Useful Notes / Douglas MacArthur

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"There is no substitute for victory."

"The best and the worst things you hear about him are both true."
Sir Thomas Blamey, summing up the character of General MacArthur.

Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was an American general during the time of the Second World War and the Korean War. He was one of only five to receive the rank General of the Army in the U.S. Army. He is a highly polarizing man in American history - you either think he was a great war hero and commander, or a dangerous and egotistical madman. As the youngest major general by 1925, MacArthur became the Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Infamously, MacArthur was sent by Herbert Hoover to peacefully remove jobless World War I veterans marching on Washington - instead, MacArthur used tanks and injured hundreds. He was the lone field marshal of the Philippine Army, of which he supervised and spearheaded its foundation and development.

A Medal of Honor recipient, MacArthur played a prominent role in (among others) the Pacific War, the Philippines campaign, and the New Guinea campaign, elevating to the role of Supreme Allied Commander for the Allied Forces. As the de facto military governor of Japan, he effectively restructured Japanese society in the aftermath of the occupation, thereby garnering the nickname of Gaijin Shogun, a.k.a the Foreign Generalissimo.

If you could describe him with one word, it would be "imperious". He was very much his own man, caring little - if at all - about any established power outside of his own, whether it was other nations or that of his superiors. He disobeyed or ignored orders entirely, even getting into verbal clashes with Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. He promoted soldiers based on their loyalty towards himself, and his influence extended through the Army and somewhat into the Air Force (but never in the Navy). He even recommended himself for a Medal of Honor (he didn't get it), and the circumstances and justification for the Medal of Honor that he was eventually awarded remain highly controversial to this day (Here's a hint. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for "defense of the Phillipines" during a Japanese invasion. As a great many people who opposed his being awarded the Medal argued, the Phillipines fell to Japan) He was eventually relieved of command by Truman, largely because he wanted to use nuclear weapons during the Korean War. On China at the height of the Cold War. His public criticism of Truman's policies didn't help his case.

Douglas MacArthur in popular culture

  • On Smallville, Lex Luthor's father Lionel makes a bid to retake the family company from Lex, with the backing of a consortium of Asian financiers. Lex finds Lionel just chilling in the executive suite, toying with a silvery revolver. Lex snarkily asks if Lionel's back to kill him, to which Lionel replies "Oh no, Lex...I'd never fire this! This is a piece of history. You know, General MacArthur wore this when he returned to the Phillipines. What was it he'd said? I shall return."
  • From A to Z-Z-Z-Z: Ralph imagines himself to be MacArthur and leaves the classroom, paraphrasing the general's famous line: "I shall return."
  • Portrayed by Gregory Peck in Macarthur and Laurence Olivier in Inchon. Neither film is very well-regarded.
  • William Sunday in Men of Honor claims he won one of MacArthur's own corncob pipes when he bet him he could hold his breath for five minutes to escape a sinking aircraft carrier.

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