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To Lieutenant General John L. De Witt
July 22, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear De Witt:
I am planning for the tenth time to get out to the West Coast. Whether it will be next week or during your maneuvers between August 15 and 30, I will not be able to tell until the last moment. Today it looks as though I might possibly get away Sunday afternoon next, and in that case I would move into either Southern California or the Northwest Monday or Tuesday.
If I can manage it, I want two or three days’ rest, because I need it badly. I have had only nine days in the past two years, except for that period in your house when I was offending Mrs. De Witt by avoiding entertainment. In all probability I will head into Portland, Oregon, and spend two or three days with the Hamilton Corbetts either at the seashore or trying to get some fishing. They know nothing about such an intention on my part, so please do not mention it.1
As soon as I have a definite idea of my plans, I will go about coordinating them with yours, but please understand that I do not want you to upset your schedule. You have too many things to manage for me to cause a complete rearrangement of your program. In other words, if you have a plan to be away in Southern California at the time I reach the Northwest, do not think of flying up there; I will meet you later on. Or if the reverse happens to be the case, you in the Northwest and I come in by the southern route, go on about your business, I will catch up with you sooner or later.2
I would like to go into Alaska, but I doubt if that will be arrangeable at this season or in the time at my disposal. Incidentally, you might tell Buckner most confidentially that I am trying to make him a major general and will probably succeed shortly, so I do not want him to feel that I have been unappreciative of the splendid job he has done. I am not free to go into the difficulty of my position in this matter, and I do not want Buckner to be cogitating among his friends as to just why there should be any difficulty.3
I have been having a very hard battle here in Washington, but I hope to complete my part of it in the next three or four days. After that it is up to the public, the Congress and the President.
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. Marshall had stayed with the De Witts March 1-3, 1940, on his way to Hawaii. During his August 1940 inspection trip, he had spent the night of August 11-12 at the Corbetts’ Portland, Oregon, home.
2. Marshall and Secretary Stimson inspected Fourth Army troops one month later. The chief of staff, after a few days of fishing with Stimson at Glacier National Park, met with De Witt at Fort Lewis, Washington, on August 25. (Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 35: 46].)
3. The Alaska Defense Command, created in February 1941 and headed by Brigadier General Simon B. Buckner, Jr., was a part of De Witt’s Western Defense Command. German Army successes in the Soviet Union increased the War Department’s concern regarding that outpost’s vulnerability to Axis attack, particularly the naval bases there; consequently, the reinforcement of Alaska was granted increased priority. (Stetson Conn, Rose C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1964], pp. 230-50.) Buckner was promoted to major general effective August 4. Marshall did not visit Alaska during his August inspection trip.
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. 575-576.