Dwigh D. Eisenhower Among the chaotic events that occurred, World War II, in itself, produced a great array of military leaders, political figures, and government officials. Dwight David Eisenhower was one of the few who was triumphant at all three. Ike was an indifferent student, he came to preside over a great university; almost denied a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he commanded the mightiest invasion force in history; son of a bankrupt, he became the president of the United States(Ambrose 44).
The Intent of this paper is to discuss his personal background and how it led to his rise of power, the positions he held along the way, and various ideas and philosophies he incorporated into his use of power. Additionally, this paper will reference the contributions he made to war and peace, illustrate how his leadership finally came to an end, and finally assess his role in the war and as a leader. Dwight David Eisenhower, frequently called Ike, was born the third of seven sons on October 14, 1980 in Denison, Texas. A year later he moved to his childhood home of Abilene, Kansas, a place where livestock outnumbered people 3 to 1. Growing up in Abilene, Kansas, he lived a Robust life of a prairie youngster-camping along a wooded creek with friends, roughhousing with five brothers, helping with family chores while earning money on the side, and learning a stern but compassionate rural ethic..(La Fay 5).
His parents didnt have nearly as much money as other families but his father worked locally in the creamery for minimal wages. Their mother Ida Elizabeth stayed at home to care for the children, as it wasnt common for women to work much at that time. She taught Ike and his brothers the importance of religion and to carry their own weight early on. As a child, Ike attended Lincoln School and even from an early age he was more athletic then scholarly. Two passions in particular grabbed him: history and baseball.
Ike continued through his studies eventually graduating from Abilene High School in 1909, however, because of their lack of money, he was forced to stop there. A bargain was made between he and his older brother Edgar stating that Dwight would stay home to save up for college for two years while Edgar began his studies. Ike, seeing no other way out, began working twelve hour shifts seven days a week at the creamery with his father. He began his wages at $.10 an hour and moved up to $.25. He was quick to discontinue his work when a friend told him about the free education offered at West Point and he immediately applied to take the entrance examination. He scored first on the test for Abilene and second overall for West Point, so when the first place qualifier didnt meet the physical requirements, Ike was a shoe in. From the first day at West Point, and any number of times thereafter, I often asked myself: What am I doing here? Like the other young men, I sometimes wondered- where did I come from, by what route and why; by what chance of arrangement of fate did I come by this uniform (Eisenhower 66). Dwight was by no means a model cadet at the academy, in fact the majority of his attention was directed towards his career in football.
Out of the 164 students in his class he was ranked 61st academically and 125th discipline wise. The second year of his attendance, unfortunately, Ike suffered a knee injury during his football season and was forced to buckle down his academic performance. He did but due to his sum of infractions, he still left with a clean sleeve. His class graduated in 1915 and quickly became a West Point legend, producing a record breaking 59 future generals! Because of his knee injury, Ike was recommended commission only on a promise to never seek service with mounted troops. Upon graduation, Eisenhower was commissioned to second lieutenant and transferred to San Antonio, Texas. By fate perhaps, it was here that he met Mamie Geneva Doud, whom he later married in 1916. When the United States entered World War II one year later, his life once again brought along turbulence.
Eventually he assumed command of Camp Colt at Gettysburg, where he supervised the instruction of some 600 officers and 9,000 men (La Fay 12). Ike was never in fact transferred to the front line of Europe, however, when the war ended in 1918 he wore the silver oak leaves of a LT. Colonel. From 1922-1924 he served in Panama and in 1926 he graduated 1st out of his class of 275 at the Armys Command and General Staff at Fort Leaven worth, Kansas. Shortly there after, an opportunity broke through for Ike. In 1935 when General Douglas MacArthur was appointed to Military Advisor at the Philippine Commonwealth, Eisenhower was recognized and chosen to accompany him.
After assisting for some time, Ike caught wind of the brewing war which was developing and asked to be transferred back home. Eisenhower stated: I believe were going to get into this war and Im going home to try to help do my part in preparing for it (Knapp 39). Three months later he made Chief of Staff of the 3rd Army and won the attention of Army Chief of State George C. Marshall for his role in war games. MacArthur began to look more towards Ike for his opinion in the war time matters and evaluated it along side his own. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Marshall summoned Eisenhower to Washington and outlined the catastrophic condition of U.S.
forces in the Pacific (La Fay 13). Together they concluded that they must move forward with their next line of defense. Failure might be excused, but not abandonment. In 1942 Ike rose to major general and in June Marshall appointed him to Commanding General of the European Theater; shortly there after, he was awarded third star of a lieutenant general. After beginning his new line of work overseas, Eisenhower began to assign himself and his staff a seven day work week, sometimes going for eighteen hours at a stretch. Ike spent the majority of his days on the phone at the conference table discussing such affairs.
By November of 1942, Ike had the armies fully prepared to engage in war. On November 5th, a Flying Fortress called Red Gremlin droned in a wide circle through the mist that obscured Gibraltar, the western Allies sole toe hold on the continent of Europe. After an hour, the plane knifed down to land on the small, cluttered airstrip. From it emerged General Eisenhower and his staff.. (La Fay 15).
For privacy purposes, Eisenhower was prone to lay headquarters in a man made cave at the Rock of Gibraltar. November 8th Ikes troops had already moved forward into Algiers without difficulty; May of 1943 the Allies had broken into the Axis of Africa. From there a letter was sent appointing Ike as the leader of the Cross Channel Invasion of France, formerly known as Overlord. So D-Day was set on the morning of June 6th, and despite previous meteorological forecasts, Eisenhower was faced with a predicament and confronted with his fears. Skies were gray and a 36 hour lull was now in effect, and Ike held the power to hold back his anxious troops or take the risk and proceed.
His staff wished for a way to help relieve this burden, yet could only stand back and wait. As Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith states: I never realized before the loneliness and isolation of a commander at a time when such a momentous decision has to be taken, with full knowledge that failure or success rests on his judgment alone (Kappler 86). Even so Ike trusted his gut instinct an …