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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Two great men, one gone long before this time.

Two of the greatest flag officers the American Army has every produced. First, George Patton. You could call him a soldier's soldier, but more than that, he was a warrior. He was not a man of peace, and in the immediate aftermath of the end of World War II, there was a great question. What would Patton do? That question was unfortunalety answered way too soon. Patton's neck was broken in a car crash, and he died just before Christmas 1945. He was buried near his troops in Hamm, Luxembourg.  
 One of my bucket list items is to visit Patton's grave, but I can say I have visited Ike's. In the summer of 1986, I was marooned at Fort Riley KS (stay there for two months and you will understand), but towards the end I was able to get out. And I drove to Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, and I was very impressed. And I paid my respects to the 34th President and General of the Army.  
In recent discussions with friends, a point I've made is how lucky we were. For the Normandy invasion and the liberation of Europe, in Ike, Patton, and Bradley, we had the right men, at the right place, at the right time. Ike was not an army or corp commander. His skill set was for something much larger, and he handled the intense duties of leading, coordinating, and planning the greatest armed invasion well.

The thought of Patton in charge of SHAEF puts shivers in the back of any same man. As much as I admire him, he needed to be in the field, not working with friends and allies, or allies (i.e. the Russians). If Patton was in Ike's spot, we might still be fighting WWII (yes, slight exaggeration). And in the middle, commanding 12th Army Group, Omar Bradley handled four armies and 1.3 soldiers masterfully. 

I don't see another World War II sized conflict in the nuclear age. But if it does occur, we can only hope we get leaders like this again. 

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