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Jonathan M. Wainwright (general)

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Jonathan M. Wainwright
Wainwright after World War II and promotion to full General
Birth nameJonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV
Nickname(s)"Skinny", "Jim"
Born(1883-08-23)August 23, 1883
Walla Walla, Washington, U.S.
DiedSeptember 2, 1953(1953-09-02) (aged 70)
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Place of burial
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1906–47
Commands held3rd Cavalry Regiment (United States) 1936–38

1st Cavalry Brigade 1938–40
Philippine Division 1940–42
Prisoner of war 1942–45
Second Service Command 1945–46
Eastern Defense Command 1945–46

Fourth Army 1946–47
Battles/warsPhilippine–American War

World War I

World War II

AwardsMedal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal Medal of Valor
RelationsJonathan Mayhew Wainwright I (great-grandfather)
Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright II (grandfather)

Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV (August 23, 1883 – September 2, 1953) was an American army general and the Commander of Allied forces in the Philippines at the time Japan surrendered to the United States, during World War II.

Wainwright commanded American and Filipino forces during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, for which he received a Medal of Honor for his courageous leadership. In May 1942, on the island stronghold of Corregidor, lacking food, supplies and ammunition, in the interest of minimizing casualties Wainwright surrendered the remaining Allied forces on the Philippines. At the time of his capture, Wainwright was the highest-ranking American prisoner of war, spending three years in Japanese prison camps, during which he suffered from malnutrition and mistreatment. In August 1945, he was rescued by the Red Army in Manchukuo. Hailed as a hero upon his liberation, on September 5, 1945, shortly after the Japanese surrender, Wainwright was promoted to four-star General.

Early life and training[edit]

Wainwright, nicknamed "Skinny" and "Jim", was born at Fort Walla Walla, a former Army post near Walla Walla, Washington. His father was a U.S. Army officer who was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry in 1875, rose to the rank of major, commanded a squadron of the 5th Cavalry at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War, and, in 1902, died of disease in the Philippines.[1] His grandfather was Lieutenant Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright II, USN, who was killed in action during the Battle of Galveston in 1863. Congressman J. Mayhew Wainwright was a cousin.[2]

Wainwright graduated from Highland Park High School in Illinois in 1901, and from West Point in 1906.[3] He served as First Captain of the Corps of Cadets.[4]

He was commissioned in the cavalry,[5] serving with the 1st Cavalry Regiment (United States) in Texas from 1906 to 1908 and in the Philippines from 1908 to 1910, during which time he saw combat on Jolo, during the Moro Rebellion.[1] Wainwright graduated from the Mounted Service School, Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1916 and was promoted to Captain. By 1917, he was on the staff of the first officer training camp at Plattsburgh, New York.

In 1911, Wainwright married Adele "Kitty" Holley, and had one child with her, Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright V (1913–1996).[6]

World War I[edit]

In February 1918, during World War I, Wainwright was ordered to France. In June, he became assistant chief of staff of the U.S. 82nd Infantry Division, with which he took part in the Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives.[3] As a temporary lieutenant colonel, he was assigned to occupation duty in Germany with the 3rd Army at Koblenz, Germany, from October 1918 until 1920. Having reverted to the rank of captain, he was then promoted to major.

Inter-war period[edit]

After a year as an instructor at the Cavalry School at Fort Riley, Wainwright was attached to the general staff from 1921 to 1923 and assigned to the 3rd US Cavalry Regiment, Fort Myer, Virginia, from 1923–25.[1] In 1929, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and graduated from the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1931, and from the Army War College in 1934.[5]

Wainwright as a Brigadier General

Wainwright was promoted to colonel in 1935, and served as commander of the 3rd US Cavalry Regiment until 1938, when he was promoted to brigadier general in command of the 1st Cavalry Brigade at Fort Clark, Texas.

World War II[edit]

Wainwright ordering the surrender of the Philippines while being monitored by a Japanese censor
U.S. generals in Japanese captivity, July 1942; Wainwright is seated front row, third from left.

In September 1940, Wainwright was promoted to major general (temporary) and returned to the Philippines, in December, as commander of the Philippine Department.[7]

As the senior field commander of Filipino and US forces under General Douglas MacArthur, Wainwright was responsible for resisting the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, which began in December 1941. On December 8, 1941, he commanded the North Luzon Force, comprising three reserve Filipino divisions and the 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts).[8] Retreating from the Japanese beachhead of Lingayen Gulf, Allied forces had withdrawn onto the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor by January 1942, where they defended the entrance to Manila Bay.[9]

Following the evacuation of MacArthur to Australia in March to serve as Allied Supreme Commander, South West Pacific Area, Wainwright inherited the unenviable position of Allied commander in the Philippines.[5][10] Also that March, Wainwright was promoted to lieutenant general (temporary). On April 9, the 70,000 troops on Bataan surrendered under the command of Major General Edward P. King. On May 5, the Japanese attacked Corregidor. Due to lack of supplies (mainly food and ammunition)[11] and in the interest of minimizing casualties, Wainwright notified Japanese General Masaharu Homma he was surrendering on May 6.[10]

Wainwright at the same time sent a coded message to Major General William F. Sharp, in charge of forces on Mindanao naming him as commander of all forces in the Philippines, excepting those on Corregidor and three other islands in Manila Bay. Sharp was now to report to General MacArthur, now stationed in Australia. This was to cause as few troops as possible to be surrendered. Homma refused to allow the surrender of any less than all the troops in the Philippines and considered the troops on and around Corregidor to be hostages to ensure other forces in the Philippines would lay down their arms. Wainwright then agreed to surrender Sharp's men.[12]

General Sharp was placed in a difficult position. He knew if he ignored Wainwright's wish for him to surrender that the hostage troops and civilians at Corregidor could be massacred.[10] Though his troops were badly mauled, they could still put up a fight. It had been expected they would fight on as a guerrilla force. In the end, on May 10 Sharp decided to surrender. Sharp's surrender proved problematic for the Japanese. For although Sharp and many of his men surrendered and suffered as prisoners of war until liberated in 1945, a large number of Sharp's men — the vast majority of them Filipino — refused to surrender. Some soldiers considered Wainwright's surrender to have been made under duress, and ultimately decided to join the guerrilla movement led by Colonel Wendell Fertig.[13]

By June 9, Allied forces had completely surrendered. Wainwright was then held in prison camps in northern Luzon, Formosa, and Liaoyuan (then called Xi'an and a county within Manchukuo) until he was rescued by the Red Army in August 1945.[citation needed]

MacArthur (left) greets Wainwright (August 1945)
Wainwright (far side of table, second from left) receiving the surrender of Japanese forces in the Philippines at Baguio, Luzon, (September 3, 1945)

Wainwright was the highest-ranking American POW, and, despite his rank, his treatment at the hands of the Japanese was no less unpleasant than that of most of his men. When he met General MacArthur in August 1945 shortly after his liberation, he had become thin and malnourished from three years of mistreatment during captivity. He witnessed the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri on September 2 and was given one of five pens (along with British Lieutenant General Arthur Percival) that MacArthur used to sign the document.[14] Together with Percival, he returned to the Philippines to receive the surrender of the local Japanese commander, Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita.[citation needed]

Dubbed by his men a "fighting" general who was willing to get down in the foxholes, Wainwright won the respect of all who were imprisoned with him. He agonized over his decision to surrender Corregidor throughout his captivity, feeling that he had let his country down. Upon release, the first question he asked was how people back in the U.S. thought of him, and he was amazed when told he was considered a hero. He later received the Medal of Honor, an honor which had first been proposed early in his captivity, in 1942, but was rejected due to the vehement opposition of General MacArthur, who felt that Corregidor should not have been surrendered. MacArthur did not oppose the renewed proposal in 1945.[15][16]

Post-war years and retirement[edit]

On September 5, 1945, shortly after the Japanese surrender, Wainwright was promoted to four-star general. On September 13, a ticker-tape parade in New York City was held in his honor.[17] On September 28, 1945, he was named commander of the Second Service Command and the Eastern Defense Command at Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York.[18]

On January 11, 1946, he was named commander of the Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, filling the vacancy left by the November 21, 1945 death of Lieutenant General Alexander Patch.[19] Patch, formerly commander of the Seventh Army in the closing days of World War II, had returned to the United States in August 1945 because of poor health to head the Fourth Army.

Wainwright retired on August 31, 1947, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 64, stating that he was reluctant to do so.[20]

He became a Freemason in May 1946 at Union Lodge No. 7. in Junction City, Kansas, and a Shriner soon after.[21][22][23][unreliable source][24]

In 1948, he was elected the national commander of Disabled American Veterans (DAV).[25]

About 1935, Wainwright was elected a Hereditary Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (insignia number 19087) by right of his grandfather's service in the Union Navy during the Civil War. He was also a Compatriot of the Empire State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (national number 66232 and state number 7762). His membership application for the SAR was endorsed by General Douglas MacArthur.

He served on the board of directors for several corporations after his retirement. He made himself available to speak before veterans' groups and filled almost every request to do so. He never felt any bitterness toward MacArthur for his actions in the Philippines or MacArthur's attempt to deny him the Medal of Honor. In fact, when it appeared that MacArthur might be nominated for president at the 1948 Republican National Convention, Wainwright stood ready to make the nominating speech.[15]

He died of a stroke in San Antonio, Texas on September 2, 1953, aged 70.[26]

Wainwright was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, next to his wife and near his parents.[27] Present during the funeral were Omar Bradley, George Marshall and Edward King, with a conspicuous absence of MacArthur.[28] He was buried with a Masonic service, and is one of the few people to have had their funeral held in the lower level of the Memorial Amphitheater.[29][failed verification]


Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
1st row Medal of Honor
2nd row Distinguished Service Cross Army Distinguished Service Medal
with oak leaf cluster
Prisoner of War Medal
3rd row Philippine Campaign Medal Mexican Border Service Medal World War I Victory Medal
with three campaign clasps
4th row Army of Occupation of Germany Medal American Defense Service Medal
with "Foreign Service" clasp
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
with one campaign star
5th row World War II Victory Medal Medal for Valor
Philippine Defense Medal
with bronze service star
Unit awards
Presidential Unit Citation
with two oak leaf clusters
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and Organization: General, Commanding U.S. Army Forces in the Philippines. Place and date: Philippine Islands, 12 March to 7 May 1942. Entered Service at: Skaneateles, N.Y. Birth: Walla Walla, Wash. G.O. No.: 80, 19 September 1945.


Distinguished himself by intrepid and determined leadership against greatly superior enemy forces. At the repeated risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in his position, he frequented the firing line of his troops where his presence provided the example and incentive that helped make the gallant efforts of these men possible. The final stand on beleaguered Corregidor, for which he was in an important measure personally responsible, commanded the admiration of the Nation's allies. It reflected the high morale of American arms in the face of overwhelming odds. His courage and resolution were a vitally needed inspiration to the then sorely pressed freedom-loving peoples of the world.[30]

General Wainwright was presented the Medal of Honor in an impromptu ceremony when he visited the White House on 10 September 1945; he was not aware that he was there to be decorated by President Harry S. Truman.

Other official awards[edit]

Private honors[edit]


No pin insignia in 1906 Second Lieutenant, Regular Army: June 12, 1906
First Lieutenant, Regular Army: July 30, 1912
Captain, Regular Army: July 1, 1916
Major, National Army: August 5, 1917
Lieutenant Colonel, National Army: October 16, 1918
Major, Regular Army: July 1, 1920
Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: December 2, 1929
Colonel, Regular Army: August 1, 1935
Brigadier General, Regular Army: November 1, 1938
Major General, Army of the United States: October 1, 1940
Lieutenant General, Army of the United States: March 19, 1942
Major General, Regular Army: March 31, 1943
General, Army of the United States: September 5, 1945
General, Retired List: August 31, 1947




In the film MacArthur (1977), Wainwright was portrayed by Sandy Kenyon.[35]


  • Wainwright, Jonathan M.; Robert Considine (1986) [1945]. General Wainwright's Story. New York: Bantam. ISBN 0-553-24061-7.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Wainwright, Peter (1997). "Remembering the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Their Commanding General, Jonathan M. Wainwright, IV, and his Weapons". American Society of Arms Collectors. 76 (Spring).
  2. ^ "Deaths: J. Mayhew Wainwright". The Living Church. Milwaukee, WI: Morehouse-Gorham Co.: 22 June 17, 1945.
  3. ^ a b "1945: Old Friends to Greet Gen. Jonathan M.Wainwright". El Paso Times. December 13, 1945. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  4. ^ Kingseed, Cole Christian (2006). Old Glory Stories: American Combat Leadership in World War II. Naval Institute Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-1591144403. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame World Wars I and II" (PDF). US Army Combined Arms Center. June 29, 2022.
  6. ^ "Wainwright, General Jonathan Mayhew, IV (1883–1953)". www.historylink.org. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  7. ^ "General Wainwright Comes to Louisiana (November 2016) | Archive - 2016 | Rickey Robertson | Local Writers' Columns | Center for Regional Heritage Research | SFASU". www.sfasu.edu. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  8. ^ Order of Battle, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. North Luzon Force, 8 December 1941
  9. ^ Louis Morton The Fall of the Philippines (Washington: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1953), 2016 update, pp. 199ff.
  10. ^ a b c Klimow, Mathew (December 1990). "Lying to the Troops: American Leaders and the Defense of Bataan" (PDF). Parameters Quarterly.
  11. ^ Tyler, Floyd E (1967). How Far That Little Candle... Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Midwest Beach, Inc. p. 15.
  12. ^ Louis Morton The Fall of the Philippines (Washington: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1953), 2016 update, pp. 564-70.
  13. ^ Morton, pp. 576-77.
  14. ^ "Witnesses: Percival & Wainwright on V-J Day". The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Murphy, E. Heroes of WW II (1990), pp 32–34.
  16. ^ Sterner, C. Douglas. "Family Feud – A Tale of Two Generals". Pueblo, Colorado.
  17. ^ Martin, John (September 13, 1945). "City Hails Hero of the Rock Today". The New York Daily News. Oakland, California. UP. pp. C3, C8. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  18. ^ "Wainwright Named Eastern Defense Head" (PDF). The New York Times. September 29, 1945. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  19. ^ "Wainwright Named Head of Fourth Army Head" (PDF). The New York Times. January 12, 1946. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  20. ^ "Wainwright Takes His Last Review: Hero of Bataan Deeply Moved as He is Retired in Fort Sam Houston Ceremonies" (PDF). The New York Times. September 1, 1947. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  21. ^ Wainwright, Jonathan; William R. Denslow; Forward: Harry S. Truman. 10,000 Famous Freemasons; 1957 Edition. Vol. 4: Q-Z. Macoy Publishing. pp. 405–06.
  22. ^ Wainwright, Jonathan; William Denslow; Macoy publishing. "Online Scanned Copy of 10,000 Freemasons". Volume 4, 1957 Edition. Phoenixmasonry.org. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  23. ^ Wainwright, Jonathan M.; Stephen J. Kapp; Source, Denslo. "Hero of Bataan". 1989–90 Masonic Research. srjarchives.tripod.com. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  24. ^ Wainwright, General Jonanthan. "Grand Lodge of Kansas-Masons". Masons of Kansas. kansasmasons.org. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  25. ^ "DAV History Annex" (PDF). DAV. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  26. ^ "Wainwright In Semi-Coma. War Hero Suffers 2d Stroke in San Antonio Hospital". The New York Times. September 2, 1953. p. 2. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  27. ^ "Jonathan M. Wainwright". www.arlingtoncemetery.mil. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  28. ^ "Wainwright Buried With High Tribute". Los Angeles Times. Washington. AP. September 9, 1953. p. 16. Retrieved August 2, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "Service for Wainwright. Cavalryman's Rites in Texas to Precede Arlington Burial". The New York Times. September 4, 1953. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  30. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients World War II (T–Z)". United States Army Center of Military History. Archived from the original on December 31, 2009. Retrieved April 6, 2009.
  31. ^ Official Army Register. Department of the Army. 1 January 1948. Vol. 2. pg. 2481.
  32. ^ "U.S. Army Recruiting Command Brigade and Battalion Public Affairs Offices" (PDF). Recruiting Command. U.S. Army. March 16, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
  33. ^ "Photos and Floor Plans". Directorate of Public Works, Fort Hood, Texas. United States Army. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
    Lozano, Madison (January 12, 2014). "Fort Hood Housing". Killeen Daily Herald. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  34. ^ "School Information / About Wainwright". Wainwright Elementary. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  35. ^ Gerard Molyneaux (1995). Gregory Peck: A Bio-bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-313-28668-1.
    Robert J. Lentz (2003). Korean War Filmography: 91 English Language Features through 2000. McFarland. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-7864-3876-1.


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

External links[edit]