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To Colonel Stuart A. Howard
November 12, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
I have your letter of October 31st regarding the disapproval of a number of recommendations for the award of a Legion of Merit to senior retired Army officers.1
Each recommendation for such an award receives careful consideration by the War Department before it is approved or disapproved. The Decorations Board evaluates each case and submits a recommendation to G-1. G-1 takes final action if it is in agreement with the Decorations Board. Otherwise, the case is submitted to the Deputy Chief of Staff for final decision.
Many of the officers with whom you are concerned performed their duties in an excellent or superior manner, and the War Department greatly appreciates the loyal support they gave during the rapid expansion of the Army. However, superior performance of duty does not in itself justify the award of the Legion of Merit. Otherwise, on the liberal basis of efficiency report appraisals of services, the distribution of the Legion of Merit would be far too general to give it appropriate value. The War Department has endeavored to maintain the value of the award at a high level, and it has been awarded only where the recipient has rendered exceptionally outstanding service.
I hope that this explanation will assist you in understanding the War Department policy in the matter.
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. Howard (U.S.M.A., 1903) had retired from the army in 1935, returned briefly to active duty in 1942, and retired again. He had written to Marshall asking if there was any way of appealing “the cases of some 500 senior retired officers, mostly Colonels, cited by their Commanding Generals for the Legion of Merit, & the great majority of whom were turned down by the Board.” (Howard to Marshall, October 31, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 658.