Gruenther, Alfred M.


Eisenhower protege, military planner of North Africa and Italy invasions, youngest US Major General ever (52), led NATO 1953-56


Autograph ID: 6908
Condition: Very good
Description: “(“The Brain”, 1899-1983) Army general, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe/ Commander-in-Chief, US European Command 1953-56. He was 3rd Army, 5th Army, and 15th Army Group Chief of Staff, main US planner of the Allied invasions of North Africa (1942) & Italy (1943). Promoted to temporary rank of Major General, became Deputy Commander of US Forces in Austria 1945. Eisenhower called him “one of the ablest all-around officers, civilian or military, I have encountered.” American Red Cross President 1957-64. USMA 1918, 2nd Lieut. of field artillery before WW I ended, took him 17 years to become a captain. In 1920, at Fort Knox, he took up bridge and in the 30’s, was an international bridge tournament director, later a bridge-playing companion of Eisenhower. When teaching mathematics at West Point, he began refereeing some of the great bridge matches of the era and wrote “Duplicate Contract Bridge.” While a major, he caught the eye of senior officers in large-scale war games in Louisiana 2 months before Pearl Harbor. Promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff (Brig. General Eisenhower was Chief of Staff) of the 3rd Army, after US entered WW II, General Gruenther went to London as chief US planner of the Allied invasion of French North Africa. He was Deputy Chief of Staff under Eisenhower, later Supreme Allied Commander, and 5th Army Chief of Staff under Mark Clark, planning the invasion of Italy and campaigns in the Apennines. When Clark took over 15th Army Group, he remained Clark’s Chief of Staff before becoming Deputy Commanding General of US forces in Austria. At war’s end, he became National War College Deputy Commandant, Staff Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations. He got his 4th star in 1951, youngest in history, as NATO HQ Chief of Staff, serving under Generals Eisenhower & Ridgway before taking over as Commander, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE)-he never directly commanded a military unit larger than a battalion. NATO military chiefs Ridgway, Gruenther & Norstad, “the Eisenhower dynasty,” Shared Ike’s views on NATO and had direct access to him after he became President in 1953, making them particularly influential within the Alliance.

ALS “Al Gruenther” o n8 ½ x 3 ½ “The American Red Cross” notepaper as President, Washington, November 27 1962, to DeWitt (C. Smith Jr.), thanking him for a get well letter. Gruenther is feeling well and hopes to be discharged Nov. 30 depending on his ability to regain his walking skills after 6 weeks in bed. He received a book on tennis and Smith should not be surprised if Gruenther challenges Smith in the not too distant future!

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, 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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