Patton: American Badass Essay, Research Paper
General George Smith Patton was fierce. He is as close to Hollywood s Arnold Shwarzenegger, Batman, or, more appropriately, John Wayne as the United States army is likely to get. He was a one man war, who in many ways had a bigger jock strap than a brain. But in a war time situation, that s in no way a bad thing. Patton was born on November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. His grandfather had been a colonel in the Confederate Calvary and had perished in the Civil War. Patton s own father had attended Virginia Military Institute but became a lawyer and a business man instead of a soldier. As a boy, Patton played soldier and read books about great battles, two interest which would prepare him to be one of the great military leaders of our history. At the age of 18, Patton became the third generation of Pattons to enroll at Virginia Military Institute. After graduation in 1904, he went on to the United States Military Academy at West Point. There he became a top athlete but apparently not a top scholar as it took him five years to graduate. He received his commission as 2nd lieutenant in 1909. Patton served with the 15th Calvary at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, where he married his high school sweetheart, Beatrice Ayer. Together they produced two daughters and one son. Patton is said to have been rather hard on his son. Hard to imagine, isn t it? In 1912, one year after the birth of his first child, Patton became a member of the United States team at the Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden. He entered the modern pentathlon and made a good show in swimming, riding, fencing, and running, but oddly enough, finished fifth out of thirty in the pistol shooting event. From that day on he spent all his free time practicing shooting and became an expert marksman. Patton served in the first World War where he earned the Distinguished Service Cross for conspicuous courage, energy, and intelligence in directing the advance of his brigade. After graduation from Army War College in Calvary. Two years later he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and spent two years with the general staff in the Hawaiian Islands. As the army prepared for the second World War, Patton was ordered to Fort Benning, Georgia, in July 1940 for duty as Brigade Commander with the 2nd Armored Division. The following April he was promoted to Major General and became the division s commanding officer. Under Patton s leadership, the unit developed into what many called the toughest, most feared outfit in the United States Army. Patton also became Commander of the 1rst Armored Division to organize the Desert Training Center at Indio, California. There, soldiers learned to live and fighting an armored war in high temperatures and under desert conditions. Patton trained, ate, rationed his daily water just like his men. Patton soon earned the name Old Blood and Guts Though he swore freely, Patton also read the Bible every day and spent time in private prayer. He is quoted as having said, Battle is the most magnificent competition in which man can indulge. Another famous quote from the General is the following, During the first few days after you get ashore, you must work unceasingly, regardless of sleep, regardless of food. A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The eyes of the world are watching us; the heart of America beats for us; God is with us. On our victory depends the freedom or slavery of the human race. We shall surely win.
Patton won a major victory in Morocco after just four days of intense fighting. The victory came on Patton s 57th birthday. The following March, General Eisenhower put Patton in command of the 90,000 GI s of the American Corps in North Africa. During this campaign, he was promoted to Lieutenant General (three stars), but wrote in his diary, Now I want and will get four stars. By April, Afika Korps had surrendered and Patton could claim a major victory. Patton continued to enjoy success after success, but ran into trouble when he visited an evacuation hospital to cheer up the GI s who had been wounded in a recent campain. When he saw a young soldier who had nothing visibly wrong with him, Patton asked why he was a patient. The soldier replied that his nerves were shot, and he couldn t stand the shelling anymore. While the soldier lie sobbing, Patton cursed him and called him a coward. Then he slapped the man in the face with a glove and ordered that the doctors return the soldier, who had been hospitalized for severe shell shock and an emotional breakdown, to duty. Needless to say, Patton s actions created quite a stir. Eisenhower reprimanded him and relieved him of his command before sending him to England to help prepare the Third Army for the Invasion of Europe. Of this, Patton said, I hope they don t win the war without us. It is hell to be on the sidelines and seeing all the glory eluding us. Eisenhower soon returned Patton and promoted him to full General (four stars). Patton played an important role in the Battle of the Bulge and on his way back to Berlin, was among the first to discover the Nazi Concentration Camps and the horror of the gas chambers at Buchenwald and Dachau. Patton got in to trouble again when he outraged politicians by claiming that America would have to fight the Soviets again sooner or later, so why not now? Patton was right, but again he was stripped of his command. He was soon ordered back to Germany to assume peace time command of the Fifteenth Army. On December 9, 1945, Patton was riding in his limousine on the way to shoot pheasants with a friend when, on a road near Mannheim, his car was hit by an approaching army truck that veered into his lane. Patton s head hit the ceiling of the car, and his neck and spinal cord were injured. He lived 12 days before dying at a hospital in Heidelberg on December 21. Patton was a egotistical meathead who probably would have proved nothing more than irritating here in the peacetime United States. However, in a world at war, his true colors were allowed to show and he became the perfect weapon.