Charles D. Herron

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Charles Douglas Herron
Charles D. Herron.jpg
Charles D. Herron as a Brigadier general
Born March 13, 1877 (1877-03-13)
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Died April 23, 1977 (1977-04-24) (aged 100)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Place of burial Oak Hill Cemetery,
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1899 - 1941; 1942 - 1946
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Hawaiian Division
Hawaiian Department
VI Corps
Battles/wars Spanish-American War
World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Medal (2)

Charles Douglas Herron (March 13, 1877 – April 23, 1977) was a general in the United States Army.

Early career[edit]

Herron was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana on March 13, 1877. He was the son of William Parke Herron (1843–1927), a captain in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Herron attended Indiana's Wabash College and was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity before accepting appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1899. Herron was appointed a Second Lieutenant of Infantry, and served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. He then carried out a series of increasingly demanding assignments, including Professor and Assistant to the Quartermaster at West Point, Instructor and Inspector of the Indiana National Guard, Adjutant of the 10th Infantry Regiment in Panama, and commander the 10th Infantry's Machine Gun Company. In 1908 he received a master's degree from Wabash College.

World War I[edit]

Herron as a Colonel on the prewar photo.

During World War I Herron served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the 1st Division and Chief of Staff of the 78th Division, participating in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the occupation of St. Mihiel. The governor of Indiana appointed him as a Brigadier General in the National Guard, intending to have him command troops from that state, but Herron could not procure a discharge from the Regular Army and remained on active duty. At the end of the war his sustained superior efforts were recognized with the Distinguished Service Medal.

After the war he attended the Army War College, served on the General Staff in Washington, and was assigned as Chief of Staff of the Philippine Department, headquartered in Manila.

From 1934 to 1935 Herron was the Army's Executive for Reserve Affairs, receiving promotion to brigadier general. From 1935 to 1937 he was commander of the 6th Field Artillery Regiment. In 1937 he earned a law degree from Wabash College and was promoted to major general as acting VI Corps commander and then commander of the Hawaiian Division.

Later career[edit]

As head of the Army's Hawaiian Command from 1938 to 1941, Herron was promoted to lieutenant general and bucked Army conventional wisdom by advocating for the integration of Japanese-Americans into the Organized Reserves, reasoning that their citizenship trumped their ancestry. While his stance ran counter to public opinion, he was credited with helping keep Japanese-Americans in Hawaii from being interned at the start of World War II, as happened in California and other Western states. Herron also documented his concern about the military's ability to defend Hawaii, citing its vulnerability to attack by aircraft carrier. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Herron provided evidence during the inquiry into the conduct of his successor, General Walter C. Short, stating that prior to Short's arrival he had provided General Short with a briefing book and other materials about the current situation in Hawaii, and that Short had acknowledged not having had time to read them before Herron departed.

Herron retired in early 1941, but was recalled in 1942, serving on the Personnel Board that considered officers for promotion. He retired again in December 1946, receiving a second Distinguished Service Medal. In 1947 he was promoted to General on the retired list in recognition of his superior service during World War II.

From 1946 to 1966 Herron resided in Bethesda, Maryland, where he was active in civic affairs and served on the Montgomery County Court of Tax Appeals.

In 1966 his wife and he moved to Hawaii to live near their daughter, and Herron died on April 23, 1977 at the Honolulu nursing home where he had resided for several years. General Herron was buried in Crawfordsville's Oak Hill Cemetery.

The Charles Herron Papers (1908–1949) are part of the collections of the Wabash College Library. The Charles D. Herron Photograph Collection (1899–1941) is preserved at the U.S. Army Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

His sister Jessie was the wife of Will H. Hays (1879–1954), Republican National Committee Chairman, U.S. Postmaster General and President of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), later named the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Citation for first Distinguished Service Medal:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Colonel (Field Artillery) Charles D. Herron, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I, as Chief of Staff, 78th Division, during the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
Service: Army Rank: Colonel War Department General Orders No. 59 (1921)

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