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Memorandum for General Arnold
September 8, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
General Persons has just reported to me on the reactions from the Senatorial Committee which visited Alaska.1 It appears that a great deal of harm has been done or unrest developed by indiscreet talking to members of this Committee by several high-ranking officers one of whom is General Olds. It seems that he dilated at length on his profound irritation on training Army flyers to be misused by the Navy in Alaska. The situation up there is difficult enough at best without the superfluous introduction of such irritation as this. Olds has reached a position of such rank that a repetition of his previous habits of talk will not be tolerated.2
I wish you would write him a letter in regard to this and tell him that I am greatly disturbed by his indiscreet and unnecessary talking; that he complicates my job; and that if he cannot carry himself with the judgment required of a major general he will be relieved.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Brigadier General Wilton B. Persons was chief of the Legislative and Liaison Division. In August a subcommittee of the Senate Military Affairs Committee inspected the defenses of the West Coast and Alaska; the group was headed by Albert B. Chandler, Democrat from Kentucky, and included Mon C. Wallgren, Democrat from Washington, Rufus C. Holman, Republican from Oregon, and Harold H. Burton, Republican from Ohio.
2. In May 1942 Robert Olds had been promoted to major general and given command of the Second Air Force, which was primarily a training command with headquarters at Fort George Wright, Washington. Relations between Olds and the navy had been poor since the August 12-13,1937, joint exercises off San Francisco, when air and naval officers had serious disagreements over the practice bombing of the battleship U.S.S. Utah. (See Curtis E. LeMay and MacKinlay Kantor, Mission with LeMay [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1965], pp. 140-52.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 350-351.