George Marshall

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George C. Marshall

George Catlett Marshall (December 31, 1880October 16, 1959), was an American military leader and statesman best remembered for his leadership in the Allied victory in World War II and for his work establishing the post-war reconstruction effort for Europe, which became known as the Marshall Plan.



Marshall was born into a middle-class family in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. While attending Virginia Military Institute, he was initiated into the Kappa Alpha Order.

In 1948, he was awarded the Distiguished Achievement Award for his role and contributions during and after World War II.

Marshall was instrumental in getting the U.S. Army and Army Air Corps reorganized and ready for war. Marshall wrote the document that would become the central strategy for all Allied operations in Europe, selected Dwight Eisenhower as Supreme Commander in Europe, and designed Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. Throughout the remainder of the World War II, Marshall coordinated all Allied operations in Europe and the Pacific. He was characterized as the organizer of Allied victory by Winston Churchill. Time Magazine named Marshall Man of the Year in 1944.

After WW II he was sent to China to negotiate a truce and build a coalition government between the Nationalists and Communists fighting the Chinese Civil War. His efforts failed and he was recalled in January 1947.

Marshall 'retired' in November 1945 and was named Secretary of State in 1947. As such, on Thursday June 5, 1947 at a speech at Harvard University, he outlined the U.S. government's preparedness to contribute to European recovery. The European Recovery Plan, which became known as the Marshall Plan, helped Europe quickly rebuild and earned Marshall the honor of being named TIME's Man of the Year in 1948 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. In 1949 he resigned from the State Department and was named president of the American National Red Cross. He was named Secretary of Defense in 1950, but retired from politics for good in 1951 after Senator Joseph McCarthy implied he was a traitor and denounced him for making decisions that "aided the Communist drive for world domination". Marshall died on Friday October 16, 1959.

Family life

He married Elizabeth Carter Cole of Lexington, Virginia in 1902. She died in 1927. In 1930 he married Katherine Boyce Tupper.

Military Career

After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 1901, he entered the U.S. Army, where he was to have a long and distinguished career. Until World War I, he was posted to various positions in the US and the Philippines, and was trained in modern warfare. During the War he had roles as a planner of both training and operations. Between WWI and WWII, he was a key planner and writer in the War Department, spent three years in China, and taught at the Army War College.

He went to France in the summer of 1917 as the director of training and planning for the 1st Infantry Division. In mid-1918, he was promoted to American Expeditionary Forces headquarters, where he was a key planner of American operations. He was instrumental in the design and coordination of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, which contributed to the defeat of the German Army on the Western Front.

In 1919 he became an aide-de-camp to General John J. Pershing. Between 1920 and 1924, while Pershing was Army Chief of Staff, Marshall worked in a number of positions in the US Army, focusing on training and teaching modern, mechanised warfare.

He was promoted to Brigadier General in October 1936. In 1939 he was selected by Franklin D. Roosevelt to be Army Chief of Staff, a position he held until 1945.

Dates of rank

  • Second Lieutenant, United States Army: February 2, 1902
  • First Lieutenant, United States Army: March 7, 1907
  • Captain, United States Army: July 1, 1916
  • Major, National Army: August 5, 1917
  • Lieutenant Colonel, National Army: January 5, 1918
  • Colonel, National Army: August 27, 1918
  • Major, Regular Army (reverted to permanent rank): July 1, 1920
  • Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: August 21, 1923
  • Colonel, Regular Army: September 1, 1933
  • Brigadier General, Regular Army: October 1, 1936
  • Major General, Regular Army: September 1, 1939
  • General, Regular Army, for service as Army Chief of Staff: September 1, 1939
  • General of the Army, Army of the United States: December 16, 1944
  • General of the Army rank made permanent in the Regular Army: April 11, 1946

Notes about components:

  • United States Army: Regular U.S. Armed Forces prior to World War I
  • National Army: Combined conscript and regular United States forces during World War I
  • Regular Army: Regular volunteer forces after 1930. Considered "career" professionals
  • Army of the United States: Combined draft and regular forces of World War II.

Awards and decorations

United States

Foreign awards


"We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, Our Flag will be recognized throughout the World as a symbol of Freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other." -- George Marshall (May 29, 1942, Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens, ed. The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, Vol 3 pp. 212-14.) [1] (

"I couldn't sleep nights, George, if you were out of Washington." -Franklin D. Roosevelt, reported by Henry Stimson, 1943

...what a joy it must be to [Marshall] to see how the armies he called into being by his own genius have won immortal renown. He is the true 'organizer of victory. Winston Churchill, 1945

"A man devoted to the daily study of war on several continents with all the ardour of a certified public accountant." - Alistair Cooke, 1959

"Hitherto I had thought of Marshall as a rugged soldier and a magnificent organizer and builder of armies - the American Carnot. But now I saw that he was a statesman with a penetrating and commanding view of the whole scene." - Winston Churchill

External links

Preceded by:
Malin Craig
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by:
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by:
James F. Byrnes
United States Secretary of State
Succeeded by:
Dean Acheson
Preceded by:
Louis A. Johnson
United States Secretary of Defense
Succeeded by:
Robert A. Lovett

Template:End boxda:George Marshall de:George Marshall es:George Catlett Marshall fr:George Marshall nl:George C. Marshall pl:George Marshall sv:George C. Marshallzh:乔治·卡特莱特·马歇尔


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