On this Date in History: Douglas MacArthur was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on January 26, 1880. He apparently had not done well in school but worked hard at the United States Military Academy and in 1903 graduated at the top of his 93-man West Point class. As a member of the Army Corps of Engineers he went to the Philippines as a First Lieutenant before becoming an aide-de-camp to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. During World War I, he was decorated 13 times and had 7 citations for bravery. In August 1918 he was promoted to Brigadier General and just 90 days later became the youngest division commander in France as he took command of the 42nd Division.
After the war, he served as Superintendent of West Point where from 1919 to 1922 he modernized the curriculum and doubled the size of the institution. Following his time at West Point, he took command of the newly formed Military District of Manila in the Philippines and in 1928 became the President of the United State Olympic Committee. In 1930 he became the youngest US Army Chief of Staff and strived to modernize the relatively small 135,000 man army. Up until World War II, the United States had a tradition of only raising a large standing army in time of war. But, McArthur warned that the rising world tensions were a threat to the United States. He said, “Pacifism and its bedfellow, Communism, are all about us. Day by day this cancer eats deeper into the body politic.”
In 1932, World War I veterans marched on Washington demanding their bonus pay from their service in World War I. The pay was not scheduled to be paid out until later but the veterans were in the need of the money at that time as the country slipped farther into depression. The military was called out to control the veterans and MacArthur acted with extreme measures. He had four troops of cavalry with drawn sabres as well as infantry with fixed bayonets supported by tanks to suppress the unrest. He justified his action against the former soldiers by saying that he feared the United States was on the verge of a Communist revolution. Also taking part in the actions were future President Dwight D. Eisenhower and future General George S. Patton, Jr.
As might be expected, a journalist by the name of Drew Pearson wrote scathing articles about MacArthur including charges supported by MacArthur’s ex-wife that his former father-in-law had been instrumental in influencing the decision to promote the general to that of Major General. MacArthur sued for nearly $2 million and the journalist appeared to be on the ropes when the former Mrs. MacArthur refused to testify. But, Pearson must have been resourceful because he tracked down a supposed mistress of MacArthur’s who had been sent back to the Philippines. Pearson acquired a bunch of love letters from Douglas to the woman and, when he presented them to the general, the lawsuit was dropped.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt dispatched in 1935 MacArthur to the Philippines to help organize that nation’s defense. MacArthur retired from the Army but stayed on as an advisor to the Philippines. As negotiations with the Japanese Empire deteriorated, MacArthur was recalled to active duty by the president and he was charged with mobilizing Philippines defense with a budget of $10 million and a fleet of 100 B-17 bombers. In October 1941, MacArthur reported that he had 227 aircraft, 135,000 troops and a “tremendously strong offensive and defensive force.” MacArthur was greatly criticized for not moving his aircraft following Pearl Harbor as on Dec. 8, 1941 the Japanese attacked the Philippines and destroyed about half of his Air Force. The Japanese invaded and by early 1942, MacArthur had ordered a retreat to Bataan. On February 22, 1942 MacArthur was ordered to evacuate the Philippines to Australia. He left behind General Jonathan Wainwright in command of 11,000 troops who managed to hold out against overwhelming forces until May. Wainwright was forced to surrender but MacArthur had vowed to return. While in Australia he became the Supreme Allied Commander of the Southwest Pacific and after many battles, Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines on October 20, 1944. Eventually, he accepted the Japanese surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. He is credited with his leadership in rebuilding post war Japan into a strong democracy and the creation of a booming economic power.
MacArthur went on to lead the United Nation’s effort in the Korean War. He had failings and successes. His bold and daring move to land troops at Inchon on September 15, 1950 turned the tide of what looked to be a hopeless UN effort. President Truman had told the general to limit the war to the Korean Peninsula as he was fearful of an expanded conflict with the Chinese or perhaps even another global conflict. But, MacArthur disagreed and pushed the North Koreans so far north that it appeared that he might invade China. In fact, that is what he favored doing and he began speaking out against the administration. President Truman removed MacArthur from command in April 1951 and the general returned to actively campaigned against the Democrats in the upcoming election. He backed Republican Senator Robert Taft of Ohio but General Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected in 1952. Ike consulted with MacArthur with regard to Korea. After MacArthur recommended a nuclear attack on the enemy and also to attack China, Eisenhower gave him no role in the administration.
In 1961, the retired general took over the reigns of the Remington Rand Corporation and its annual sales of $1.1 Billion. But, he was in increasingly poor health. He had several stints in the hospital and he became increasingly frail as he moved into his 80′s. He consulted on two occasions with President Kennedy following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. He was extremely critical of the advice Kennedy was getting from the military and warned the President against a build-up of forces or involvement in Southeast Asia. He later gave the same advice to President Johnson.
MacArthur was arguably one of America’s most brilliant generals and also one of its most flawed. He is often applauded and also criticized. But, it was a speech he gave near the end of his life on this date in 1962 that perhaps is his most endearing memory. Much like Ted Williams last hit (home run) or Michael Jordan’s final shot for the Chicago Bulls, General Douglas MacArthur went out in style. Noting his failing health, West Point honored MacArthur with the Sylvanus Thayer Award for outstanding service to the nation. The year before, it had been bestowed upon General Eisenhower. But, no one recalls the former President’s speech. It is MacArthur’s speech that still echoes in the halls of West Point and the theme is one that I think many Americans could stand to hear today: Duty, Honor, Country.
Weather Bottom Line: Wednesday morning we had the remnant of those t’storms that had rumbled out west on Tuesday afternoon and night. It would appear that the GFS had a better handle on the situation than the other models. As the heating of the day wore on, those storms moved East of Louisville and dropped some fairly significant rains in some areas that really didn’t need it. This slow moving big trof continues to trudge eastward slowly. The boundary is still to our west moving slowly along the front of the trof. It’s the same story with trying to time impulses moving through the flow. The GFS illustrates pretty well the situation in that it indicates a whole mess of energy with the warm, moist unstable air. That means that all it needs is a catalyst to tap into the moisture. There really isn’t much in the way of veering so the helicity and SWEAT indeces aren’t too impressive for most of the day. At 11 pm the GFS elevates the SWEAT to 431 which is reasonably high. The SPC has us in the slight risk for severe thunderstorms as they feel there is not sufficient veering for tornadic activity for most of the day but the atmosphere would certainly support super cells that could produce large hail and wind. I would say that if we were to get some super cells late and we have dynamics advertised briefly by the GFS then there could be support for tornadic activity as well. Look, this is tough and it’s not clear cut. The highest risk should be to our North but it’s worth paying attention to, especially in the afternoon and Thursday night. If there is thunderstorm activity, I’d tune in to a local tv station to see if there is anything going on like a watch or something. We may be dealing with scattered activity through the weekend but this Thursday to Friday timeframe is probably going to be the time of greatest risk.