1-545 To Colonel Morrison C. Stayer, January 15, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 15, 1939

To Colonel Morrison C. Stayer

[January 15, 1939] Washington, D.C.

Dear Stayer:

I have waited until Sunday morning to answer your last letter, and also the question in your preceding letter.1

In the first place, I took my physical last Tuesday, unexpectedly and on but a half hours notice.

We have been terribly busy, and I more than most, and involved in difficult conferences with many of importance. Things got so hectic that while we were having a sandwich luncheon in General Craig’s office on Tuesday and the conversation got around to the start of the physicals the following afternoon, he remarked that I would never find time then or for some days to come; that he had had his going over the previous day out at Ft. Myer; and that he thought it would be best, and more private for me to do the same thing. Picking up the phone he made the appointment with his friend at Myer—a 1st Division, DSC, lieut. colonel, and a very fine fellow.

This threw out my schedule, as I had just resumed the regular dosage the day before, and planned to go up for my physical a week later, as you all instructed. Also, I intended arranging to take things very quietly the morning of that day. As it was I had had a tumultuous morning, whith much emphatic arguement.

I do not know yet just how I got by. It was the most thoro exam I have had—very well done. He even went up and down my back bone, investigated my prostate gland, and similar unusual details. He found a slight irregularity in my pulse before exercise, and none after exercise. Regular pulse 68; after exercise 88; and a minute or two later 66. Blood pressure 78—132. He remarked that if I wrote my own ticket I could not beat that. Said all organs sound, heart in no way enlarged, arteries in good shape, prostate normal. The only comment was on the irregularity of pulse which he thought was probably due to smoking, until I told him that I no longer smoked. He agreed with me that it was due to too much desk and two little exercise of the type to which I had been accustomed. Said I would have to fight a “desk belly”, tho I was pretty well off at the time, being six pounds lighter than when you first saw me, and in better shape, both as to hardness and figure. He told me to try and sit as erect as possible at the desk, something I never do. I rather imagine that he gave me a pretty good report. I will let you know as soon as I hear. I could easily check up on it thru the AGO, but I am not drawing any attention to my thoughts on the subject.2

I think that any pulse remark would be credited by Craig as a more or less natural reaction to the really terrific strain of the past three weeks, during which I have had to work like lightening, compromise endless disagreements, sit in on most difficult scenes, etc. The chief burden of the War Department plot has been mine, so I approached my physical under unusually heavy pressure. As a matter of fact, I feel fine and in high spirits—in contrast to most of the others.

I have taken no treatment since the exam and at present, this morning, my pulse is about 70, with slight wavers every twenty or thirty beats, but no intermissions.

Now as to your affairs. I hardly know what to advise as to bringing in outside pressure. In all the cases I hear of here it has merely been an irritant. Unless it is from a very powerful source and to a powerful source, on a most intimate basis, it gets you know where and only seems to do harm. Letters to the President are just sent over for the WD to prepare answers.

I have absolutely nothing to go on, but I am beginning to suspect that Ireland and his associates will exert the greatest influence, and possibly thru the Medical assn. Now it just happens that I think that Assn is not popular at the moment, because of the struggle to set up other medical arrangements which the Administration favors.

Why not try this method or approach: Write frankly to Bob Patterson, refering to the difficult position he put you in at Carlisle, and part of its consequences, and request him to indorse you to the American Medical Assn. Also, if he can find a normal reason for writing to General Craig, to include in it a strong and complimentary reference to you. I fear that a letter for that purpose alone would merely irritate—tho maybe not. In any event, make the strong selling points your outstanding ability as an administrator, as a leader and influencer of morale—your demonstrated ability to handle hospitals and to handle men. Also emphasize your loyalty, to offset in no uncertain terms any implications Dulaney may have spread around.3

If there is any one of great influence who stands in with the Administration, that would be willing, on a very personal basis to put in a strong indorsement for you, you might try that.

Another consideration is the timing. I think now it is a little too early, that anything now would give too much the impression of a campaign. You must avoid that; tho what I am advising is a campaign, but one of only two, or at most three blows, and those hard and determined ones. Routine indorsements are to be avoided like the plague.

I fear that I have not been able to be very helpful. Also, there is this possibility, that later on I might be consulted, and if so my lips are sealed from then on. My best advise is to consider the points I suggest to be made in any recommendation of you, and that only powerful sources should be brought into this.

I sent you a photograph the other day, which I hope reached you all right. It is very handsome, if you view it as a mother.

Give my best regards to Mrs. Stayer, and believe me,


G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: Morrison C. Stayer Papers, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Author-typed letter signed.

1. Neither of these letters is in the Marshall papers.

2. Marshall was examined by Lieutenant Colonel Albert W. Kenner. Marshall was five feet, eleven and three-quarters inches tall (without shoes) and weighed 175 pounds.

3. Stayer was seeking a new station. The nature of the problem in which he became embroiled while stationed at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, in the early 1930s is not known, but it involved the current (1931-35) army surgeon general, Major General Robert U. Patterson, and the former (1918-31) surgeon general, Major General Merritte W. Ireland.

Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 682-684.

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