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Letter to the editor: The general stories

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012

In a recent book, “The General” by Thomas Ricks, praising General Petraeus as one of a few good general since World War II, maybe author Ricks will rewrite his book of bad general to include Petraeus. His list of bad generals include MacArthur, Westmoreland, Patton and Colin Powell.

He gives credit to General Matthew Ridgeway, who led the U.S. Airborne troops during the D-Day invasion in 1944. Ridgeway also replaced General MacArthur in Korea in 1951 after President Truman fired him.

General Petraeus, in his 37 years in the Army, was never face-to-face with combat as an infantry soldier. Since World War II, only one, a General Rose of the 83rd Recon Bn. of the 3rd Armored Division in Germany in 1945, was killed in face-to-face combat. That was the unit my brother Ben was with.

Myself, I knew a good general in January 1952 in Korea [who] was waiting for us with a hot meal and sat down with us in the mess tent and told us what to expect in Korea with the 3rd Infantry Division.

Another general, in March 1967, after a week of jungle training, about 30 of us sat in 100-degree heat waiting for the general, who was sleeping off a drunk in his air-cooled, well-guarded trailer house.

Finally an officer yells, “Here comes the general” and a band plays “Hail to the Chief.”

He gets on a platform and says, “Welcome to the 4th Infantry. By next week, some of you [expletive] will be dead or wounded, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles,” and he goes back to his booze and comfort.

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