Last evening Christopher Kolakowski, Director of the MacArthur Memorial, delivered an insightful lecture that examined George C. Marshall’s long and eventful relationship with George S. Patton, Jr. Kolakowski, who served as the Director of the General George Patton Museum of Leadership prior to coming to the MacArthur Memorial, cited many examples of how Marshall directly contributed to Patton’s battlefield successes during World War II.
Kolakowski traced Marshall’s relationship with Patton back to World War I and discussed how both men had the shared experiences of attending the Virginia Military Institute and serving under General John J. Pershing. Despite not crossing paths again for many years, Kolakowski observed that both Marshall and Patton maintained an interest in the other’s career and the Marshall was so impressed with Patton’s record of service that in a 1936 letter to Patton he wrote “Should a situation develop where I could have your services, nothing would please me more, because you are very much the type who does things in spite of hell or high water.” Kolakowski described the significance of Patton’s invitation to have Marshall live with him at Fort Myer during the summer of 1939 while Marshall’s quarters were being prepared and the fascinating discussions they must have had while they were living together.
Turning to World War II, Kolakowski traced the twists and turns of Marshall’s relationship with Patton, particularly the episodes in which Patton generated negative publicity for the army. Kolakowski concluded the lecture by remarking “Without George Marshall, there would not have been a George Patton. Marshall gave Patton opportunities to excel in North Africa and Sicily. He saved Patton during the Knutsford controversy, enabling him to achieve everlasting fame commanding Third Army. The wisdom of Marshall’s choices, quite frankly, shows in the results of these key contributions to Allied victory in the world’s largest war.”
If you would like to attend any of the Marshall Foundation’s upcoming programs, please visit the event calendar on the website.