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VANITY: Last Surviving US WWII General Officer?
Self | 10/27/12 | Self

Posted on 10/27/2012 11:09:43 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack

Quick question for my fellow military history buffs. I've always been fascinated by timelines and the overlapping of human lives, much like the recent thread regarding the TV appearance of the elderly gentleman who, as a child, witnessed the assassination of Lincoln, lived into the TV age.

As a student of the civil war, I've marveled at the fact that the last surviving individual to hold a general's rank during the conflict, Adelbert Ames, died a year after my father was born. Somehow that simple fact provides a linkage in the fabric of time that makes me realize how closely tied we are to those events.

I know General James Gavin was the youngest division commander in WWII (taking command of the 82nd in his mid-30s), but I'm curious if anyone can definitively say who was (is?) the last surviving US Military officer to hold general officer rank during WWII.

I've googled it and can't seem to find any definitive answer.


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: general; jamesgavin; officer; us
Thanks in advance for any help!
1 posted on 10/27/2012 11:09:51 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack
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To: LS

Military history question....


2 posted on 10/27/2012 11:10:46 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

I have also had this question on my mind. Any surviving WW2 Generals or Admirals in any contry? Perhaps in the former Soviet Union?


3 posted on 10/27/2012 11:12:40 AM PDT by Lockbar (Your question is interesting, and I have sometimes had this same question.)
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To: Lockbar

Wikipedia has this list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_surviving_veterans_of_World_War_II

However, it is for surviving veterans, and doesn’t differentiate if they later attained the rank or held it during the war.


4 posted on 10/27/2012 11:15:31 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack
Purely from an actuarial basis, I'd doubt if there were any surviving general, or flag rank officers, from WW II.

Another interesting fact...at the height of WW II, with some 16 million Americans in the military, there were FEWER generals or admirals than we have now..with the military less than 20% of WW II strength..

5 posted on 10/27/2012 11:22:47 AM PDT by ken5050 (Another reason to vote for Mitt: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform at the WH Christmas party)
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To: Joe 6-pack
Not an American, but Polish Gen. Stanislaw Maczek died at 102 in 1994.

Jimmy Doolittle died in 1993 at 96.

James Gavin, the war's youngest US general died in 1990.

He may have been the only US WWII general to bed Marlene Dietrich or vote for McGovern.

6 posted on 10/27/2012 11:26:45 AM PDT by x
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To: ken5050
"Purely from an actuarial basis, I'd doubt if there were any surviving general, or flag rank officers, from WW II."

Yep...that's why I worded my question, "who was (is?)..."

If there was anyone still around, they would have to have been exceptionally young, probably pinned on their first star at the very tail end of the war, and would have to be exceptionally old now, and nobody fitting that description readily comes to mind. Hence my question...who was the last one to have died?

7 posted on 10/27/2012 11:28:18 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: x

Yes, but was Doolittle the last surviving GO?


8 posted on 10/27/2012 11:31:05 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

Your interest in “historical overlap” reminds me of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. In his youth, he clerked for a man who had served as secretary to George Washington. And when Holmes was himself an old man, one of his clerks was Alger Hiss.

Therefore, it is said about Justice Holmes: He knew a man who worked for George Washington, and he knew a man who worked for Joe Stalin!


9 posted on 10/27/2012 11:53:51 AM PDT by Hawthorn
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To: Joe 6-pack

You might take a look at this site: http://www.generals.dk/


10 posted on 10/27/2012 11:54:03 AM PDT by Huntress ("Politicians exploit economic illiteracy." --Walter Williams)
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To: Lockbar
I found these notes in an online discussion. Don't know how reliable they are:

USA: "The last living WWII General or Admiral was actually Commodore Arleigh Burke, U.S. Navy. As the Chief of Staff Admiral Mitscher in 1945 he was promoted from Captain to Commodore (1 Star). He later became the longest serving Chief of Naval Operations from 1955-1961. He passed away on January 1, 1996."

GERMANY:"The last living general officer of the Wehrmacht and most possibly the last living general officer to have been on the battlefield had been Luftwaffe General Heinrich Trettner, who got promoted from Colonel to Lieutenant General rank in late 1944, when he became CO of 4.Fallschirmjaeger-Division." Died 9/18/06

OTHER:"There is one still living flag officer of WWII as of 2012: the King of Romania.

Although Commander-in-Chief by the reason of being the ruling King, he adopted the military rank of Field Marshal on May 10, 1941, being the third out of four Marshals of the Romanian history. This makes him at the same time the last living Marshal of the war, the last living flag officer from any arm of service and the last recipient of the rarest and most prestigious military decoration of WWII, the Soviet Order of Victory."

11 posted on 10/27/2012 11:55:37 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Huntress

Yep. I tried that site. The problem I found is that when you query by dates of death, and enter a range, i.e. “1990 - 2000”, you find that not everything has been updated or remain unlisted.


12 posted on 10/27/2012 11:59:46 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Hawthorn

I love that kind of stuff! Thanks for the anecdote!


13 posted on 10/27/2012 12:04:50 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

When I was a kid, there were still Civil War Vets around, but no Generals. In the mid 70’s I met a Spanish American War vet who still had a job.


14 posted on 10/27/2012 12:13:33 PM PDT by Bringbackthedraft (Who we elect is not as important as who they bring in with them.)
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To: Joe 6-pack

Try searching by date of birth. I searched 1910-1920 and found several who may still be alive.


15 posted on 10/27/2012 12:30:35 PM PDT by Huntress ("Politicians exploit economic illiteracy." --Walter Williams)
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To: Joe 6-pack
Doolittle was promoted to Brigadier General in 1942, bypassing the rank of Colonel.

It's hard to tell who was the last.

You can find lists of three and four and five star generals online.

It's harder to find lists of Brigadier Generals.

You can get the lists of 4 star generals from Wikipedia and backtrack to try to discover when they got their first star.

The US Army Airforce may be your best bet, since young officers rose quickly there.

For example, Dean C. Strother was made a USAAF Brigadier General in 1943 and died in 2000.

Robert Merrill Lee was made Brigadier General in 1945 and passed away in 2003.

16 posted on 10/27/2012 12:30:45 PM PDT by x
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To: Joe 6-pack

Air Force General William Momyer died last month. No word on whether he got his star during the war or after it. So in theory, there could still be a surviving WWII general still alive somewhere.


17 posted on 10/27/2012 12:47:39 PM PDT by x
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To: x
His bio on wiki states, "Momyer returned to the United States in 1944 and became chief of the combined operations of the Army Air Forces Board. As a member, he played a significant role in the development of Air Force doctrine for air-ground operations."

Any idea if that would have been a one star billet?

18 posted on 10/27/2012 12:56:36 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

No help to offer, but I’ve often reflected on the same thing. Did you know that the last veteran of the American Revolution died in 1869? Reflecting on that, it makes one realize just how new our country is- only a couple of lifetimes from the founding.


19 posted on 10/27/2012 1:07:26 PM PDT by GenXteacher (You have chosen dishonor to avoid war; you shall have war also.)
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To: Joe 6-pack

I hit a dead-end on that. Momyer was pretty controversial, though, because of run-ins with the Tuskegee fliers and Chuck Yeager. Plenty about that online.


20 posted on 10/27/2012 1:08:07 PM PDT by x
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To: GenXteacher

Last I looked a few months ago, there were still two brothers alive who’s gtandfather was President Tyler. He fathered a child in his 80’s who then did the same.


21 posted on 10/27/2012 1:13:15 PM PDT by cyclotic ( Obama's golden halo is really just a rusted hubcap)
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To: ken5050

“Another interesting fact...at the height of WW II, with some 16 million Americans in the military, there were FEWER generals or admirals than we have now..with the military less than 20% of WW II strength.. “

Yes, we sure do have alot of powdered princes, don’t we?

And they haven’t decisively won a major war since WWII. Can’t defeat rebels in Afghanistan in over ten years.

(just for interest sake, study “denazification” and compare that to our concepts for dealing with muslims)


22 posted on 10/27/2012 1:13:22 PM PDT by truth_seeker
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To: Joe 6-pack

It may be Ralph Corbett Smith, commander of the US Army’s 27th Infantry Division. He passed away in 1998 at the age of 104. If he’s not the last, he’s close.

He was a Major General when the 27th took part of the invasion of Saipan in 1944, where he was unfairly sacked by the USMC commander, General Holland M. (Howling Mad) Smith in the famous “Smith -vs- Smith” controversy. That episode is a very interesting read in of itself.

My father served under him and held him in the highest regard.


23 posted on 10/27/2012 1:22:53 PM PDT by awelliott
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To: cyclotic
Last I looked a few months ago, there were still two brothers alive who’s gtandfather was President Tyler. He fathered a child in his 80’s who then did the same.

Tyler was pres from 1841 to 1845. I knew a lady who died this year, her father was born in 1859. I thought that was a link to the past, but yours beats mine.

24 posted on 10/27/2012 1:35:56 PM PDT by eartrumpet
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To: Joe 6-pack

I remember when Omar Bradley died in 1981 they said he was the last living 5 star.


25 posted on 10/27/2012 1:40:57 PM PDT by pepsi_junkie (Who is John Galt?)
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To: pepsi_junkie

Yep. I remember that as well, but of course the pool of 5 stars was a much smaller club and far more easy to track.


26 posted on 10/27/2012 2:27:46 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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