Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton Jr.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Prior to World War II, Dwight Eisenhower had resigned himself to finishing out a distinguished but unremarkable military career. By 1943, however, he found himself serving as Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, Europe. "Ike" combined a talent for administration with an affable, yet commanding, personality that eventually placed him in positions of great power and responsibility, including leading the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944.
Born in Denison, Texas, Eisenhower began his military career as a West Point graduate in 1915, and concluded it as Supreme Commander of NATO (the North American Treaty Organization) in 1952. In between, he served in various military positions and locations until the events of World War II brought him international acclaim. He parlayed his military legend into politics, serving as U.S. president from 1952 to 1960.
His battlefield experiences once led him to declare, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."
George S. Patton Jr.
Audacious and profane, General George S. Patton Jr. was one of the ablest and most controversial U.S. commanders in World War II. The San Gabriel, California native was fond of presenting himself as a modern-day cavalryman, outfitted with ivory-handled sidearm and leading tank outfits across Nazi-occupied France. Patton once exclaimed, "Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance."
Patton distinguished himself in various World War II campaigns including the invasion of North Africa and the capture of Sicily. It was during the Sicilian campaign that Patton generated considerable controversy when he struck a hospitalized G.I. whom he accused of being a malingerer. For this act, the general was forced to issue a public apology. Such miscues forced General Eisenhower to reprimand the outspoken and colorful general.
Patton's expertise in tank command helped frustrate the December 1944 German counteroffensive in the Ardennes at the Battle of the Bulge. Under his command the Third Army swept into Germany and into Czechoslovakia. In April 1945, Patton was promoted to temporary four-star general but was removed by Eisenhower from his leadership of the Third Army for making inflammatory remarks concerning the denazification policies.
In December 1945, less than a year after the defeat of the Nazis, Patton was killed in an automobile accident in Germany.