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To Second Lieutenant Josiah V. Thompson II
July 6, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just this moment read your letter of July 2nd and was greatly shocked to learn of your mother’s death. This was the first I had heard of it. As a matter of fact I had several times been on the point of writing her a letter.1
I am glad that you have gotten your commission and I hope that you find an interesting assignment. However, I must prepare you now for disappointments at times, and warn you against permitting yourself to react to them other than with a stiff upper lip. Army service, particularly in times like these and involving millions of men, is bound to have its vicissitudes—this is inevitable, but the good soldier carries on and finds his place and renders his service to the country. I am afraid this appears pessimistic though I have no reason at the time for being pessimistic. However, I get so many reactions from young men who don’t find their first assignment pleasing to their particular fancy that I am warning you against this amateur, casual American reaction.
You deliver the goods and you will find everybody wants your services and great opportunities develop.
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. Thompson wrote that his mother had died the previous winter. His father, Marshall’s childhood friend Andrew Thompson, had died in October 1938. Thompson had written in February to ask about volunteering for a position in the Ordnance Department. In June he was commissioned in the Army Air Forces, and at the time of this letter he was at the Officers’ Training School in Miami Beach, Florida, preparatory to his first assignment at Wright Field, Ohio. (Thompson to Marshall, July 2, 1942, and Marshall to Thompson, February 11, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
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. 268-2697.