George Marshall’s story began in 1880. According to the Historical Office of the Secretary of Defense, Marshall is “the son of a coal merchant… was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.” When he was of age, he enrolled in the Virginia Military Institute. After four years, he graduated from VMI in 1901. In 1902, he commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.
The Army first sent Marshall to the Philippines. He returned stateside for a brief period before returning to Europe in World War I. During the Great War, Marshall learned the logistics of working with other countries to fight a common enemy. At the conclusion of World War I, he became the aide-de-camp to Gen. John J. Pershing in 1919, a position he held for five years before being sent to China. Upon his return, he assisted the commandant of the infantry school at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 1933, he earned the rank of colonel and supervised the Civilian Conservation Corps, which he enjoyed very much. So much so, that when he was presented with change orders, Marshall wrote a request to stay. In 1936, he was promoted to brigadier general and, in 1939, was appointed as Army chief of staff.
Marshall is credited with the strategic planning to train forces for victory in World War II. During the war, he helped organize, strategize and implement the American efforts in concert with Great Britain. After the war, one of the most famous pieces of legislation was nicknamed after him. The European Recovery Program, better known as “The Marshall Plan,” was implemented to rebuild Europe in the aftermath of World War II. First introduced by Marshall during a speech at Harvard, it was passed by Congress in 1948. Due to this important work, he became the only career US Army officer to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
During his career, he selected Anna Rosenberg to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Personnel, a giant step for women. Prior to this, no woman had been appointed to such a high-level Department of Defense position. In September 1951, Marshall established the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, which first met in September 1951 and continues to function effectively today. Finally, he was the president of the American Red Cross for a period of time and saw the formation of NATO. Marshall’s impact has been felt around the world.
He died in 1959 at Walter Reed Hospital and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
We honor his service.
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This post, #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran George Marshall, was originally published by the Veteran's Administration.