Skip to comments.VANITY: Last Surviving US WWII General Officer?
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.
Military history question....
I have also had this question on my mind. Any surviving WW2 Generals or Admirals in any contry? Perhaps in the former Soviet Union?
Wikipedia has this list:
However, it is for surviving veterans, and doesn’t differentiate if they later attained the rank or held it during the war.
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..
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.
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?
Yes, but was Doolittle the last surviving GO?
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!
You might take a look at this site: http://www.generals.dk/
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."
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.
I love that kind of stuff! Thanks for the anecdote!
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.
Try searching by date of birth. I searched 1910-1920 and found several who may still be alive.
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.
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.
Any idea if that would have been a one star billet?
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.
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.
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.
“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)
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.
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.
I remember when Omar Bradley died in 1981 they said he was the last living 5 star.
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.
Funny, I just Googled “living wwii generals” and this thread was the first result. Might as well bump it! :-)
Fascinating information here.