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"MacArthur, WWI, and the Medal of Honor" Topic

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13 Apr 2019 1:37 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to Early 20th Century Discussion board

Areas of Interest

World War One

607 hits since 13 Apr 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Apr 2019 1:35 p.m. PST

Douglas MacArthur was nominated for the Medal of Honor in WWI but did not receive it. Should he have?

Heisler13 Apr 2019 2:21 p.m. PST

Based on what I have read some of his subordinates probably deserved that medal but MacArthur did not.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2019 2:45 p.m. PST

As a society, we forget that the MoH was awarded a lot
in the early days of its inception. There are hundreds
of awards during the ACW, dozens between 1900 and
1920 – even one awarded for heroism during a
devastating earthquake in Japan.

And of course there are multiple awards to individuals,
such as US Marine Dan Daly (Two, along with Marine
MG Smedley Butler) Daly and Butler each received
a MoH for two different actions – all the other 17
MoH recipients of 2 were awarded them for the same

BTW, MacA did receive the MoH during WWII for his
service in the Philippines.
There are those who claim he was awarded twice, once
USA, once USN but those were nominations not awards.

As to his nomination during WWI see the following from
the 'Valor' section at MilitaryTimesDOTcom:

"MacArthur was recommended for the Medal of Honor by General Leonard Wood, a Medal of Honor recipient himself, for a daring act of reconnaissance alone in enemy territory during the Vera Cruz (1914) action. The award was denied because MacArthur's actions, while authorized at the highest levels in Washington, D.C., had been conducted without the knowledge of the local commander, Frederick Funston. MacArthur was again recommended for the Medal of Honor during World War I, but the award was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. The young MacArthur also earned SIX Silver Stars in the First World War."

So MacA was nominated twice and each time before he
was promoted to BG, but only once during WWI.

And of course MoH's are being awarded retroactively
in some cases (the most recent 'old' award is Alonzo
Cushing's for his action on July 3, 1863.)

The award to Cushing was made in 2014.

Lion in the Stars13 Apr 2019 3:06 p.m. PST

As a society, we forget that the MoH was awarded a lot
in the early days of its inception. There are hundreds
of awards during the ACW, dozens between 1900 and
1920 even one awarded for heroism during a
devastating earthquake in Japan.

Well, in the Civil War, the MoH was the *only* US award for valor, and there were a number of MoHs that were awarded just for re-enlisting. Those were later revoked.

I don't like the practice of awarding unit commanders the MoH during WW2. This includes the submarine commanders.

rmaker13 Apr 2019 4:30 p.m. PST

It should be remembered that the nickname "Dugout Doug" dates from WW1. I have never seen any indication that MacArthur performed any act of valor during that war deserving of the MoH.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2019 5:32 p.m. PST

Don't know where the WWI 'Dugout Doug' came from.

MacArthur was promoted to Major at the start of WWI,
to COLONEL when the US entered the war and the 42nd
Division was activated in NY. He was credited with
'founding' the Division and was (as a Major) its first
chief of staff and later (in France) commander of
the 84th Infantry Brigade, one of the two brigades of
the 42nd.

He fought through the Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel and
Sedan offensives, leading trench raids on four occasions
to capture prisoners and gain intelligence (normally
NOT a job for brigade commanders).

In the Meuse-Argonne battle, Gen. Summerall (V corps
commander) had been shown aerial photo's showing an
apparent gap in the German defenses. It needed to be
verified and Macarthur took the job. He was wounded
slightly (his third wound in 7 months) but led his
brigade in the successful attack which breached the
German defenses.

General Summerall nominated Macarthur for the MoH
(his second nomination; Gen. Leonard Wood had nominated
him the first time for a lone recon mission behind
the lines at Vera Cruz in 1914). The MoH was not awarded
but the DSC (SECOND award) was.

Perhaps Macarthur did not deserve a MoH nomination but
Summerall (who served as US Army Chief of Staff for 4
years and was, as noted, V Corps commander in WWI)
thought he did.

Yep, that was Macarthur – safe in the dugout…

bsrlee13 Apr 2019 11:09 p.m. PST

I thought the term 'Dugout Doug' originated in WW2, where McArthur spent his time in various fortified command posts in Australia and fabricated press releases claiming he was visiting the troops in the front lines.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2019 5:43 a.m. PST

Yep, the 'well-known' but suspiciously absent
'fabricated press releases'.

Lest anyone get the incorrect idea, I am an admirer of
but not a fan of Macarthur. He was a brilliant man,
but also vain, heedless of any need for the common
niceties of everyday interactions, in many cases
contemptuous of the abilities and achievements of others
and not above ignoring sound ideas which did not
involve his command or him.

Still, he was definitely not a coward – like George
Washington, he was, literally, fearless, seeming to
have an idea that he would not be killed in battle.

Read the biographies – ALL of them – and form your
own opinions.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Apr 2019 10:22 a.m. PST

+1, Brother Mohrmann!

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2019 10:06 p.m. PST

MacArthur got the Medal of Honor for losing the Philippines. That makes some of those MOH given out in the ACW and Indian Wars look pretty good by comparison.

Major Mike16 Apr 2019 5:45 a.m. PST

MacArthur was a officer that went with his troops during WW1. I always think of his meeting with Patton. link
And you don't hear of Generals getting gassed, but I believe that is how MacArthur got one of his Purple Hearts.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP08 May 2019 8:39 a.m. PST

There is no doubt MacArthur was a very, very brave man.

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