George Grunert

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George Grunert
Lieutenant General George Grunert.jpg
Lieutenant General George Grunert, Deputy Commander and Commander, First United States Army and Eastern Defense Command
Born (1881-07-21)July 21, 1881
White Haven, Pennsylvania
Died January 12, 1971(1971-01-12) (aged 89)
San Antonio, Texas
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1898-1945
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Commands held 10th Cavalry Regiment
26th Cavalry Regiment
23rd Brigade
Philippine Department
Sixth Service Corps Area
First United States Army
Second Service Corps Area
Eastern Defense Command
Battles/wars Spanish-American War
World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Purple Heart

George Grunert was a United States Army cavalry officer who worked his way up through the ranks from private to retirement as a Lieutenant General. His 47 year career extended from the Spanish-American War to the end of World War II.

Education and early career[edit]

Grunert, born of German immigrants, was a native of White Haven, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Army in 1898 during the Spanish-American War and served in the Philippines, Cuba and western posts in his early career. As a quartermaster sergeant in an artillery unit at Fort Monroe, Virginia he obtained a commission at second lieutenant in the cavalry in 1901. By 1908 he was stationed in Cuba and at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, a cavalry post in 1910.

World War I and the Inter-War Years[edit]

He was sent to France as an observer with British forces in 1917 World War I. During the American build up, he served as assistant chief of staff for I Corps and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his work during the American offensives of 1918.

In 1919, he attended the Army War College then at Washington Barracks, now Fort Lesley J. McNair, in Washington, D.C. He served with the 1st Infantry Division (United States) at Camp Dix, then to Washington, D.C. to serve in the office of the Army Chief of Staff. He returned to the field as a lieutenant colonel of the 10th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 1925.

After a second tour of duty in the office of the Army Chief of Staff, Grunert attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas from 1930 to 1932. In 1933, he was the director of military intelligence and espionage division course at the Army War College and in 1935, he became director of war plans division course.

In 1936, he was posted to the Philippines as commanding officer of the 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts). He received his promotion to brigadier general in December 1936 in preparation for his command of the 23rd Brigade, a brigade of the Philippine Division composed of Philippine Scouts.

In November 1938 Grunert succeeded George C. Marshall in command of 5th Brigade at Vancouver Barracks, Washington. Grunert was promoted to major general in 1939, and in October returned to the Philippines to command the Philippine Division. From May 1940 to November 1941 Grunert commanded the Philippine Department, directing the U.S. Army supervision and control over the Philippine defense force until Douglas MacArthur came out of retirement to command in July 1941. MacArthur abolished the Philippine Department as a redundant command echelon in November 1941 and Grunert returned to the United States.

World War II[edit]

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred shortly after Grunert reached the United States, and he was shuffled between a number of assignments that included command of the Sixth Service Command at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, serving as the ranking military officer in the Chicago area, and two administrative posts with Army Service Forces as Deputy Chief of Staff for Service Commands (Service of Supply) overseeing the nine United States-based supply and logistics commands (formerly corps areas), under General Brehon B. Somervell.

In August 1943, he was appointed deputy commander for both the Eastern Defense Command, a continental defense command for the eastern United States, and First United States Army at Fort Jay, Governors Island in New York City, taking the place of General Hugh A. Drum upon his mandatory retirement at age 64 in October 1943.

Grunert held interim command over First Army until January 1944 while Omar N. Bradley completed assembling and staffing its new headquarters in England for the Normandy Invasion. Grunert continued command of Eastern Defense Command, which also assumed the duties of Central Defense Command, and Second Service Command for the New York area until his retirement in July 1945.

Pearl Harbor Investigation[edit]

In June 1944, Grunert was appointed by Secretary of War Henry Stimson as the presiding officer of a secret panel that investigated the Army response to events prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Pearl Harbor Board report, released after the war, traced the entire military and diplomatic history prior to the attack finding much fault along the way, critical of break downs in communications between Secretary of State Cordell Hull, George C. Marshall and a failure of appropriate action by Hawaiian Department commander, Walter C. Short. The panel's method of investigation and conclusions are still subject to criticism today.

Retirement[edit]

Grunert died at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, Texas on January 12, 1971 at age 89 and was buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Florence Reynolds, daughter Mary and son-in-law, then U.S. First Army commander, Lieutenant General Jonathan O. Seaman at Fort Meade, Maryland. His son, Colonel George R. Grunert (1908–1969), attended the U.S. Military Academy, graduating with the class of 1930 and played on the Army polo team. He was a veteran of World War II and Korea and preceded his father in death.

Decorations[edit]

Ribbon bar with the list of General George Grunert's decorations:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Army Distinguished Service Medal w/ OLC Silver Star Legion of Merit
2nd Row Purple Heart Spanish Campaign Medal Army of Cuban Occupation Medal Philippine Campaign Medal
3rd Row Army of Cuban Pacification Medal Mexican Border Service Medal World War I Victory Medal Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
4th Row American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal Legion of Honour, Chevalier

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Ray, Max (1980), The History of the First United States Army from 1918 to 1980, Fort Meade MD: First United States Army 
  • A Patch of Pride: A History of the First Army, New York, New York: First United States Army, 1950, pp. 11–12 
Military offices
Preceded by
Hugh Drum
Commanding General of the Eastern Defense Command
1943 – 1945
Succeeded by
Kenneth P. Lord (acting)
Preceded by
Hugh Drum
Commanding General of the First United States Army
1943 – 1944
Succeeded by
Omar Bradley