Thursday, May 26, 2011

General George Patton - A Memorial Day Tribute

There are books written about the General, so what do you write about this man in a thousand words? Patton is a member of the Scottish American Hall of Fame in North Riverside, Illinois, so let me first quote from his plaque.

George Smith Patton, Jr. is widely acclaimed as America’s most aggressive and resourceful field commander of World War II.  He liberated more territory in less time that any commander in history. General Patton was an able tactician and the leading American exponent of hard-hitting, fast moving tank warfare. The height of his career came in 1944 when his armor slashed across France in a campaign marked with great initiative, ruthless drive, and disregard of classic military rules.

Patton was born November 11, 1885, in San Gabriel, California. He was the fifth generation descendant of Robert Patton who came to Virginia from Scotland during the American Revolution. Robert Patton had a son John who served in Congress and was governor of Virginia. John had eight sons. Six fought on the side of the South in the Civil War and two were killed. One of those killed was Brigadier General George Patton, the great-great-grandfather of the World War II general.

Always aware of the warrior tradition of the family, George S. Patton early opted for a military career and was graduated from West Point in 1909. He studied the great cavalry leaders of the Civil War and became addicted to the importance of mobility and surprise. Due to his experience in World War I in which he was badly wounded, he shifted emphasis from cavalry to tanks.

He was chosen by General Dwight Eisenhower to lead the invasion of North Africa. Patton was censured at war’s end for his outspoken distrust of the Russians. He predicted World War II because he felt the World War I peace was poorly handled. He hoped to die in battle, but the end was more prosaic. He died December 21, 1945, of injuries suffered in an auto accident in Germany.

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