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Memorandum for General Pershing
March 27, 1943 Washington, D.C.
Having returned from the South I considered again our brief telephone conversation of the other afternoon with relation to the appointment of the Surgeon General. I am taking the liberty, without the knowledge of the Secretary of War, of sending you his memorandum to the President on the subject. I might add to what he states in that memorandum that he personally directed the appointment of a Board some months ago for the investigation of the Medical Department and all of its operations in the United States, and to a certain extent overseas; that he personally selected the civilian representatives on the Board and that, at my suggestion, he consulted General Ireland prior to making these selections.1
Following the report of the Board he studied the matter for another month during which he personally searched the records of a number of officers back through their entire service. Furthermore, he sent for certain men in the Medical Department who had been considered and talked to them in order to obtain a personal reaction as to the individual.
Following this procedure which covered some months he himself drew up and submitted the attached memorandum to the President. (As this is our record copy will you please have Adamson mail it back to me.)2
There is a good bit more than meets the eye in this matter, particularly as to the present incumbent whose redetail was urged by the President’s physician, the Surgeon General of the Navy, Ross Mclntire.3 This I am determinedly opposed to. My responsibility as to the health of the Army has been a great one and has kept me closely occupied, particularly during the early mobilization of the war Army. I have maintained a Medical general officer in the Inspector General’s Department to follow matters through for me so I am quite familiar with conditions, and I have talked to a number of the leading Medical officers and surgeons of this country as has the Secretary of War.4
G. C. Marshall
Document Copy Text Source: John J. Pershing Papers, General Correspondence, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. Major General Merritte W. Ireland had retired from the post of surgeon general in May 1931. For information regarding the investigation, see Marshall Memorandum for General Styer, February 15, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-516 [3: 550-51].
2. On February 25 Secretary Stimson sent a letter to President Roosevelt in which he recommended Brigadier General Albert W. Kenner as surgeon general effective June 1, 1943. A few days prior to Stimson’s letter, General Marshall had recommended Kenner’s nomination to the secretary of war. (Stimson Memorandum for the President, February 25, 1943, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [General Correspondence]; Marshall Memorandum for the Secretary of War, February 21, 1943, NA/RG 107 [SW Safe, Surgeon General]; February 22, 24, and 25, 1943, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 42: 69, 76-77, 81].)
3. Rear Admiral Ross T. McIntire had been the White House physician since 1933. Major General James C. Magee, whose four-year term as surgeon general would expire on May 31, was sixty years of age and would be unable to complete a full tour of duty, if reappointed, prior to retirement.
4. In early April the president asked Stimson to reconsider his nomination of Kenner. “This was quite a body blow as I had taken so much trouble over Kenner,” recorded Stimson. After consulting with Marshall and Somervell, the secretary of war recommended Brigadier General Norman T. Kirk. “The one thing that I want to stop is a movement to get Magee reappointed. I strongly suspect that that is at the bottom of the President’s move, or rather of the men who have got him to ask for this reconsideration.” (April 9, 1943, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 42: 155-56].) Kirk assumed the post of surgeon general and was promoted to the rank of major general on June 1, 1943.
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. 613-614.