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Abrams, Creighton Williams, Jr. (15 September 1914–04 September 1974), army officer, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Creighton W. Abrams, a railway repairman, and Nellie Randall. At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Abrams excelled in horsemanship, played football, and attained a mediocre academic record, finishing 185th in a class of 276. He graduated in 1936 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of cavalry. That same year he married Julia Harvey, with whom he would have six children....

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Almond, Edward Mallory (12 December 1892–11 June 1979), army general, nicknamed Ned, was born in Luray, Virginia, the son of Walter Coles Almond, a farm implement salesman, and Grace Popham. Almond earned a bachelor of science degree at Virginia Military Institute, graduating third in the class of 1915. The next year, he received his commission as a U.S. Army second lieutenant and then graduated from Fort Leavenworth Army Service School in March 1917. When the United States declared war on Germany, Almond was with the Fourth Infantry Division, commanding a machine gun company. Seven months before leaving for France, he married Margaret Crook on 4 August 1917; the couple would have two children. Almond, now a captain, commanded the Twelfth Machine Gun Battalion in the Aisne-Marne and Meuse-Argonne campaigns, sustaining a shrapnel wound at the Vesle River and receiving a Purple Heart and a Silver Star. In July 1919 he left occupation duty with the Fourth Infantry in Germany to become a professor of military science and tactics at Marion Institute in Alabama....

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Andrews, Frank Maxwell (03 February 1884–03 May 1943), army officer and airman, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of James David Andrews, a newspaper reporter, and Louise Adeline Maxwell. He graduated from the Montgomery Bell Academy in 1901 and the following year gained admittance to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Graduating in 1906, Andrews was commissioned a second lieutenant in the cavalry. He spent the next eleven years drawing routine assignments in the American West, Hawaii, and the Philippines. In 1914 he married Jeanette Allen, the daughter of Major General ...

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Bendire, Charles Emil (27 April 1836–04 February 1897), naturalist and soldier, was born Karl Emil Bender at König im Odenwald in Hesse-Darmstadt (now in Germany). The identities of his parents are not known. At age twelve he began his studies at a theological seminary in Passy, France. Misconduct led to his departure five years later. In 1853 he immigrated to the United States and anglicized his name to Charles Bendire. The following year he joined the First Dragoons in the U.S. Army. During his second enlistment, which began in 1860, he became a sergeant and later hospital steward in the Fourth Cavalry....

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Billings, John Shaw (12 April 1838–11 March 1913), army medical officer, library organizer, and public health activist, was born near Allensville, Indiana, the son of James Billings, a farmer and storekeeper, and Abby Shaw. Despite spotty secondary schooling, he ultimately went to Miami College (Ohio), where he earned his B.A. in 1857. He was awarded the M.D. by the Medical College of Ohio in 1860. Billings remained with the latter institution for a year as an anatomical demonstrator, but after the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the U.S. Army as a contract surgeon. In 1862 he was commissioned first lieutenant and assistant surgeon and went on to make army service his career. Also in 1862 he married Katharine Mary Stevens; they had five children....

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Buckner, Simon Bolivar, Jr. (18 July 1886–18 June 1945), the highest-ranking American general killed in combat during World War II, was born in Munfordville, Kentucky, the son of Simon Bolivar Buckner (1823–1914) and his second wife, Delia Hayes Claiborne. Buckner’s father, a distinguished Confederate officer, editor of the Louisville ...

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Carr, Eugene Asa (20 March 1830–02 December 1910), army officer, was born in Concord, Erie County, New York, the son of Clark Murwin Carr and Delia Ann Torrey (occupations unknown). He entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1846, graduating four years later, nineteenth in his class of forty-four. Assigned to the Regiment of Mounted Rifles as a brevet second lieutenant, Carr received his regular commission on 30 June 1851. Joining his regiment at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, he served in two military expeditions to the Rocky Mountains during 1852–1853. The following year, Carr was wounded while serving as second in command during Captain John A. Walker’s pursuit of Apaches west of newly created Fort Davis, Texas. Though his wound was initially presumed to be fatal, Carr recovered and was promoted to first lieutenant, First Cavalry Regiment....

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Chaffee, Adna Romanza (14 April 1842–01 November 1914), army officer, was born in Orwell, Ashtabula County, Ohio, the son of Truman Bibbins Chaffee and Grace Hyde, farmers. He was raised on his father’s farm, receiving only a rudimentary education. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Chaffee left home intending to join an Ohio regiment, but he met the Sixth U.S. Cavalry and enlisted as a private on 22 July 1861. He rode with the Sixth for the next twenty-seven years. By dint of good soldiering, Chaffee became sergeant within weeks and, following service in the Peninsula and Antietam campaigns, rose to first sergeant. On 12 May 1863 he was commissioned second lieutenant at the behest of Secretary of War ...

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Chennault, Claire Lee (06 September 1893–27 July 1958), military officer and airline executive, was born in Commerce, Texas, the son of John Stonewall Jackson Chennault, a small-scale cotton grower, and Jessie Lee. Chennault grew up on a small farm in Franklin Parish in northeastern Louisiana. His mother died when he was eight years old. Two years later, his father married Lottie Barnes, a local schoolteacher. Educated in the nearby town of Gilbert, he entered Louisiana State University in 1909. Shortly thereafter, his stepmother, who had persuaded him to continue his education, died. “I was alone again,” he later wrote, “and really never found another companion whom I could so completely admire, respect, and love.”...

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Clay, Lucius DuBignon (23 April 1898–16 April 1978), army general, was born in Marietta, Georgia, the son of Alexander Stephens Clay, a lawyer and three-term U.S. senator, and Sarah Frances White. Clay received his primary education in Marietta public schools and attended the University of Georgia for one year. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1915. Because of U.S. entry into World War I, the curriculum was curtailed, and Clay graduated near the top of his class in 1918 with a bachelor of science and a commission in the Engineer Corps. In 1918 he married Marjorie McKeown; they had two children. His early career included a number of military schools and engineering assignments at Camp Humphreys, Virginia, the Panama Canal Zone, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was also an instructor at both Alabama Polytechnical Institute (now Auburn University) and West Point....

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Custer, George Armstrong (05 December 1839–25 June 1876), Civil War general and Indian fighter, was born in New Rumley, Ohio, the son of Emanuel Custer and Maria Ward, farmers. Reared in the rough-and-tumble environment of a large, rural family, “Autie” was a strapping, energetic youth who enjoyed hunting, fishing, and practical jokes and valued romantic novels over academic studies. From his family he acquired a strong affinity for Methodism and the Democratic party. Custer was educated at Stebbins Academy in Monroe, Michigan, where he lived part time with a half sister, and at McNeely Normal School in Hopedale, Ohio, and then taught briefly at two country schools in Ohio before winning, at age seventeen, an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Entering in June 1857, he graduated four years later, at the outbreak of the Civil War. His academic and conduct record at West Point was as dismal as his record in the combat arts was outstanding. Graduating at the foot of his class of thirty-four, he was commissioned second lieutenant in the Second U.S. Cavalry in time to take part in the first battle of Manassas....

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Davis, Benjamin Oliver, Sr. (28 May 1880–26 November 1970), U.S. Army general, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Louis Patrick Henry Davis, an Internal Revenue Service messenger, and Henrietta Stewart. Growing up in a middle-class section of Washington, D.C., Davis maintained that he was not conscious of the racial barriers around him. He first experienced racial segregation when he attended the M Street High School, one of Washington’s segregated high schools; during his last year of high school he attended classes part time at Howard University. He also first became involved in the military while in high school, rising to the rank of captain in the High School Cadets. His record prompted his commission as a second lieutenant in the First Separate battalion, District of Columbia National Guard, a post he left in April 1898....

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Dix, John Adams (24 July 1798–21 April 1879), politician and general, was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire, the son of Timothy Dix, a merchant, and Abigail Wilkins. He received a varied liberal education, including a year at Phillips Exeter Academy and fifteen months at the College of Montreal. At age fourteen, while being tutored in Boston, Dix pleaded to join the army to defend the nation in the War of 1812. His father, a major, helped him to obtain a commission, and he served in battles at Chrysler’s Field (1813) and Lundy’s Lane (1814). His father’s death during the war caused Dix to stay in the army to help support his stepmother and siblings. Serving as an aide to Major General ...

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Donovan, William Joseph (01 January 1883–08 February 1959), lawyer, soldier, and intelligence official, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Timothy Patrick Donovan, a railroad yardmaster, and Anna Letitia Lennon. After starting college at Niagara University, Donovan transferred to Columbia University from which he received an A.B. in 1905 and an LL.B. in 1907. He joined the law firm of Love and Keating in Buffalo. In 1912 he and Bradley Goodyear formed a partnership that merged with Buffalo’s leading firm, O’Brian and Hamlin, to become O’Brian Hamlin Donovan and Goodyear. Hamlin’s withdrawal led to the firm’s dissolution in 1920. Meanwhile, in 1914, Donovan married socially prominent Ruth Rumsey. They had two children....

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Dutton, Clarence Edward (15 May 1841–04 January 1912), geologist and soldier, was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Dutton (occupation unknown) and Emily Curtis. Little is known of Dutton’s youth. He graduated from Yale in 1860 without distinction, although he rowed crew, won the senior writing prize, and established credentials as a mathematician and a raconteur. He later spent two weeks at Yale’s theology school until, in his words, he left before he was thrown out. In September 1862 he joined the Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers as adjutant. A year later he earned a captaincy and, after passing exams, transferred to the regular army in 1864. Soon afterward he married Emeline C. Babcock of New Haven; they had one child, a son. The Ordnance Corps remained his career despite “pretty rough service,” including serious wounds received at Fredericksburg. His postwar assignment to the Watervliet Arsenal near Troy, New York, however, launched his second, better-known career as a geologist....

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Eisenhower, Dwight David (14 October 1890–28 March 1969), U.S. Army general and thirty-fourth president of the United States, was born in Denison, Texas, the son of David Jacob Eisenhower and Ida Elizabeth Stover, shopkeepers and laborers. When Eisenhower was a year old, the family moved to Abilene, Kansas. He was a bright, competitive, ambitious, and athletic boy, a bit above average as a student. In 1911 he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 1915, after graduating in the middle of his class, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. There he met Marie Geneva “Mamie” Doud ( ...

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Forwood, William Henry (07 September 1838–11 May 1915), army medical officer, was born in Brandywine Hundred, Delaware, the son of Robert Forwood and Rachel Way Larkin (occupations unknown). He attended both private and public schools before entering the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his medical degree in 1861. He was commissioned as an assistant surgeon and first lieutenant in the Union Army Medical Department on 5 August of that year....

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Funston, Frederick (09 November 1865–19 February 1917), major general in the U.S. Army, was born in New Carlisle, Ohio, the son of Edward Hogue Funston, a politician and farmer, and Anna Mitchell, a farmer. The family moved to Iola, Kansas, when Frederick was two years old. Although the son of a Civil War hero and congressman, Funston was turned down by West Point because of his short height (five ft. five in.) and lackluster academic record. He attended the University of Kansas for three years before wandering off to a succession of odd jobs....

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Goethals, George Washington (29 June 1858–21 January 1928), engineer and military officer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of John Louis Goethals, a carpenter, and Marie Le Barron. At the age of fourteen he entered the College of the City of New York. In April 1876, after three years of college, Goethals won a cadetship to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated second in his class in 1880, a distinction that won for him a commission as second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers....

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Greely, Adolphus Washington (27 March 1844–20 October 1935), soldier and arctic explorer, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of John Balch Greely, a shoemaker, and Frances D. Cobb, a cotton mill weaver. Greely graduated from Brown High School, Newburyport, in 1860, and in the following year, at the age of seventeen, he joined the Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He served as a private, corporal, and first sergeant and was hospitalized for wounds sustained at Antietam, including a facial injury, which he covered with a beard for the remainder of his life. On furlough in 1863 he accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Fourth U.S. Volunteers (later Eighty-first U.S. Colored Infantry), stationed in Louisiana....