4-535 To Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, October 2, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 2, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt

October 2, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

I have read your letter and enclosure concerning the unfortunate situation in Italy concerning the award of the Infantry Combat Badge to Medical Corps personnel and subsequent withdrawal of the badges and additional pay.1 The statute authorizing these badges and extra pay specifically provides that they will be given to infantrymen only, hence the withdrawal.

I have had the War Department finance authorities make a careful investigation to see if some means could be devised to enable these soldiers of the Medical Corps who had received the Combat Badges to at least retain the extra pay. I am advised that no way can be found to do this under present provisions of the act. The Infantryman’s Combat Badge was legally established some time ago as one of the several measures taken to improve the morale and quality of our infantry. The men were suffering about eighty-five per cent of combat losses and enduring the greatest hardships of the campaign. However, they had fewer ratings and, what produced the most unfortunate reaction, their work was little appreciated by the general public. Under these circumstances General McNair and I, following a careful investigation with the board working specifically on the matter, arrived at a decision to secure Congressional authority for an increased number of ratings, for the Infantry Combat Badge with the additional pay, increased pay for the Air Carrier Borne Infantry, and also instituted a campaign of publicity featuring the vital importance of the infantryman to the modern battlefield, the heavy losses he sustained and the high quality of personnel required. The results have been gratifying and have, I think, enabled us to meet the heavy infantry losses some of the divisions have suffered in France without loss of continuing striking power.

Under these circumstances, to give the same award to the members of another branch of the service—the artillery, for example, who work close to the infantry, the medical personnel who serve the wounded, the engineers who at times even precede the infantry—would immediately lessen the effect of the award to the infantry soldier himself.

Awards and additional pay for the medical personnel are dependent on new legislation, and the advisability of submitting such legislation to Congress is now under study in the War Department.2 This, of course, includes consideration of the claims of the Engineers, the Signal troops who have suffered heavily, the Artillery, and the Armored Forces—who, incidentally have had comparatively small losses.

Faithfully yours,

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. Mrs. Roosevelt had written: “I am sending you a complaint which seems to me entirely justified. Is there nothing one could do to let these men have some kind of a badge which would not conflict with the Geneva Convention and to allow them to keep the extra pay which they were given?” She enclosed part of a letter from a medical corpsman in Italy stating that on July 23 all the front-line medics had been awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the accompanying extra ten dollars per month in pay. These were later taken away. The anonymous writer stated: “We are not asking that the same badges be necessarily returned to us, but we do desire at least another for our self satisfaction that others realize our participation in this war.” (Roosevelt to Marshall, September 14, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. On March 1, 1945, the War Department authorized a Medical Badge that was the equivalent for Medical Department personnel of the Combat Infantryman Badge. Eligibility for the award was made retroactive to December 7, 1941. (War Department Circular No. 66, March 1, 1945.)

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. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 615-616.

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