George Marshall Biography

(3rd United States Secretary of Defense)

Birthday: December 31, 1880 (Capricorn)

Born In: Uniontown, Pennsylvania, United States

George Marshall was an American statesman and soldier who served as the Chief of Staff of the United States Army under two U.S. Presidents. During his long and illustrious career, he also served as Secretary of State, and then Secretary of Defense, under President Harry S. Truman. As an army man, he gained much fame for his leadership skills during the World War II during which he built and directed the largest army in history and was hailed as one of the military heroes in the Allied victory in World War II by Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister. A patriotic soul from the very beginning, he decided early on to join the army and enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute. Following his graduation as a senior first captain of the Corps of Cadets, he served in several posts in the Philippines and the United States. During the World War I, he planned the first American attack and victory of the war at Cantigny and played a major role in the planning and coordination of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Eventually he became the Chief of Staff and organized the largest military expansion in U.S. history during the World War II. After the war, he was made Secretary of State by President Truman and was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: George Catlett Marshall Jr

Died At Age: 78


Spouse/Ex-: Elizabeth Carter Cole, Katherine Tupper

father: George Catlett Marshall Sr.

mother: Laura Emily Marshall

Nobel Peace Prize Military Leaders

political ideology: Political party- Nonpartisan

Died on: October 16, 1959

place of death: Washington, D.C., United States

U.S. State: Pennsylvania

Cause of Death: Strokes

Notable Alumni: Virginia Military Institute

More Facts

education: Virginia Military Institute

awards: 1953 - Nobel Peace Prize
Silver Star
Distinguished Service Medal

Childhood & Early Life
George Catlett Marshall, Jr. was born on 31 December 1880, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania into a middle-class family as one of the three children of George Catlett Marshall, Sr. and Laura Emily. His father owned a prosperous coal business in Pennsylvania.
He decided early on that he wanted a career in the army and enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute in 1897, graduating in 1901 as senior first captain of the Corps of Cadets.
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He served in several posts in the Philippines and the United States over the next few years and went on to graduate with honors from the Infantry-Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth, in 1907, and from the Army Staff College, in 1908.
During the World War I, he was assigned important roles as a planner of both training and operations. As the director of training and planning for the 1st Division in France, he planned the first American attack and victory of the war at Cantigny in May 1918. He was also instrumental in the planning and coordination of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive the same year.
Once the World War I ended, he was made an aide-de-camp to General John J. Pershing, in 1919. Marshall focused on training and teaching modern, mechanized warfare to the Army in this position.
He was a key planner and writer in the War Department and taught at the Army War College. He was appointed assistant commandant of Fort Benning in 1927 and from June 1932 to June 1933 he was the Commanding Officer at Fort Screven, Savannah Beach, Georgia.
A much respected military officer by now, he was promoted to brigadier general in October 1936. Marshall was assigned to the War Plans Division in Washington D.C. in 1938 and subsequently reassigned as Deputy Chief of Staff.
In 1939, he was promoted to general and made the Army Chief of Staff. The World War II started the same year and Marshall would hold this post until the end of the war in 1945.
During the World War II he set about organizing the largest military expansion in U.S. history. His experiences as an instructor at the Army War College came in handy during this crucial time. Even though he had never actually led troops in combat, he was bestowed with great organizing and leadership skills with which he inspired other officers. He also played a pivotal role in preparing the U.S. Army and Army Air Forces for the invasion of the European continent.
In December 1944, Marshall was promoted to the newly created position of General of the Army, becoming the first American Army general to be promoted to a five-star rank. He coordinated Allied operations in Europe and the Pacific throughout the remainder of World War II and resigned from his post of Chief of Staff in 1945.
In the post war years he was appointed Secretary of State by President Truman in 1947. George Marshall became the spokesman for the State Department's ambitious plans to rebuild Europe—the European Recovery Program which became known as the Marshall Plan. The plan was designed to help Europe quickly rebuild and modernize its economy along American lines. He resigned from the State Department because of ill health in 1949.
Major Works
George Marshall was instrumental in designing and implementing the European Recovery Program in the years following the World War II. The program which became known as the Marshall Plan aimed at implementing major economic reforms in European countries for rebuilding the economy after the devastation caused by the war. The plan was implemented in 1948, and the next four years saw the fastest period of growth in European history.
Awards & Achievements
He was the recipient of several U.S. military honors including Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, World War I Victory Medal with four campaign clasps, and World War II Victory Medal.
In 1948, he was awarded the Grand Lodge of New York's Distinguished Achievement Award for his role and contributions during and after World War II.
In 1953, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan.
The British Parliament established the Marshall Scholarship in recognition of Marshall's contributions to Anglo-American relations.
Personal Life & Legacy
George Marshall married Elizabeth Carter Coles in 1902. She died in 1927.
His second marriage was to Katherine Boyce Tupper in 1930. She was the widow of Baltimore lawyer Clifton Stevenson Brown and the mother of three children.
He died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. on 16 October 1959. He was 78.

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