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To Lieutenant General Charles D. Herron1
August 28, 1940 Washington, D.C.
I have appreciated very much your letters and notes keeping me generally advised of the situation.2 As to “the alert”, what is your frank reaction? Do you think it is imposing too heavy a tax to continue on the present basis? In Panama the condition is much more difficult. We have had to give them about $300,000 to construct temporary shelters for the numerous antiaircraft stations in the high hills. The rainy season makes life under these circumstances very difficult, but I do not feel that we can expose ourselves to the risks of a sudden lunge from some unexpected quarter. It is a very difficult business and I am deeply concerned that we do not exhaust the morale of the command by heavy requirements during what is supposed to be a period of peace, yet a failure would be catastrophic.
Let me have your frank opinion.3
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 commanding general of the Hawaiian Department, Herron had been promoted to lieutenant general on July 31, 1940.
2. On June 10 the Japanese and Soviet governments announced that they had concluded an agreement settling the disputed border between Outer Mongolia and Manchuria that had recently caused serious fighting between them. (Foreign Relations, 1940, 1: 641-42.) The Hawaiian Department had been ordered to go on alert status on June 17 because the War Department deduced that the “recent Japanese-Russian agreement to compose their differences in the Far East was arrived at and so timed as to permit Japan to undertake a trans-Pacific raid against Oahu, following the departure of the U.S. Fleet from Hawaii.” (War Plans Division draft—marked “not used” —of Marshall to Herron, June 27, 1940, NA/RG 165 [WPD, 4326].) A month later Herron had been authorized to relax the alert except for training air patrols and precautions against sabotage, which “will be continued on the basis of instant readiness.” (Marshall to Herron, July 16, 1940, NA/RG 165 [WPD, 4322].)
3. Herron replied: “My absolutely frank and honest opinion is that `the alert’ as now carried on here does not dull the keen edge, or exhaust morale. . . . As things now are, I feel that you need not have this place on your mind at all.” (Herron to Marshall, September 6, 1940, GCMRL/G.C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 296-297.