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To Carter Glass
March 18, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Senator Glass:
The most careful consideration has been given to the joint letter from you and Senator Byrd concerning the promotion of Colonel Robert E. M. Goolrick.1 Because of your frank and urgent appeal I have personally checked the possibility of an injustice having been done him.
There are few matters more important or to which I devote more personal attention than the selection of leaders in the grade of general officer. We have to be continually on guard against too much emphasis being placed on the honor attached to the rank of a general and too little to the choice of leaders who enjoy the confidence of the men in the ranks and who have the skill and physical endurance to bring this war to a successful conclusion without the needless sacrifice of American lives. Every contact with the enemy has emphasized anew the outstanding importance of dominant and skillful leadership. All other considerations appear of minor importance.
I understand the feelings of officers in the grade of colonel who have received years of military training and who are not promptly promoted to general grade during this critical period. However, the only basis upon which we can proceed is that of efficiency without regard to the personalities involved. The parents of our soldiers demand the best leadership available, and to create a position or to make an assignment solely to qualify an individual for a promotion cannot be justified when he has not measured up to the standards which are required of others being selected for general officer grade.
There is no evidence to substantiate the inference of Colonel Goolrick’s brother that Colonel Goolrick is doing the work and exercising the command of several brigadier generals. The War Department has not yet approved the grade of brigadier general for the position of the Commander of Keesler Field. However, Colonel Goolrick’s past record and the manner in which he is now performing his assigned duties are under continuing consideration in connection with officers similarly situated and available for promotion to general grade.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. The letter from Virginia Senators Carter Glass and Harry F. Byrd concerning Colonel Goolrick’s promotion is not in the Marshall papers. Goolrick was commander at Keesler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi.
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. 594-595.