Lyman Lemnitzer

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Lyman Lemnitzer
Lyman L. Lemnitzer.jpg
General Lyman Louis Lemnitzer, United States Army
Birth name Lyman Louis Lemnitzer
Born (1899-08-29)August 29, 1899
Honesdale, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died November 12, 1988(1988-11-12) (aged 89)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1916–1920 (USMA)
1920–1969
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Supreme Allied Commander, NATO
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Awards

Army Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
British Order of the British Empire
French Legion of Merit (Officer)
German Bundeswehr Cross of Honour in Gold
Other work Rockefeller Commission

Lyman Louis Lemnitzer (August 29, 1899 – November 12, 1988) was a United States Army general, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1960 to 1962. He then served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO from 1963 to 1969.

Early life and education[edit]

Lemnitzer was born on August 29, 1899 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. He was raised Lutheran.[1] He graduated from West Point in 1920 and was assigned at his request to a Coast Artillery unit. Lemnitzer served in the Philippines but soon began receiving the staff assignments that marked his military career.

Career[edit]

Lemnitzer was promoted to brigadier general in June 1942 and assigned to General Eisenhower's staff shortly thereafter. He helped form the plans for the invasions of North Africa and Sicily and was promoted to major general in November 1944. Lemnitzer was one of the senior officers sent to negotiate the Italian fascist surrender during the secret Operation Sunrise and the German surrender in 1945.

Following the end of World War II, Lemnitzer was assigned to the Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was later named Deputy Commandant of the National War College. In 1950, at the age of 51, he took parachute training and was subsequently placed in command of the 11th Airborne Division. He was assigned to Korea in command of the 7th Infantry Division in November 1951 and was promoted to lieutenant general in August 1952.

Lemnitzer was promoted to the rank of general and named commander of U.S. Army forces in the Far East and of the Eighth Army in March 1955. He was named Chief of Staff of the Army in July 1957 and appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 1960. As Chairman, Lemnitzer weathered the Bay of Pigs crisis and the early years of American involvement in Vietnam. He was also required to testify before the United States Senate Foreign Affairs Committee about his knowledge of the activities of Major General Edwin Walker, who had been dismissed from the Army over alleged attempts to promote his political beliefs in the military.

Lemnitzer approved the plans known as Operation Northwoods in 1962, a proposed plan to discredit the Castro regime and create support for military action against Cuba by staging false flag genuine acts of terrorism and developing "a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington". Lemnitzer presented the plans to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962. It is unclear how McNamara reacted, but three days later President Kennedy told the general that there was no chance that America would take military action against Cuba. Within a few months, after the denial of Operation Northwoods, Lemnitzer was denied another term as JCS chairman.[2] Author Richard Cottrell suspects Lemnitzer of the key role in the Kennedy assassination, out of revenge for the demotion and for being soft on communism.[3]

In November 1962, Lemnitzer was appointed as commander of U.S. forces in Europe, and as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (the U.S. European Command is the crown jewel of regional commands[citation needed]) in January 1963[4] until July 1969.[5] This period encompassed the Cyprus crisis of 1963–1964 and the withdrawal of NATO forces from France in 1966.

Later life and death[edit]

Lemnitzer retired from the military in July 1969. In 1975, President Ford appointed Lemnitzer to the Commission on CIA Activities within the United States (aka the Rockefeller Commission) to investigate whether the Central Intelligence Agency had committed acts that violated American laws and allegations that E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis (of Watergate fame) were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Death[edit]

Lemnitzer died on November 12, 1988 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Katherine Tryon Lemnitzer (1901–1994), is buried with him.

In popular culture[edit]

Lemnitzer was played by John Seitz in the 1991 Oliver Stone film, JFK.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Lemnitzer was awarded numerous military awards and decorations[6] including but not limited to:

US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif Parachutist Badge
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit degree of Officer - awarded by mistake but not rescinded by FDR during World War II
Legion of Merit degree of Legionnaire
Presidential Medal of Freedom (Awarded by President Reagan, June 23, 1987)
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with two campaign stars)
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal (with two service stars)
Foreign decorations
Honorary Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Great Britain)
Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Great Britain)
Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy (Italy)
Grand Cross of the Military Order of Italy (Italy)
Grand Cross of the Légion d'Honneur (France)
Dutch Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau, with Swords (Netherlands)
Médaille militaire (France)
Croix de Guerre with Palm (France)
Bundeswehr Cross of Honour in Gold (Germany)
Grand Officer of the Order of Boyaca (Colombia)
Grand Cordon First Class of the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan)
Medalha de Guerra (Brazil)
Grand Official of the Order of Military Merit (Brazil)
Order of Military Merit Teaguk (Korea)
Gold star
Order of Military Merit Teaguk with Gold Star (Korea)
Gold Cross of Merit with Swords (Poland)
Knight Grand Cross of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant (Thailand)
Medal for Military Merit, First Class (Czechoslovakia)
Royal Order of the White Eagle, Class II (Yugoslavia)
Grand Star of Military Merit (Chile)
Order of Menelik II (Ethiopia)
United Nations Korea Medal
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

See also[edit]

Operation Northwoods

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Williston B. Palmer
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
1957–1959
Succeeded by
Gen. George Decker
Preceded by
Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
1959–1960
Succeeded by
Gen. George Decker
Preceded by
Gen. Nathan F. Twining
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
1960–1962
Succeeded by
Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor
Preceded by
Gen. Lauris Norstad
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO)
1963–1969
Succeeded by
Gen. Andrew Goodpaster