Wheeler, Earle G.
1966 TLS as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the height of the Vietnam War
Autograph ID: 6010
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1908-1975) USMA '32, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1964-70, longest-serving Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to date, serving 6 years. Commanded 2nd Armored Division 1958, III Corps 1959, Director of the Joint Staff 1960. In 1962 he was briefly Deputy Commander of US Forces in Europe before being named Army Chief of Staff later that year. In 1964 he succeeded Maxwell Taylor as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Wheeler was a surprising choice owing to his relative lack of combat experience. Wheeler oversaw and supported the expanding us military role in the Vietnam War, consistently backing field commander requests for additional troops and operating authority. He often urged President Johnson to strike harder at North Vietnam and expand aerial bombing campaigns, concerned with minimizing costs to ground troops. This earned him a reputation as a "hawk." With General Wm. C. Westmoreland and President Johnson, he pushed to raise additional US forces after the February 1968 Tet Offensive. He also was concerned that the buildup in Vietnam depleted US military capabilities in other parts of the world. He called for 205,000 additional ground troops by mobilizing reserves, but intended these remain home as an active reserve. After the election of President Nixon, Wheeler oversaw implementation of the "Vietnamization" program, whereby South Vietnamese forces assumed increasing responsibility as American forces were withdrawn. In 1973 he revealed that he had, on the personal orders of President Nixon, directed secret and highly controversial, bombing missions over Cambodia in 1969-70. He retired from the Army in July 1970.
TLS as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 10 x 8 official letterhead with blue Defense Department seal at top left, Washington, May 11 1966. General Wheeler sends a signed photo (not present) to a Chicago Salvation Army Settlement and Day Care Center worker for a children's display and praises the work of the Salvation Army.”