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To Mrs. Jennie Robbins
October 1, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mrs. Robbins:
I have received your letter of September 21st regarding your son’s experience at Fort Monmouth in the Officer Candidate School.1 General Van Deusen, in command of the School,2 has sent me both a copy of his letter to you of September 23rd and a detailed report on the record of your son.
At the present time we have about 4,000,000 men in the Army, some 200,000 officers, and will pass through the Officer Candidate schools some 100,000 men before the end of the year. I mention these figures in order that you may see how extremely difficult it is to meet the point of view of each individual and more particularly, each parent. However I am inclined to feel that in your case, judging from the Army records and the fact that you refer to the Navy’s having ruined your son several years ago, there exists a serious misunderstanding regarding his attitude and capacities. In the hope that the information I am about to give you really will be helpful in the end to you in your influence on your son I am risking a departure from a fixed rule of the War Department in passing out this most confidential information to a parent. I trust you will consider it as confidential.
In his course at Fort Monmouth your son failed in mathematics. There are a number of ratings given by the numerous instructors relating to personal qualities which affect leadership such as adaptability, bearing, neatness, attentiveness, initiative, loyalty, etc. In your son’s case 20 of these ratings were unsatisfactory, 26 satisfactory and none were higher than satisfactory. There are two other gradations, excellent and superior. He received an unsatisfactory rating in commanding a platoon in drill. He was rated by his tactical officer as number 47 out of 48 candidates. Each member of the class confidentially submits a rating on all other members of the class saving himself. His classmates rated him number 44 out of 48 men. Comments regarding him personally referred to lack of decision, coordination and leadership.
He was interviewed on August 25th by a member of the Faculty Board, who referred him to an interview with the full Board on August 31st, and after consideration by them his relief was recommended. This was considered by the Assistant Commandant and by General Van Deusen, the Commandant.
I am convinced that there was no personal prejudice in the handling of your son’s case—far too many individuals were involved, and that the procedure is the best that we have been able to devise to handle such matters, particularly where personality plays such a determining part in military leadership on which the lives of men and the success of operations depend. I hazard the opinion that you may be able to influence your son to a better evaluation of his own limitations so that he can profit by this recent experience rather than feel that he has been misjudged and mistreated. Really I believe this is more your problem than the Army’s.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. The editors have not found Mrs. Robbins’s letter of September 21, but on September 30 she wrote to the chief of staff to thank him for his reply of September 25 in which he promised to make a special check of the circumstances under which her son had been released from Officer Candidate School. She also provided Marshall with “further information before you received an answer that may take from me, my last hopes.” She asked him to “look at the facts from every angle before your verdict is reached because you are the conscience of the Army.” (Robbins to Marshall, September 30, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
2. Brigadier General George L. Van Deusen (U. S. M.A., 1909) was commanding general of the Eastern Signal Corps Training Camp at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. -376.