Creighton Abrams Biography

Creighton Abrams
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Creighton Abrams
Quick Facts

Birthday: September 15, 1914

Nationality: American

Died At Age: 59

Sun Sign: Virgo

Also Known As: Creighton Williams Abrams, Jr.

Born Country: United States

Born in: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Famous as: General

Military Leaders American Men

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Julia Berthe Harvey (m. 1936)

father: Creighton Abrams

mother: Nellie Louise

children: Creighton W. Abrams III, John N. Abrams, Robert B. Abrams

Died on: September 4, 1974

place of death: Washington, D.C.

U.S. State: Massachusetts

City: Springfield, Massachusetts

More Facts

education: United States Army Command and General Staff College, United States Military Academy at West Point, United States Army War College

awards: United States Military Academy
Command and General Staff College (CGSC)
US Army War College

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Creighton Abrams was one of the most aggressive army generals and tank commanders of the U.S. army during World War II. He is best remembered for commanding the military in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1972. Since his early days, Abrams was quite focused and ambitious. After graduating college, he started serving the ‘First Cavalry’ and became a captain within a few years. He was promoted to various ranks in his career and was even regarded by his senior officials as the “best tank commander” in the U.S. He took up the challenging task of “Vietnamization” of the army of South Vietnam and successfully did so even after the U.S. troops reduced in size from 500,000 to less than 30,000. He also made significant contributions in World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War. He finally became the chief of the U.S. army in 1972, succeeding William Westmoreland, and continued serving in the position until his death in 1974. He died due to complications after a surgery to remove a cancerous lung. The ailment was caused by his habit of chain-smoking. Nonetheless, his legacy lived on. He received countless medals of bravery and other honors during his lifetime and even posthumously.
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Early Life & Childhood
Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. was born on September 15, 1914, in Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S., to Nellie Louise (Randall) and Creighton Abrams.
His father was a railroad worker. Abrams graduated from the ‘United States Military Academy,’ Westpoint, New York, in 1936.
He had a mediocre academic record and was known to be the prankster of the batch. He then joined the ‘Cavalry School’ at Fort Bliss, Texas, and was part of the ‘1st Cavalry Division.’
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Early Career
After leaving the ‘1st Cavalry Division,’ he joined the freshly created ‘1st Armored Division,’ as a lieutenant. He became the captain of the unit in 1940.
Later, he became an army officer, followed by a tank company commander, in the ‘1st Armored Division.’
Career
During World War II, he commanded the ‘37th Tank Battalion’ under the ‘4th Armored Division.’ He was a regimental adjutant in 1941, followed by a battalion commander in 1942 and an executive officer in 1943, before more responsibilities were delegated to him.
He also commanded ‘Combat Command B’ of the division during the Battle of the Bulge.
He commanded the army, first as a major and then as a lieutenant colonel. In 1945, he was promoted to the post of colonel.
During this time, he earned the reputation of being an aggressive leader and a focused commander. His army defeated the more capable German forces, which had superior armor and weapons.
He participated in the ‘Normandy Invasion,’ where his regiment led the sweep of Gen. George Patton's ‘Third Army’ across Europe. In 1944, he relieved the defenders of Bastogne as the army broke through the German lines.
It was widely believed that Abrams had himself destroyed six tanks. Additionally, he was credited with the destruction of 300 German vehicles, 150 guns, 15 tanks, and more. This made Patton describe Abrams as the “best tank commander in the army.”
After World War II, he served as the head of the department of tactics at the ‘Armored School’ in Fort Knox, from 1946 to 1948. In 1949, he graduated from the ‘Command and General Staff College’ at Fort Leavenworth.
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Following his graduation, he served as the commander of the ‘63rd Tank Battalion’ in Europe, from 1949 to 1951. The battalion was part of the ‘1st Infantry Division.’
In 1951, he was again promoted to the post of colonel, as he commanded the ‘2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment’ (1951–1952). In 1953, he attended the ‘Army War College.’
During the Korean War, he served as the chief of staff in the ‘I,’ ‘X,’ and ‘IX Corps’ (1953–1954). He commanded the ‘3rd Armored Division’ in Germany during some of the intense years of the Cold War (1960–1962).
During this time, he also oversaw the forces deployed to ensure racial integration in U.S. universities. For the next 5 years, he served the army in Vietnam.
In 1964, he was promoted to the post of general and was also considered for the position of chief of staff. He was then appointed as the vice chief of staff of the ‘United States Army.’
After becoming deputy to General William Westmoreland, who was the head of the ‘US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam,’ Abrams succeeded him as the top commander in 1968. He also enforced the “Vietnamization” policy of President Richard M. Nixon (to reduce U.S. involvement in Vietnam) in the aforementioned capacity.
He called for an intensive training program for the Vietnam army of the South during the implementation of the policy. The task was quite challenging, especially after the reduction of the U.S. troops from over 500,000 to less than 30,000.
He was alone responsible for holding the military line of South Vietnam as he indefatigably pressurized the ‘Việt Cộng’ and the North Vietnamese positions in the South. He presided over the army of South Vietnam and left the area with one of the most brilliantly equipped armies in the world.
In 1970, he let the policy of “Vietnamization” succeed and himself led incursions in Cambodia and Laos. In 1972, he successfully became the chief of army staff, after Westmoreland retired, in Washington, D.C.
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In that capacity, he struggled to keep the army safe from the anti-military backlash that had resulted from the “Vietnamization” policy. However, he was loved and respected in Vietnam for his contribution to the development of a world-class army.
For this reason, he was also named as the “father-savior” in the country. He also presided over the reorganization of the U.S. military and increased the number of army divisions from 13 to 16 in the country.
He served as the chief of army staff until his death.
Awards & Achievements
The US army’s main battle tank, ‘M-1 Abrams,’ was named after Abrams. He also received numerous service medals for his service to the nation.
Some of the most notable of them were the ‘Defense Distinguished Service Medal,’ the ‘Air Force Distinguished Service Medal,’ the ‘Joint Service Commendation Medal,’ and the ‘American Campaign Medal.’ He also won the ‘Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal,’ the ‘World War II Victory Medal,’ the ‘United Nations Korea Medal,’ and the ‘Korean War Service Medal.’
The ‘IG Farben Building’ in Germany was named after him from 1975 to 1995.
Family, Personal Life & Legacy
Abrams married Julia Berthe Harvey in 1936. She was a humanitarian and the founder of the army group called ‘Arlington Ladies.’
They had six children together: three sons and three daughters.
All his sons, Brigadier General (former) Creighton Williams Abrams III, General John Nelson Abrams, and General Robert Bruce Abrams, became army officers, and all his daughters, Noel Bradley, Jeanne Daley, and Elizabeth Doyle, married army men. Abrams was a heavy smoker. This habit of his led one of his lungs to get cancerous. He died of complications after a surgery to treat the ailment at the age of 59.
He died on September 4, 1974, in Washington, D.C. He is buried with his wife in the ‘Arlington National Cemetery.’

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