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Craig, Malin (05 August 1875–25 July 1945), chief of staff of the U.S. Army, was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of Louis Aleck Craig, an army officer, and Georgie Malin. Craig’s youth was typical of children in army families, moving frequently to new posts in Kansas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Family heritage drew Craig toward a military career. Along with his father, both grandfathers had been army officers. Craig’s younger brother, Louis Aleck Craig, Jr., also entered military service, retiring as inspector general of the U.S. Army in 1952....

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Hines, John Leonard (21 May 1868–13 October 1968), officer, general, and chief of staff of the U.S. Army, was born in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, the son of Irish immigrants Edward Hines, a merchant and postmaster, and Mary Leonard. His early formal education began at a small private school (now Concord College) in Athens, West Virginia, where he studied to become a teacher. However, his education was cut short by an epidemic of smallpox in 1886. His desire for a better education—not martial glory—led him to take the competitive examinations for an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point....

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Johnson, Harold Keith (22 February 1912–24 September 1983), army officer, was born in Bowesmont, North Dakota, the son of Harold Johnson, a lumberman, and Edna Thompson. Upon his graduation from the U.S. Military Academy in 1933, Johnson was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to the Third Infantry Regiment at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. In 1935 he married Dorothy Rennix; they had three children. Promoted to first lieutenant on 13 June 1936, he was from 1937 to 1938 a student at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and from 1938 to 1940 he served with the Twenty-eighth Infantry Regiment at Fort Niagara, New York. In the summer of 1940 Johnson, who was promoted to captain later that year, was assigned to the Fifty-seventh Infantry Regiment, which was stationed at Fort William McKinley in the Philippine Islands and consisted of U.S. officers and Filipino enlisted men....

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McNair, Lesley James (25 May 1883–25 July 1944), commanding general and educator of U.S. Army Ground Forces in World War II, was born in Verndale, Minnesota, the son of James McNair, a lumber merchant and general store owner, and Clara Manz. Lesley “Whitey” McNair graduated from West Point in 1904, eleventh in a class of 124, and received a commission as an artillery officer. The following year he married Clare Huster; they had one child. Until 1909 he served in a series of artillery and ordnance assignments, including tours at Fort Douglas, Utah, the Office of the Chief of Ordnance in Washington, D.C., and the Watertown arsenal in Massachusetts. McNair then served with the Fourth Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Russell, Wyoming, from 1909 to 1914. In 1912, however, he attended the School of Fire at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His student thesis, “Probabilities and the Theory of Dispersion,” helped to significantly improve gun firing methods throughout the U.S. Army. Because of his rising reputation as an artilleryman, McNair spent most of 1913 in France as a foreign military observer. The experience ensured his return to Europe with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in June 1917. Within two months General ...

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Ridgway, Matthew Bunker (03 March 1895–26 July 1993), army officer, was born at Fort Monroe, Virginia, the son of Thomas Ridgway, an and Ruth Starbuck Bunker. Raised at several army posts, Ridgway graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1917 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry. That year he married Julia Caroline Blount. They had two children before they divorced in 1930. Promoted to first lieutenant in May 1917, Ridgway spent World War I in the United States, serving as a company commander and adjutant with the Third Infantry Regiment at Eagle Pass, Texas, and then, beginning in September 1918, as a romance language instructor at West Point. Promoted to captain in July 1919, he remained at West Point until 1924, becoming executive for athletics in 1921 and graduate manager of athletics in 1922....

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Charles Pelot Summerall Center, with Mexican military attaches, 1928. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98453).

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Summerall, Charles Pelot (04 March 1867–14 May 1955), soldier and educator, was born in Blount’s Ferry, Florida, the son of Elhanan Bryant Summerall, a wheelwright and painter, and Margaret Cornelia Pelot, a schoolteacher. His parents were of modest means but were still able to send him to Porter Military Academy in Charleston, South Carolina. After graduation he taught school for three years in Astatula and Leesburg, Florida; in the meantime he took the entrance examination for West Point. In 1888 he was accepted; he graduated four years later as first captain of the Corps of Cadets. He wanted a commission in artillery but had to accept infantry due to a scarcity of assignments. Within a year, through “pulling strings” and persistence, he had managed to secure a transfer to his preferred branch....

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William Childs Westmoreland. Tempera and pencil on board, 1965, by Boris Chaliapin. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine.

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Westmoreland, William Childs (26 March 1914–18 July 2005), commander of U.S. and allied military forces during the Vietnam War and U.S. Army chief of staff, was born in Saxon, South Carolina, the oldest child of James Ripley Westmoreland and Eugenia Childs. His father served as the plant manager at a textile mill, a position that afforded a comfortable upbringing for Westmoreland. After his 1931 graduation from Spartanburg High School, where he was senior class president, he attended The Citadel, the state military college of South Carolina, for a year. In 1932 he accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “Westy,” as he was nicknamed, tried varsity sports without lettering and ranked 112 of 276 cadets at graduation in 1936. However, his leadership skills—as seen in his service as superintendent of the Protestant Sunday School Teachers and election as vice president of his class—led to his selection as a first captain, a highly prestigious position....

Article

Wheeler, Earle Gilmore (13 January 1908–18 December 1975), army officer, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Clifton F. Wheeler, a dentist, and Ida Gilmore. While still in high school, Wheeler enlisted in the District of Columbia National Guard in 1924, rising to the rank of sergeant before entering the U.S. Military Academy in 1928. He graduated in 1932 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry. That year he married Frances Rogers Howell; they had one son....