He dreamt of becoming a hero, the savior just like those in the many stories of his forefathers who have fought in many different wars. It was a goal he focused on. It was an idea he strived to materialize. As Field Marshal von Rundstedt put it, he was the best. (The patton movie, how accurate is it?, n.d.) Winning the wars filled his dreams, and revolutionizing the military filled his fancy. General George S. Patton, indeed, became the hero he had always wanted to be.
General Patton is a popular soldier not because his forefathers were big in the fighting scene, nor because he was rich or powerful. His riches were concentrated on military, and his power revolved around the military. It was his life. He favored the sword and the tank, and won his battles using them. He did not shrug off the modernity of the gun in his time, yet he did not fully entertain it. He stuck with the traditional and became an expert on them.
General Patton was born on November 11, 1885. Hailing from San Gabriel, California, he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 11, 1909. He also attended Virginia Military School for a year, before entering West Point. He was commissioned as second lieutenant in the 15th cavalry Regiment upon graduation. Yet the military is not all that filled his West Point years. It was also in this school that he met and dated Beatrice Ayer, who eventually became his wife. He got married on May 26, 1910 at the age of 25. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
The military is not solely his life. He also tried his hand on sports, representing the United States in the Stockholm Olympics. He joined the modern pentathlon event in which one of the events was shooting. Surprisingly, however, he did not do so well in the shooting segment despite his fierce military education. He placed 5th overall in the Stockholm modern pentathlon. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
After joining the Olympics, he busied himself attending a French cavalry school. Here he tried the sword drills done and taught the French way. He studied the sword so well that in 1913, he became the first ever Master of Sword in Mounted Service School in Kansas. He received the title the first time it was given in the Fort Riley institution. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
General Patton was good with the sword. In fact, he became so good that he was able to design a course on sword drills. This course he was even able to teach while a student at the cavalry school. In General Patton was a strong passion to both learn and teach that he was able to enrich himself and others through extensive researches and application of what he learns in his many studies. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
However, his skills were put to the real test when he first joined battle. His first exposure to war was when he joined the Mexican expedition of General John J. Pershing as a member staff. Joining Pershing became the better part of his military career. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.) Later on, his army would be the one to give freedom to the countries of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Bavaria, Austria, and Czech. (The patton movie – how accurate is it?, n.d.)
In 1915, still as a member staff of Pershing’s group, he was sent to Fort Bliss to lead a cavalry patrol regular being done in the Mexican border. Yet, it was in a 1916 Pershing expedition against Pancho Villa that General Patton received recognition. General Patton’s already lean and strong skills in many military processes became better upon joining the distinguished Pershing expedition group. In exchange, General Patton contributed much as well to the group. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
Future of Combat
A year later, in 1917, General Patton became one of the first members of the United States Tank Corps. It was a time when the tanks were still fresh in the battle arena, and so much enthusiasm was being thrown its way. General Patton became so obsessed with tanks that he studied it well. This led to the invention of the co-axial mount for armors atop tanks which he helped develop. This mounts still exist in tanks up to today. He also made extensive studies on how soldiers can communicate while inside tanks, and how to make inter-tank communication possible. He served the tank corps until the year it was abolished, 1920. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
General Patton saw tanks as the future of combat. He was impressed by it and found it wise and modern, and so he dedicated efforts in developing it. He organized a tank school in Bourg, France, which had an air of American military education. It is also not surprising for him to have won his first major tank battle in Cambrai, France. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
General Patton was also using tanks in the battle of Meuse-Argonne operation. It was in 1918, and it was when he first experienced the price of heroism. In this battle he was shot in one leg. Despite the injury, he remained brave and stable. He ran the frontline while commanding the rear soldiers through pigeons and runners carrying messages. This battle earned him the Distinguished Service Cross for Heroism, a coveted title in the military. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
Life Less Ordinary
General Patton lived an extraordinary life. He was a modern general, and the German High Command agrees. The same said that he was the best armored and infantry troop commander. (The patton movie – how accurate is it?, n.d.) These are remarks fit for General Patton.
General Patton did not rest assured with his West Point and French cavalry school diplomas. He resumed his education and graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1924. In 1932, once again, he finished his course at the Army War College. These honed his skills better, and created a wiser General Patton featured in Life Magazine in 1941. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
Of course, no good soldier who lived during the war times would let the great wars pass by without taking part on it. General Patton was commanding the Western Tank Force during the World War II. The force was so distinguished and it worked so well that it became popular among the troops. This made General Patton even more legendary. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
However, even great men, even heroes come to an end. On December 09, 1945, General Patton met an automobile accident from which he suffered multiple injuries. This incident eventually led to his demise. General Patton died twelve days later and was laid to rest where the soldiers who died in the Luxembourg Battle of the Bulge were, honoring the fact that General Patton was the one which finished the said battle. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.; The patton movie – how accurate is it?, n.d.)
The Military Star
The Life feature article was not General Patton’s last showbiz exposure. In fact, a biographical film was produced for him. Aptly title Patton, the 1970 film starred George C. Scott and won seven Academy awards. Scott won Best Actor from the film, and the film itself won Best Picture among others. (Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d.)
The movie became an inspiration to many, as much as it inspired itself. With achievements such as rescuing the allies of his troop in Bastogne, capturing or killing up to thousands of Germans everyday, putting German enemies under trap, and discovering the gold reserves of Germany which was kept an elusive fact for a long time, among other achievements, General Patton deserved to receive the limelight. Yet the movie also revealed that General Patton was removed from the army command under disgrace. This is despite the many contributions that he instituted in the army, and so an air of controversy enveloped the otherwise impressive yet humble record of General Patton. (The patton movie – how accurate is it?, n.d.)
Despite this, General Patton is still continually honored. His followers even dedicated a whole web site for him, showcasing his life, both military and personal, and even a prayer named for him. As if this has not been enough to honor the great soldier, General Patton is also the star of The Patton Gallery, an online repertoire of General Patton’s personal effects which are likewise showcased and can be viewed by the public in The Patton Museum. (The patton gallery, n.d.)
Biography of general george s. patton jr., n.d. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from http://www.generalpatton.com/biography.html
The patton movie – how accurate is it?, n.d. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from http://www.pattonuncovered.com/index.htm
The patton gallery, n.d. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from http://www.generalpatton.org/exhibits/patton_gallery.asp