Palmer Jr., Bruce


1979 ALS from the retired Army Vice and acting Chief of Staff to the head of The Army War College, praising a class on the Vietnam War


Autograph ID: 6760
Condition: Very good, pencil identification at top right
Description: “(1913-2000) US Army general, acting Army Chief of Staff July-October 1972. USMA 1936, served in the War Department General Staff Operations Division 1942–43, chief of staff of the 6th Infantry Div. in SW Pacific 1944-45. He commanded the 63rd Infantry in the Korean occupation 1945–46, and 1st Army chief of plans and operations 1947–49. 1952 graduate of the Army War College, he was secretary of the general staff and chief of the Plans Division in Europe 1952–54, commanded 16th Infantry 1954–55, on the faculty of the Army War College 1955–57. He was deputy secretary of the General Staff and White House liaison officer, Office of the Chief of Staff, 1957–59, Deputy Commandant of the Army War College 1959–61, asst. division commander of the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg 1961–62, chief of staff of the 8th Army in Korea 1962–63, promoted to brigadier general 1963, asst. deputy chief of staff for plans and operations 1963–64, and deputy chief of staff for military operations 1964–65. He commanded XVIII Airborne Corps 1965–67, concurrently commanding Task Force 120 and US Land Forces, Dominican Republic May 1965. He commanded US Forces and Army Forces and was deputy commander of the Inter-American Peace Force in the Dominican Republic May 1965–Jan. 1966. He was commander of the II Field Force, Vietnam and deputy commander of the US Army in Vietnam 1967–68, served as Army Vice Chief of Staff 1968-72, Acting Army Chief of Staff July 1–Oct. 11, 1972. He provided managerial continuity during the Westmoreland-Abrams interregnum, supervised continued drawdown of Army forces from Vietnam and related Army-wide readjustments, and prepared major revisions in Army organizational structure. He resumed duties as Vice Chief of Staff and was Commander in Chief, US Readiness Command 1973–74, retiring from the Army Sept. 1974, the day his close associate General Creighton W. Abrams died. Military historian Lewis Sorley professed in his biography of General Westmoreland that Palmer was really the Chief of Staff performing most of the duties of office while Westmoreland was making speeches about Vietnam. He wrote 2 books in retirement: “The 25 Year War: America’s Military Role in Vietnam” and “Intervention in the Caribbean: the Dominican Crisis of 1965.” His father was an Army brigadier general, and his paternal grandfather received the Medal of honor in the Civil War.

ALS on 8 ½ X 7 4-star letterhead, Alexandria, Va., June 8 1979, as retired Army general, to DeWitt C. Smith (“Dee”), commandant of the Army War College. Palmer praises a seminar on “the Vietnam War elective”, noting it was “very wise” to start and follow up on it, noting: “As professionals, we must not let the matter simply die as of April 30, 1975.” Palmer thanks Smith for his hospitality and being included in the dedication of the class gift stating “the Vietnam soldier and helicopter are most appropriate.” April 30 1975 was the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese, marking the end of the war.

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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