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To John F. O’Hara
July 22, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Bishop:
I have just read your letter of July 20th, regarding Monsignor Vassallo and his possible detail as Military Attaché to Cuba.1 The matter has been dropped, however I would like you to know just what brought the proposal about.
General Frank McCoy, retired, the present head of the Foreign Policy Association, was sent by Rockefeller on a tour of Latin-America. General McCoy is a man of wide experience in those countries and of very sound and conservative judgment. He represented to me the great importance of having officers from our Army in South American countries who were of Latin blood and temperament. He stated that the natural reaction of the Latin Americans to the United States and our Army was one of a Latin toward an Anglo-Saxon, without regard to the fact that we have many officers of Latin blood in the Army.2
General McCoy’s suggestion appealed to me as a wise one, and I set about locating officers who were suited to such duties and at the same time filled his requirements. Monsignor Vassallo was the most conspicuous example of the type desired, that I had met in my Army contacts. I had been much impressed by his character and bearing and by his broad culture. In considering the fact that he was a Chaplain it occurred to me that that might make him more effective in Latin-American countries. I did not have in mind a prolonged detail but rather a short one and more as an experiment. I also knew that he had been in Puerto Rico for a great many years, and I thought he might find it interesting to have a brief period of service elsewhere.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. As auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Army and Navy Diocese, O’Hara had written to Marshall to explain why he could not approve the appointment to the attaché position of Monsignor Mariano Vassallo, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Chaplains Corps and the vicar general of the Diocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The shortage of chaplains and the fact that as a monsignor Vassallo’s diplomatic status far exceeded that of assistant attaché precluded his assignment, but O’Hara named four other chaplains of Hispanic descent who had the proper credentials for the job. (O’Hara to Marshall, July 20 and 23, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office. Selected].)
2. See Marshall to McCoy and Memorandum for General Miles, June 2, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-469 [2: 521] and #2-471 [2: 522].
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981– ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 573–574.