Saturday, October 20, 2007

Today In History: He returned.

On this date in 1944, Dugout Doug turned a beach in Leyte Gulf into a soundstage.


Anonymous said...

When all was said and done, McArthur covered a whole lot of ground and lost more folks to disease than he did to enemy fire.

The critics were many, but the man was good at war. Lousey at politics. I think I like my generals that way.

Who notes his Dad went in on the third wave and never got his feet wet.

Don M said...

The Democrats worked hard to downplay Doug's achievements. While every Marine invasion had a combat photographer along (Army guys used to speculate how many Compat Photographers were TO&E to the Marine squad) Army invasions got the job done with minimal coverage. The Army killed more Japanese soldiers in Luzon than the Marines did the whole war.

While the Marines were losing a thousand men at Tarawa, the Army took Makin in a few days.

The Marine's major achievement of the war was Doctrine. Before WWII it was obvious that amphibious landings were nearly impossible, and hardly ever decisive. You would have to go back to Winfield Scott at Veracruz to find a successful opposed landing in a successful campaign.

The Marines broke the landing down into steps, that individually were capable of achievement. The Higgens boat, the Alligator, the DUKW were developed, the first to land on beaches, the second to cross reefs, the third to quickly reenforce men ashore with ammunition, and to withdraw casualties. The system of accurate dive bombing was integrated with naval battleship fires.

The Air Force gets more than their share of funding. The Navy gets more than their share of command billets. The Marines get more than their share of headlines. The Army gets more than their share of fighting.

Tam said...

I will never forgive the ghost of Dugout Doug for:

1) Cheapening the MOH with his acceptance of the award for running away.

2) His campaign of vituperation against Gen. Wainwright, who he abandoned on Corregidor.

3) His seeking of personal vengeance against Gen. Homma, perhaps the most talented and most humane field commander of the Imperial Japanese Army, ensuring that Homma was shot as a war criminal for the crime of kicking MacArthur's ass.

Anonymous said...

Ah, my father was a combat engineer, just a kid, with the first wave at Leyete - on the ground long before the General arrived for pictures and promises kept. My father got to do Okinawa, too. I only got the stories after I came back from Vietnam, but then we hadn't shared language until then. It is all just History now.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that the famous photo was staged after the fact. There were no photographer around the first time.
His dropping of the ball and abandonment of his troops on Bataan was unconscienable and incompetant by any standard.
The delicious irony is that, when he ultimately was fired, it was by his former aide (Eisenhower) and the Missouri Natl Guard, Arty battery commander, a nobody while the great man was the youngest Brigandier General in the Army, Truman.
The man was a joke, Patton too.

Anonymous said...

From reading "American Caesar", I'd say he messed up in the few weeks before Pearl Harbor. After that, at Corregidor, he did about all he could. And he was ordered to go, by Roosevelt et al.

One thing that was obvious when I lived in Manila in 1949/1950 was that if he had stayed there, they'd have elected him God-in-charge. I never met a Filipino who didn't revere the man.

His high rep in Japan was deserved; his style was one with which the Japanese psyche was comfortable.

He goofed big time in his post-Inchon-landing decisions which brought China into that war.

The comments about the internal politics of the military are but business as usual. It was exemplified again in the failed effort to rescue the embassy hostages in Iran in, what, 1980?


Ken said...

Consider the following:

1) Everyone and his dog who mattered expected the Japanese to hit the Philippines, not Pearl Harbor, at the outset of hostilities.

2) After Pearl Harbor, approximately twelve hours elapsed before the air attacks on the Philippines began.

Nevertheless, Generalissimo Dugout Doug MacArthur, Sooper Genious (just ask him), managed to get his air assets caught on the ground at Clark Field and wiped out. Game, set, match.

Anonymous said...

McArthur's mom lived in a hotel outside of the gate at WestPoint and took good care of her son. She worked hard to get him a posting in WWI where according to some accounts he went with some men on some unnecessary risky missions so he could pick up combat medals. Tam, I agree that the Medal of Honor was just a press propaganda trick, not earned.

When he left with his wife and young child he refused to consider the idea that his men he was leaving in the Philippines could take to the jungle and mount a behind the lines war, so they got to experience Bataan. One man in my home town took part in that experience and he lost his teeth due to near starvation and had messed up gums the rest of his life. He was lucky to live through that decision of McArthur’s.

My uncle had the dubious honor of being a Lt. Col. with the Northernmost military unit at Chosin at just the wrong time, he got shot up fairly bad. McArthur's intelligence assured the troops on the ground that there were no enemy troops in the area and they were sent up North without winter gear. Oops, he was wrong once more.

I also had a history teacher in college, a former missionary who was a linguist on McArthur's staff in Korea. He was very unimpressed with McArthur's ability to get information from any one but God. His comment was the God speaks to McArthur and McArthur speaks to man.

But I think the most hubris of all on McArthur's part was when he felt like he could win the Korean war and return to the US to become president when he had been overseas for over 12 years without returning to our country one time. Truman kind of messed up those plans when he fired Big Mac.

Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis, Don, so of course I have to quibble here and there. It's wrong to make fun of Marines--but it's just so darn fun.
USMC doubtlessly learned some doctrinal lessons during WWII, but you may speculate they learned them from the Army. Close air suppport, performed brilliantly by flying leathernecks, was completely worked out by ER Quesada, USAAF. The DUKW was first tried at Kwajalein, but first used in numbers at Saipan, by Army--after the "Issue in Doubt" failure of modified Higgins boats to cross the reef at Tarawa. Expensive lesson. The LST-to-DUKW cargo train was developed by 7th Div USA, with "MacArthur's Navy." On at least 3 real big occasions, USMC's broken-down steps were not "capable of achievement." IFIRC, they blame Navy brass.
I've got no problem with having more balls than brains, but it's not a trait I seek out in the officers representing my men at staff meetings. That said, serving Marines I've known in the last 35 years have been some pretty sharp cookies. Retirees in govt civil service, maybe not so much.

Air Force funding? Well if your bailiwick were 99.9% of the known universe plus the CyberSpace Wing, you'd want a lot of funding too. Plus there's the turf maintenance on those 18-hole aircraft carriers. Disclosure caveat: My son was accepted at the
Academy last Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

The problem with MacArthur is that the more you learn about him and his military performance, the worse he looks. Frankly, the large gift (bribe?) he received from the Philippines should have resulted in some sort of official investigation. Best guess is that is why he made no attempt to put his troops to use, and also why he refused to utilize the large underground force that he directed, prior to his "return". He wouldn't even authorize them to attack during the pre-invasion warm up. No other explanation fits the known facts.

Anonymous said...

He came across as a wise and heroic leader when Gregory Peck played him in the movie.

Although come to think of it, so did Captain Ahab.

Anonymous said...

"...he refused to consider the idea that his men he was leaving in the Philippines could take to the jungle and mount a behind the lines war..."

True. But the logistical suppor for some 40,000 men would have put more strain on the Filipinos than they could have dealt with.

I don't think MacArthur or his next-in-command ever expected the treatment that was dealt out by the Japs.

I had relatives in Santo Tomas; I went to school with some kids who'd been in Cabanatuan...

Suggested reading: "1942". A novelized history of the events leading up to the war, and the events of that year. Also, "American Guerilla in the Philippines", and any reference to the guerrilla leader Marking and his wife, Yay. (Yay and my mother became good friends.)


Anonymous said...

weinberg, you are playing with fire here. You mean to say that agitatin' Atticus Finch was a whaler too? Why, if Harper Lee had written another novel, we'd have never left Subic!

Hollywood foreign policy: After serving as a Russian guerrilla and raiding German shipping in India, MacArthur flew a B-17 at Pork Chop Hill before presiding over the end of the world as a submarine captain. I can't laugh; I know too many people whose memory of history works just like that.

As desertrat has noted, we should have sent Tyrone Power.

Anonymous said...

"dugout doug macarthur lies a'shaking on the rock,
safe from all the bombers and any sudden shock,
dugout doug is eating of the best food on bataan,
while his troops go starving on."

ww2 marine ditty