In October 1903, he was appointed as a junior officer in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He was sent to Philippines as a part of the 3rd Engineer Battalion. Soon he was promoted as Second Lieutenant.
In 1904, his duty was cut short after he fell ill with malaria and dhobie itch, while he was on a survey in Bataan, Philippines. He later went to San Francisco, where he was appointed to work in the California Debris Commission.
In 1905, he was appointed as the Chief Engineer of the Division of the Pacific. In October the same year, he was ordered to travel to Tokyo to work as aide-de-camp to his father. In September 1906, he was ordered to report to the 2nd Engineer Battalion at the Washington Barracks.
In 1908, he received a posting to Fort Leavenworth on first command in Company K, 3rd engineer Battalion. Over the next two years, he became Battalion Adjutant and later Engineer Officer.
In 1911, he was promoted as captain and became head of the Military Engineering Department and the Field Engineer School. He was part of military activities in San Antonio, Texas and also served in Panama.
In 1914, he played a prominent role in the United States occupation of Veracruz, Mexico. For his relentless contribution, he was recommended as one of the contenders for the Medal of honour, but did not receive it.
On December 11, 1915, he was promoted to the post of a Major. The following year he was appointed as the Head of the Bureau of Information at the office of the Secretary of War.
In 1917, after war was declared with Germany, he federalised the state National Guard to build the army and formed the ‘The 42nd Infantry Division’, also called ‘Rainbow’. He was the Chief of Staff and Colonel of the unit.
In 1918, he was promoted as a Brigadier General and commanded the 84th Infantry Brigade. He proved his military leadership capabilities in Champagne-Marne, Saintt-Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Sedan offensives.
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In 1919, he was appointed as the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served there for a period of three years and proposed many reforms during his tenure.
In June 1923, he commanded the 23rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Division and played a pivotal role in putting an end to The Philippine Scout Mutiny by addressing their grievances.
In 1925, he became the youngest Major General in the army and commanded the IV Corps Area, but he experienced prejudice as he was the son of a Union Army officer. He was relieved off the post and later commanded the III Corps area.
He was appointed as the president of the American Olympic Committee and was assigned the task of preparing the U.S. team for the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.
In 1930, he was appointed as the Chief of Staff of the United States Army with the rank of a general. He developed new mobilisation plans during the Great Depression and expelled The Bonus Army, made up of war veterans who demanded cash for their service certificates.
In 1935, he was made field marshal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and sent as a military adviser to the Philippines. The President of the Philippines Manuel Quezon asked him to establish a defensive military force.
In 1941, the Philippine Army was federalised and he was ordered to return to duty. He commanded the U.S. troops in the Pacific. However, following a Japanese invasion, MacArthur-led forces were driven outside the Philippines. Thereafter, he launched several successful offensive operations against the Japanese military.
In 1942, he moved to Australia and operated from there as the Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area. The Pacific War between the United States and the Empire of Japan continued.
In 1945, after the surrender of Japan, he exercised control as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. He helped in the reconstruction of Japan and acted as its interim leader.
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In 1950, after the invasion of South Korea by North Korea, the United Nations Command forces were placed under his control. During this time, he did not anticipate Chinese attacks and hence was forced to retreat.
In April 1951, he was removed from command by President Harry S. Truman, after the two clashed over war policies. He had been repeatedly contradicting government statements publicly. This did not please President Truman.
Personal Life & Legacy
On February 14, 1922, he married socialite and multi-millionaire heiress Louise Cromwell Brooks. They divorced in 1929.
In 1937, he married his second wife, Jean Faircloth. They had a son named Arthur the next year.
After he was removed from the U.S Army, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Remington Rand. In his later life, he was actively involved in the U.S Olympic affairs.
He died at the age of 84 due to biliary cirrhosis at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He was given a state funeral and was finally laid to rest in the rotunda of the Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia.