John K. Waters
|John K. Waters|
General John K. Waters
|Born||December 20, 1906|
|Died||January 9, 1989(aged 82)|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1931-1966|
|Commands held||4th Armored Division
U.S. Army, Pacific
|Battles/wars||World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star (2)
John Knight Waters (December 20, 1906 – January 9, 1989) was a United States Army four-star general who served as commander, U.S. Army, Pacific from 1964 to 1966. He was also the son-in-law of General George S. Patton. During World War II, he was taken prisoner while fighting in Tunisia in 1943, leading Patton to set up the controversial Task Force Baum to break him out.
Waters graduated from The Boys' Latin School in Baltimore in 1925 and then attended Johns Hopkins University in Maryland for two years before deciding he wanted a military career. He relocated to Illinois in order to obtain an appointment to the United States Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1931 with a commission in the cavalry.
World War II
Waters, who had married General George S. Patton's daughter Beatrice in 1934, was one of many officers interned at Hammelburg. Patton claimed that he did not know that Waters was at OFLAG XIII-B and that he feared the Germans would execute the POWs rather than let them be liberated. According to some sources the Third Army had received intelligence that Waters was indeed at the camp, having recently been moved there from Silesia.
The task force, known as Task Force Baum, reached the camp, which was 50 miles behind the front lines, on 27 March 1945 with some losses after running into several German units detraining in a marshalling area. It had been shadowed by a German observation plane while en route, and its intentions were anticipated.
Waters had been shot by a defending guard as he and a German officer were trying to contact the task force. Badly wounded, he was treated by a Serbian doctor Colonel Radovan Danic, the chief surgeon of the former Yugoslavian Army, who was also interned at the camp. The camp was liberated about a week to ten days later, but the only prisoners there were badly wounded and sick, the rest (including the remnants of Task Force Baum) having been moved farther east.
Waters returned to duty in 1946 and became commandant of cadets at West Point. In 1949 he became an hereditary member of the Maryland Society of the Cincinnati.
He was promoted to brigadier general in 1952 when he deployed to Korea as Chief of Staff for I Corps. His major command assignments include Commanding General for the 4th Armored Division and Commanding General for V Corps, both in Europe, as well as Commanding General for the Fifth United States Army, then headquartered in Chicago.
Significant other assignments for Waters were as Chief of the American Military Assistance Staff in Yugoslavia from 1955 to 1957, and as Deputy Chief of Staff for Material Developments, Fort Monroe, Virginia. He also commanded the latter unit before taking command of U.S. Army, Pacific in Hawaii. He retired on August 31, 1966.
Major awards for Waters include the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions leading fellow prisoners, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Korean Service Medal. He died on January 9, 1989.
He married Beatrice Patton, daughter of General George S. Patton, on June 27, 1934. The wedding took place at St. John's Church in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, with a reception immediately afterward at the Patton home of Green Meadows, South Hamilton. The couple had two sons, John and George P. This union lasted until her death on October 24, 1952.
- Blumenson, Martin; George Smith Patton (1972). The Patton Papers - 1885-1940 1. New York: Houghton Mifflin. p. 902.
- Historic footage of Lt. Col. John K. Waters during his liberation from OFLAG XIII-B prison camp in 1945. See 2:35 mark in video clip.