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To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower
May 7, 1945 [Radio No. W-78505.] Washington, D.C.
For Eisenhower’s Eyes Only from Marshall.
The cessation of hostilities in Europe brings up the question of what procedure to follow in the return of senior officers to this country. Hodges is returning in the near future to go on to the Pacific. Others will follow him to participate in the war against Japan. Some will return to this country for duty, while others may remain in Europe indefinitely. Those in this last category should probably come home for a short rest. The question of handling reception and publicity for officers returning to this country who have done an outstanding job in Europe is one which requires some consideration. Some are natural headliners and others who have contributed to an equal extent have not been played up so much in the newspapers. If one is honored more than another the adverse reaction extends right down to the newest replacement that has joined the latter’s organization. It is surprising how much men in one organization, like an army or an air force, resent the acclaim and publicity that the commander of another army or air force may receive from time to time.
When General Pershing returned from France he was mobbed by enthusiastic greeters. The first units received tremendous ovations. Units returning later were met by tired reception committees and bored publics.
We have been discussing here the possibility of bringing back in four or five groups senior commanders and representative delegations from units of different commands. One proposal is to have Hodges, accompanied by possibly Spaatz or Vandenberg,1 Truscott and several selected corps commanders who so far as Japanese could gather would be with the First Army hastening to the Pacific but actually might be here merely for a rest before returning to their commands, and a small group of enlisted men and some platoon and company commanders and pilots all highly selected for outstanding combat leadership repeat leadership; maybe a sprinkling of Medal of Honor men among enlisted men.
Then might follow another group two weeks later, say, Bradley, Clark, Spaatz, Patton and Cannon2 with a similar group of corps commanders and young company officers and men. Many of these might be due to return to Europe after a fine rest here. Then possibly Devers, Patch3 and Simpson, etc. You to come with an escort of selected division and regimental commanders and outstanding young officers and men.
The time of your return as it affects the return of others is important. Following you any reception would be an anticlimax.
In discussing this with my immediate advisers I find one or two who fear the resentment that may occur, for example, among Truscott’s men due to acclaim given to Patton.
Have you any views on the subject? If so I should appreciate them as this problem is going to be on our hands very shortly.4
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. Lieutenant General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (U.S.M.A., 1923) had commanded the Ninth Air Force since August 1944.
2. Lieutenant General John K. Cannon, who had served as head of the Twelfth Air Force, assumed command of the Allied Air Forces in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in March 1945.
3. Lieutenant General Alexander M. Patch had assumed command of the Seventh Army in March 1944.
4. “I agree with every word,” replied Eisenhower on May 8. He asked if the receptions could be held in different cities within a close period of time and what size of party did Marshall have in mind. “This I deem most important because of the necessity of avoiding slackening off in intensity of our effort against Japan,” wrote Eisenhower. “To drag out receptions would be to emphasize over too long a period what we have done rather than what we still have to do.” (Papers of DDE, 6: 21-22.) For further information regarding the receptions, see Marshall to Eisenhower, May 10, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-124 [5: 177-78].
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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 169-170.