Courtney Hodges

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Courtney Hodges
Courtney Hodges.jpg
Birth name Courtney Hicks Hodges
Born (1887-01-05)January 5, 1887
Perry, Georgia
Died January 16, 1966(1966-01-16) (aged 79)
San Antonio, Texas
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1906 – 1949
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held X Corps (United States) X Corps (United States)
Third United States Army Third United States Army
First United States Army First United States Army
Battles/wars

World War I
World War II

Awards Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Army Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star

General Courtney Hicks Hodges (January 5, 1887 – January 16, 1966) was an American military officer, most prominent for his role in World War II, in which he commanded the First United States Army in Northwest Europe. In his career Hodges was a notable "mustang" officer, rising from private to general.

Early life and military career[edit]

Hodges was born in Perry, Georgia where his father published a small-town newspaper. He attended West Point but dropped out after a year because of poor test scores ("found deficient" in mathematics). He would have graduated with the Class of 1909. In 1906 Hodges enlisted in the United States Army as a private, and commissioned as an officer three years later at North Georgia College (now known as the University of North Georgia). He served with George Marshall in the Philippines and Patton in Mexico.

World War I and postwar years[edit]

He earned the Distinguished Service Cross (second only in precedence to the Medal of Honor), during the closing days of World War I while leading an attack across the Marne River. After the war he was sufficiently well thought of that he became an instructor at West Point, even though he had not graduated from that institution.

In 1938, he became an Assistant Commandant of the United States Army Infantry School, and in 1941, he became full Commandant.

World War II[edit]

In May 1941, he was promoted to major general, and he was given various assignments, including that of Chief of Infantry until he finally received a frontline command, that of the X Corps, in 1942. In 1943, while commanding the X Corps and then the Third Army, he was sent to England, where he served under General Omar Bradley. During Operation Overlord in June and July 1944, Hodges was under the command of Bradley as the Deputy Commander of the First Army. In August 1944, Hodges succeeded Bradley as the commander of the First Army, taking command when Bradley moved up to command the 12th Army Group. Hodges continued to serve under the command of Bradley and General Dwight D. Eisenhower all the way through to the Nazi German surrender in May 1945.

Hodges's troops were the first ones to reach and liberate the French capital of Paris in large numbers, and then he led them through France, Belgium, and Luxembourg on their way to Nazi Germany.

Hodges's troops had a major role in blunting the Wehrmacht's major counteroffensive in the Ardennes: the Battle of the Bulge.[clarification needed] When the German advance cut the 1st Army off from the 12th Army Group and Bradley, he was placed under the command, for several weeks, of the Allied 21st Army Group led by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. The 21st Army Group usually consisted of divisions from the British Army and the Canadian Army. The U.S. Ninth Army was also assigned to it termporarily because of the Battle of the Bulge.

Before, during, and after the Battle of the Bulge and the Allied reconquest of the Bulge, the First Army fought the Germans in the bloody Battle of Hurtgen Forest in westmost Germany. Historian Ernie Herr blames General Hodges for the catastrophe of the German defensive victory in the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest.[1]

The 9th Armored Division of the First Army captured the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen on 7 March 1945. The First Army was the first enemy of Germany to cross the Rhine since the Napoleonic Wars. By the time the bridge collapsed after 10 days, the First Army had built two heavy duty bridges across the Rhine and established a bridgehead 40 kilometers (25 mi) long, extending from Bonn in the north almost to Koblentz in the south, and 10 to 15 kilometers (6.2 to 9.3 mi) deep, occupied by five U.S. divisions. They advanced slowly, waiting for Montgomery and the British 21st Army Group to launch his meticulously plotted Operation Plunder attack across the Rhine on 23 March.

A month later, Lt. General Hodges's troops of the First met those of the Soviet Red Army near Torgau on the Elbe River. Hodges was promoted to the rank of four-star general on April 15, 1945. He was only the second soldier in the history of the U.S. Army to make his way from private to four-star general, the other being General Walter Krueger of the Pacific Theater, who fought under five-star General Douglas MacArthur.

After the end of World War II in Europe on May 7, 1945, Hodges and his troops were ordered to prepare to be sent all the way west to the War in the Pacific for the proposed invasion of Japan in late 1945 and March 1946. However, that move became unnecessary when two atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Emperor Hirohito ordered the defeated Japanese Empire to surrender immediately. The official surrender documents were signed in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

General Hodges was present at the surrenders of both Nazi Germany in Rheims, France and of the Japanese Empire at Tokyo Bay.

Post-war life[edit]

After World War II, Hodges continued command of First Army at Fort Jay at Governors Island, New York until his retirement in March 1949.

Hodges died in San Antonio, Texas in 1966.

Legacy[edit]

In Perry, State Route 7 Spur, a former section of U.S. Route 41/State Route 7, was named General Courtney Hodges Boulevard.

Awards[edit]

Blank.jpg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Arrowhead
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
w/ 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Silver Star
Bronze Star Medal
Mexican Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal
w/ 3 Campaign Stars
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
w/ Arrowhead device & 7 Campaign Stars
World War II Victory Medal

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.5ad.org/hurtgen_joe.htm

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Walter Krueger
Commanding General of the Third United States Army
1943 – 1944
Succeeded by
George S. Patton
Preceded by
Omar Bradley
Commanding General of the First United States Army
1944 – 1949
Succeeded by
Roscoe B. Woodruff