Gavin, James M.


1976 TLS by the WW II paratroop commander, youngest Major General in WW II, to the Army War College Commandant, mentions student concerns as to ethics in higher officer corps


Autograph ID: 6745
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1907-1990) WW II US Army airborne commander. USMA ‘29, captain 1941, became paratrooper. As colonel commanded parachute combat team that spearheaded 1943 invasion of Sicily. Brigadier General and asst. commander of the 82nd Airborne Div. at Normandy on D-Day. Given command of the 82nd , after leading paratroop assault on Nijmegen in Operation Market Garden, made youngest Major General commanding a division in WW II. Called “The Jumping General” or “Jumping Jim” because of his practice of taking part in combat drops with his command. During combat, he would carry an M1 rifle, not traditional pistols carried by officers. Lieut. General at end of War, by 1955 he was Army’s chief of research & development, instrumental in developing helicopter-borne forces that played a large role in Vietnam War. Led a group of Army commanders who persuaded the Pentagon to let the Army develop long-range missiles, mission later lost to the Air Force and Navy, though it retained control over tactical battlefield missles. The youngest 3-star general, he retired abruptly in 1958 after a dispute with the Pentagon over what he considered a diminished role for the Army in missile development. VP of Arthur D. Little, Inc. 1958, President 1960, President & Chairman until 1977 retirement. On leave from ADL to be Ambassador to France 1961-62. Wrote several books: “War and Peace in the Space Age” (1958), “Airborne Warfare” (1947), “Crisis Now” (1968) and memoir “On to Berlin” (1978).

TLS “Jim” on 10 x 8 letterhead as Chairman of Arthur D. Little Inc., Cambridge, Mass., March 29 1976, to Major General DeWitt C. Smith, Jr., Commandant, US Army War College. Gavin highly enjoyed his visit to the AWC and thanks Smith for the Washington Camp Cup. Gavin is most impressed with the student body and faculty: “It is most reassuring for the future of our Armed Forces to see the quality of the young officers…and their concern was also reassuring. Several of them spoke to me about the problem of ethics in the higher echelons of the officer corps…which concerns everyone in Washington, particularly Members of Congress. I was very pleased therefore to hear their very frank and candid views on the problem.” General Gavin praises Smith and in a handwritten postscript sends his appreciation to Mrs. Smith.

DeWITT C. SMITH,JR. (1920 -1985) US Army officer, former deputy Army Chief of Staff, twice (and longest-serving) Army War College commandant 1974 -77, 1978-80. In 1942, he joined the US Army and commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, served with the 4th Armored Div. in combat after Normandy to the end of the War. He was wounded 3 times and awarded the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars for Valor, and 3 Purple Hearts. Discharged in 1946, he returned to active duty for the Korean War and stayed in the military. He was an aide to Chief of Staff Gen. Maxwell Taylor, served in the “Old Guard” at Fort Myer, and was a battalion executive officer and commander in Germany. He served at the Pentagon before going to the Army War College. He commanded a combat brigade of the 1st Infantry Div. in Vietnam. In 1970, under his leadership, Fort Carson, Colo. was made an initial test site for the modern volunteer Army concept. After his stints at the War College, he retired in 1980.”
Type: Letter

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