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To Lieutenant Colonel Truman Smith
December 8, 1938 [Washington, D.C.]
I was very glad to receive your letter of November twentieth, and tremendously impressed by the news regarding von Schell, to whom I have just written a note as suggested by you. His selection is another indication of the current advantages of that particular form of Government, and it is conspicuous evidence of the wisdom with which they choose their leaders. I am delighted that von Schell has risen to such important posts, and I agree with you that his future may reach the highest military altitude.1
I have noted your desires regarding assignment and I will do what I can to bring about an acceptable job and station.2 While I have not looked into the matter yet, I know that other Lieutenant Colonels here in the War Department—Gerow, for instance, have been denied troop assignments because they have had three years in the past twelve, or something of that sort. Gerow is being sent to Benning on the Infantry Board, because he could not get another station.3
Incidentally, I am told that if one picks out a very unpopular Post he usually can get it. If this is the case, feel towards Fort Francis E. Warren at Cheyenne? The Artillery people tell me they can always get troops if they will choose that Post. I admit it would be a tremendous contrast to Berlin, and I must comment on the despair of the wife of the present Commanding Officer at Fort Missoula,4 who proceeded there direct from Budapest, I believe. I am talking about Mrs. Whitley, a lovely Greek, who sees no charm in the mountain scenery, the high winds, and the local populace. She told me her dinner partner the other day was the undertaker. Whitley, however, is doing great things there and is making quite a reputation for himself.
Fort Lincoln, North Dakota, is another spot that usually goes begging. I looked at it from the air the other day but only know the ground conditions from gossip and rumor. They say it is a sad spot, and I have found it rather interesting to make over such blemishes.
Would you be interested in Leavenworth, or a staff position with troops—the Third Division or the Second Division? Let me hear from you very frankly. I will regard what you say as confidential.
With warm regards to Mrs. Smith and yourself, and thanks for your letter,
P.S. The data regarding German air personnel was very interesting. I had G-2 ask the questions for me while I was head of War Plans Division.
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. Smith had written that a few lines of congratulations from Marshall would please von Schell greatly and “help my position immensely.” Von Schell had just been promoted to colonel, appointed head of the German automobile industry, inspector of Tank corps, and inspector of Army Mobilization. His rise “has been so meteoric in the last two years that it almost staggers one. (Smith to Marshall, November 20, 1938, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
2. He would be coming back to the United Slates in August, 1939, Smith wrote. “I have grown very tired mentally this year and shall need a very regular and active physical life for about a year after I get home. . . . You may believe me when I say that the Military Attache job in Germany in the last two or three years has been no lead pipe cinch. We have lived more or less on a volcano here and the strain on one’s nerves has been tremendous.” (Ibid.)
3. Lieutenant Colonel Leonard T. Gerow (V.M. I., 1911) had served in the Office of the Chief of Infantry from February, 1921, until July, 1923. Between May, 1936, and March, 1939, he served as executive officer of the war Plans Division.
4. Colonel B. Langley Whitley.
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. 670-671.