Douglas MacArthur, United States Army General began his career in 1899, served in three major military conflicts and held the highest military office of the United States and of the Philippines during that service.
Summary of service
- June 13, 1899 – appointed as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York.
- 1900: Is the victim of hazing and becomes involved in a serious scandal where one cadet is left dead by upperclassman abuse. During the investigation he implicates only cadets who were already expelled from West Point or had previously confessed.
- June 1903 – Graduates first in his class, commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers
- June 1903: Serves with the 33rd Battalion of Engineers in the Philippine Islands.
- 1904: Assigned to the California Debris Commission.
- April 1904: Promoted to First Lieutenant, becomes acting Chief Engineering Officer for the Army Pacific Division based in San Francisco, California
- October 1904: Reports to Tokyo, Japan to serve as an aide to his father (Major General Arthur MacArthur, Jr.) in the Far East
- December 1906: Serves as aide-de-camp to President Theodore Roosevelt
- August 1907: Attends the "Engineering School of Application" in Washington, D.C.
- February 1908: Assigned as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Improvements Commission, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- April 1908: Appointed as commanding officer, Company K, 3rd Battalion of Engineers. Later that year becomes an instructor at the Mounted Service School, Fort Riley, Kansas
- April 1909: Becomes Quartermaster for the 3rd Battalion of Engineers
- February 1911: Promoted to captain and serves as the Officer-in-Charge of the Engineering Depot at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
- November 1912: Assigned to the General Staff Corps, for duty as a member and recorder of the Board of Engineering Troops
- April 1913: Appointed as superintendent of the State, War, and Navy Building in Washington, D.C. as a member of the Army General Staff
- April 1914: Becomes the assistant engineering officer of the military expedition to Veracruz, Mexico
- December 1915: Promoted to major, serves as an engineering officer on the Army General Staff
- August 1917: Advanced to the temporary rank of colonel in the National Army. Reports to Camp Mills, Long Island, New York to begin forming the 42nd Division.
World War I
- 1917 – 1918: Becomes chief of staff of the 42nd Division and is credited with naming it the "Rainbow Division". Joins the American Expeditionary Force bound for France. Departs U.S. for France in November 1917.
- June 1918: Appointed a brigadier general in the National Army and in August is appointed as commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade. Briefly commands the 42nd Division from 10 to 22 November 1918.
- 1918 – 1919: Receives two Distinguished Service Crosses and seven Silver Star Citations (later converted to Silver Stars) for battlefield leadership and bravery and also is wounded in action and gassed by the enemy. Was known for personally leading troops into battle, often without a weapon of his own. Begins to develop a negative relationship with General of the Armies John Pershing, after feeling that Pershing is wasting the lives of his troops with bad military tactics.
- May 1919: Returns to the United States as a hero, but is distraught over the lack of recognition his Rainbow Division receives for actions in France.
- June 12, 1919: Becomes the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, West Point.
- January 20, 1920: Appointed as a brigadier general in the Regular Army. Is one of the few officers who retain their wartime rank. Receives a negative evaluation report from Pershing, now Chief of Staff, who ranks Macarthur 38 out of 45 generals and states that MacArthur has an "exalted view of himself and should remain in his present grade for several years".
- November 1, 1922: Becomes Commanding General, District of Manila, in the Philippines.
- June 29, 1923: While still serving as District of Manila Commander, also becomes commander of the 23rd Infantry Brigade.
- November 18, 1924: Assigned as commander of the Philippine Division.
- January 17, 1925: Promoted to major general, becoming the youngest two-star general in the U.S. Army. Returns to the United States to become a corps commander.
- May 1, 1925: Assigned as 4th Corps Area Commander, encompassing the southeastern states with headquarters in Atlanta. Quickly reassigned as local residents did not welcome MacArthur because his father was a Union officer during the Civil War.
- August 1, 1925 – September 3, 1928: Serves as 3rd Corps Area Commander, with headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.
- Summer 1928: Leads the United States Olympic Team to Amsterdam.
- October 1, 1928: Assigned as the Commanding General of the Philippine Department, with headquarters in Manila.
- October 2, 1930: Becomes the commander of the Ninth Corps Area with headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco, California.
- November 21, 1930: Appointed by President Hoover as Chief of Staff of the United States Army and promoted to the rank of general on the same date.
- June 1932: Presides over the dispersal of the "Bonus Army", deemed a low point of his tenure as Army Chief of Staff.
- October 1, 1935: Completes his tour as chief of staff and declines retirement from the army. Per army regulations, reverts to his permanent rank of major general and becomes the Chief Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines.
- April 30, 1937: marries Jean Faircloth in New York City.
- December 31, 1937: Retires from the army at his own request. Placed on the retired list as a four-star general.
- 1937 – 1941: Civilian adviser to the Philippine Government on military matters. Is appointed a field marshal in the Philippine Army, the only American in history to have that rank bestowed upon them. Begins wearing the "scrambled eggs" cap often associated with him.
- February 21, 1938: Son Arthur MacArthur IV is born.
World War II
- July 26, 1941: Recalled to active service in the United States Army as a major general.
- July 27, 1941: Appointed lieutenant general in the Army of the United States and becomes commanding general of USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East).
- December 8, 1941: Japanese invade the Philippines.
- December 18, 1941: promoted to general in the Army of the United States.
- December 1941–May 1942; Allied forces retreat to Bataan and Corregidor
- February–March 1942: Roosevelt orders MacArthur to leave the Philippines and base in himself in Australia; on March 20, in Terowie, South Australia, MacArthur promises, "I came out of Bataan and I shall return."
- April 18, 1942: Appointed Supreme Allied Commander, South West Pacific Area. Australian Prime Minister John Curtin gives MacArthur control of the Australian military, which commences the New Guinea campaign.
- 1943: MacArthur implements Operation Cartwheel, the Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to isolate the major Japanese base at Rabaul.
- 1943 – 1944: argues with the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding reconquest of the Philippine Islands. Chiefs propose bypass; MacArthur appeals to President Roosevelt.
- October 20, 1944: MacArthur fulfills his promise to return to the Philippines. U.S. forces landed at Leyte and began reconquest of Philippines.
- December 18, 1944: Promoted to the newly created rank of General of the Army becoming second highest ranking active duty officer of the U.S. Army, second only to George Marshall.
- 1944 – 1945: Due to logistics issues the Joint Chiefs decided to invade the Philippine Islands. MacArthur again must fight to convince his superiors to invade the entire Philippine Islands, whereas initial plans call for only an invasion of the south. The Joint Chiefs at last agreed that MacArthur is to invade the Philippine Islands at Leyte Gulf and strike toward Manila.
- February 5, 1945: Forces under MacArthur's command liberate Manila.
- Summer 1945: in Manila to plan invasions of Japan in October, 1945. Is stunned by the news of the use of the atomic bomb, and is quoted as saying that "this apparatus will make men like me obsolete".
- August 14, 1945: Appointed Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) and given command of all Allied Forces in Japan.
- August 30, 1945: Arrives in Japan and assumes command of the occupation of Japan with his headquarters in Tokyo.
- September 2, 1945: Presided over the Japanese surrender ceremony and is appointed military governor of Japanese home islands. Threatens the Soviet Union with armed conflict should Red Army soldiers attempt to occupy any part of Japan.
Occupation of Japan
- December 15, 1945: Orders the end of Shinto as the state religion of Japan.
- 1945 – 1948: Begins sweeping reforms, drafts a new constitution for Japan, and puts an end to centuries of Emperor god-worship.
- May 3, 1947: Japan's new constitution, greatly influenced by MacArthur, goes into effect.
- June 25, 1950: Invasion by North Korea into South Korea.
- July 8, 1950: Named Commander-in-Chief of all United Nations forces in Korea.
- July 31, 1950: Travels to Taiwan and conducts diplomacy with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
- September 15, 1950: Leads UN forces at the Battle of Inchon, seen as one of the greatest military maneuvers in history.
- October 15, 1950: Meets with President Truman on Wake Island after heavy disagreements develop regarding the conduct of the Korean War. When meeting Truman, it is very noticeable that MacArthur does not salute his Commander-in-Chief but rather offers a handshake. Truman awards MacArthur a fourth oak leaf cluster on his Distinguished Service Medal.
- November – December 1950: With China committed to all-out war against the US on the Korean peninsula, MacArthur advocates for the same in return against China but is prohibited. He is outraged when military leaders in Washington restrict the war to only the Korean theater, meaning that he cannot bomb even the bridges of the Yalu river over which Chinese troops, supplies, and material are streaming across. He is further restricted from bombing their bases in Manchuria. MacArthur expressed his outrage later, saying that "The order not to bomb the Yalu bridges was the most indefensible and ill-conceived decision ever forced on a field commander in our nation's history."
- April 11, 1951: After several public criticisms of White House policy in Korea, which were seen as undercutting the Commander-in-Chief's position, Harry Truman removes MacArthur from command and orders him to return to the United States. Some suggest Truman may have exchanged MacArthur for a sound nuclear policy in Korea since he did not trust "Brass Hat MacArthur" with nuclear weapons. Some disagree with this, however, since (as David Horowitz noted in The Free World Colossus) MacArthur later came out against Truman's use of the bomb against Japan and there seems to be no concrete evidence of a major change in his views.
- April 19, 1951: At a farewell address before the United States Congress, MacArthur gives his famous "Old Soldiers Never Die" speech.
- May 1951: Retires a second time from the U.S. Army, but is listed as permanently on active duty due to the regulations regarding those who hold the rank of General of the Army. For administrative reasons, he is assigned in absentee to the office of the Army Chief of Staff.
- 1952: Allows name to be placed on primary ballots for Republican nomination, but does not campaign or announce as a candidate. Senator Robert Taft promises supporters to name MacArthur as candidate for vice president, but Taft loses to nomination to Eisenhower at the 1952 Republican National Convention on the 1st ballot. MacArthur received 10 votes on the 1st ballot before shifts and only 4 votes after shifts.
- 1952: Accepts position as chairman of the board of directors of Remington Rand Corporation.
- 1955: Is considered for promotion to the rank of General of the Armies. The promotion does not take place, various difficulties having arisen.
- 1961: Awarded an honorary Combat Infantryman Badge by Army Chief of Staff, General George H. Decker. During World War II, Decker served as chief of staff of the Sixth United States Army, which was a major element under MacArthur's command.
- May 12, 1962: Gives famous Duty, Honor, Country speech at West Point upon accepting the Sylvanus Thayer Award granted by the West Point Association of Graduates.
- Active in U.S. Olympic affairs.
- April 5, 1964: Douglas MacArthur dies of liver and kidney failure following gallbladder surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Dates of rank
|None||Cadet||United States Military Academy||June 13, 1899|
|No pin insignia in 1903||Second Lieutenant, Engineers||Regular Army||June 11, 1903|
|First Lieutenant, Engineers||Regular Army||April 23, 1904|
|Captain, Engineers||Regular Army||February 27, 1911|
|Major, Engineers||Regular Army||December 11, 1915|
|Colonel, Infantry||National Army||August 11, 1917|
(Date of rank was August 5, 1917.)
|Brigadier General||National Army||July 11, 1918.|
(Date of rank was June 26, 1918.)
|Brigadier General||Regular Army||February 28, 1920|
(Date of rank was January 20, 1920.)
|Major General||Regular Army||January 17, 1925|
|General||Temporary||November 21, 1930|
|Reverted to Major General||Regular Army||October 1, 1935|
|General||Retired list||January 1, 1938|
|Major General||Regular Army||July 26, 1941|
(Recalled to active duty.)
|Lieutenant General||Army of the United States||July 27, 1941|
|General||Army of the United States||December 22, 1941|
(With date of rank September 16, 1936.)
|General of the Army||Army of the United States||December 18, 1944|
|General of the Army||Regular Army||March 23, 1946|
In 1955, legislation was in the early stages of consideration by the United States Congress which would have authorized the President of the United States to promote Douglas MacArthur to the rank of General of the Armies. A similar measure had also been proposed unsuccessfully by Stuart Symington in 1945. However, because of several complications which would arise if such a promotion were to take place, the bill was withdrawn.
Awards and decorations
During his military career, General MacArthur was awarded the following decorations from the United States and other allied nations. The list below is of those medals worn on a military uniform, and does not include commemorative medals, unofficial decorations, and non-portable awards.
Combat Infantryman Badge
Command Pilot Badge
Army General Staff Identification Badge
Expert Marksmanship Badge
with rifle and pistol bars
|Overseas Service Bars (x14)|
|Medal of Honor||Army Distinguished Service Cross
with two bronze oak leaf clusters
|Army Distinguished Service Medal|
with four oak leaf clusters
|U.S. Army Presidential Unit Citation
with three oak leaf clusters
|Philippine Presidential Unit Citation||Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation|
In addition to the military awards listed above, General MacArthur received numerous other honors and awards. Below is a partial listing.
- Army and Navy Club Gold Medal (1935)
- American Legion Distinguished Service Medal (1942)
- Boy Scouts of America Silver Buffalo Award (1946)
- Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Roosevelt Medal (1946)
- Sons of the American Revolution Gold Good Citizenship Medal (1951)
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Citizens Distinguished Service Medal (1951)
- National Football Foundation Gold Medal (1959)
- Order of Lafayette Freedom Medal (1961)
- United States Military Academy Sylvanus Thayer Award (1962)
- Congressional Gold Medal (1962)
- Freemasons Distinguished Achievement Medal (1963)
General MacArthur appeared on the cover of Time magazine a total of eight times. He was also featured on the cover of Life magazine six times. In addition, his trademark "scrambled eggs" hat appeared on the cover of Life magazine following his death in 1964.
General MacArthur belonged to several military and hereditary societies including the Society of the Cincinnati (honorary member of the New York Society), Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (insignia number 15,317), Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Sons of the American Revolution (accepted by the Empire State Society on August 27, 1945, and assigned national membership number 65,843 and state membership number 7,723), Military Order of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the World Wars (of which he served as national commander in 1928), Order of Lafayette, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion.
MacArthur was also eligible for membership in Sons of the Revolution, Society of Colonial Wars, Order of the Indian Wars of the United States and the Military Order of the Carabao, however, his membership in these organizations has not been confirmed.
On January 17, 1936, MacArthur was made a Freemason at sight by Samuel Hawthorne, Grand Master of Masons in the Philippines in a two-hour ceremony. After being raised to the degree of Master Mason, MacArthur joined Manila Lodge No.1. On October 19, 1937, he was elected Knight Commander Court of Honor, and on December 8, 1947, he was coroneted to the honorary 33rd Degree at the American Embassy in Tokyo. He was also a life member of the Nile Shrine in Seattle, Washington.
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (November 2015)
- Cullum's Register of Graduates of the USMA. Vol. VII pg. 576.
- Official Register of Commissioned Officers of the United States Army, 1948. Vol. 2. pg. 2312.
- Congressional Research Service (1955). Digest of Public General Bills and Resolutions. 84. Library of Congress. p. dccc.
- United States Congress (1955). Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States. 84. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 141, 1276, 1312.
- Olson, James C. (2003). Stuart Symington: A Life. University of Missouri Press. p. 408. ISBN 9780826264596.
- "Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur". The American Legion.
- New York Times. October 14, 1951.