vic...can you imagine genl macarthur not approving nor recommending genl wainwright for the congressional medal of honor????i have always thought he and genl sutherland were awfully petty in this matter. thankfully it was rectified in subsequent years and pres truman presented skinny with his well deserved award soon after the war ended. in my opinion johnathan wainwright did more during the 1942 campaign to deserve this award than did genl macarthur. in fact many think macarthur made some horrendous blunders in the early phases of the luzon campaign, especially in the tardy effort in stocking bataan with supplies, thinking that the japanese could be driven into the sea from their beachheads. of course hindsight is 20-20 as harry truman said.
I'm just going by what I've read from books over the years with the inherent assumption that the books stated facts and truths. I'm a big admirer of MacArthur. I think he was a great leader and earned a lot of the respect accorded to him. It was admirable how he argued for the retaking of the Philippines even though it was more costly than other alternatives. He kept his promise to return.
I think the tactical blunders are forgivable. His paralysis after Pearl Harbor, the failure to issue bombing orders to Formosa, his belief that the Japanese could be stopped at the beaches... tactical and strategic decisions are all half chances. Eisenhower could have been easily blamed if the Normandy invasion had failed.
That being said, I do have some beef with MacArthur that diminished my admiration for him. He had a giant ego, he was overly dramatic, and pre-disposed to self-serving promotion.
1. He owed so much to Gen. Wainwright. Wainwright made MacArthur look good. Mac got the credit for Wainwright's generalship during the Bataan campaign. Yet he had the gall to deny the Medal of Honor that Washington wanted to award Wainwright!
2. He visited Bataan only once... before all the fighting began. Never again. In the much shorter time that Wainwright took over after Mac left, he had visited and inspected Bataan several times.
3. On MacArthur's one and only visit to Bataan, Wainwright asked him to visit a nearby Phil. Army artillery battery because he knew it would give them such a boost in morale. Mac refused and passed it off as "he wanted to hear them, not see them".
4. After the USAFFE retreated to the second line of defense (Orion-Bagac line), Macarthur radio'ed Washington that he had personally picked the second line of defense and it was strong... and that HE LOST NOT ONE MAN NOR GUN in the process of retreating. The truth was the second line was not strong at all and hundreds of casualties resulted in the retreat and the I Corp alone lost most of its artillery batteries after being cut off. Everything was in a precarious position. Was he flat out lying or doing some self-serving promotion?
Okay now this could be possible reasons:
# 2 - He was too busy with the logistics of getting help and food to the troops. He had no time.
# 3 - He had a tight schedule and couldn't possibly spare the few minutes to visit the battery
# 4 - He was misinformed by field commanders
but there's no excuse for # 1.
Wainwright was always on the front lines bucking the troops. During the delaying actions in December, he spent several hours with a unit of the 26th cavalry holding the line and in danger of being cut off, because he knew it would boost their morale that their general was on the line fighting with them. Wainwright even shot a sniper near his headquarters in Bataan with his garand!
When asked by an aid why he kept risking life and limb unnecessarily, he answered that he couldn't give the men anymore guns, ammo, nor food -- but he could give them morale.
Why on earth would you deny such a man his Medal of Honor... The man who went down with YOUR sinking ship so you could get away and fight another day? Why?
hey vic....you have put it very well. i truly believe that the united states was very well served by having douglas douglas macarthur spearheading the ground forces in the drive back to the philippines and japan, but the fact remains that there were warts on our hero. his personal bravery cannot be questioned in both wars, but that tremendous ego got in his way many times. having said this, i still will stick by my statement we were blessed to have him as the commander in the pacific. as you so well said, he didnt have to return to the philippines, but we owed it to filipino people and even if part of the doing was due to ego, we still did the right thing. the denial of the CMOH for skinny wainwright was unforgivable in my humble opinion and that one thing can never be explained away in general macarthur's favor regardless of the other great examples of his generalship. on another note, i think this forum is absolutely great. am so glad i found it. between this board and the corregidor forum i find i am getting way behind in my "honey do" chores.
I read an account of how Wainwright's car was being strafed by a Japanese Fighterplane. One of his security guards grabbed the General's own M-1 and blazed away at the aircraft. After the plane departed, Wainwright smiled at the soldier and said. "You like that new rifle, don't you son?" The soldier smiled back and nodded. Wainwright said. "It's yours."
That soldier was actually a "sailor". He was Lt. Malcolm Champlin, the navy liaison attached to Gen. Wainwright's staff to coordinate the army and navy efforts to fight off beach landings.
He protested to Wainwright about the M1, he said it was ordnance issue and he couldn't possibly just take it from the general. Wainwright replied, "who's fighting this war, you or the pencil pushers in Washington? Keep it son."