Series Host: Hello. I'm David McCullough. Welcome to the American Experience. The United States of America is a nation born of war, a bloody eight-year struggle for independence. Our first larger-than-life hero and first president was a soldier. And a long line of soldier-heroes followed — Andrew Jackson, Grant, Lee, Pershing — until the onrush of the Second World War. Then, miraculously, from a tiny professional army that the country had pretty much forgotten, came an array of general officers as remarkable as any in our history — Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, Stillwell, Bradley, and the most conspicuous and, some felt, the most brilliant of them all, General Douglas MacArthur.
What follows is a two-part film biography of MacArthur, an American life story ranging over much of the world, and that begins at a army post in New Mexico in the 1880's, far removed from the tumultuous century to come. But then MacArthur himself often seemed like a figure from another time, this man who was such a force in altogether three major wars. There was nothing simple about him. He was vain, haughty, theatrical, an incurable poser, and given to oratorical flourishes of a kind only he could have gotten away with. He was also, most importantly a born leader, fearless, intensely patriotic, and highly ambitious, indeed, supremely conscious of himself as a "man of destiny." But, as Shakespeare reminds us, big wars make ambition a virtue. That Douglas MacArthur was one of the most interesting and important figures of the century, there is no question.
Part I of MacArthur, written and produced by Austin Hoyt.
NARR: In the winter of 1942 the eyes of the world were fixed on a tiny outpost in the Philippines where America's most famous general was under siege. His command post destroyed. His army near starvation. Reinforcements no where in sight. "The end is near," the Japanese commander taunted Gen. Douglas MacArthur, "You are advised to surrender." A MacArthur, he knew, never surrendered. He was prepared to die as a soldier. Ordered to abandon his army, he felt betrayed by enemies in Washington. His lonely quest to rescue his men became one of the great sagas of World War II. A journey\ less lonely because of a family who shared the war years with him - a wife he married at age 57 and a son who he hoped would one day be a soldier. He was welcomed home as no American had ever been - a hero as well to Australians, Filipinos, South Koreans - even the Japanese.
MICHAEL SCHALLER, Historian: The sad thing for him is that those achievements were never enough. He always felt that those above him denied him the recognition that he rightly deserved and I think nurtured lifelong grudges against almost anybody in a position superior to him.
VERNON A. WALTERS, U.S. Army: I regard him as probably the greatest soldier we've ever had, in all American history. His only problem was that he didn't fully understand that in the United States, it's the president who makes national policy.
NARR: Douglas MacArthur became so controversial that he stirred political passions Americans had not known since the Civil War.
FAUBION BOWERS, Aide to MacArthur: He was like old Grecian statues, larger than life. And such absolute self-confidence. He had such dignity, such presence. He was a tremendously great man, with tremendously great weaknesses. He was a paranoid. Everything was an arrow in his heart, and yet he was a magnetic person who could charm anyone.
EDWIN H. SIMMONS, Marine Historian: Wherever MacArthur was, he was the center of attention. All eyes were always riveted on MacArthur. He was a great actor. When you speak of theater of war, he was the producer, the director, the star actor, in that theater and he played it to the limit.
GEOFFREY PERRET, Biographer: He is not just unlike most other men, he's unlike most soldiers. There is an element in MacArthur's temperament that is really that of the writer, the poet, the artist who has somehow ended up in uniform. And he believed only a handful of people really counted in history. And his role in life was to be one of that handful of people.
NARR: In 1884 Douglas MacArthur, age four, trekked 300 miles to Fort Selden, New Mexico. His father, in command of 46 enlisted men, had been sent to protect railroad crews and settlers from Geronimo's marauding Apaches. His earliest memory was the sound of bugles. Every morning he joined the soldiers at stiff attention. He remembered the ceremonies as a "never ending thrill." And his father was in charge.
Douglas saw his father at the center of the struggle to bring law and order to the American West.
PERRET: This is to be part of a great adventure. This was the last great adventure. Once the frontier was closed, America, in a way, had been tamed. MacArthur was thrilled for his whole life to feel that he, as a child, had witnessed this adventure and been a part of it. And his father plays an important role in it because it's the military that pushes the frontier back and the civilians come afterwards. And he sees the military as embodying everything that is best about the United States.
NARR: Douglas' father Arthur had left Milwaukee to fight in the Civil War and had come back a hero. His mother, a Confederate from Norfolk, Virginia known as Pinky, valued Arthur's bravery and overlooked the color of his uniform.
"We were to do what was right no matter what the personal sacrifice might be," his father impressed upon him. "Our country was always to come first."
In 1883 all the MacArthur children got measles. Malcolm, Douglas' playmate, died at age four. Pinky believed Douglas and his oldest brother Arthur III had been spared for a reason. At bedtime, Douglas recalled, her last words would be, "You must grow up to be a great man - like your father and Robert E. Lee."
Malcolm's death intensified Pinky's desire to escape the lonely frontier. She pleaded with her husband to leave the army. The captain refused.
But when he was posted to Washington, Pinky was pleased. Douglas was not. He missed the "color and excitement" of the soldier's frontier life.
He did enjoy his grandfather, Arthur MacArthur Senior, a highly respected scholar and judge.
As his grandfather entertained Washington's elite, Douglas got what he called "my first glimpse of politics and diplomacy, statesmanship and intrigue."
KENNETH R. YOUNG: Judge MacArthur reinforces the idea that a MacArthur is not going to be simply a military man, that a MacArthur must be a scholar, that a MacArthur must be a gentleman, and in those values were the things that a gentleman did and did not do. Gentlemen did not lie. Gentlemen did not cheat. Gentlemen were honorable, and if gentlemen were in war, gentlemen were brave.
NARR: He also learned they were not above self-promotion. The Judge used his connections to help Douglas' father get the Medal of Honor. Twenty years after his feats in the Civil War at age 18.
Douglas relished the story of how his father had distinguished himself at the battle of Missionary Ridge in Tennessee. How he had grabbed the flag from a bayoneted corporal, charged up the ridge, and then, above the roar of battle, cried, "On Wisconsin!," waving the colors where the whole regiment could see him.
YOUNG: There was no doubt that Col. MacArthur truly believed that honor was more important than death itself, and I think Douglas always felt the need to equal, not surpass, no one could surpass the bravery of Douglas's father, certainly not in Douglas's mind, but not to disappoint his father, to try to equal that bravery.
NARR: With the outbreak of the Spanish American war in April of 1898, Arthur MacArthur Jr., now a brigadier general, was ordered to the Philippines.
Douglas' brother, Arthur III, a Naval Academy graduate, steamed toward Havana.
At his father's bidding Douglas went to West Point. With nowhere else to go, Pinky joined him and lived in a hotel. She would never be far away.
For the next four years he would endure a Spartan life at the U.S. Military Academy.
STEPHEN E. AMBROSE, Historian: They didn't get any Christmas vacation, no thanksgiving vacation, no Easter vacation, no vacations of any kind. They were isolated from the world in a way that was almost medieval. Now it did have positive effects of bringing these kids together, an old army principle. You bring them together by getting them to hate the same person, and at West Point it started off with you hated the guys who were hazing you.
NARR: As the son of a general, Douglas was a marked man. One night he was ordered to perform spread eagles, squatting and rising over broken glass - flapping his arms like wings.MacArthur remembered doing 200 before he fainted. After the death of a plebe President McKinley ordered West Point to conduct an inquiry into hazing. Douglas was summoned to testify. To name the upper classmen who had hazed him. He would have to choose between informing and expulsion. The career that he, and his father, so valued was at stake. To complicate matters Pinky weighed in. With a poem. "Remember the world will be quick in its blame if shadow or shame ever darken your name. Like mother like son, is saying so true, the world will judge largely of mother by you.
PERRET: So its not just his reputation and his future that's at stake now. He has to do something that his mother can be proud of so that she can hold her head up . He has to find a way to satisfy the board and still walk out of there being able to say I'm not a snitch. And he finds a way of doing this. He names people who have already confessed or have already been expelled, but he won't name anybody else.
NARR: MacArthur endured his hazing ordeal, a cadet recalled, "with fortitude and dignity. He showed himself a true soldier."He passed his academic tests as well graduating first in his class, with one of the best records in the academy's history. He revered the corps of cadets, the Long Gray Line that threaded through the generations to defend America. Many times in the years ahead he would say "the soldier who is called upon to offer his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind." A half a world away in the Philippines, Douglas believed his father was approaching such elevated status. Taking the Philippines from Spain was easy. Subduing Filipinos who wanted independence was not. Arthur MacArthur was one of the heroes of the war. After a year and a half of fighting guerrillas, he was elevated to military governor. William Howard Taft, a federal judge, arrived a month later. His mandate from President McKinley was to plan for civilian rule.
STANLEY KARNOW, Author: And this was a terrible blow to Arthur MacArthur's ego, to have this fat 325 pound civilian from Ohio coming in there and running what he thought, Arthur MacArthur thought, was really a military situation.and so MacArthur resents him tremendously, shoves him off in a tiny room where Taft, given his girth, would have great trouble moving around.
NARR: Taft was convinced the rebellion was under control and the military should hand over power to his commission. Casualty reports convinced MacArthur it was not over - and the civilians should butt out. In letters to Washington, Taft said the general was "haughty" and "arrogant" and convinced President McKinley to order MacArthur home.
KENNETH R. YOUNG, Arthur MacArthur Biographer: He had been a highly successful military governor. And what he expected when he returned home was accolades. He expected the bands to be playing. Instead what he got was ignored, and I think that hurt him deeply. And from that point on, General Arthur MacArthur did not trust politicians, and I think that that experience is embedded in Douglas' mind.
NARR: Taft went on to become Secretary of War and denied Arthur MacArthur, then the highest ranking officer in the Army, the job he thought he deserved - chief of staff. Douglas' father retired to Milwaukee a bitter man. In 1912, addressing a reunion of his Wisconsin Civil War regiment, Arthur MacArthur collapsed and died. He left orders not to be buried in his army uniform. Douglas would feel the burden of upholding the high standards of being a MacArthur. He would never forget how his father had been treated by civilian authority.
KARNOW: He's left with this extraordinarily ambitious mother and who was driving and pushing him all the time, and in him there's this great desire to fulfill the ambition of his mother, to fulfill her dreams for him and prove to her in many ways that he is going to surpass his father.
NARR: His chance would come in World War I. Douglas MacArthur became chief of staff of the Army's 42nd Division - which he had created from national guard units. He said it would stretch like a rainbow across the country. The 42nd became known as the Rainbow Division. MacArthur served under General John Pershing who commanded from headquarters well behind the lines. He expected MacArthur, now a brigadier general, to do the same. But the only real soldier, MacArthur felt, was at the front. In September 1918 Pershing ordered a bayonet charge with minimal artillery, hoping to catch the Germans by surprise. MacArthur's troops rejected this as too risky. He agreed. "It's sometimes the order you don't obey," he told a fellow officer, "that makes you famous." He changed the plans. He also led the charge. And he did it with style.
HARRY J. MAIHAFER, Military Historian: Everyone in the Rainbow Division knew their chief of staff went over the top not wearing a gas mask, not wearing a steel helmet, wearing that long scarf that his mother had made draped around, wearing his West Point sweater, and the troops loved it. And he did this quite deliberately, maybe to win glory, to stand out, but it was a doubled purpose that he had: one was to help the troops to overcome their own fear, and then there's also to make a mark for himself. And I think this was resented at higher headquarters.
NARR: In the fall of 1918 Pershing prepared to storm the German defenses. The key was a low hill known as the Cote de Chatillon. It was littered with the corpses of American and French troops. On October 13th, MacArthur's commander paid a visit. "Give me Chatillon, MacArthur," he said abruptly, "or a list of 5000 casualties." "All right, General," MacArthur replied, "we'll take it, or my name will head the list." His men could take some comfort knowing he would share their risks. The challenge was daunting. Embedded in the Cote de Chatillon were 230 machine gun nests - protected from artillery by pillboxes. Protected from advancing troops by coils of barbed wire often 25 feet deep. MacArthur organized a small patrol to probe for weak spots. "We had not gone far in the darkness," he recalled, "when the enemy opened up with everything he had."In the eerie light of bursting shells, he discovered a thin spot in the wire where men could cut through. "Then I called in muffled voice, 'Get up when I give the signal...I will lead you back to our lines.' I gave the command. No one stirred. I crawled along from shell hole to shell hole. I took hold of each man and shook him. They were all stone dead. I made my way back with God's help."
PERRET: How could it be that of all the people on that patrol, he isn't even scratched. The others are all dead. The only logical explanation is that God has spared him. Things happen in this world for reasons, and as far as MacArthur is concerned, this is the only reason that makes any sense at all. It could not be blind chance.
NARR: MacArthur planned to exploit the vulnerable flanks in the German lines. He wrote, "There was where I planned to strike with my Alabama cotton-growers on the left, my Iowa farmers on the right. We moved out in the misty dawn. Death, cold and remorseless, whistled and sung its way through our ranks." MacArthur placed himself at the head of his brigade. Like his father at Missionary Ridge he would win glory, leading men in a desperate uphill assault.
PERRET: And he's in the thick of the fighting, but he's not carrying a weapon. He carries a riding crop because it isn't his business to kill the Germans with his own hands. It's his business to inspire in other men in the business of killing. So when MacArthur went up a hill, he didn't have to look behind to see if men were following him. Where he led they would follow. He could inspire men to fight and possibly die rather than disappoint him.
NARR: MacArthur's Rainbow Division had breached the German line. Within weeks the war was over. The toll was frightful. Four thousand men, one-third of the division, had fallen.
PERRET: And although MacArthur never talked specifically about the casualties on the Cote de Chatillon the emotional impact remained with him for the rest of his life because he could never speak about what happened there without tears coming to his eyes and he would choke up and he just couldn't really talk about it. Seeing so much human sacrifice, I think, left a scar on him till the day he died.
NARR: A board of officers recommended MacArthur for the Medal of Honor. Pershing awarded him less saying he had not met that standard of heroism. He had not even killed anyone.Douglas MacArthur was the most decorated officer of the war, but he came to believe that Pershing's clique was out to thwart him, armchair generals who resented a fighting officer. When he arrived in New York with his troops on April 25th, 1919, MacArthur expected an adoring throng "to proclaim us monarchs of all we surveyed." At the foot of the gangplank "one little urchin asked us who we were," MacArthur wrote, "and when we said 'We are the famous 42nd', he asked if we had been to France. "Amid a silence that hurt we marched off to be scattered to the four winds, a sad, gloomy end of the Rainbow."MacArthur landed one of the Army's top jobs, superintendent of West Point. Pinky became his official hostess, graciously entertaining, as a MacArthur should, presidents and kings. Once again, she was never far away. "West Point is 40 years behind the times," the army chief of staff told MacArthur. "Revitalize and revamp the academy."
AMBROSE: Nobody would ever think of Douglas MacArthur as a reformer and an innovator, but he came back from his experiences in the First World War determined to pull West Point into the 20th century. He said, we're going to have to face the fact that there's going to be another war. It's going to be another enormous expansion of the army when it happens, and we're going to have to have officers who can deal with these civilians and who can help turn these civilians into soldiers and then can lead these civilians into battle and they gotta know something about the civilian world if they're gonna do that.
NARR: MacArthur would try to change what he called a "provincial reformatory...based on fear" into "a cosmopolitan university" based on "self-respect and pride." He curtailed hazing and encouraged the humanities requiring cadets to write poetry. When he sat in classes and urged discussion - not rote recitation - the faculty considered this a "dangerous innovation."
AMBROSE: When they found out MacArthur was gonna give the cadets five dollars a month and let them go down to Highland Falls once in a while and spend some of that money, they were horrified. When they heard that first classmen were going to be allowed to go and come from the post as they wished, you'd a thought the world had come to an end almost.
NARR: MacArthur was not afraid to challenge the West Point establishment. To do what he thought was right, as his father had said, no matter what the cost. His aloof manner set him further apart. An aide described him as "one of the loneliest men I have ever known." That was about to change. In September of 1921, MacArthur, age 41, met Louise Cromwell Brooks, a 31-year-old divorced socialite with two children - and a fortune.
TANYA BROOKS, Daughter-in-law: It was absolutely love at first sight, and as I gather it was love at first sight on the part of both. She thought he was the handsomest man she'd ever seen, and because the general was a very romantic man, he wrote beautiful poetic letters that any young girl would be happy today to get but not likely to get. He was a man of another world in that respect.
NARR: "My Darling," MacArthur wrote Louise, "Where hides the inspiration that has armed my purpose, steeled my thought?" Where the contentment, the calm I have known in this grim old fortress? My ears thirst for the echo of your step." He wrote she was "like an empress, but no empress breathes your melting, imperious tenderness. Like a goddess, but no goddess knows the blinding flashes of your eyes. How could I fail to find my word at once. Like Louise." MacArthur invited Louise to a football game. After the final whistle, he proposed marriage. On Valentine's Day, he and Louise were married at her mother's mansion in Palm Beach. Pinky was too sick to attend - well enough to manage a hasty retreat from the superintendent's house. Another who did not attend was Gen. Pershing. Louise had had an affair with Pershing in Paris during the war. After the war, she had a fling with Pershing's aide. Then she met MacArthur.
PERRET: Pershing was extremely angry and so he cut short MacArthur's tenure as superintendent and sent him to the Philippines with Louise. And of course, there is no doubt about it, MacArthur liked being superintendent. He liked the status it conferred. He liked the size of the responsibility he'd been given and now that's being taken away from him. He's sent to the Philippines where there is really no job for him to do. He'd been humiliated and everybody in the army has got to know it.
NARR: Before they left for Manila, Louise managed to antagonize the other army wives. She filled the hold with so many steamer trunks and hatboxes that no one else could take more than one trunk. This was MacArthur's second trip to the Philippines. He had been sent to the islands after graduating from West Point and then joined his father on a tour of the Far East. It convinced him the future lay in Asia. He now turned his meager job into a new mission divising a way to defend America's only colony against a hostile invasion. MacArthur began training Filipino and American troops. He mapped the islands extensive terrain. His idle moments he devoted to his step-children, Walter and Louise. To his wife's dismay, they rarely stepped out.
BROOKS: Louise couldn't quite reconcile herself to the limitations of the Philippines. I think she felt she was just counting the days till she could get back to civilization because she'd lived in Washington. She'd lived in Paris. She'd been the center of attention wherever she was, and I think she missed the glamour of the rest of the world.
NARR: After the death of her son Arthur from appendicitis, Pinky also lobbied for MacArthur's return to the states. "Dear Old Jack, she wrote Gen. Pershing. Be "real good and sweet [and] give my Boy his well earned promotion before you leave the army." When MacArthur returned to Washington in 1925, he had his second star - the army's youngest major general. Louise begged MacArthur to leave the army and to join her mother's second husband, a partner in J. P. Morgan.
PERRET: But just making money and living a life of luxury and ease seemed decadent to MacArthur. It was the last thing he wanted. He had destiny to fulfill. You don't become a great man by being a stockbroker. You don't make history by selling bonds and as they argued about whether he should leave the army or not an irreparable split appeared in their marriage, and it just got wider and wider.
NARR: After seven years of marriage, Louise divorced MacArthur. In his memoirs, he never mentioned her name.MacArthur's commitment to the army paid off. In 1930 President Herbert Hoover appointed him chief of staff, the position his father had been denied.
MacARTHUR: I, Douglas MacArthur. Having been appointed a general, chief of staff, in the regular army...
NARR: A proud Pinky touched his four stars and whispered, "If only your father could see you now! Douglas, you're everything he wanted to be." It is not clear what his father would have thought of "Dimples." Isabel Rosario Cooper was an actress of mixed Scottish and Filipino blood who became MacArthur's mistress during a stint in Manila after his divorce. She was 30 years his junior. He signed love letters "Daddy." At a time of strict racial segregation, MacArthur took the risk of bringing Dimples to Washington.
KARNOW: So there she is at the Chastleton apartments in what the tabloids of the day would call a love nest. And there he is. He's living at the official residence of the Army chief of staff with his mother and sort of in this acrobatics, he would slip over to be with Dimples and then go back without his mother knowing what he was doing. And here he is in his early fifties dreadfully afraid that his mother will discover that he's got a girlfriend.
NARR: MacArthur tried to create a sense of family in the War Department with what he called "my gang." It included a young major, Dwight Eisenhower, whom he admired even though he had never led a charge.
AMBROSE: Douglas MacArthur is the man who wrote in Eisenhower's personnel report "this is the best officer in the United States Army. When the next war comes move him right to the top." Eisenhower was a Major at that time. MacArthur saw something in Eisenhower that others weren't seeing or at least he wasn't advancing.
NARR: Ike was impressed with MacArthur's "comprehensive" knowledge and found his memory "without parallel." But he was surprised how freely MacArthur crossed the line "between the military and the political." In his first two years as chief of staff MacArthur was alarmed at the rise of Hitler's National Socialists in Germany. And in Japan at the aggressiveness of Emperor Hirohito's troops. They invaded Manchuria. Then Shanghai. He would be in no position to go to war. The Army over which he presided ranked 16th in the world, behind Greece and Portugal. It had 12 modern tanks. He protested when his military budget was cut further. It was President Hoover's response to the Great Depression. Communists tried to exploit the economic unrest. The crisis MacArthur would face was at home, not abroad. In 1932 unemployed veterans marched on Washington to demand immediate payment of a bonus Congress had promised them in the future. MacArthur thought they were dominated by Communists.
JOSEPH C. HARSCH, Journalist: This was not a revolutionary situation. This was a bunch of people in great distress wanting help. There may have been one or two Communists. It wasn't communism, it had nothing to do with Communism. These were simply veterans from World War I who were out of luck, out of money, and wanted to get their bonus, and they needed the money at that moment.
NARR: The veterans set up camps and awaited their payments. MacArthur was appalled. We fought for our country, he believed, not for money. Like President Hoover, he felt the answer to the depression was hard work, not hand outs.
When a policeman shot two bonus marchers during riots, Hoover ordered the army to clear the city without delay.
MacArthur informed his staff he would accompany the troops. Eisenhower advised him not to.
AMBROSE: Eisenhower told MacArthur, first of all, you shouldn't get involved. MacArthur said, "Go home and put on your uniform." Eisenhower said, "My God, that's the worst thing we could do is to go down there in our uniforms, if we're gonna do this we ought to, at least, go down in civilian clothes.
NARR: MacArthur saw "incipient revolution in the air," Eisenhower recalled, and paid "no attention to my dissent."
Leading the troops had served him well in World War I. He expected it would in Washington.
HARSCH: I was behind a line of cavalrymen, and they all drew their sabers at once. And then they set their horses going ahead, a very slow walk against the line of bonus marchers and I saw a saber come down and I saw blood spurting from the ear of one of the bonus marchers. And I saw MacArthur in full uniform summon a sergeant. The sergeant then called up two or three other men, and they then wadded up newspapers inside each bonus hut and then went down the line and set fire to them.
NARR: The protesters retreated from the Capitol to their encampment across the Anacostia river. Concerned about women and children, President Hoover twice sent orders that troops should not cross the river. Some witnesses say MacArthur never got the orders. Eisenhower recalled MacArthur did not want to be "bothered by people...pretending to bring orders." Whatever the truth, he sent his troops across the bridge to clear the camp, and the impression remained that he had challenged civilian authority. As the camp went up in flames, MacArthur became linked with scenes that shocked the nation. What he said then made things worse. He ignored Eisenhower's plea that he let civilians explain the events. He told reporters, "That mob down there was a bad looking mob...animated by the essence of revolution." He concluded "beyond a shadow of a doubt" they meant to take control of the government.
MICHAEL SCHALLER, Historian: I think one of MacArthur's great shortcomings was his lack of subtlety or appreciation of irony and contradictions or any sense of humor about himself. I think he was someone who could not see that things were not black and white. There weren't just good and evil, and his inability to look at shades of gray, was one of his great failures. It was one of the things that I think estranged him from many people in his generation.
AMBROSE: For MacArthur it certainly hurt him with a broad base of the American people, but there were elements among that broad base that were applauding what MacArthur was doing, and MacArthur played to the right wing of the Republican party all of his life. And by participating in the Bonus March in the way he did, by driving those guys out of there and all the publicity that resulted from it, MacArthur solidified his base.
NARR: MacArthur's actions helped Franklin Roosevelt, campaigning against Hoover, solidify his base. In private FDR called Douglas MacArthur one of the most dangerous men in America.
ROBERT DALLEK, Historian: He saw him as a potential man on horseback. Someone who in a time of terrible economic disarray come to the fore and would try to seize power by extra constitutional means. What I want to do, Roosevelt was saying, is use Douglas MacArthur for my purposes.
NARR: FDR tried to keep MacArthur under his thumb by retaining him as Army Chief of Staff. He wanted the Army to help administer his pet program to relieve unemployment, the Civilian Conservation Corps. When MacArthur learned Roosevelt was cutting the army's budget to fund his New Deal programs, he demanded to see the President.
DALLEK: MacArthur said to Roosevelt, "When we lose the next war and an American boy is writhing in pain in the mud with a Japanese bayonet in his belly, I want the last words that he spits out in the form of a curse to be not against Douglas MacArthur but against Franklin Roosevelt." FDR was enraged, and he said, "Never speak to the President of the United States that way." And MacArthur offered to resign, but Roosevelt brightened and said, "No, no, Douglas, we must get together on this."
NARR: As he left the White House, the general was overcome with nausea. It wasn't easy being a MacArthur. Every year he pleaded with Congress to preserve the Army's budget. He told cadets at West Point "Nations once great that neglected their national defense are dust and ashes. Where are Rome and Carthage?" In a tribute to those who had fallen in France, he said: "Only those are fit to live who are not afraid to die." After the Bonus March, all this was too much for liberal columnist Drew Pearson.
KARNOW: Pearson writes this scathing series of articles denouncing MacArthur as a potential dictator, demanding that he be cashiered and so forth. MacArthur then makes a terrible mistake. He sues Drew Pearson. Now, as part of his defense, Pearson, who had all kinds of contacts around Washington, had acquired a package of letters from Dimples.
SCHALLER: By today's standards, I'm sure, people would find them barely worthy of note, rather tepid Victorian style love letters, more affectionate than kinky. Still they were a potential source of grave embarrassment.
KARNOW: Now Pearson's lawyer says Want to sue? Fine, we publish these letters. MacArthur could have stonewalled it, but what he's really worried about is his mother will find out. So, in the end, instead of suing Drew Pearson, he pays him 15,000 dollars to get back the letters, and on top of that he pays Dimples as well to be freed of this relationship.
NARR: MacArthur saw his tenure as Chief of Staff as unrewarding. He never got the funding he felt his Army deserved. On his watch the Army reached a low in men and material. There were other opportunities. The Philippines had just been granted independence to take effect in 1946. With the Japanese attacks on China, President Manuel Quezon felt he needed an army.
ZENEIDA QUEZON AVANCENA, Daughter of President Quezon: There was a close friendship between the two men, and so on a trip to Washington, he asked Gen. MacArthur if he thought that the Philippines could be defended, and Gen. MacArthur said, "Well, we could make it so costly for somebody to try to take it over that they might not think it was worthwhile.
DALLEK: Roosevelt does not want him around as a potential candidate in 1936, and so, what better way to get rid of him then to give him a job that he would love to take as the principal military advisor in the Philippines. Secondly, Roosevelt is intent upon sending a message to the Japanese, don't be too aggressive out there, you see, I have a first rate military man in the Philippines whose going to tend to the defense of those islands.
NARR: Quezon welcomed MacArthur, and his aide Eisenhower, to Malacañang Palace. With the Army's approval, Quezon supplemented their salaries, and MacArthur became the highest paid soldier in the world. The General and Ike lived in the luxurious Manila Hotel. MacArthur demanded the penthouse suite. It was air-conditioned. Ike's was not. Pinky, 84 and very ill, enjoyed the comforts of the hotel. That wasn't all. At an elaborate ceremony in the palace Quezon's wife gave MacArthur a gold baton and pronounced him Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. To Eisenhower it was "ridiculous" for someone who had held the highest rank in the U.S. Army to want to be field marshal of a "virtually non-existent army."
MacArthur, who felt he understood what he called "the Oriental mind," thought Filipinos would respect someone with an exalted title.
BETH DAY ROMULO, Manila Journalist: He had a great image of himself, and he always kind of stuck to it. And it was a very dramatic image, and it played well. You know, he looks like a leader, heaven knows.
ALFRED X. BURGOS, Manila Resident: He was really pro-Filipino. He loved the Philippines, he loved Filipinos, and I think that's what made all the difference in the world. Filipinos were willing to die and fight for him.
NARR: MacArthur began to create a Filipino Army. In a decade, he hoped, it would be ready to defend the islands against a Japanese attack which he feared. He hounded Quezon and Washington for the necessary funds. That is how he spent his days. He spent his evenings with Jean.
He had met Jean Faircloth coming over on the boat. 37. Single. Adventurous. From Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Headed for Shanghai. Rerouted to Manila. To be with Douglas. And his mother.
Shortly after their arrival in 1935, Pinky died. MacArthur was desolate. He confessed to a friend, "I find myself groping desperately, but futilely."
CAROL PETILLO, Biographer: Douglas kept Pinky's body in the U.S. military morgue in the Philippines for two years after she died because he didn't want to bury her in the Philippines. He wanted to take her back and bury her in the United States. And he chose not to get married until mother was safely out of the picture, symbolically as well as really.
NARR: In 1937 MacArthur buried his mother next to his father at Arlington National Cemetery. Then he and Jean Faircloth were married in a civil ceremony in New York City. She called him "Sir boss" and "My Gineral."
"This," MacArthur told reporters, "is going to last a long time."
In Washington he pleaded for more money for his Filipino army. Before it was too late. He got nothing.
DALLEK: Roosevelt's perspective has now changed. MacArthur is a pain in his neck. He wants to focus energy and attention on the Philippines. Roosevelt is deeply concerned about Japan. The Japanese have renewed the war in China, and they are acting quite aggressively. Roosevelt doesn't want to provoke them. He wants to keep the Pacific quiet. He doesn't want a war, and he's worried that MacArthur is provocative.
NARR: In August 1937 the Japanese renewed their attack on Shanghai. MacArthur had just returned to the Philippines empty-handed. He then got notice that Roosevelt had canceled his job as U.S. Military Advisor. Outraged, he decided to retire from the army. In December the Japanese completed what became known as the Rape of Nanking. As the world headed for war, MacArthur who had devoted his career to preparing for war, left the U.S. Army. He did remain as military advisor on the Philippine payroll. Eisenhower stayed with him but soon became discouraged. There was no money. His recruits lacked modern weapons--even a common language. MacArthur's Philippine Army hardly existed.
PERRET: Eisenhower saw himself as the supreme realist. And here is this romantic who will not accept ordinary realities about training schedules and the price of military equipment. And that brought Eisenhower in direct conflict with MacArthur because Eisenhower is arguing nuts and bolts and MacArthur is arguing grand ideas and designs.
NARR: MacArthur lost his most valuable aide. He would later deride him, the story goes, as "the best clerk I ever had," with Eisenhower responding, "I studied dramatics under MacArthur for seven years." Quezon then gave up on MacArthur, and in 1938 headed for Tokyo to discuss neutrality. MacArthur asked for an appointment and was told Quezon was busy. "Some day your boss is going to want to see me," MacArthur replied, "more than I want to see him." By 1940 MacArthur was isolated from power. And alone. Except for Jean.
ROMULO: Jean was his best fan and best protector because she was totally devoted to him. And she was a tiny little thing, but she was protective of this big man, and she would never hear anything against him. I mean, she would really get very emotional about it, doesn't want to hear that, you know, she really believed he was a great man .
NARR: MacArthur also had the comfort of Arthur MacArthur IV born in 1938. The proud 58-year-old father called his son "sergeant." Each morning while he shaved, he would sing to Arthur all the army barrack songs he knew. "The fact of the matter is," joked MacArthur, "the only person who appreciates my singing in the bathroom is Arthur."
PETILLO: He was devoted to his son. He was more like a grandfather than a father, both in age and devotion. He could not stand for Arthur to be punished for anything, or if Arthur fell and scraped his knee as little boys often do, Douglas was distraught .
NARR: Life in the penthouse atop the Manila Hotel was leisurely.
ROMULO: He had a lovely life here. The hotel was always so proud of coming up with some dish he'd like, like lapu lapu with mango and that sort of thing. They were always trying to please him. And he did say the years in Manila with Jean and the baby were the happiest years of his life, and I'm quite sure that they were.
NARR: When the Japanese grabbed bases in Indochina in July 1941, FDR could no longer ignore their aggression. He reactivated MacArthur, put him in charge of all U.S. forces in the Far East and cut off oil exports to Japan. Within months, the Japanese Navy would be out of oil. Manila was two thousand miles from Tokyo, but just 500 miles from Japanese planes on Formosa. In the war plan, American and Filipino troops stationed on the main island of Luzon would retreat to the Bataan Peninsula and the island of Corregidor. Corregidor guards the entrance to Manila Bay, MacArthur said, "like a cork in a bottle." From the island the Army would try to deny the Japanese access to one of the best harbors in the Far East. Beneath "the Rock," the Army had carved a command post. The Malinta tunnel was 1400 ft long. Side tunnels housed everything the Army would need for a long siege. Corregidor's coastal guns would attack the Japanese Navy entering Manila Bay. Two miles north of Corregidor lies the Bataan peninsula. Once withdrawn to Bataan, the Army would hold on until reinforcements came. Holed up in malaria infested mountain jungles. Teeming with poisonous snakes. And fifty-six varieties of bats. MacArthur knew the drill cold. He had surveyed the jungles of Bataan. Helped map the defensive positions. But for MacArthur the plan was too defensive. Too defeatist. He convinced his new boss, Army Chief of staff George Marshall, to accept a bolder plan. He wanted to use American and Filipino troops to defend the beaches. To protect not just Manila Bay but all the Philippines.
Marshall in turn encouraged MacArthur to have faith in B-17 Flying Fortresses which he began rushing to the Philippines. B-17s could set Japan's paper cities aflame, he said. Bomb invasion fleets at the beaches.
MARK STOLER, Marshall Biographer: In retrospect this is one of the most bizarre and harebrained ideas in American military history, the thought that a few bombers was going to make that much of a difference. It probably came from desperation, the thought we cannot simply leave American troops out there, we have got to do something. And out of desperation comes the idea, by God, we can actually save them.
KARNOW: You have to look at it this way. MacArthur is not going to say, no, it can't be done. He's not a defeatist. He's got a great stake in the Philippines, he's got to be optimistic, he's got to be rosy about it. Generals who say you can't do it don't get promoted, don't go anywhere, right? So he's got to say it can be done, and, of course, I will do it.
NARR: In the evenings MacArthur paced his balcony sensing his moment of greatness was near. Washington had promised enough planes and troops. He expected to be ready by April 1942.
As they watched the sun set over Manila Bay, he had told reporter Theodore White "It was destiny that brought us here, White, destiny! By God it is destiny that brings me here now."
QUEZON AVANCENA: This was Monday, December 8. My father said, Nini, pray very hard for your country. We are at war. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. And I'm ashamed to say, I had no idea where Pearl Harbor was.
RAMSEY: I went to the Officer's Club and had a drink with the Chief of Intelligence for General Wainwright. And he said Lieutenant, are you religious. And, I said, no sir, not particularly, why. And, he said, well, I think you better give your soul to God, because your ass belongs to the Japanese.
QUEZON AVANCENA: We all went out and looked at these planes flying in formation. And then we went back to breakfast and then suddenly we heard bombs exploding.
NARR: On December 8th, 1941 MacArthur's air force near Manila was destroyed on the ground. His B-17s had scrambled to avoid the expected attack but landed to refuel.
The commanders caught unprepared at Pearl Harbor were cashiered. MacArthur was not.
AMBROSE: Why in the hell didn't Franklin Roosevelt fire him? Well the answer to me is clear because the Republican Party would have been up in arms. MacArthur was their President - was their General.
NARR: The Philippine Army in which MacArthur had placed such faith could not hold at the beaches. It folded in two days. The Japanese headed for Manila.
MacArthur ordered a retreat to Bataan. Too late to re-deploy the food he had dispersed to defend the beaches.
To spare Manila, he declared it an open city. The Japanese continued to bomb.
On Christmas Eve, the harbor aflame, the MacArthurs retreated with the Quezons to Corregidor. Jean had managed to grab MacArthur's medals, not much else. The Japanese commander would soon be in their penthouse.
Malinta tunnel would become a refuge for five thousand troops. The Quezons lived there. MacArthur refused.
ROMULO: MacArthur said he would have none of that, that they could always get back to the tunnel if the sirens went off and they were being bombed. And during the day, when there would be an air raid signal, Jean says she'd grab the baby, and the Amah would come, and they'd get in the car and scoot down to the tunnel. Sometimes they just made it and the bombs started falling.
NARR: From the tunnel, MacArthur directed the most difficult of military maneuvers--a fighting retreat.
HARSCH: It was brilliant. He has been described to me as standing there with his, the telephone in one hand and a pencil in the other, on a map of the Philippines, directing the movement of individual units of troops. But, once he got them into the Bataan Peninsula, there wasn't enough food.
NARR: The plan had been to evacuate civilians from Bataan. Instead 20,000 civilians followed 80,000 soldiers into Bataan. MacArthur faced a food crisis from the start.
LEON BECK, U.S. Army: We immediately were placed on half rations, two meals a day - one before daylight and one after dark. That told you a quick story there that we weren't going to get any help.
NARR: MacArthur got what he thought were encouraging cables from Army Chief of Staff George Marshall.
STOLER: Marshall is not going to come out and say in a telegram to a besieged commander, we can give you nothing. What he is going to say is, we are giving you everything we possibly can. In that sense he is misleading MacArthur, or MacArthur is allowing himself to be mislead by interpreting those documents to mean I'm going to get tons and tons of supplies and everything is going to be fine.
NARR: On Jan. 10, MacArthur visited Gen. Jonathan Wainwright on Bataan. He passed along good news.
RICHARD M. GORDON, U.S. Army: And basically the message was from MacArthur that help was on its way. And we were to hold fast. Planes would be coming, men would be coming, and what we needed would be there. Just hold tight.
NARR: On Bataan his men held tight. Probing the jungle for advancing Japanese. Searching the tree tops for snipers.
For 11 days in January the Japanese tried to destroy MacArthur's army. His troops were forced to retreat. Then once again hold tight.
By late February many were so weak from malnutrition they could hardly crawl from their foxholes.
There would be no reinforcements. America's priority was the war against Hitler.
SCHALLER: MacArthur refused to acknowledge that reality, and instead attributed the lack of reinforcement to betrayal by jealous rivals in the war department starting with Army Chief of Staff George Marshall and radiating downward to Dwight Eisenhower, his former aide in the Philippines and to others who he believed were literally starving him and his forces to death to get their professional revenge against him. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
NARR: For two weeks the Japanese bombed Corregidor. The headquarters on top of the island was destroyed the first day. They haven't yet made the bomb with my name on it, MacArthur said. He refused to take cover and watched the attack. The wounded flowed into the hospital wards in the tunnel. The humid air became thick with the putrid smell of gangrene. The Secretary of War wrote in his diary, "There are times when men must die."
In a simple ceremony by the tunnel, Manuel Quezon was sworn in for a second term as president. MacArthur spoke: "From the grim shadow of the Valley of Death, oh merciful God, preserve this noble race!"
QUEZON AVANCENA: His eyes were misty. And General MacArthur was a man who was very controlled and not emotional, not obviously emotional, anyway, from what I saw of him, but that time it was obvious that he was very moved.
NARR: George Marshall wanted the Quezons to leave and to take Jean and Arthur with them. "This might be the last opportunity for sure deliverance of the two human beings dearest to me," MacArthur wrote. "It was one of the desperate moments of my life."
Let me take Jean to safety, Quezon urged him. "My wife married a soldier," MacArthur replied. "At least let me take your son." "My son is the son of a soldier," MacArthur answered.
The General wired Marshall, "I and my family will share the fate of the garrison."
Before he left, Manuel Quezon gave MacArthur 500,000 dollars in gold, what he would have made had he completed his term as military adviser. This remained a secret for 37 years.
He also gave MacArthur his ring. "When they find your body," he said, "I want them to know you fought for my country."
MERRILL PASCO, Aide to Marshall: Marshall was just terrified that the Japanese would get a hold of MacArthur. It would be a great thing if they parade him through the streets of Tokyo. And, they knew they were going to have a hard time getting MacArthur to leave. And he refused on several occasions and said he was not going to leave. And, finally General Marshall went to Mr. Roosevelt and got him to sign a personal message to him, ordering him as Commander in Chief to go to Australia.
DALLEK: MacArthur of course kept protesting that he did not want to leave the Philippines, that for him to have gone to Australia would be seen as a retreat, as even cowardly, as abandoning his men, but Roosevelt was insistent on it.
NARR: MacArthur told Jean "This is an order I must disobey." But his staff convinced him to leave and return with vast reinforcements they heard were bound for Australia.
His men had followed him in battle in World War I. Now he was leaving them behind. They began to call him "Dugout Doug," and it stung him. He was leaving with the knowledge he had failed them.
He had put them on half rations in January. In early March, he cut them further.
GORDON: We ate the horses of the 26th cavalry. We ate the mules of the 24th field artillery. We ate any kind of animal that came along the road. If chickens crossed the highway, they were food in the pot. We ate iguanas. We ate monkeys.
RAMSEY: Monkey is a very, very strong tasting animal. Snake, that's not bad. There just wasn't enough of them, especially the larger ones.
NARR: MacArthur never went back to Bataan to see his men.
PERRET: It was too painful. Going to Bataan, looking into the faces of men who were doomed to, to surrender, captivity and death was just too hard.
NARR: Japanese artillery joined the bombers in blasting Corregidor. "The end is near," the Japanese commander living in MacArthur's penthouse taunted him. "You are advised to surrender." An army sergeant gave him one chance in five of escaping. "Jean," MacArthur said, "it is time to go." As darkness fell on March 11, 1942 the MacArthurs boarded a PT boat and headed south for the Philippine Island of Mindanao. MacArthur lifted his cap in salute to his men. They called themselves the "battling bastards of Bataan. No Mama. No Papa. No Uncle Sam."
"I could feel my face go white," MacArthur recalled. "Feel a sudden, convulsive twitch in the muscles of my face." At night he rambled bitterly on his futile struggle to save the islands. His voice choked up as he talked about being ordered to leave his men. After 500 miles of rough mine-infested seas, the MacArthurs arrived safely on Mindanao. Arthur, age four, had been told all he could take with him was one stuffed animal which he called "old friend." Jean went ashore with her lipstick, comb and compact wrapped in a handkerchief. MacArthur would get her a watch engraved "My bravest."
"You have taken me out of the jaws of death," the general told his PT boat commander.
But he had left his men facing the jaws of death. He had discussed what he could say to them with a Filipino aide, Major Carlos Romulo.
ROMULO: And General MacArthur suggested one of those stiff, formal things like, "MacArthur will not let you down. " And Romy said that's not going to float, that isn't going to make it, you've got to have some thing that has gut value, that's very personal and direct. And he composed, "I shall return." And MacArthur, who many people have criticized for being arrogant and saying, "I shall return," said isn't that a bit much, you know, "I, I shall return,"--you know, this is an army that is going to return. And Romy said but they know you and they believe you, and if you say "I shall return," then they'll look for you to come back. They really will believe it.
NARR: By mid-March the MacArthurs were in Australia.
HARSCH: Oh yes, I was there when he got off the train in Melbourne and said, "I shall return". It was a very dramatic moment.
NARR: The War Department wired, "Can't you say we?" MacArthur refused. To some still fighting on Bataan it became a joke: "I have gone to the latrine. I shall return." To MacArthur it would be an all-consuming passion.
PERRET: MacArthur saw his return to the Philippines as a way of redeeming American national pride and honor. And his own pride and honor.
PETILLO: His determination to return to the Philippines is driven by this sense of guilt perhaps, or shame, very great sadness, at what happened there.
NARR: The Japanese derided him as a coward who had deserted his men under fire. A commander he left behind would condemn him as "an arch deceiver, traitor and criminal" who was now enjoying "steak and eggs."
At 62, his hands trembled. He had lost 25 pounds. The general, Jean recalled, was a "lonely, angry man" who needed her "as never before."
TAAFFE: He expects to have all these forces waiting for him that he believed were being built up in Australia, and he gets to Australia and there's nothing there.
PERRET: There was virtually nothing except for some anti-aircraft artillery troops and some Army Air Force units. And he was not only disappointed, I would say he was depressed.
NARR: At the lowest moment of his life, MacArthur became a hero. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. What he had wanted for his inspiring charge in World War I, he got for prolonging a lost cause, holed up in a tunnel.
SCHALLER: By the Spring of 1942, the American military situation seemed so dismal, that as George Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff said, we're looking for heroes. His forces had fallen back, but they had kept up resistance, they hadn't surrendered, they hadn't rolled over like British forces had in Hong Kong and Singapore and other places. And MacArthur was about as close to a hero as you came.
NEWSREEL NARR: MacArthur, civilization's champion, symbol of the stout heart, the dauntless spirit, the unflagging courage of America on the march.
NARR: A MacArthur mania swept over a hero hungry America. A parade that spring was dedicated to MacArthur.
NEWSREEL NARR: Every man, women and child will ever remember his immortal words "only those are fit to live who are not afraid to die."
NARR: He became "America's First Soldier," the focus of the war effort.
STOLER: I don't think Marshall was troubled about building up MacArthur. I'm not so sure about Franklin Roosevelt, but I think both men at that point realized that this was the appropriate thing to do. I don't think Marshall was aware of the trouble he would be creating for himself later on.
NARR: In April 1942 after four months, the Army on Bataan fell - the largest army in American history to surrender. Corregidor fell in May. MacArthur's redemption would be the rescue of the men he left behind. The route of his redemption would lie through 3,000 miles of oceans that the Japanese navy roamed unchallenged, if he had the ships. Across endless jungles, if he had the planes. Through the jungles, if he had to walk. If the Joint Chiefs authorized his return. And they had not. MacArthur's goal was to liberate the Philippines en route to Japan. This was not what Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, had in mind. A war against Japan had always been the Navy's job. King was "the most even tempered man in the Navy," his daughter said. "He was always in a rage."
He took over the Navy at its lowest moment--the destruction of much of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Redemption of the Navy's pride rested with Admiral Ernest J. King. While MacArthur struggled on Corregidor, King outlined his plans to an old Navy hand in Washington--and gained Roosevelt's complete confidence. King had foreseen the importance of naval aviation. The aircraft carrier, he felt, was the key to victory in the Pacific. Admiral King was not going to play second fiddle to Douglas MacArthur. As his colleague on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, George Marshall, soon learned.
ROBERT W. LOVE, King Biographer: Throughout the war General Marshall and Admiral King engaged in a playlet. General Marshall would propose that General MacArthur be given overall supreme command in the Pacific. Admiral King would object. The Pacific is a Navy theater, he would argue. There's more water than land. Admiral King would then propose because the Pacific was an ocean area, that Admiral Nimitz be in command of everything, including General MacArthur.
NARR: Chester Nimitz, the commander of King's Pacific fleet, based at Pearl Harbor, was too junior to oversee MacArthur. Unable to decide, the Joint Chiefs divided the command. Nimitz got the North, Central and South Pacific. MacArthur got the Southwest Pacific but few ships. His first task was to defend Australia. The Japanese soon threatened by attacking Australia's colony in New Guinea. They headed over the mountain jungles toward its capital Port Moresby. MacArthur sent Australian troops into the breech. They were pushed back.
"Modify the Germany First strategy and send planes, ships and guns to avert disaster," MacArthur cabled Marshall. "I beg of you ...have this momentous question reviewed by the President and the chiefs of staff, lest it become too late."
HARSCH: When I was about to leave Australia to come back to the States, I was summoned to the presence, seated in a sofa, and then for an hour he paced, in a stately slow pace, up and down, in front of me. And, he said, I must persuade the people in authority, that they should be, put the Pacific War first and the European War second.
PERRET: And he became overly emotional, and was sending all kinds of hysterical messages to the War Department. Totally ignoring the fact that there was a global war to be fought. He's only interested in one war and that's, that's the war where he is.
NARR: In private FDR complained about MacArthur's demands. He "seems to have forgotten," Roosevelt told an aide, that his record in Manila resembled that of [those] who faced "court-martial on charges of laxity at Pearl Harbor."
MacArthur had survived the loss of the Philippines. He could not survive a defeat in New Guinea.
He flew his troops over the mountains to assault the Japanese base camps. Some supplies came by sea--with whatever shipping he could muster.
One target was a missionary outpost called Buna.
The Japanese were entrenched in camouflaged bunkers described in the official Army history as "a masterpiece". He lacked the fire power to blast them out.
Desperate for a victory, MacArthur put Gen. Robert Eichelberger in charge. "Bob," he told him, "If you don't take Buna, I want to hear that you are buried there." Eichelberger went on the offensive. He discovered how skilled the Japanese were at jungle warfare. One assault took 25 percent casualties. By December 1942, nine months after he arrived in Australia, MacArthur finally had what he needed to root out the Japanese. "Time is working desperately against us," he told Eichelberger. "This battle must be engaged."
On January 2, 1943 Gen. Eichelberger captured Buna. MacArthur had his first victory in World War II.
"The dead of Bataan will rest easier tonight," he told the press.
He seemed confident again. At 63, one reporter wrote, "the youngest looking man for his age I had ever seen."
But his victory had been costly. MacArthur's forces suffered nearly two casualties for every one they inflicted on the Japanese.
No one would know this from what he told the press.
"Our losses in the Buna campaign are low," MacArthur's communiqué read..."There was no necessity to hurry the attack."
Reinforcements, he reasoned, would flow faster if his losses were low.
When Eichelberger was lionized in the national press, MacArthur was furious. "Do you realize I could reduce you to the grade of colonel tomorrow?" he bellowed. Eichelberger wrote a friend in the War Department "I would rather have you slip a rattlesnake in my pocket than to have you give me any publicity."
PERRET: There was only one person who was supposed to talk to press in MacArthur's theater and that was MacArthur. If his photograph is on the front of LIFE magazine, this means that he's on track, he is on track to be a great man. He is a man of destiny. His parents were right. This is his role in life. He has an historic mission to be a truly great and historic figure.
NARR: After Buna, MacArthur made sure that his publicity would give the impression that he alone was winning the Pacific war. The matrons of Brisbane besieged the MacArthurs with invitations. The general refused them all. Jean did her best to be gracious. Arthur turned five that first winter in Australia. He seldom saw his father during the day. He did see his father in the morning.
PERRET: And they would march around the living room, swinging their arms, stamping their feet, going boom, boom. And MacArthur would hide presents under the cushions and the child would--you know, the boy would then start looking under the cushions for presents and so on. And he had breakfast with his parents, then MacArthur would leave. And that would--that would be it until the next morning. MacArthur only really saw his son at breakfast.
NARR: MacArthur wrote a prayer for Arthur: "Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory."
Twenty years later he would use almost the same language at West Point to describe the attributes of a soldier.
MacArthur's Air Commander, George Kenney, had masterminded the troop movements to Buna. In February 1943 he began to move up the New Guinea coast. The Navy would not risk aircraft carriers in the shoals off New Guinea. MacArthur had to rely on his Army Air Force.
STEPHEN TAAFFE, Historian: Initially, MacArthur does not think much of air power, because of the bad experience he'd had in the Philippines, where his Air Force was wiped out within twenty-four hours of the war beginning. But Kenney really converts MacArthur into an air power enthusiast. Kenny's so successful, he's so confident, he knows how to use his air forces so well, that MacArthur becomes enamored with air power.
NARR: At age 63 he was learning a new way to fight a war. His air force destroyed Japanese convoys carrying reinforcements to New Guinea. Without them, the Japanese offensive in New Guinea was doomed. By March 1943 the Japanese were on the defensive. They dug in waiting for MacArthur to attack. Instead, as he was fond of saying, he would "Hit 'em where they ain't." Fly over them. Bypass their strongholds.
MacArthur went along on one early mission. "They're my kids, too," he told Kenney. He was less worried about getting shot than getting sick: "I'd hate to get sick and disgrace myself in front of the kids."
In MacArthur's first airborne assault, his "kids" captured a Japanese airfield. That set the pattern for his New Guinea offensive. Securing one airfield after another.
TAAFFE: MacArthur's offensive across New Guinea is a march of the airfields. Remember, Nimitz and King will not let MacArthur have any aircraft carriers, so he has to find his own close air support. The only way to do that is to move inland from the beach, seize an airfield or build an airfield, and then use that position to destroy enemy air power down the coast some more, and repeat the same operation. And that's what the New Guinea offensive is.
NARR: He was driving slowly toward the Philippines. What he learned that summer of 1943 would drive him harder.
From soldiers smuggled out by submarine, he learned what happened to the army he left behind. How they were marched more than 60 miles to prisoner of war camps. He learned of the Bataan Death March.
GORDON: As I was marched down that road, where they captured me, I passed my battalion commander, Major James Ivy, and he had been tied to a tree and he was stripped to the waist and he was just covered with bayonet holes.
BURGOS: Oh, they bayoneted people, they shoot people, and if they think that you were delaying the march, you're dead.
BECK: You'd hear a shot fired. And you'd look back and there lays a body behind you, but you, they wouldn't let you go back and take care of him.
BURGOS: If you tried to get food which was thrown by the civilians, that not only endangered you, but the one who was giving the food or throwing the food to you.
GORDON: They provided food one time in those nine days. It was in a horrible place that was just jammed with humanity. The disease and the smell of the place was sickening. You couldn't get out, you couldn't lie down, there was no room. And men went mad in the place overnight.
NARR: Some made their way out of Bataan to join the resistance as guerrillas. And to wait for MacArthur's return.
RAMSEY: I leave, but I shall return. Well, those of us who admired him, always believed he would return.
BECK: I never lost hope. If I had, I'd probably surrendered, like all the rest of them did. I always thought enough of America that some day our army would be, be back there to get us.
NARR: MacArthur said he would return. The Joint Chiefs never did. In the fall of 1943 they began to favor Admiral King's Navy which had launched new fast carriers.
PERRET: The Navy was surprised, but delighted. MacArthur was surprised and appalled. Because it looked for a while in 19-- By the end of 1943 that the Navy was going to get to Japan before MacArthur could get to the Philippines.
NARR: MacArthur worried that he might be forced to end the war as the conqueror of New Guinea. Not the Liberator of Luzon.
When he got a new B-17 that fall, he told the pilot who picked it up "I want the plane named Bataan, and the artist is to paint a map of the Philippines on the side...That's an order." He made certain that everyone knew where he was headed.
The Navy's drive to Japan began in November 1943 with a Marine assault on a tiny island named Tarawa. Landing craft stuck at low tide were sitting ducks for Japanese gunners. One thousand marines were killed, two thousand injured to take an atoll less than three square miles. At this time, the war plan was being set for 1944. To MacArthur's horror, it continued to favor the people who had planned Tarawa.
In December 1943 the big powers agreed on a second front in Europe; Eisenhower would lead it. The British opposed America's Pacific offensive as diverting shipping away from Eisenhower. George Marshall fought the British to preserve the Pacific war but had to tell MacArthur that the Navy was still going to lead it.
LOVE: MacArthur received this with a lack of grace that's really stunning. On the other hand, he was heart-broken. He had, after all, been shorted his shipping, to a degree that's virtually unmanageable. He had conducted an offensive on a shoestring. He had done marvelous work with limited air and with only a handful of divisions. And now he was being told, in effect, that despite a series of stunning victories, he was going to have a competitor in the north for shipping. And shipping was a big problem in the Pacific.
NARR: MacArthur claimed the Chiefs had shortchanged him because of Admiral King's animosity toward him.
STOLER: My guess is, that Marshall didn't phrase it in those terms, but that MacArthur interpreted it in those terms. MacArthur personalized issues. And, my belief is that Marshall said you've got to understand that the Navy is also out here. And he said, ah huh, they're trying to, to stop me.
NARR: Admiral Nimitz assaulted the Japanese in the Marshall Islands two months ahead of schedule. MacArthur was shocked. To keep up with the Navy, he had to do something dramatic. He decided to seize the largest island in a chain called the Admiralties. It would protect his right flank for the march across New Guinea toward the Philippines.
TAAFFE: If he doesn't take the Admiralties as quickly as possible, if he adheres to the original strategic timetable, it might be too late to influence the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So even if he would take the Admiralties behind schedule, it wouldn't matter, he would be frozen out of the Pacific war. So MacArthur thinks it's well worth the risk.
NARR: He would attack quickly with a mere 1,000 men discarding the plan for an assault a month later with many thousands more. "The place is lousy with Japs," a scouting party reported. MacArthur did not back down. "He was restless. Too excited to sleep," his doctor recalled. "It was almost as if battle 'fed' his system."
As the assault began he learned the Navy wanted the island's harbor to support its Central Pacific drive. He wired Marshall requesting an audience with the president.
PERRET: There is an implied threat that if he doesn't get his way, he'll have a showdown with the President. He will remain in the United States. He will be out of the war. He does not want to be squeezed out and watch the Navy in the last year of the war fighting all of the battles and getting all of the glory.
NARR: If he went ashore, MacArthur reasoned, how could the Joint Chiefs order him to give the Navy what he had risked his life to seize? Refusing a helmet, he sported his Philippine Field Marshal's cap. "Sir, we killed a Jap sniper in there just a few minutes ago," an officer warned him. "Fine," MacArthur replied. "That's the best thing to do with them." To keep up with the Navy MacArthur had gambled and won. "He saw opportunities," an Army historian noted, "where other men saw problems." Even crusty Admiral King, who compromised on the harbor, admitted the invasion was "a brilliant maneuver." Two weeks later, in March 1944, the Joint Chiefs authorized MacArthur to advance to Mindanao in the Southern Philippines. He seized this as his chance for redemption. His chance to rescue the men he had left behind.
BURGOS: The situation at that time was the Japanese were already too cruel, and we needed help right here in our country. And that's why it made a lot of difference for MacArthur to think of coming back to the Philippines and liberate the Philippines before going to Japan.
NARR: But the chiefs had only guaranteed MacArthur a return to the Southern Philippines. Only a token return. The possibility of a triumphal return as the Liberator of Luzon -where his men were - was remote. His chance to be a man of destiny was fading.
MACARTHUR: "Two years ago, I said to the people of the Philippines whence I came --'I shall return.' Tonight I repeat those words. I shall return."
NARR: MacArthur's vow at a state dinner in Australia came five days after he had received word he would probably not return.
It was his message to the Joint Chiefs that the debate was far from over.
David McCullough, Series Host: Hello. I'm David McCullough. Welcome to the American Experience.
We present now the second and concluding part of "MacArthur." On Thursday, April 19, 1951, in the midst of the Korean War, a 71-year-old, five star American general, drawing to the conclusion of a powerful address to Congress, quoted lines from an old barracks ballad: " 'Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.' And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away -- an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty." And then he said, "Good-bye."
It was a moment like no other, the famous curtain line for one of the longest most dramatic military careers in our history. Fired for insubordination by President Harry Truman, General Douglas MacArthur had flown home from Japan to a triumphant hero's welcome. Some likened it to the return of Caesar.
As we saw in Part One, MacArthur was not a man to evoke indifference. He was idolized and ardently disliked. He was thought an awful ham- and the most admirable American of the age. Interestingly, he knew little of American life. When he flew home that spring of 1951, to address Congress, he hadn't set foot in the United States for fourteen years.
In half a century in the service of his country, MacArthur had seen more of war than any American. And watching this film, one is reminded again of how many wars there were and the horror and terrible cost of them.
To anyone interested in the complexities of human nature, MacArthur is an infinitely fascinating figure, and a vivid example of how often events turn on the personality of a leader.
PART TWO: The Politics of War
NARR: For nearly two years he had struggled through the jungles of New Guinea fighting the Japanese -- and the war planners in Washington. Across oceans, in a bitter competition with the Navy, which he felt was out to thwart him.
In April 1944, General Douglas MacArthur was about to launch his biggest battle since World War II began. He was destined, his parents had told him, to be a great man. At West Point he had been first in his class. In World War I, America's most decorated soldier. But in 1942 he had presided over the biggest defeat in the history of the U.S. Army — the surrender of more than 70,000 American and Filipino troops -- on the Bataan peninsula guarding Manila Bay, and the island fortress of Corregidor.
MacArthur's redemption lay in how quickly he could move across New Guinea -- and rescue the men he had left behind.
NARR: When his troops sped toward Hollandia, in Dutch New Guinea, in April 1944, MacArthur was still 1500 miles from his men. And they were suffering.
EDWIN RAMSEY, U.S. Army Guerilla: When somebody was accused of being a collaborator with the Americans, they would be given all kinds of torture in order to get from them any information that they might have with regard to the guerrilla forces.
RICHARD M. GORDON, U.S. Army POW: I thought it was a Filipino. It was an American Indian. They beheaded the individual. They put his head on a pole. They walked up and down the main road in the camp so we could all see what happened to an escaped prisoner.
GUSTAVO INGLES: Philippine Army Guerilla Leader: Early in the morning they were brought to the Chinese cemetery in Manila and they were beheaded. They were just told to kneel down in front of the holes where they were supposed to be buried with a Japanese Samurai.
RAMSEY: I leave, but I shall return. Well, those of us who admired him always believed he would return.
INGLES: "I shall return," and we were always banking on his return. That's why we continued fighting.
NARR: MacArthur had told Philippine President Manuel Quezon, when he retreated to the States, that he would lead him back to Manila with his bayonets. Manila was MacArthur's spiritual home. He had lived there with his family for more than six years before the war serving as Quezon's military advisor. His son Arthur spent his first four years in Manila.
After they retreated to Australia, Arthur, age five, asked his father, "When are we going back to Manila?" This was the question MacArthur asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. He wanted to liberate Manila en route to Japan. But the decision was theirs not his.
In the spring of 1944, only Army Chief of Staff George Marshall supported him. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest King wanted a more direct route toward Japan. The Navy's new fleet of fast carriers was designed to sweep rapidly across the Pacific. MacArthur had counted on the support of the Army Air Force. Their new bomber, the B-29, came on line in 1944, and they were eager to use it against Japan. The Navy not MacArthur could get them within bombing range.
In March of 1944, the Air Force sided with the Navy. The Chiefs ordered the Navy and Marines to take the Marianas Islands. From there B-29s could reach Tokyo. The Chiefs then favored a Navy push toward Formosa. Formosa would be a staging area for the invasion of Japan. MacArthur was appalled to learn that his New Guinea campaign would terminate in the Southern Philippines. Far from Luzon -- where his men were suffering as prisoners of war. MacArthur could only count on a token return -- not a heroic return as the liberator of Luzon.
GEOFFREY PERRET, Biographer: The strategic decisions that are being made in the middle of 1944 are essentially going against MacArthur. It's frightening. It looks like his nightmare is going to be realized, not his dream.
STEPHEN TAAFFE, Historian: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, leaves a loophole for MacArthur. They say that it might be necessary for MacArthur to seize parts of Luzon, which is really the heart of the Philippines. MacArthur will use this little loophole to press for a Philippines campaign. MacArthur decides if he can get across New Guinea faster than the Navy can get across the Central Pacific, then he can reopen the debate somewhere down the line, and persuade the Joint Chiefs of Staff to let him occupy all of the Philippines, not just the southern Philippines.
MICHAEL SCHALLER, Historian: MacArthur believed Eisenhower and Marshall were against him in Europe, the Navy was against him in the Pacific, Roosevelt was a tool of the Navy and of Marshall. All of this led MacArthur to believe that only a political club would give him the power or leverage he needed to get the supplies, the attention and strategic priorities which he thought were rightfully his.
NARR: Congressman Albert Miller of Nebraska supported a MacArthur run for President against Franklin Roosevelt in 1944. "Unless this New Deal can be stopped," Miller wrote MacArthur, "our American way of life is forever doomed."
"I do unreservedly agree with the wisdom of your comments," MacArthur wrote back. When the correspondence became public in April, MacArthur appeared to many as disloyal to his Commander-in-Chief. To one observer he was "a rather pompous and ignorant ass." He was forced to deny his candidacy.
MacArthur received another blow in June. The Joint Chiefs visited Normandy after General Eisenhower's successful D-Day landing. They wanted to speed up the Pacific War. George Marshall alone had stymied King's demand for bypassing the Philippines. Now he began to agree with Admiral King.
MARK STOLER, Marshall Biographer: And, Marshall begins to think about bypassing the Philippines and Formosa and going straight for the Japanese home islands. When his planners make clear that that cannot work, he will say Formosa is strategically a better option than the Philippines.
NARR: If the Philippines were to be bypassed, MacArthur cabled Marshall, he wanted to meet with the President. Marshall cabled back: "You are allowing personal feelings...to override our great objective which is the early conclusion of the war with Japan...You confuse...'by-passing' with 'abandonment.'" He then ordered MacArthur to report to Honolulu on July 26.
The day after Democrats nominated Roosevelt for a fourth term that July, the President secretly boarded a cruiser and headed for Honolulu.
HAL LAMAR, Aide to Admiral Nimitz: General MacArthur arrived at the dock where the cruiser "Baltimore" was tied up, in an open car which everybody knew belonged to the madam of the biggest whorehouse in Honolulu.
DONALD SHOWERS, Aide to Admiral Nimitz: And then he very casually and, but smartly, started walking aboard ship, up the president's gangway, up this red carpeted gangway, which no one else had used up to that point.
LAMAR: General MacArthur went up the gangway, stopped halfway, turned and waved to the crowd.
SHOWER: As though he had all the time in the world and no one was, was waiting for him. And then when the cheer died down, he continued on up the gangplank and boarded the ship.
NARR: "I guess you know what this conference is for," FDR said, annoyed MacArthur had kept him waiting for an hour. "No," MacArthur replied. "I am completely unprepared."
ROBERT DALLEK, Historian: What a lot of nonsense. MacArthur wasn't prepared? He knew exactly what this was about. And he was all loaded for bear.
NARR: For three days MacArthur and Roosevelt played politics. FDR's agenda came first. He toured military installations with Admiral of the Pacific Fleet Chester Nimitz and America's favorite general -- a prominent Republican.
DALLEK: There's nobody in the Navy who shares MacArthur's prestige. I mean yes, Nimitz is important and Admiral King is important and Admiral Halsey is important, but no one has the prestige and standing that Douglas MacArthur does, and Roosevelt identifies himself with MacArthur again. He's taming him. He's using him. He's going to disarm conservative mood and attitude and feeling in the United States.
NARR: MacArthur's turn came after supper when they discussed the next step in the war against Japan. Admiral Nimitz made the case for attacking Formosa. MacArthur stressed America's moral obligation to liberate the Philippines.
LAMAR: Well, MacArthur, the Admiral said, kept repeating, "I have promised the people of the Philippines, that I will return -- I have to keep my word, I cannot break the word." He said, "The United States would hate me, if I didn't keep my word."
PERRET: The next day after lunch, he managed to get ten minutes alone with Roosevelt. And he made his strongest case, which was essentially a political pitch. He said, "Mr. President, you hope to be re-elected President. But the country would never forgive you if you left 17 million Christian American subjects to wither under the conqueror's heel until there is a peace treaty. Politically, it would ruin you."
DALLEK: He was leaving no question in Roosevelt's mind that if you bypass the Philippines, I am going to present a challenge to you politically, not necessarily to run for the Presidency against you, but to undermine your political standing with massive numbers of Americans who will see the betrayal that you're, "the betrayal" that you're committing."
NARR: Douglas MacArthur and Franklin Roosevelt may well have struck a deal.
SCHALLER: Both men came away convinced that MacArthur would not do anything politically disruptive before the Presidential election and Roosevelt would weigh in on the side of a plan to have a large scale liberation of at least part of the Philippines, if not all.
NARR: Roosevelt wrote MacArthur saying he would "push on that plan." There is no evidence he ever did. At the end of July within days of their meeting, MacArthur's forces were at the western tip of New Guinea.
ZENEIDA QUEZON AVANCENA, Daughter od President Quezon: On August 1, 1944, my father had the radio turned on to listen to the news. And the news came that the Americans had landed in an island 800 miles from the Philippines. And my father said, "Only 800 miles."
NARR: Manuel Quezon would never follow MacArthur's bayonets back to the Philippines. He died an hour later.
On September 8, the Joint Chiefs informed MacArthur he could advance to the island of Leyte in the central Philippines. They made no decision on what lay next -- Luzon or Formosa. A week later he landed on an island north of New Guinea, only 300 miles from the Southern Philippines. He gazed out to sea, an aide recalled, as though he could glimpse through the clouds, the rugged mountains of Bataan and the charred spine of Corregidor. "They are waiting for me there," he said. "It has been a long time."
Just days before, planes from Navy carriers had bombed the Southern Philippines, then Leyte further north. They met little resistance. Admiral Halsey wired Admiral Nimitz in Honolulu recommending an earlier landing at Leyte. Nimitz forwarded the cable to the Joint Chiefs offering MacArthur the Navy's support.
The Joint Chiefs advanced the date of the Leyte landing. Then decided the issue MacArthur felt so strongly about. The Luzon-Formosa question was resolved not on the basis of institutional loyalties. Not on the morality of bypassing tortured prisoners, but on logistics.
TAAFFE: One of the problems with invading Formosa is that it's logistically difficult. The Navy has moved across the central Pacific rather rapidly, and in order to accumulate the men and material to invade Formosa would take too long, it would mean the Pacific war would have to stagnate for a couple of months, and no American military planner wants that. They want to keep the ball rolling, they want to continue to advance on Japan.
NARR: The Navy's success in the bitter rivalry helped to assure MacArthur's redemption. The Leyte invasion would mark the beginning of his liberation of The Philippines. He had long complained about a lack of shipping. No longer.
"Tell Arthur," he wrote his wife Jean from the cruiser Nashville, "that we have more than 600 ships and that as far as I can see in all directions there are nothing but ships...With all love...to you both. I'll be thinking of you tomorrow when I go in."
On October 20, MacArthur went ashore, the last four star general to exercise command at the front. His two and one half year quest was over.
MacARTHUR: People of the Philippines, I have returned. Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. Rise and strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled...
NARR: Ten days after the landing, a MacArthur communiqué said Leyte was secure. But the fighting, journalists noted, had hardly begun. "The elections are coming up in a few days," a press officer explained. If MacArthur had made a deal to give FDR good news before the election, he delivered on that day.
FDR: Speaking of the glorious operations in the Philippines -- I wonder whatever became of the suggestion made a few weeks ago that I had failed for political reasons to send enough forces or supplies to General MacArthur?
NARR: In December, Roosevelt promoted MacArthur and his other top generals and admirals to five star rank. Within days, Admiral Nimitz paid a visit.
LAMAR: MacArthur was there
to greet us at the bottom of the gang plank, and when he saw the five stars, you could see this frown come in his face. And, later on, I understood from his aide that he was furious that the Admiral had out-shown him, by having five stars on. And General MacArthur had his staff stay up all night, filing down Philippine ten cent pieces to make five stars. The next morning at breakfast, he appeared with five stars. The General appeared with five stars.
NARR: In early January, 1945, MacArthur headed for Luzon. As he passed Corregidor and Bataan he remembered "that black night three years gone, when I churned through these same waters with only the determination to return...I felt an indescribable sense of sorrow, of loneliness and of solemn consecration." He headed for Manila, the city where his mother had died, where he had courted his wife, where his son had been born. In liberating the city he loved, he would help to destroy it.
MacARTHUR: "More than three years have elapsed -- years of bitterness, struggle and sacrifice -- since I withdrew our forces and installations from this beautiful city that...its churches and cultural centers might be spared the violence of military ravage. The enemy would not have it so...By these ashes he has wantonly fixed the future pattern of his own doom.
NARR: MacArthur could not finish this speech. He broke down and recited the Lord's prayer.
QUEZON AVANCENA: If my father could have seen what happened in the Philippines, and if he could have known the atrocities that had been committed by the Japanese, it certainly would have broken his heart, as it did ours when we first came home. Manila was destroyed. There was nothing, nothing at all.
NARR: Only one-third of the men MacArthur left behind had survived the war. There were burial details every day. "Here was all that was left of my men of Bataan and Corregidor," he wrote. I looked down the lines of men ...with suffering and torture written on their gaunt faces. "Each man barely speaking above a whisper said, 'You're back,' or 'You made it,' or 'God bless you.' I could only reply, 'I'm a little late, but we finally came.'"
MacArthur had not seen his family for more than four months. On his 65th birthday in January, Jean wrote: "I send all my love to you and may it help to form a mantle of protection for you. I love you more than you will ever know. May we be able to share in peace many more of your birthdays together. God bless you. Jeannie."
In May, the Joint Chiefs put MacArthur in command of the invasion of Japan. His planning had barely begun when the war ended abruptly in August. The atomic bomb was developed by the Army, carried to a Pacific island by the Navy, dropped on Japan by the Air Force. MacArthur had nothing to do with it. He was indignant when he learned that General Eisenhower had known of the bomb before he was told. To reporter Theodore White he said: "White, do you know what this means?...Men like me are obsolete...There will be no more wars, White. No more wars."
With World War II over, America's new president Harry Truman had to decide who would take the surrender and preside over the occupation of Japan. In his diary he derided MacArthur as "Dugout Doug", "a stuffed shift", "Mr. Prima Donna, Brass Hat, Five Star MacArthur." But he needed him.
SCHALLER: MacArthur was considered the Republican General in the Pacific and he, Truman, had to appease Republican sentiment by appointing him and Tokyo was far away. It was as far away from Washington as you could get and that had certain political advantages.
NARR: MacArthur informed Truman he would take the surrender at the American Embassy in Tokyo. Truman informed MacArthur he was sending the battleship Missouri.
On the morning of September 2, 1945, nearly 260 war ships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay.
FRANK TREMAINE, Journalist: American ships, ships of the British Fleet and a few other ships from other nations were there as far as the eye could see except for our aircraft carriers. They were offshore with destroyer screen, and our patrol planes were overhead. We weren't taking any chances.
VERONA A. WALTERS, U.S. Army: When I studied Japanese as a kid, one of the phrases in the school book was, "We, nation of 19 million, never once in battle defeated, ruled over by a dynasty seated upon the throne since before the beginning of the memory of men." There was no defeat in Japanese history. He wanted to make sure the Japanese knew.
PERRET: When the Germans surrendered to Eisenhower, the thing was done in the middle of the night. It was done more or less in private. MacArthur was not going to have anything like that. It will be a public ceremony. It would not be an exercise in triumphalism. It will be a quasi-religious experience, bringing the slaughter to an end.
ROBERT W. LOVE, Naval Historian: He held that surrender off until the 2nd of September, so that the Chinese, the British, the Russians, the Filipinos and other occupied peoples could appear in full uniform and participate. He understood the political importance of a grand ceremony. He also understood the political importance of announcing that peace would be generous.
MacARTHUR: We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored.
LOVE: If you look at the line-up of Generals and Admirals on the deck of the Missouri, these are men who had personal losses at the hands of the Japanese. What MacArthur did was to create a ceremony of victory to show these men that they had achieved this marvelous success, but also to show them that there was a transition, a new peacetime period, when their behavior and their view of Japan was going to have to become quite different.
MacARTHUR: It is my earnest hope, and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding.
TREMAINE: MacArthur conducted that ceremony with extreme dignity, with carefully chosen words, but at no point said anything that could be interpreted as gloating, interpreted as baiting a beaten enemy. I thought it was the most dramatic, most moving ceremony I've ever witnessed.
NARR: "For me who expected the worst humiliation," diplomat Toshikazu Kase remembered, "this was a complete surprise...For the living heroes and dead martyrs of the war, this speech was a wreath of undying flowers...This narrow quarter-deck was now transformed into an altar of peace."
NARR: On September 8, 1945, MacArthur arrived at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo with a new title -- SCAP -- Supreme Commander Allied Powers. And a new challenge -- rehabilitating and democratizing a country of 70 million people.
FRANK J. SACKTON, Aide to MacArthur: He had an enormous intellect and he threw himself physically and emotionally into every problem no matter now small it was. And he always sought perfection in everything.
NARR: "I tried to remember the lessons my own father had taught me...as military governor of the Philippines," MacArthur recalled.
Arthur MacArthur, a successful reformer, had been removed after a bitter quarrel with Washington. The new Supreme Commander faced his tasks, "assailed," he wrote, "by the gravest misgivings."
Jean's concerns were less complicated. She wanted Arthur to have a normal life in Tokyo. "Sergeant," as his father called him, was eight on his first birthday in Japan but had no one to play with. Except middle aged generals. They let him win at musical chairs.
Life improved when Charles Canada Junior arrived, the son of the General's new physician.
CHARLES CANADA, JR. Friend of Arthur: He was very much a regular kid, but he had a kind of presence about him that his father had. The kind of presence where you don't have to give a verbal command or demand attention He would be able to mold the way things were going simply by being who he was.
NARR: The Embassy was an oasis. Beyond its walls Tokyo lay in ruins.
DANIEL FINN, U.S. Army: You could literally see almost all the way across the city from the fire bombs. I mean it was an empty city, a deserted city. And it was not an unusual case to have 40 or 50 people going through the trash trying to get whatever food had been thrown away by the American troops. They were hungry.
NARR: The starvation concerned MacArthur. He rounded up millions of tons of food set aside for the invasion of Japan and began to feed the Japanese. When Congress balked, he said he would not treat the Japanese as they had his men on Bataan. Besides he feared riots. "Give me bread," he cabled, "or give me bullets." American soldiers who had braced themselves for a harsh occupation were relieved that the Japanese cooperated.
FINN, D.: They accepted the decision of the Emperor that we were not to be harmed, and I never had one incident in which I felt apprehensive. Now we carried arms to be sure, and in the first four or five months when there was no lights in the city at all, it was somewhat apprehensive in terms of touring the city. But I never had an incident and I always attributed that to the fact that, at that time, the reverence for the Emperor was so intense that they would not violate it.
NARR: MacArthur wanted to harness this loyalty to ensure a smooth occupation. To use Hirohito, the god emperor in whose name the Japanese had waged war, for his own ends.
JOHN DOWER, Hitsorian: The concept which was very explicit in the intelligence reports MacArthur was reading was, drive a wedge between the Emperor and the militarists and, we must say, the militarists betrayed the Emperor, you people now should throw allegiance to the Emperor and we can persuade him to be a leader of democracy.
NARR: But MacArthur feared his hands would be tied by America's allies who wanted to try the emperor as a war criminal. Washington also had not ruled that out.
The Japanese feared for their Emperor and began to sanitize the record.
YOSHIDA YUTAKA, Historian (VO translator): It was the beginning of the occupation. During that two weeks, the Japanese government and military had concentrated on destroying and hiding all important official records from MacArthur's headquarters that might cause the Emperor to be implicated in war crimes.
NARR: As he approached the Embassy to meet MacArthur, Hirohito did not know how much the General knew of his involvement in the war. How after the bloody conquest of China, he had rewarded his military commanders. How he had known in detail of the plan to attack Pearl Harbor and not moved to stop it. He did not know if MacArthur knew that he could have prevented the execution of captured American pilots.He did not know if MacArthur knew that he had been informed of every Kamikaze attack on American ships and had praised the pilots. The god emperor had no inkling of his fate or that of his throne as he made the unprecedented move to call upon his conqueror.
FAUBIAN BOWERS, Aide to MacArthur: MacArthur came toward to the emperor and said, "Your Majesty, you are very welcome." And swept towards him and shook his hand and the Emperor's hand was shaking. And then MacArthur said, tell him that we're going to take one photograph.
CAROL GLUCK: That was a very shocking picture. There is MacArthur in an open shirt, as the Japanese press always says, "no necktie". There is, there is MacArthur with no necktie and towering over this little man, who is the larger, allegedly larger than life symbol of the Japanese Empire and the descendant of the Sun Goddess looking meek and small.
DOWER: So, on one side, this is the great symbol for the Japanese that the Emperor is no longer the supreme power in the land. But, the other side of the picture is much more interesting. And that is I'm standing by the Emperor. This is the symbol that I will stand by you and that I will indeed welcome your presence.
NARR: The two men then met alone -- with the Emperor's interpreter. MacArthur wrote that the emperor said, "I come to you...to bear sole responsibility for every action taken by my people in the conduct of the war."
RICHARD FINN, Historian: I would not want to say that five star General of the Army Douglas MacArthur told a prevarication. Maybe we could say he elaborated on the truth. I don't think the Emperor said that I'm responsible and I accept the full blame for all that happened. I think MacArthur felt it was a nice, it would have been nice if the Emperor did say it, and it would be very nice for the outside world to think that he said it. And so MacArthur put those words into his mouth.
DOWER: In fact, years later it was discovered that the Emperor's own interpreter had kept his account of the interview, and MacArthur does all the talking, and tells him how he knows how he's fought for peace, and how war is a terrible thing, and how you know, he respects the Emperor. And, the Emperor never makes any grand statement about accepting responsibility.
NARR: When the emperor departed, he was visibly more relaxed and said he hoped to see MacArthur many more times. Imperial censors then moved to prevent publication of the photograph. MacArthur overruled them. "As nothing else could" a Japanese observer noted, this convinced a shocked nation "that Japan was truly beaten." MacArthur then announced a program of sweeping reforms -- implementing policies from Washington, initiating others, taking credit for them all. He abolished the secret police and insisted the press be free -- but not to criticize him. He emancipated Japanese women, and liberalized education demanding the study of democracy. He turned over land to the peasants who farmed it, and encouraged laborers to unionize. He purged war time leaders and released political prisoners including hundreds of communists.
MacArthur felt he was imposing America's Bill of Rights in a carefully controlled revolution. Japan's conservative government complained he was turning the country red. The Supreme Commander was in control -- but not as much as he thought.
DOWER: What happens a few months after this is an extraordinarily subtle choreography in which the imperial court begins to invite SCAP officials -- top military and civilian people in the Occupation Command-- to the Imperial grounds to partake in Imperial activities. And the one that the military men, the American military men, are so fascinated by is the Imperial duck hunt.
CANADA: I was handed this huge net that was bigger than I was and I was lead over to a water filled channel where ducks were swimming, and I was told that I should reach in and scoop them up and that was the whole idea of the game. So I thought that was wonderful. I had never heard of anything like this before, and it was absolutely grand to be able to do it.
DOWER: So there are all these top brass are running around waving their butterfly nets and getting Imperial ducks, and there's no greater royalists in Japan than the Americans. They love this proximity to the throne. And in this way they're kind of brought in to this, this wonderful, gentle tradition. And it's brilliant, it's absolutely brilliant on the part of the Japanese side, to say, here's what we are, here's the court and here's what we really are -- a gentle people. It's like the chrysanthemum and the sword, we're really the chrysanthemum. The sword, that wasn't part of us.
NARR: While the palace courted MacArthur's entourage, he was working to ensure the emperor's survival before the formation of an allied commission that might urge his indictment as a war criminal.
In January, 1946, he wired Eisenhower, then Army Chief of Staff, that after "as complete a research as was possible." He could find no evidence the emperor was responsible for the war.
YOSHIDA (VO translator): The cable said the material which could prove the Emperor's responsibility for the war could not be found and included the warning that if the Emperor was to be indicted, the country will be in chaos. Except, there are absolutely no records of MacArthur seriously searching for or gathering any material relating to the Emperor and his war responsibilities.
NARR: MacArthur ordered his staff to draft a constitution in one week. He wanted to present the allies with a new document protecting the civil liberties he had introduced and preserving an emperor stripped of power. When it was presented to foreign minister Yoshida Shigeru and the cabinet, they were stunned to discover the Emperor had less power than a British monarch.
BEATE SIROTA-GORDON, Constitution Drafter: The Japanese of course wanted just the opposite. They wanted the emperor to be as strong as possible. And this is what caused so many hours of debate. Because they looked at it from completely different points of view. And so they started arguing about every word. Where we wanted symbol of the state, which is a weak word, they wanted head of state.
GLUCK: One of them said to one of the Japanese government officials, now you know, General MacArthur actually would like to keep the Emperor from being tried as a war criminal. It would help him a lot if you accepted the basic principles of this constitutional draft.
NARR: MacArthur presented another shocker. One of his earliest acts as Supreme Commander had been to disarm Japan. He now demanded a clause in the constitution that would prevent Japan from ever waging war again.
DOWER: Without MacArthur, there would never have been a line in the constitution that says Japan you know, outlaws war and the rights of belligerency of the state. These kind of things came from him and it's a quite a remarkable grand accomplishment because here is a man who has given his life to war, who comes in and says to them war is horrendous, we cannot do it anymore and you Japanese have the opportunity to be a pacifist state.
NARR: The government was terrified about what the emperor would think of MacArthur's constitution. Reluctantly, they presented it to the palace.
HERBERT BIX, Historian: He's not happy with being an emperor stripped of all political power, but he accepts the Constitution because this guarantees that, whatever happens to him, the Imperial House has been preserved.
NARR: Hirohito urged legislators to accept MacArthur's constitution placing power in the hands of the people. He would now present himself, as MacArthur wanted to see him, as Japan's first democrat. Conservative leaders felt the document had been rammed down their throats.
SIROTA-GORDON: Of course, the Japanese government was horrified because this was, to them, unbelievably revolutionary. But that was the government. That was not the people. The people were very happy. They immediately rallied to protect the constitution in every way.
NARR: "No longer is the future to be settled by the few," MacArthur told the Japanese people as he urged them to vote for a new government.
On April 10, 1946, 3 out of 4 Japanese did vote — including 14 million women for the first time. A vast majority of those they voted for were committed to the new constitution. Only six were wartime leaders. Five were communists and "best of all", MacArthur said, there were 38 women. He had checkmated the Allies. They could not now undo reforms validated by popular vote.
The Japanese knew they had a new ruler and that the center of power had shifted. Each day they watched MacArthur come and go with reverent silence. "You have a feeling," a reporter wrote," that people almost bow when they mention General MacArthur's name." MacArthur wanted to show that the Japanese people accepted their new democratic emperor.
DOWER: They begin to have the Emperor travel to different places in Japan and meet the people. The Emperor has never mixed with the people.
NEWSREEL NARR: On this precedent shattering occasion, Hirohito conversed with many of his subjects; very different from the days when his people were even forbidden to look upon the sacred presence.
DOWER: There was a wonderful line in the Japanese press. It says, "The Emperor came and talked, he didn't have much to say, he looked like someone who had just come out of a box." And, his awkwardness often took the form of him saying Ah-so.which means, "oh is that so?" And, this was the way he responded and it became kind of a joke.
EMPEROR: Aso, Aso
DOWER: And he's so sincere and awkward, it really conveys an image that he was indeed a man, innocent of any war responsibility. And when you come to the year 1947, the touring Emperor's encounters with his people are more choreographed, and they become great events, with tens and tens of thousands of people lining the streets, and people waving the flag. And Americans watch this, foreigners watch this, and they say, they have become victory tours.
NARR: The palace had once again parlayed a MacArthur initiative to its own advantage. It had turned the promotion of a democratic emperor into traditional emperor worship. MacArthur ordered the tours discontinued.
In contrast to the Emperor, the Supreme Commander's remoteness was becoming legendary. He vowed he would never break bread with the Japanese and, with an overwhelming workload, seldom socialized with anyone.
SACKTON: He would entertain at lunch, if he would entertain at all. He would be back at work at 5:00 p.m. and then the real work day started and we would be there until maybe 9:00, 9:30 p.m., if we were lucky. If there was a problem to be solved, he would want to solve it before he quit. This occurred seven days a week. Christmas, New Year's, anniversary dates were not considered.
NARR: In five years, MacArthur saw nothing of the country he was trying to reform. Instead he encouraged Jean to act as his eyes and ears. She traveled on the Imperial train.
CANADA: And when we'd get to a stop they would roll out the red carpet. And the officials of the town would be there to greet us and we would be treated literally like royalty. Every place we went we, they tried to entertain us and amuse us so there was never a dull moment.
NARR: For Charles and Arthur, the most exciting trip was to Mikimoto's pearl farm.
CANADA: They took us out in boats and we saw these young women diving for the oysters and bringing them up in their, in their baskets and then they had a special surprise when the meal was served. We opened the oysters and were getting ready to eat them, but instead of the normal, what you'd expect to find inside an oyster there would be these beautiful big pearls. And Arthur and I fell to taking the pearls and playing marbles with them. Well it took a few minutes for Mrs. MacArthur and my mother to realize what was going on and they swooped down scooped up the pearls and took them away from us. Mrs. MacArthur said, "You're living through a very special time of your life. You must savor it because in a certain number of years we'll go back to being ordinary mortals once we leave the occupation."
NARR: Despite MacArthur's protection, the emperor watched nervously as the Tokyo war crimes trials unfolded. MacArthur had encouraged the palace to finger the military leaders as the guilty ones. This tactic almost backfired. Twenty-eight war leaders were indicted. General Tojo topped the list. The palace had accused Tojo of abusing his power as prime minister to authorize the attack on Pearl Harbor.
DOWER: At one moment, Tojo just frankly said, there's no way that we would have done
anything against the Emperor's wishes. And, the prosecution and MacArthur's headquarters were so alarmed that they actually sent people in, to Tojo, to tell him to make sure he corrected that statement.
NARR: In a staged cross examination, Tojo swore the emperor had always been a man of peace and never wanted war. The emperor survived. Tojo and six other loyal subjects were hanged.
As the trials ended in 1948, members of the Imperial Court, knowing the throne was secure, wanted Hirohito to accept his responsibility for the war by abdicating.
DOWER: MacArthur said, "No, don't abdicate." And, as a result of this, from the Japanese perspective, you have a man who becomes America's symbol of democracy, who is totally sanitized by the Americans and by MacArthur, in particular, from not even expressing real responsibility for decisions, but moral responsibility for the horrors that took place in his name. And, I think that that poisoned the thinking about responsibility in general, in Japan, to the present day.
BOWERS: He didn't care about the Emperor personally except as a tool for his own magnification. MacArthur wanted the occupation to be his last shining, glorious hour.
NARR: In March, 1947, MacArthur looked at Japan and was pleased. His land reform had ended what he called a "system of virtual slavery" and put 90% of the land in the hands of the farmers. Public health programs had saved millions of lives. The progress he had made transforming Japan in America's image was there for the world to see.
NEWSREEL NARR: Children of occupation families and Japanese youngsters alike ride in the event. Young Arthur MacArthur uses the trick jumps to get some trick shots. The horses don't kick over the traces, but the Emperor's children do. Hot dogs for their Highnesses yet. Next thing they'll be wearing Bobbie socks.
SCHALLER: I think for MacArthur, establishing a record of positive, liberal reformist achievement in Japan was an important part of his political resurrection in the United States. It would make up for the lapses of the Bonus March. It would show people that he wasn't just a commander. He wasn't just a great general but he was someone who could take a defeated nation, democratize it, make it better than it was along an American model.
NARR: MacArthur feared a prolonged occupation could foster resentment. It was time he said to bring the troops home and sign a peace treaty. He planned to run for President in 1948 on his achievement in Japan.
SCHALLER: He announces that everything is fine in Japan. The only thing that's wrong is the occupation is going on too long. The Americans can just go home. Peace has been achieved.
NARR: The General's announcement shocked Truman. In 1947, he looked at Japan and saw trouble. The post war economy was in shambles. Business leaders who prospered during the war now had little incentive to rebuild; his own policy had been to purge them and dismantle their monopolies. Labor leaders, including communists, emboldened by MacArthur's reforms, threatened to shut the country down.
Truman saw Japan weakened, at a time when the Soviet Union was extending its power over Eastern Europe. And Mao Tse-tung's communists were sweeping across China. It was no time, Truman felt, to bring the troops home.
SCHALLER: With the Cold War heating up, the Truman Administration announced that the fundamental American security policy would be the containment of the Soviet Union through the rebuilding of what they called the two great workshops of Europe and Asia, Germany and Japan. That had dire implications for Douglas MacArthur and his occupation policy. It meant, first of all, there wouldn't be any quick end to the occupation because the American policy would now be to continue the occupation until economic stability had been achieved. The other thing it implied was that MacArthur had done something wrong.
NARR: Having taken credit for Washington's policies, he now took the blame. He was accused of making Japan vulnerable to communism. MacArthur felt he could control the communists. He also knew he had neither the time nor the money to rebuild the economy before the elections.
NEWSREEL NARR: From his Tokyo headquarters, General Douglas MacArthur announces that he will accept the presidency if called by the American people. The 68-year-old pacific supreme commander adds, however, that he will not actively seek nomination.
NARR: "The New York Times" predicted a MacArthur victory in the Wisconsin primary. One who worked with him wondered why.
BOWERS: He was 19th century. He wasn't 20th century. And he used such colorful words when he said, "Were I not to run for the Presidency I would be recreant to my duty." Who uses the word recreant? And everyone ran and looked it up in the dictionary.
NARR: In March, 1948, on the eve of the Republican primaries, Truman dispatched Under Secretary of the Army William Draper to convince the General to follow Washington's new plans. MacArthur ignored him.
FINN, R.: And MacArthur's view was, until he got an order from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to do this, he wasn't going to pay any attention to it. People in Washington could think this was a good idea but he would only do what he thought was right to carry out the policies he previously had.
ROGER DINGMAN, Military Historian: From his perspective, Washington's decision to reverse the policies that Washington had ordered him to implement -- I think any human being would be resentful of that. But, I do also think that his memory of his father's difficulties, his father's slighting at the hands of army bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, is a crucial factor in shaping his attitude
NARR: MacArthur had many admirers in Tokyo. Unfortunately for him, their votes did not count. His dismal showing in Wisconsin where he was considered a native son effectively ended his campaign. After his defeat, an aide remarked, "The General is as low as a rug."
With MacArthur no longer a political threat, Truman sent a Detroit banker, Joseph Dodge, to Tokyo with a title of Ambassador Extraordinary so MacArthur could not ignore him. Dodge began to rebuild, not reform, Japan's economy and helped the old monopolies regroup. Japan's conservative leaders rejoiced.
The Emperor was also losing confidence in MacArthur. Because of the General's pacifist constitution, Hirohito feared for Japan's security and wanted U.S. troops to remain. He began to bypass MacArthur and develop direct access to Washington.
In the late 1940s in Tokyo, General Douglas MacArthur found himself, as he had in the late 1930s in Manila, isolated from power.
He was rescued once again by war.
On June 25, 1950, communist North Korean troops attacked South Korea across the 38th parallel. The Korean War was underway. Truman committed U.S. forces. MacArthur would command them. When the United Nations joined the war, he became UN commander.
DAVID MCCULLOUGH, Truman Biographer: Harry Truman didn't like the kind of general MacArthur was. He saw him as a show-off. He didn't like the bravado, the theatrical kind of general that MacArthur was. But he certainly recognized MacArthur's ability.
NARR: At age 70, Douglas MacArthur was in a major war for the third time in his life. He rushed to the front all that he had -- ill equipped and out of shape occupation forces. They were no match for Soviet built tanks and well trained North Korean troops. Within a month, the U.S. Eighth Army had retreated to a defensible line around the port of Pusan.
HARRY J. MAIHAFER, U.S. Army: We were under-strength, we were under-equipped. We were really struggling to hang on for our lives. But we just had this feeling that MacArthur, back in Tokyo, he knows what's happening and somehow he's going to do something to help.
NARR: Before MacArthur could rescue his entrapped army, he got embroiled in an argument with Truman that almost cost him his job.
When Chinese Nationalists, America's World War II allies, lost the civil war, they fled to the island of Formosa, later called Taiwan. MacArthur was dismayed when Truman said the U.S. would not defend Formosa.
When the Korean war broke out, Truman wanted to defend Formosa -- but without provoking the communists. He sent veteran diplomat Averell Harriman to Tokyo to make sure MacArthur understood. MacArthur did, Harriman told Truman, "but without full conviction." He told a diplomat in Tokyo that "one of these days he intended to blast [Truman's State Department] wide open."
WALTERS: He regarded the people in Washington as very timorous and very unable to reach decisions. And he felt that Washington needed decision and he knew no one better than he who could provide better decisions than MacArthur. This is MacArthur.
NARR: MacArthur tried to nudge Truman toward an aggressive defense of Formosa in a letter to a veterans group. Truman was livid at MacArthur's meddling in policy and considered firing him. But he backed off. It was a critical moment in the war. MacArthur was about to embark on a bold plan to free his beleaguered army. He would land behind enemy lines at the Port of Inchon and cut North Korea's supply lines. The Eighth Army could then break out of its enclave around Pusan. When Harriman was in Tokyo, MacArthur had asked him for the forces he would need.
WALTERS: MacArthur said to Harriman, "I cannot believe that a great nation like the United States cannot give me these few paltry reinforcements for which I ask. Tell the President that if he gives them to me, I will land at Inchon on the rising tide at daybreak on the 15th of September. And between the hammer of this landing and the anvil of the Eighth army, I will shatter and destroy the armies of North Korea."
NARR: The Joint Chiefs were nervous about the plan. They flew to Tokyo to express their concerns.
ALEXANDER M. HAIG, Aide to MacArthur: The Chiefs all had their say. And at the end MacArthur took that corn-cob pipe out of his mouth and clanked it into the ashtray, stood up and he said, "Gentlemen, I will be landing in Inchon this September or you will have another commander."
NARR: On the same day, August 23, China's Chairman Mao studied a military assessment of MacArthur. It stressed his genius -- and his arrogance.
CHEN JIAN: Mao say, okay. Was he arrogant, stubborn? That is fine. The more arrogant, the more stubborn he is the better because an arrogant and stubborn enemy is easy to defeat.
NARR: On September 13, 1950, MacArthur's armada headed for the Port of Inchon. With its narrow channel and mud. That is what worried the Joint Chiefs. At low tide, the harbor is a mud flat. Three miles of mud flat. A landing force would be stranded for almost 12 hours until the next high tide. It was a risky -- but unlikely place for a landing. As in World War II, he would "hit 'em where they ain't."
Despite his confidence, he confessed to an aide the plan was a tremendous gamble. He headed for shore, a destroyer captain observed, "in a Napoleonic pose." He was nauseous when he got there.
MAIHAFER: And, we thought, how in the world did he manage to gather together a force and it was a real lifting of our spirits down south and, of course, that broke the pressure and we were able then to start driving north. And, it was just the greatest feeling that suddenly the tide had turned and when we had been, just days before, fighting for our lives.
NARR: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Omar Bradley called the landing a "dazzling victory." MacArthur's forces recaptured South Korea's capital, Seoul, within days. Then headed north for the 38th parallel. The UN's original mandate was to restore South Korea. Now it became reunify Korea -- provided there was no major Soviet or Chinese intervention. MacArthur crossed the 38th parallel.
MCCULLOUGH: And Truman supported it. They were, as we would say, pumped up. They were excited. Victory was very close. It was standard military doctrine that you, you chase and destroy the enemy's army, and that's what they were going to do when they crossed that parallel.
NARR: MacArthur was told that only South Korean troops could approach the Yalu River, the border with China. He bridled at such interference from Washington. MacArthur "spat blood" at Secretary of State Dean Acheson, a British diplomat, wired London.
CHEN JIAN: Not only they cross the 38th parallel they were marching toward the Chinese-Korean border. Who should believe, who can believe that they would stop at the Chinese-Korean border?
NARR: The day after UN forces crossed into North Korea Truman requested a meeting with MacArthur.
WALTERS: MacArthur said, "It's very important, it's a very crucial stage of the war and I don't want to go that far away." So Truman offered to go halfway and someone brought up Wake Island, which is much more than halfway. It's about two-thirds of the way.
MCCULLOUGH: Truman, I think, surely knew that MacArthur looked down at him. MacArthur looked down at just about everybody, but particularly Harry Truman who he saw as this reserve captain from World War I and a little small time politician. What did he know?
NARR: "I've a whale of a job before me," Truman wrote from the plane. "Have to talk to God's right-hand man tomorrow."
In 1944, FDR had met the hero of the Pacific several months before Presidential elections. Truman would meet the hero of Inchon -- just weeks before Congressional elections.
JOSEPH C. HARSH, Journalist: MacArthur was at the foot of the ramp, waiting for Truman, when he came down.
WALTERS: And when Mr. Truman stepped on the ground, MacArthur shook hands with him, very effusively, as did Truman. I did notice that he had not saluted him which struck me as somewhat odd.
HARSCH: But he didn't do it. No, he didn't salute his Commander in Chief, and Harry Truman noticed that.
WALTERS: I don't think it was intended as disrespectful. I think he never saluted first. Everybody always saluted him, so he returned the salute. But he was not in the habit of saluting first. There was nobody to salute, not the Emperor, not anybody. And then they got into the car.
NARR: One Secret Service agent remembered the two chatted without rancor. Another claimed Truman bawled out MacArthur -- I'm the Commander-in-chief, you're just a general. Remember that. Why do you insist on going into China? We don't want to do that. The general session took place in a communications shack.
WALTERS: And President Truman said, "General MacArthur, I'm very concerned with the Chinese massing troops along the border. Do you think they will intervene?" To which the reply was, "Mr. President, this is not the hour of our weakness. This is the hour of our strength. If the Chinese cross the Yalu, I will make of them the greatest slaughter in the history of warfare. They have no means for giving ground ... air support to the ground troops. And they cannot do it and I do not believe they will."
LOVE: MacArthur had a reasonable estimation that a Chinese army crossing the Yalu might be poorly commanded -- although skilled in guerrilla warfare --would not be skilled against American air, against American heavy artillery concentrations, against American armor and against American tactical infantry.
DINGMAN: And, of course, one has to remember, the psychology of it, he's a victorious general. He's just reversed the tide of the war. The force is with him, in a way, and he believed that it would continue, if only you persisted just a little bit longer.
WALTERS: President Truman asked General MacArthur when he thought the war would be over. General MacArthur replied that he didn't know but he thought it would be over by Christmas and that he would be able to give two divisions for NATO in Europe in the new ... by the beginning of the new year.
MCCULLOUGH: Truman, very understandable, accepts that, believes it, why shouldn't he? And MacArthur believed it. It wasn't that MacArthur was trying to pull something over the President's head or to speak irresponsibly.
CHEN JIAN: The Chinese troops, which crossed the Yalu in October, were the best units of the Peoples Liberation Army, but they were under the name of the Chinese Peoples Volunteers. Mao believed that this would reduce the possibility of a formal war between China and the United States.
NARR: On October 24, 1950, MacArthur ordered his commanders "to drive forward with all speed" for the Yalu River.
HAIG: As we were moving north, towards the Yalu, we began to confront organized units of regular Chinese Forces, and we would immediately report that back to Tokyo and we would be reassured that no, this was not that at all. These were volunteers and they were token volunteers and they shouldn't ah disconcert us too much.
NARR: MacArthur ordered an air campaign to "lay waste" the Korean side of the Yalu River. The Chinese, it seemed, were a threat. Fearing a wider war, Truman began to reign in his commander. He prohibited air strikes within five miles of the border unless MacArthur's forces were in immediate danger. The hero of Inchon said they were in danger.
On the eve of the Congressional elections, he threatened to hold Truman responsible for "American blood" that would flow from "every hour" of delay. Washington relented.
The Air Force began to encounter Soviet MIG fighters based in China. MacArthur wanted to chase them into China and destroy their bases. Truman again said no and considered stopping UN troops well short of the Yalu River.
MacArthur had successfully badgered Washington in World War II. "I recommend with all the earnestness I possess," his cable now read, "that we press on to complete victory." Once again, MacArthur got his way.
After two weeks, the Chinese attacks suddenly stopped. The lull in the battle was reassuring.
VOICE OF ALAN JACKSON, CBS Radio: "This Thanksgiving Day was sparkled with rumors of possible peace in Korea. There are a certain number of facts behind the rumors. There has been the unexplained withdrawal of the Chinese troops. UN forces advanced anywhere (fade under) from one to five...
NARR: The Eighth Army headed for the Yalu. On the other side of what MacArthur thought were impenetrable mountains, the Marines headed for a reservoir they called frozen Chosin.
CHEN JIAN: At this point, the Chinese were playing with MacArthur's arrogance by creating a kind of image that the UN forces under MacArthur's command was winning a military victory, Actually the Chinese troops were preparing some deadly traps for MacArthur's forces.
NARR: MacArthur flew to the front to witness the final offensive. His communiqué that day read: "This should for all practical purposes end the war." On November 26th more than 300,000 Chinese and North Korean troops streamed out of the mountains and fell upon the UN forces.
SUMNER: We got to the Yalu River sure enough. We found, like Custer, where did all these Chinese come from? The hills were black with these people. I've never seen so many people in all of my life. It was a very frightening experience.
NARR: The entire UN front was in disarray. Douglas MacArthur faced his biggest defeat since his forces surrendered on Bataan almost nine years before. Once again he felt it personally.
HAIG: MacArthur had a very keen feeling for the West Point graduates. Their attrition rate was astonishing. About a third of the class, I think of 1950, was killed in that conflict. He would always ask me what about Trant, what about Tom Lombardo. These were company commanders and platoon leaders that were great Army football players at West Point. And I knew when I'd have to tell him, well Tom was killed today. He would get tears in his eyes and have to go back to his office and then resume the briefing later.
NARR: Arthur was almost 13 that Christmas of 1950. He would have known how much his father revered West Point, how much his father looked forward to his being sworn in as a cadet. He would have known that he had been named for a grandfather who had been the highest ranking officer in the U.S. Army. His father had encouraged him in riding lessons, his mother in music lessons -- which he preferred.
That Christmas, he gave one of his concerts which included compositions of his own. As usual the embassy staff and their families attended, as did his father.
CANADA: I never thought about the fact that the General had all these incredible demands on his time, but he never missed one. He would make time, no matter how late it was at night he would come in and tuck us in and talk to us about how our day had gone and I think those visits in the evening, even though it might be late, made up for a lot. We'd tell him these trivial things that we had done and whether we had a cub scout meeting, whether we'd play cowboys and Indians. It didn't make any difference how inconsequential it would be in the grand scheme of things, he wanted to hear it.
NARR: MacArthur spared Arthur the strains he was under. But not Jean. "I feel as if the walls are closing in on me," she confided to a friend. "It seemed that she was likely to collapse," her friend wrote. "She lost weight. She couldn't sleep. She picked at her food." She suffered for her husband. He was flying to Korea more often and working longer hours. As 1951 began, Douglas MacArthur, almost 71, was fighting the battle of his life.
After the Chinese offensive in late November, his forces began a 300 mile retreat -- the longest in U.S. military history. He asked Washington for reinforcements. He wanted to use Chinese troops from Formosa in Korea and on the Chinese mainland. He wanted to blockade China's ports and bomb its industrial base. Truman refused all of this. He decided not to expand the war.
MCCULLOUGH: I think it was one of the most important decisions of the whole Truman second term. They decided what was going to be the policy from then on, a limited war. Because they're deathly afraid understandably and rightly, of this flaring up into a world war. And by then of course, the Soviet Union had the atomic bomb.
NARR: MacArthur told the press the restrictions on him were a "handicap without precedent in military history."
"General MacArthur as usual has been shooting off his mouth," Truman wrote in his diary.
DINGMAN: The more people that President Truman sent out from Washington to talk to General MacArthur, the more General MacArthur became convinced that Washington didn't have an end plan, an end game, that its sense of how to end the war, simply wasn't clear enough, to provide the direction a military man needed to conduct the war.
NARR: MacArthur threatened Washington with a dire choice: his forces, which had retreated below the 38th parallel, faced annihilation or evacuation to Japan unless he could expand the war. He had a new field commander in 1951, General Matthew Ridgway. Ridgway was more optimistic. He accepted Washington's restrictions, rallied the troops and headed north.
EDWIN H. SIMMONS, Marine Historian: Ridgway took hold of the Eighth Army, grabbed it by the throat, gave it a good shake, and straightened it out. He reformed a line across the peninsula from one coast to the other, and then he began a deliberate, buttoned-up offensive a step at a time: good artillery support, good air support, identify your objectives and take them.
NARR: Ridgway exposed as false MacArthur's choice of annihilation or evacuation. The Pentagon began to look to him for military assessments, to regard MacArthur as a "prima donna figurehead who had to be tolerated."
In February, Ridgway ordered a big offensive toward Seoul. MacArthur told reporters he had ordered the offensive. Ridgway saw this as "an unwelcome reminder" of MacArthur's need "to keep his public image always glowing."
In March, the Eighth Army, under Ridgway, recaptured Seoul. Then headed for the 38th parallel. For Truman and the allies, that was enough. They would go no farther north. They settled for the UN's original mandate, restoring South Korea. Truman prepared to make a cease fire offer to China.
DINGMAN: General MacArthur faced the prospect politicians have decided to end the war in a position where militarily we are not necessarily where we would like to be. How is this going to happen? What should we do?
PERRET: Just recapturing Seoul and moving back, getting back to the 38th parallel, does not remove the military threat to South Korea.
NARR: In Tokyo, one observer found MacArthur "tired and depressed." In Korea another thought he was "exhausted...a beaten man." He had been humiliated by the Chinese, proved wrong by Ridgway, marginalized by the Pentagon. And now Truman wanted to sue for peace, to thwart an expanded war with China which he, MacArthur, would direct from Tokyo.
"Perhaps this realization," General Bradley wrote, "snapped his brilliant but brittle mind."
Others felt he responded not with a cracked but a calculating mind. One was a longtime aide, General Courtney Whitney.
SACKTON: It is the assessment of General Whitney that General MacArthur felt this was the time to leave the service because he felt so strongly about the issue. And, what was the issue? The issue was winning the war.
SUMNER: MacArthur went public, and he forced, practically forced Truman to relieve him.
NARR: MacArthur went public with his own peace proposal. He threatened China with "imminent" destruction then envisioned a peace that suggested a settlement at the Yalu. But not by diplomats. MacArthur himself would meet the Chinese commander in the field, as great men did in centuries past. Truman viewed MacArthur's statement as "premeditated sabotage" and decided to fire him when the time was right. He would not have to wait long.
Two weeks later, House Minority Leader, Joseph Martin, made public a letter from MacArthur endorsing Martin's desire to use troops from Formosa. "There is," MacArthur warned, "no substitute for victory." He wanted to win as he had won in two world wars. He worried that fighting at an indefensible line could be endless. What he feared is what happened. The war, then nine months old, would continue as a stalemate for more than two years. America would suffer another 50,000 casualties.
MacArthur's quarrel with Truman was about more than the goals of the war. It was about who should be in charge. His father had told him he must do what was right for his country, no matter what the personal sacrifice might be.
HAIG: Blind loyalty to a commander of a unit or even a President must be overwhelmed by one's subjective perception of the best interest of the people. And I think MacArthur was driven by that. I happen to think it's the right solution. It can be very costly to an individual.
MCCULLOUGH: He was forgetting what he had learned at West Point, that the Commander in Chief is the supreme commander. And he told Samuel Eliot Morrison, the historian, that he didn't agree with that. He thought that in the field the general should decide, that only he knew the situation. And when Morrison seemed a little surprised he said it a second time just to be sure that Morrison knew that he wasn't being misquoted.
NARR: For Truman, the letter to Congressman Martin was "the last straw". When he got word MacArthur might resign, he was heard to say, "The son of a bitch isn't going to resign on me. He's going to be fired."
PRESIDENT TRUMAN, April 11, 1951: I considered it essential to relieve General MacArthur so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy.
CANADA: A group of us were sitting around the embassy and the announcement came. All our lives as we know it had just ended, and the overall atmosphere was one of stunned silence for the longest period of time, and I think the General must have summoned up every bit of stoicism that he possessed because his, he didn't react at all.
NARR: Jean had often told Arthur, "Their privileged life would some day end, and they would be mortals once again." As MacArthur lost his supreme command, his former aide Dwight Eisenhower assumed one -- at NATO.
Vernon Walters was with him in Germany when a reporter broke the news.
WALTERS: He said, "General Eisenhower, the President has just fired General MacArthur for insubordination. Do you have any comment?" And Eisenhower smiled a strange smile, and then he said, "Well, you know, when you put on a uniform, you impose certain restrictions on yourself as to what you can do and say."
NARR: In Tokyo, the Emperor called upon MacArthur one last time. He overruled his advisors who said an emperor never visits a person without rank, as MacArthur now was. For the first time MacArthur walked the emperor to his car.
Ordinary Japanese were in shock.
"We feel as if we have lost a kind and loving father," a Tokyo paper wrote.
TREMAINE: He had become I wouldn't say beloved perhaps, but highly respected by the Japanese and they were sorry to see him go. And the streets were lined with people, five or six deep.
NARR: The Japanese did not believe anyone was in a position to fire MacArthur. "His dismissal," a Japanese scholar argued, "was the best lesson in democracy Japan ever had."
TREMAINE: General MacArthur was wearing that same old Philippine Army Field Marshal's cap. When he got to the top of the stairs, he turned and you'd think he was a conquering hero. Not at all a demeanor of a man who'd just been fired. And he entered the airplane with this farewell.
NARR: MacArthur had planned a leisurely trip home by boat until Republicans urged him to rush back and address a joint session of Congress.
MACARTHUR: I have just left your fighting sons in Korea. It was my constant effort to preserve them and end this savage conflict honorably and with the least loss of time and a minimum sacrifice of life. Its growing bloodshed has caused me the deepest anguish and anxiety. Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always.
NARR: MacArthur's reception in Manhattan the next day was the greatest in U.S. history. It far surpassed Eisenhower's in 1945. Mail that flooded Congress was overwhelmingly against Truman. "Nothing," historians have noted, "had so stirred the political passions of the country since the Civil War."
MacArthur testified for three days in Senate hearings. He belittled the risks of a wider war. Had one occurred, he said the responsibility would have rested with Washington not with him. "He seemed," a Senator noted, "to be making Truman's case." He told Congress that George Marshall and the Joint Chiefs supported his strategy.
When they denied this, support for the old soldier in Congress began to fade. For a year he toured the country giving speeches.
MACARTHUR: The policies of appeasement on which we are now embarked carry within themselves the very incitation to war against us...Never before has a soldier been called to a rostrum such as this.
NARR: By the time he got to the 1952 Republican convention, popular support for his risky win the war program had faded. Another five star general was the main event.
PERRET: MacArthur's reaction to Eisenhower's, nomination was one of complete contempt. He did not believe for a moment that someone who had once been his subordinate could possibly discharge a responsibility that he, himself, had been denied.
NARR: Shortly after he returned, the General took Arthur to West Point. The uniform did not appear to fit. "As a youngster," MacArthur wrote the football coach, Arthur "saw more of war and death than many soldiers. I have wondered whether it has left a scar on him."
After he graduated from school in New York, Arthur went to Columbia and studied literature, opera and the theater.
BETH DAY ROMULO, Friend of Jean MacArthur: He didn't care anything about shooting and war and didn't want any part of it. He didn't want to be a hero. He wanted to play the piano, possibly act. Those were the things that interested him.
NARR: His father had spent a lifetime seeking publicity. Arthur has sought to avoid it. The MacArthurs moved into the Waldorf Towers in New York and became a magnet for world leaders. When she was on her own, Jean continued to keep the General's flame alive. She stopped seeing visitors in 1997 — at age 98.
MAIHAFER: It was only a couple of years before his death. It was at a New York hotel and I happened to be invited to this luncheon. And suddenly I looked down the corridor, and I saw, here came General MacArthur, and he looked at me and I guess he noticed the Combat Infantry Badge and the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, and certainly he noticed the Korean Service Medal. And, instead of just walking on past, he put out his hands and took hold of my shoulders and just shook them. And, God even today I get chills when I think of that. And, that's the magic of MacArthur.
MacARTHUR: Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know my last conscious thought will be the corps, and the corps and the corps.
NARR: MacArthur died at age 84, two years after his last visit to his beloved West Point. For five days tens of thousands of mourners paid tribute. Eisenhower and Truman were not among them. Prime Minister Yoshida of Japan was.
LOVE: Four great people in Asia consider him an immense national hero. That's an extraordinary thing for an American. It was a life enormously well led. He got up in the morning trying to do good for his country. He took the notions of honor and duty seriously.
SCHALLER: One colleague during the Pacific War described him as someone who combined a sense of courage, vanity, ego, insight, but his greatest fault, he said, was some one who mistook his emotions and ambitions for principles, and he could never distinguish between the two.
NARR: MacArthur had had time to think about where he would be buried. West Point was special to him. He would be there, in time, at the edge of the Plain. Across from the best clerk he ever had, Ike, who never led a charge. Pleased no doubt that he occupied more real estate than Eisenhower. Acknowledging, perhaps, the prominence accorded Washington.
There was room at West Point -- next to the son of President Ulysses S. Grant. But for Douglas MacArthur sons of Presidents was not Presidential enough. He accepted a site that gave him the equivalent of a Presidential library. With a museum, an archive, a gift shop, and a splendid place to rest. With room for Jean beside him.
Douglas MacArthur was buried as he was born -- to the sound of bugles. His funeral was replete with all the ceremony that he had come to cherish as a boy at the army post at Ft. Selden, New Mexico. Unlike his father, he was buried in his army uniform.
On April 11, 1964, one of the greatest soldiers in the history of the United States Army was buried in Norfolk, Virginia.
A Navy town.