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To Major General David L. Stone
October 9, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
Personal and Confidential
I have passed on your several letters to the Secretary of War in order that he might see what was being done by you under the changed conditions of control in the Canal Zone, and he is very much gratified. This morning I gave him your letter of October 4th, with the carbon copy of your communication to Mr. Sumner Welles.1
The Secretary is deeply interested in every aspect concerned with the Panama Canal, in view of the present world crisis. He is particularly concerned over the construction program—just as you are. Now, most confidentially, and for your eye alone, he is unwilling for the command to pass from you to General Lear, and I do not wish to see General Lear suffer a humiliation by his relief from duty in Panama prior to the expiration of his tour. This means that your successor must be senior to General Lear.2 There is another phase of the matter; both the Secretary and I feel that your successor should arrive in the Canal Zone in time to have an important part in the development of that command, in tactical organization as well as in construction. We, therefore, think that your tour should be terminated before next summer, and we have settled on the first of the year as a desirable time.
General Van Voorhis is to succeed you. We would like, if practicable, to have him there about a week before your departure.
Will you please consider this matter from the standpoint of determining how best it can be done. Would you prefer to initiate the action from your end of the line, by requesting that your extension of foreign service be reconsidered on the basis of January 1st next? Please write me very frankly on the subject by air mail.3
Unless you have some other desire, you would be ordered to the Fifth Corps Area Headquarters until your retirement.
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. Stone’s letter to Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles described in detail a conversation Stone had with Ecuador’s minister of foreign affairs regarding that country’s potential assistance and cooperation in the defense of the approaches to the Panama Canal. (Stone to Welles, October 4, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]. See Marshall to Stone, October 3, 1939, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-059 [2: 69-71].)
2. Concerning Major General Ben Lear, see Marshall to Van Voorhis, September 2, 1939, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-044 [2: 48-50].
3. Stone replied that he was requesting that his tour in the Panama Canal terminate on January 1, 1940. He concluded: “My high hopes regarding our defenses for the Canal and for which I have worked are now about to be realized and the foundation has been laid for the development of our defenses along the lines we have all had in mind. It, therefore, seems very wise that a man with a longer time to serve take hold and carry on and carry out the actual development of all our defense installations. Such an appointment will also guarantee continuity of command under whatever conditions we may face during the next few years.” (Stone to Marshall, October 14, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected]. See Marshall to Van Voorhis, September 2, 1939, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-044 [2: 48-50].) In a letter to Major General Van Voorhis, Marshall observed that Stone had “acceded to the proposal in a fine spirit.” (October 16, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Marshall also wrote a letter of commendation for the secretary of war’s signature praising Stone for “the splendid job you have done.” (Harry H. Woodring to Stone, October 20, 1939, ibid.)
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. 76-77.