The United States of America has a long historic line of national heroes but only a few can be seen in the same light as George Catlett Marshall.
He was a military genius, a brave soldier, and arguably one of the greatest military organizers in America’s history. Either way, the leadership and contributions of George Marshall to America’s military history is undeniable.
Born on the 31st of December, 1880 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, George was the youngest of three siblings to ‘George Marshall Sr. and Laura Emily Marshall. His childhood was pretty decent due to the reputable and wealthy background of the Marshall family.
George was a born leader who excelled at every turn. His entire education was centered around the military and warfare. He would go on to become one of the greatest pioneers of World peace as he masterminded a plan that stimulated the economic recovery of fallen countries after the Second World War.
We look at 8 interesting facts you might not have known about the great George Marshall. Let’s begin, shall we?
George Marshall Facts
1. He studied at the Virginia Military Institute
He started at the VMI in 1897. He was just sixteen years old at the time. Unlike his siblings, Marshall wasn’t the brightest in academics, so focusing on being a great military personnel seemed like his only option.
It didn’t take much time for him to bloom as he became the top military student at the end of his first year. He pushed on and became the First Captain in his fourth year, making him the highest-ranking cadet in the Institute, an interesting fact about George Marshall. The VMI was the beginning for Marshall and perhaps where he learned and developed his leadership qualities.
2. He went to an officer’s training school
In 1906, Marshall enrolled in an officer’s training school at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was just 25 at the time, making him the youngest student. The school had a policy stating that only the top half of the first-year class would come back for a second and final year.
Marshall knew that unlike the VMI, only academic success would guarantee his future. He studied vigorously and at the end of his first year was ranked number one in his class. He was hired as an instructor after graduating.
3. He planned the first significant American attack of World War 1
In 1918, Marshall was a Lieutenant Colonel on the Staff of the 1st division under the command of General Robert Bullard. The village of Cantigny was occupied by German troops and the Americans needed to save it to rebuild their confidence.
Marshall was told to plan the attack with Brigadier General Charles, and plan he did. He orchestrated the assault as a combined arms operation that would include a section of twelve French Schneider tanks, snappers with explosives, and engineers with flamethrowers. An interesting fact about George Marshall is that the 28th infantry recovered the village in 30 minutes, owing to Marshall’s intelligence. Although there were counter-attacks from the German army, they were all defeated by the American regiments. This was the country’s first notable victory in World War 1.
4. He expanded the U.S military force
Marshall had just been sworn in as Chief of Staff in September 1939, inheriting a poorly equipped army of 189,000 men. His ascension to power came at a time when the German army had launched its invasion on Poland, prompting the beginning of the Second World War.
Marshall coordinated perhaps the largest military expansion in U.S history. This was a feat he achieved in three years owing to his experience at the Army War College and his rare talent for inspiring officers. By 1942, the U.S had over eight million soldiers.
5. He made plans to help Europe rebuild after the War
In 1947, Marshall was appointed Secretary of State. He became the driving force behind the United States’ advocacy to rebuild Europe after the end of the War.
Marshall came to understand that the U.S would be on its own in its quest to help Europe achieve economic stability and on June 5, 1947, at Harvard University, he delivered the American proposal, the European Recovery Program. The plan became known as ‘The Marshall Plan’ and it saw the U.S transfer over $12 billion to help rebuild European economies.
6. He won the Times Magazine’s Man of the Year twice
The Times magazine was founded in 1923 and since 1927 it has published a celebratory first issue recognizing a person, movement or organization that has done the most to influence the events of the previous year.
In 1943, Marshall claimed his first ‘Man of The Year’ award for his immense contribution in overseeing the growth of the U.S Army from 189,000 to over eight million, a fun fact about George Marshall. He claimed his second in 1948 for giving hope throughout Europe to those who needed it through the “Marshall Plan “
7. He won the Nobel Peace Prize
In December 1953, Oslo in Norway, for his work on the Marshall plan and his contribution to peace and stability after the Second World War, Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was a well-deserved award and a fitting tribute to a long career devoted to peace and understanding among nations. Marshall is the only soldier ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
8. A medal was commissioned to honor Marshall
The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in 1960 established its highest honor, the “General George Clatett Marshall Medal”.
The medal is awarded annually for selfless service to the United States of America. The criterion restricts currently serving elected and appointed government officials from being eligible to receive the award. The medal has been handed out since 1960 till date.
And that brings our roundup of interesting facts about the legendary George Clatett Marshall to a close. Perhaps, his most powerful saying was, “If a man does find the solution for world peace it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known.” Although he died at the age of 78 on the 16th of October, 1959, Marshall did his best to live by this saying.
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