How many five-star generals in the United States during World War II?

At first glance this may seem like a very simple question, but it is hard to explain in a word. Some publications say that there were 3 American five-star generals in World War II, some said it was 8, some said it was 9, some even said it was 10. So how many American five-star generals were in World War II?

In 1944, US President Roosevelt rewarded his personal chief of staff, Admiral Leahy (Hong Kong and Taiwan translated as “Lee Hai”) for his great dedication in World War II, and prepared to award Leahy, Marshall and others as “Marshals.” In this regard, Marshall, then the Chief of Staff of the US Army, was firmly opposed, pointing out that his name Marshall was the same as the pronunciation of the English word “Marshal”, which seemed funny. In fact, this is his excuse. The real reason is that he respects his old superiors and the American hero Pershing during the First World War. He does not want this to affect Pershing’s prestige, and he does not want Pershing to feel disappointed by it. .

Marshall wanted Pershing to enjoy the rank of “General of the Armies” (General of the Armies) forever. Marshall took the initiative to give the title, and was highly praised by the American people. The matter was therefore put on hold for the time being.

With the increasing development of the anti-fascist war, the US military has sent millions of troops around the world to form a combat group of 100,000 at every turn. These troops need high-level commanders to control. On the other hand, when the U.S. military is fighting with allied forces such as Britain and France, the military rank of the U.S. commander is lower than that of the British army. The ranks of Marshals of the British Army such as Alexander and Montgomery are inconvenient to command and manage. Due to the need for joint operations between the US military and the Allied forces, it is necessary to establish a rank of four-star or higher general.

At the end of 1944, Secretary of War Stimson moved out of the high-ranking “General of the Army” and “Fleet Admiral” used in history, named “Army Five-Star Admiral” and “Navy Five-Star Admiral” to avoid Pershing’s “General of the Army” and “Fleet Admiral”. “General of the Armies” (note that the latter has an “S”). The U.S. Department of the Army and the Department of the Navy jointly negotiated to resolve the issue of ranking under the same rank.

Among the five-star generals, the order is: Leahy, Marshall, Ernest King, MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Arnold and Halsey. On December 14, the US Congress passed Public Law 48278, approving eight five-star generals approved by Roosevelt. However, this decree stipulates that the five-star general is only a temporary rank during the war. It was not until the public law 33379 passed on March 23, 1946 that the five-star general was determined to be a permanent military rank, so that the five-star general who received this honor would have no retirement problems , Enjoy this title for life.

Five-Star Generals and Admirals

The eight five-star generals approved at that time were:

  1. Four navy members:
  • The chief of staff of the two presidents of the United States during the war and the first chairman of the Joint Council, called the “hero behind the scenes”-William Daniel Leahy
  • Secretary of Naval Operations and Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, known as the “Almighty God”-Ernest Joseph King;
  • Commander of the Pacific Theater, known as the “sea knight”-Chester William Nimitz;
  • The commander of the U.S. Mid-Pacific Fleet, known as the “Marine Bull”-William Frederick Halsey.
  1. Four in the Army:
  • The Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chairman of the United States Joint Conference of Staff, and the members of the United States-British Joint Conference of Staff, are known as the “trustee of the motherland”-Marshall;
  • The commander-in-chief of the US Army Southwest Pacific Theater, known as the “father of modern military school education”-MacArthur;
  • The supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force and the 34th President of the United States-Dwight David Eisenhower;
  • The commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army Aviation, known as the “father of the modern U.S. Air Force”-Henry Harry Arnold.

The title of Halsey of the Navy was not obtained at that time. As the supreme leader of the Navy King wanted Spruance to replace Halsey, the award was delayed two years later, which was after the end of World War II. This rank really made him see through the autumn water! Therefore, during World War II, the US military actually awarded seven five-star generals.

Some people mistake the five-star general of the US Army for three, and mistake Arnold, the commander of the Army Aviation Force, for the five-star general of the Air Force during World War II. Regarding Arnold, “Military History” (No. 1, 1994) reprinted in the “World Military Yearbook” (1995-1996) “10 Five-Star Admirals in American History” also regarded Arnold as a five-star general in the Air Force. Four minus one, naturally becomes three.

In fact, because the United States did not have an independent air force during World War II, it was naturally impossible to have a five-star general in the air force. Arnold was the commander-in-chief of the Army Air Force at the time and awarded five-star generals to the Army at the same time as Marshall. Interestingly, in May 1949, he was awarded the title of Five-Star Admiral in the U.S. Air Force two years after its establishment. Become the only general with five-star generals in both branches of the military.

Some authors regarded Arnold as two people, and after adding up, they turned the five-star generals of the United States into 10. Some people might say, isn’t there a Bradley five-star general? It is true that Bradley, known as the “General of the Soldiers”, was also a five-star general in the army due to his outstanding achievements, but on September 20, 1950, five years after the end of World War II. Therefore, there are only 7 five-star generals in the United States during World War II. If the time qualifier is changed to “World War II period”, it may be said that there are nine.