Sereno E. Brett

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Sereno Elmer Brett
Sereno E. Brett.jpg
Brett as an officer during World War I, after he received his DSC.
Born October 31, 1891
Portland, Oregon
Died September 9, 1952(1952-09-09) (aged 60)
Santa Barbara, California
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1916-1943
Rank US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General
Commands held 5th Armored Division
Battles/wars Pancho Villa Expedition
World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star (2)

Sereno Elmer Brett (October 31, 1891 – September 9, 1952) was a highly decorated United States Army officer with the rank of Brigadier General, who served in both world wars and played a key, if less recognized, role in the development of armored warfare.

Early life[edit]

Sereno Elmer Brett was born on October 31, 1891 in Portland, Oregon as a son of James Brett, and Clara Marie de Lille Harvey. Brett enrolled at Oregon State University and earned his BS at the Agricultural faculty in 1916. After his graduation, Brett entered the Army and after training course for officers, he was commissioned as an Second Lieutenant of the Oregon National Guard Infantry at November 28, 1916.

World War I[edit]

His first military service was with 3rd Infantry on Mexico – United States border during Pancho Villa Expedition. During World War I, Brett was ordered to the European battlefield with the Tank Corps and was promoted to the rank of Captain on July 25, 1917.

As commander of the 326th Tank Battalion, then-Major Brett led the first U.S. tank attack of World War I at the Battle of St. Mihiel and, following George S. Patton's wounding, took command of the 1st Tank Brigade in his absence.

Brett received the Distinguished Service Cross for his role in the battle.

Distinguished Service Cross citation[edit]

His official Distinguished Service Cross citation reads:

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 15 (1919)
Action Date: September 12, 1918
Name: Sereno Elmer Brett
Service: Army
Rank: Major
Battalion: 326th Battalion (Light) Tanks
Division: Tank Corps, American Expeditionary Forces
Citation: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major (Armor) Sereno Elmer Brett, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with 326th Tank Battalion, Tank Corps, A.E.F., near Richecourt, France, 12 September 1918. On the opening day of the St. Mihiel offensive Major Brett led his battalion on foot from Richecourt to the Bois Quart De Reserve in the face of heavy machine-gun and artillery fire, and by his coolness and courage setting an example to the entire battalion.[1]

Brett was also decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal for his service as chief instructor of Tank Center of the American Expeditionary Force.

Distinguished Service Medal citation[edit]

His official Distinguished Service Medal citation reads:

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 49 (1922)
Action Date: World War I
Name: Sereno Elmer Brett
Service: Army
Rank: Major
Company: Commanding Officer
Regiment: 1st Brigade
Division: Tank Corps, American Expeditionary Forces
Citation: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Major (Armor) Sereno Elmer Brett, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. As Chief Instructor at Tank Center, American Expeditionary Forces, Major Brett organized and trained the 327th Battalion (Light) Tanks. Later, as Commander of the 326th Battalion (Light) Tanks, he vigorously and skillfully led it in the St. Mihiel offensive over a terrain rendered most difficult through four years of enemy entrenching. Succeeding to the command of the 1st Brigade, Tank Corps, in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, he ably devotedly, and courageously commanded his brigade from 26 September to 10 November 1918; during this period of 46 days his brigade supported eight of the division of the First Army in 18 separate attacks. By his brilliant professional attainments, technical ability, and unusual leadership he contributed in a marked manner to the success of the First Army and rendered most conspicuous services to the American Expeditionary Forces in a position of great responsibility.[2]

His other decorations from the World War I were: two Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 with palm and Officer of the Legion of Honour.

Life after the war[edit]

Following the war, he played a role alongside Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower in evaluating the lessons learned from the war in the use of tanks in modern warfare. Brett participated alongside Eisenhower in the famous Army 1919 transcontinental motor convoy. He commanded the Expeditionary Tank Force in 1923-1924 in Panama. Brett remained in the U.S. Army through the lean interwar years, and was promoted to brigadier general in February 1942.[3] On June 3, 1941 he was designated the chief of staff of the Armored Force at Fort Knox, having previously served as chief of staff of the 1st Armored Division.[4] He served on the staff of the 5th Armored Division in 1942–1943 as it prepared for European service, and was promoted to brigadier general in 1942, but retired in October 1943 for medical reasons. Brett died on September 9, 1952, in Santa Barbara, California.[5]

Decorations[edit]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Distinguished Service Cross Army Distinguished Service Medal Silver Star w/ Oak Leaf Cluster
2nd Row Purple Heart w/ 2 Oak Leaf Clusters Mexican Border Service Medal World War I Victory Medal w/ four battle clasps American Defense Service Medal
3rd Row American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal Officer of the Legion of Honour French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 w/ palm

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=15652
  2. ^ http://www.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=15652
  3. ^ "Sereno Brett," in Anne Cipriano Venzon and Paul L. Miles, eds., The United States in the First World War: An Encyclopedia (Taylor and Francis, 1999).
  4. ^ "Portland Colonel Headed Armored Force", Eugene Register-Guard, 3 June 1941.
  5. ^ "Gen. Sereno E. Brett, 61, Dies at Santa Barbara," Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1952; www.arlingtoncemetery.net/sebrett.htm