's supposed insensitivity to the plight of the unemployed. In fact the worst violence, resulting in two deaths, had come at the hands of the district police, not the federal troops, and the blame for the torching of Anacostia Flats was MacArthur's, not Hoover's. But Hoover chose to ignore MacArthur's insubordination and assumed full responsibility for the army's actions.
    • David M. Kennedy, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (1999), p. 92
  • It was disturbing to see that General Westmoreland kept asking for additional troops without any clear objective. During the Korean War, Douglas MacArthur requested permission to cross the Yalu River to invade Manchuria. He was fired. General Westmoreland kept asking for new troops and didn't know what to do with them. He was later promoted to Army Chief of Staff. This was the sign of the times. It was unfortunate that we did not have generals in Viet Nam of MacArthur's caliber who knew what the objectives were and how to achieve them.
    • Lam Quang Thi, The Twenty-Five Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon (2001), p. 156
  • In the early 1920s his chauffeur was driving him along the west bank of the Hudson when a man with a flashlight stepped into the road and waved them to a stop. Producing a pistol, he demanded the brigadier's wallet. "You don't get it as easy as that," MacArthur said. "I've got around forty dollars, but you'll have to whip me to get it. I'm coming out of this car, and I'll fight you for it." The thug threatened to kill him. MacArthur said, "Sure, you can shoot me, but if you do they'll run you down and fry you in the big house. Put down that gun, and I'll come out and fight you fair and square for my money. My name is MacArthur, and I live-" The man lowered his gun. He said, "My God, why didn't you tell me that in the first place? Why, I was in the Rainbow. I was a sergeant in Wild Bill Donovan's outfit. My God, General, I'm sorry. I apologize." MacArthur told his driver to proceed, and when he reached West Point he made no attempt to notify the police.
    • William Manchester, in his book American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 (1978), p. 114-115
  • Back and forth the fantastic tableaux would spin, past his cruel plebe hazing, the self-discovery at the West Texas Military Academy, the patriarchal Judge MacArthur, all beard and cigar smoke, presiding over dynastic feats at Washington's 1201 N Street; the chimes of the drawing-room clock there telling off the quarters; the ceremonial changing of the guard at Leavenworth; his father's tales of Sherman's dauntless Boys in Blue; his mother's imperious commands to fight and fight and never lower his blade short of victory; the clean crack of Krag rifles and the warm prickling of desert sand as he played with his brother outside the fort stockade; the rumbling of the sunset gun and Pinky's face tilting downward, her lambent smile gilding the child's upturned features while he clutched at her cascading skirts; the yellow notes of the bugles as he stirred in his cradle; the chant of sergeants hawking cadence on the parade ground outside; and, snapping proudly in the overarching sky above him, the flag, and the flag, and the flag.
    • William Manchester, in his book American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 (1978), p. 709
  • Japan fared no better [than Germany]. The United States took over the country, installed a military dictatorship under General Douglas MacArthur, and ruled the country with an iron fist. It is no accident that William Manchester titled his biography of MacArthur American Caesar. That MacArthur ruled wisely is a testimony to his observance of American heritage and democratic principles but should not obscure the fact that his rule was total. MacArthur ruled like a neocolonial military dictator possessing complete executive and legislative authority. "I could by fiat issue directives," he informed the U.S. Senate, and he did.
    • Seymour Morris Jr., American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts That Never Made It into the Textbooks (2010), p. 291-292
Washington and Grant and Lee were all tried and true
Eisenhower, Bradley, and MacArthur, too
They will live forevermore, 'till the world is done with war
Then they'll close that final door, fading away
  • Vaughan Monroe, in his 1951 song "Old Soldiers Never Die", which was named after MacArthur's speech.
  • I was still in Europe at the time. Truman said he had the authority to relieve him and he did it. I have never made up my mind whether he was right or not, but I happened to be with a British unit the night we learned of MacArthur's dismissal. The British had a brigade in Korea at the time and the British officers in the Mess were very anti-MacArthur and celebrating his demise. I think MacArthur was a magnificent general, but he became more and more insulated from the world by his staff, many of whom had been with him since the Bataan days. I think that was part of the problem. He was not a young man at the time of Korea. I think, perhaps, he got too dependent on his staff officers and certain things happened which were not in MacArthur's best interest... Even after MacArthur was relieved by the President of the United States he had a tickertape parade in New York City and he made two great speeches, one to Congress and one about Duty, Honor, Country. The Duty, Honor, Country speech is one of the greatest ever made by a military man, and he made it without a note at the age of seventy-five. I believe Douglas MacArthur in 1945 could have come home and run for president and won going away. He was worshipped at the end of the war.
  • He carried a different level of prestige. I don't think anybody would fool with him. MacArthur was MacArthur and everybody was subordinate to MacArthur. For his part and with regard to leadership, MacArthur commanded a theater, and of course his responsibilities far transcended those of my dads. He was a superb leader and was probably the greatest general this country has ever produced.
He was a superb leader and was probably the greatest general this country has ever produced.
  • With his flamboyant headgear, his sunglasses and corn cob pipe, he looked like an actor playing the role of a great general. He also had the sort of press an actor likes; he arranged that, in part, by keeping his subordinates as anonymous as possible. But the truth was that Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific, was a great general. He had one of the most distinguished military careers on record (top of his class at West Point, a hero in the first war, Army Chief of Staff), and it is doubtful that anyone in any of the services knew more about the Pacific theater. Nonetheless, the war that would be waged to return him to the Philippines, as he had promised, would be a Navy war, and [three admirals]- Nimitz, King, and Halsey- would have every bit as much to do with the strategy and tactics of winning that war as he had.
    • C.L. Sulzberger, in his book The American Heritage Picture History of World War II (1966), p. 335
  • McVay and the Indianapolis were about to sail from he Marianas Sea Frontier into the Philippine Sea Frontier, and it was like passing between two different worlds. A ship moved from one frontier to the other by crossing the Chop, a boundary marked by the 130-degree line of longitude. Clear as this delineation was, there was a complicating factor: communications in this area were often confused by a political battle between Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur, who were locked in a struggle to control the Navy. MacArthur, in charge of the Seventh Fleet, wanted to unite it with the Army. Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet, wanted to remain autonomous. In the end, Nimitz had been given control of the entire Pacific naval operation, but friction between the two military titans still existed. Information about a ship's whereabouts, or other crucial facts, sometimes got lost in the fallout. This could mean trouble for the Indianapolis, which sometimes relied on the presence of carefully-timed escorts to protect her from enemy submarines and spirit her out of danger.
    • Doug Stanton, In Harm's Way (2001), p. 74
  • I graduated on June 13, number 4 in a class of 102. General MacArthur gave me my diploma and his "Congratulations, Mr. Taylor" was the last time I heard his voice until, as the new Chief of Staff of the Army, I called on him in the Waldorf Towers in 1956. Although he had done much for the Corps of Cadets during his superintendency, oddly enough he had never made an effort to impress his personality on the cadets through direct communication with them. I do not ever recall his having made a speech to us and only a few cadets were ever asked to his house. Certainly no graduate has left greater evidence of deep affection for West Point and the Corps than MacArthur, but the cadets saw little of this during his superintendency.
    • Maxwell D. Taylor, United States Military Academy Class of 1922, in his book Swords and Plowshares (1972), p. 28
  • I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the president. That's the answer to that. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.
    • Harry S. Truman, quoted in Plain Speaking : An Oral Biography of Harry S Truman (1974) by Merle Mille
  • Nothing but a damn bunch of bullshit!
  • Not a simple man!
    • Unnamed Japanese statesman to John Gunther in 1950, as quoted in the preface of American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 (1978)

Award Citations[edit]

  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Brigadier General (Corps of Engineers) Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving as Chief of Staff, 42d Division, A.E.F., in the Salient-du-Feys, France, 9 March 1918. When Company D, 168th Infantry, was under severe attack in the salient du Feys, France, General MacArthur voluntarily joined it, upon finding that he could do so without interfering with his normal duties, and by his coolness and conspicuous courage aided materially in its success.
    • Citation for MacArthur's first Distinguished Service Cross. War Department, General Orders No. 27 (1919)
On a field where courage was the rule, his courage was the dominant feature.
  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Brigadier General (Corps of Engineers) Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving as Chief of Staff, 42d Division, A.E.F., near Cote-de-Chatillon, France, October 14 - 16, 1918: As brigade commander General MacArthur personally led his men and by the skillful maneuvering of his brigade made possible the capture of Hills 288, 242, and the Cote-de-Chatillon, France, 14 - 16 October 1918. He displayed indomitable resolution and great courage in rallying broken lines and in reforming attacks, thereby making victory possible. On a field where courage was the rule, his courage was the dominant feature.
    • Citation for MacArthur's second Distinguished Service Cross. War Department, General Orders No. 27 (1919).
  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. General MacArthur served with credit as Chief of Staff of the 42d Division in the operations at Chalons and at the Chateau-Thierry salient. In command of the 84th Infantry Brigade, he showed himself to be a brilliant commander of skill and judgment. Later he served with distinction as Commanding General of the 42d Division.
    • Citation for MacArthur's first Distinguished Service Medal. War Department, General Orders No. 59 (1919).
  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Army Distinguished Service Medal to General Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility. As Chief of Staff of the Army of the United States from 21 November 1930 to 1 October 1935, General MacArthur performed his many important and exacting duties with signal success. He devised and developed the Four-Army organization of our land forces; he conceived and established the GHQ Air Force, thus immeasurably increasing the effectiveness of our air defenses; he initiated a comprehensive program of modernization in the Army's tactics, equipment, training, and organization. In addition, the professional counsel and assistance he continuously rendered to the President, to the Secretary of War, and to the Congress were distinguished by such logic, vision, and accuracy as to contribute markedly to the formulation of sound defense policies and the enactment of progressive laws for promoting the Nation's security.
    • Citation for MacArthur's second Distinguished Service Medal. War Department, General Orders No. 7 (1935).
  • The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. General MacArthur mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces.
    • Citation for MacArthur's Medal of Honor. It was the third time he had been nominated for the award, but the first time he had received it. Citation for the War Department, General Orders No. 16 (April 1, 1942)
  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Award of the Army Distinguished Service Medal to General Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific since March 1942. Under extremely difficult conditions of terrain, climate and limited forces and material he expelled the enemy from eastern New Guinea, secured lodgments on the Island of New Britain and gave strategic direction to coordinated operations resulting in the conquest of the New Georgia Group and the establishment of the United States Army and Navy forces on Bougainville Island. He has inflicted heavy losses on the enemy and established his forces in positions highly favorable for the construction of offensive operations.
    • Citation for MacArthur's third Distinguished Service Medal. War Department, General Orders No. 10 (1944).
  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to General of the Army Douglas Macarthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy, in action against enemy forces on 26 January 1945, while visiting the 25th Division in combat at San Manuel, Luzon, Philippine Islands. On that date, General MacArthur advanced within 75 yards of the enemy lines to a point where two men had just been killed and several wounded by Japanese fire and which was still under heavy attack by enemy small arms, mortar, and cannon. Hidden enemy machine gunners and riflemen were opposing the advance with deliberately aimed cross-fire which intermittently covered the area. General MacArthur's example in the face of enemy fire, was a source of inspiration to the men of the 25th Division and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States.
    • Citation for MacArthur's third Distinguished Service Cross. War Department, General Orders No. 46 (May 23, 1946).
  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Third Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Army Distinguished Service Medal to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility, during the period 20 October 1944 to 4 July 1945. As Supreme Commander of Allied Air, Ground and Sea Forces in the Southwest Pacific, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur planned and personally directed the campaigns which resulted in the liberation of the Philippine Islands. Strongly entrenched and superior enemy forces were overwhelmed and completely destroyed in a series of decisive operations and exploiting U.S. Air and Sea superiority, coupled with the resolute and courageous fighting of the Ground Forces. The immediate result of the campaign was control of the China sea, the isolation of Japanese Forces in Burma, Malaysia and Indo-China and the termination of coastwise traffic supporting the Japanese Armies in Central and South China. The liberation of the Philippines began with the landings on Leyte on 20 October in which complete strategic surprise was achieved. After bitter fighting under most difficult conditions of weather and terrain, General MacArthur destroyed the Japanese forces which included the noted 1st Division of the Kvantung Army. Again surprising the enemy, General MacArthur moved his forces boldly up the Western Coast of the main Philippine Island and effected a landing on the shores of Lingayen Gulf on 9 January 1945. The flawless execution of this hazardous amphibious approach and landing so disorganized the enemy that in a series of deep thrusts Manila was liberated on 25 February. The fortress of Corregidor fell soon afterward in a brilliantly conceived and directed combined land, sea and air operation. By the end of June only isolated groups of enemy remained in Luzon. While the United States SIXTH Army was so engaged, EIGHTH Army units cleared the enemy from the Southern Islands in a series of amphibious operations. By 4 July organized resistance had terminated, completing the liberation of the Philippine Islands and the 17,000,000 inhabitants from Japanese domination. More than 300,000 dead and 7,000 prisoners were lost by the enemy, our casualties in killed, wounded and missing totaling 60, 628. Seventeen of our divisions had opposed and defeated twenty-three enemy divisions. The air, ground, and naval forces worked in complete unison to inflict this crushing disaster on the Japanese Army.
    • Citation for MacArthur's fourth Distinguished Service Medal. Department of the Army, General Orders No. 27 (April 19, 1948).
  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Fourth Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Fifth Award of the Army Distinguished Service Medal to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for distinguished service to the peoples of the United States and the Republic of Korea, and to the peoples of all free nations. Having been designated as the first field commander of United Nations armed forces, and directed, in the common interest, to repel an armed attack upon the Republic of Korea and to restore international peace and security in the area, he has given these forces conspicuously brilliant and courageous leadership and discerning judgment of the highest order. Having been compelled to commit his troops to combat under extremely adverse conditions and against heavy odds in order to gain the time so imperatively needed for the build-up of his forces for the counter-offensive, he has so inspired his command by his vision, his judgment, his indomitable will and his unshakeable faith, that is has set a shining example of gallantry and tenacity in defense and of audacity in attack matched by but few operations in military history. His conduct has been in accord with the highest traditions of the military service of the United States, and is deserving of the enduring gratitude of the freedom-loving peoples of the world.
    • Citation for MacArthur's fifth Distinguished Service Medal. Department of the Army, General Orders No. 39 (1950).
He has so inspired his command by his vision, his judgment, his indomitable will and his unshakeable faith, that is has set a shining example of gallantry and tenacity in defense and of audacity in attack matched by but few operations in military history. His conduct has been in accord with the highest traditions of the military service of the United States, and is deserving of the enduring gratitude of the freedom-loving peoples of the world.
  • The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Air Force Award) to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (ASN: 0-57), United States Army, for heroism while participating in aerial flight as Commander-in-Chief, Far East, and Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command, during the period 29 June to 20 October 1950. On 29 June General MacArthur made a flight to Suwon, Korea, during which his aircraft was subjected to effective interception by hostile air action. Another friendly aircraft in the area was attacked and destroyed by enemy air immediately prior to General MacArthur's landing, and the Suwon airstrip itself was bombed and strafed during the course of his visit. On 27 July he made a flight to Taegu, Korea, during which his aircraft was again subject to hostile air interception and at which time the ground situation in the immediate area was most precarious. On 29 September, General MacArthur made a flight to Kimpo, Korea, again under conditions presenting the threat of hostile air interception and while the Kimpo airfield itself was subject to hostile ground fire. On 20 October he made a flight to the Sukchon-Sunchon area of Korea in order to observe and supervise the para-drop of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. During this entire operation his aircraft was subject to attack by enemy aircraft known to be based at Sinuiju. These aerial flights in an unarmed aircraft were made by General MacArthur in furtherance of his mission as Commander of the United Nations forces in Korea. Each flight involved the risk of death or capture by the enemy. In General MacArthur's case this risk was multiplied a hundred-fold in view of his personal stature and his position as Commander-in-Chief. That General MacArthur unhesitatingly took part in these extraordinarily important and dangerous missions is a further demonstration of the unfaltering devotion to duty which characterizes his every action as a leader. His conduct in these instances has been an outstanding source of inspiration to the men he commands. Throughout the Korean campaign the strategic concepts underlying General MacArthur's command decisions have reflected a superb understanding of the most advantageous employment of air power and made possible the victory which is being achieved with minimum losses and unprecedented speed. By his heroism and extraordinary achievement, General Douglas MacArthur reflects the highest honor upon himself, the United Nations, and the Armed Forces of the United States.
    • Citation for MacArthur's Distinguished Flying Cross. Headquarters, Far East Air Forces, General Orders No. 93 (October 20, 1950)

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