|Courtney Hicks Hodges|
January 5, 1887|
|Died||January 16, 1966
San Antonio, Texas
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1906 – 1949|
|Commands held|| X Corps (United States)
Third United States Army
First United States Army
|Awards|| Distinguished Service Cross (3)
Army Distinguished Service Medal (3)
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
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
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
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 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 serve under the command of Bradley and General Dwight D. Eisenhower all the way through the Nazi German surrender in May 1945.
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.
Divisions of the First Army were the first ones to cross the Rhine into the middle of Nazi Germany by using the captured Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. After this bridge collapsed, the rest of the First and Third Armies had to cross the Rhine on pontoon bridges under heavy fire from the Wehrmacht's artillery and rockets, including V-2s.
Months later, Lt. General Hodges's troops of the First First met the 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 making him only the second soldier in the history of the U.S. Army to make his way from private to four-star general. Hodges followed 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 Japan Empire at Tokyo.
Hodges died in San Antonio, Texas in 1966.
|Commanding General of the Third United States Army
1943 – 1944
George S. Patton
|Commanding General of the First United States Army
1944 – 1949
Roscoe B. Woodruff