General Lyman Louis Lemnitzer, United States Army
|Birth name||Lyman Louis Lemnitzer|
August 29, 1899|
Honesdale, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||November 12, 1988
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1916–1920 (USMA)
|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
|Awards||Army Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
British Order of the British Empire
French Legion of Honour (Grand Cross)
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
Lemnitzer was born on August 29, 1899 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. He was raised Lutheran. 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.
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 US 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 was involved in the Bay of Pigs crisis and the early years of United States involvement in the Vietnam War. 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 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 the US would take military action against Cuba. Within a few months, after the refusal to endorse Operation Northwoods, Lemnitzer was denied another term as JCS chairman.
In November 1962, Lemnitzer was appointed as commander of U.S. European Command, and as Supreme Allied Commander Europe of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). His time in command saw the Cyprus crisis of 1963–1964 and the withdrawal of NATO forces from France in 1966.
As of 2015, Lemnitzer is the only Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to hold another U.S military command after his term as Chairman ended, rather than retiring.
Later life and death
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 US laws, and allegations that E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis (of Watergate fame) were involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
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
Awards and decorations
Lemnitzer was awarded numerous military awards and decorations including but not limited to:
|Army Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters|
|Navy Distinguished Service Medal|
|Air Force Distinguished Service Medal|
|Legion of Merit degree of Officer - awarded by mistake but not rescinded by FDR during World War II|
|Legion of Merit degree of Legionnaire|
|World War I Victory Medal|
|American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with two campaign stars)|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|Army of Occupation Medal|
|Presidential Medal of Freedom (Awarded by President Reagan, June 23, 1987)|
|National Defense Service Medal|
|Korean Service Medal (with two service stars)|
- Foreign decorations
- Finding aid for Lyman L. Lemnitzer Oral History, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
- Official US Joint Chiefs of Staff Biography
Gen. Williston B. Palmer
|Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Gen. George Decker
Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor
|Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Gen. George Decker
Gen. Nathan F. Twining
|Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor
Gen. Lauris Norstad
|Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO)
Gen. Andrew Goodpaster