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General Omar Bradley

General Omar Nelson Bradley was the first member of his 1915 West Point class to receive a star. Gen. George C. Marshall played a key role in his rapid advance, and he served one year as an assistant in the War Department under Marshall. Promoting him from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general in 1940, Marshall made Bradley head of the Infantry School, gave him a second star in 1941, and after that appointed him commanding general of the 82nd and 28th divisions. Impressed by Bradley’s success as a planner, Marshall sent him to North Africa early in 1943 to be Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “eyes and ears.” Soon Bradley commanded the U.S. Second Corps in Tunisia. As a corps commander under Gen. George Patton’s 5th Army, Bradley played a key role in the conquest of Sicily in the summer of 1943.
Early in preparations for the 1944 invasion of Normandy, Marshall selected Bradley to command the 1st Army, which he later directed in the D-Day landings and Normandy campaign. When Patton was sent with the 3rd Army to assist in the breakout from France several weeks later, Bradley became the 12th Army Group commander, with Gen. Courtney Hodges’s 1st and Patton’s 3rd armies under his command. He led this force in a rapid movement across northern France and Belgium to the German frontier. Slowed by rugged terrain and supply shortages, Bradley’s forces were hard hit in the Ardennes area in mid-December. When the German advance made it necessary for him to hand over command of the American forces north of the German penetration to British field marshal Bernard Montgomery, Bradley used Patton’s troops to restore his lines in the south. His reinforced force in February pushed the Germans back across the Roer and led to a seizure of a bridge across the Rhine in early March. In April Bradley’s Army Group, now consisting of the 1st, 3rd, 9th, and 15th armies, led a massive drive through central Germany to the Elbe, to link up with the Russians at Torgau on April 25th before pushing into Czechoslovakia at the end of the war.
When General Eisenhower retired from his job as chief of staff in 1948, Bradley assumed the position until he became the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a position made necessary by the recent unification of the armed forces. Soon involved in supporting military operations in Korea, Bradley was caught up first with getting additional forces to MacArthur and then in the controversy between the Far East commander and Washington over policy. Bradley and the Joint Chiefs supported the president. Bradley became the last five-star general upon his elevation to chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He retired from the armed services in 1953.
Bradley’s despise for military pomp and his concern for the welfare of the individual soldier won him praise as “the soldiers’ general.” Marshall praised his ability to organize great forces and his skill in devising bold plans. Eisenhower called him “a master tactician” and predicted that the quiet, almost diffident general eventually would be considered “America’s foremost battle leader.”
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