5-078 To Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith, March 30, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 30, 1945

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith

March 30, 1945 [Radio No. WAR-60889.] Washington, D.C.


Personal for Smith from Marshall.

Reference your S 83420 regarding field directors of American Red Cross being awarded theater ribbon:1 I probably am entirely wrong but this would rather indicate that ribbons are being awarded to high rank rather than to the fellow who lives and works under shell fire. Isn’t there some girl somewhere there who has served long under the hardships of an advance post who might be added to such a list?2

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. In February 1945 President Roosevelt authorized the award of theater ribbons to war correspondents, Red Cross personnel, civilian technicians, and others in exceptional cases where they shared the hardships and dangers of combat with U.S. troops. The number of ribbons awarded was to be restricted, however, because the president thought they should only go to military personnel. (Captain Lawrence A. Minnich, Jr., brief for the chief of staff, August 17, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OCS, SGS, Memorandums and Briefs to the Chief of Staff].)

In his message to Marshall, Smith reported that European Theater of Operations ribbons had recently been awarded to eight Red Cross field directors and an assistant field director, all men. (Smith to Marshall, Radio No. S-83420, March 29, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. “I agree entirely that some of these girls operating the mobile doughnut units should be awarded the theater ribbon and this will be done,” Smith replied. He added that the titles of the personnel listed in their referenced message were “rather misleading as these field directors are actually attached to combat regiments and operate further to the front than any other Red Cross personnel.” (Smith to Marshall, Radio No. FWD-18404, March 31, 1945, NA/RG 319 [OPD, Message Files 1945 [CM-IN-33222].) For further information regarding theater ribbons awarded to civilians, see Marshall to McNarney, August 18, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-208 [5: 279-80].

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), p. 108.

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