Ridgely Gaither as commander of the 11th Airborne Division in 1952
|Born||February 23, 1903
|Died||October 26, 1992 (aged 89)
|Buried||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1924–1962|
|Commands held||Army Parachute School
82nd Airborne Division
11th Airborne Division
40th Infantry Division
XVIII Airborne Corps
U.S. Army Caribbean Command
Second United States Army
|Battles/wars||World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit
|Other work||Annapolis, Maryland Police Commissioner|
Ridgely Gaither was a United States Army lieutenant general prominent as commander of the 40th Infantry Division during the Korean War, and commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, U.S. Army Caribbean Command and Second United States Army.
Gaither was born in Baltimore, Maryland on February 23, 1903 to a family which has included Army officers since the American Revolution and is the namesake of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Gaither graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis and received his commission as a second lieutenant of Infantry in 1924.
Gaither served in positions of increasing responsibility and rank, including assignments in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and China. He graduated from the Infantry Officer Course in 1933 and the Command and General Staff College in 1939.
World War II
While there, he was instrumental in forming the 555th Parachute Infantry Company (nicknamed the Triple Nickels), a segregated unit which was the U.S. Army's first African-American paratrooper unit.
In 1945 Gaither went to Europe to take part in fighting against Nazi Germany, including a combat parachute jump with the 17th Airborne Division. He landed east of the Rhine River, almost on top of a German anti-aircraft battery. The Americans took the position, and Gaither said later that one group of Germans might have been taken prisoner sooner if he had not shot down their white flag of surrender, which was so dirty he didn’t immediately recognize it.
Post World War II
From 1946 until 1949 Gaither served as assistant division commander of the 88th Infantry Division with duty on the border between Italy and Yugoslavia. He also served as a member of the Allied commission that established the border, military governor of Trieste, and as president of the War Crimes Court in Florence, Italy.
From 1949 to 1951 Gaither served in the Operations Division of the Office of the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
Post Korean War
From 1955 to 1956 Gaither served as the U.S. Army's assistant chief of staff for Intelligence, G-2, and was promoted to Lieutenant General.
Retirement and awards
Death and Interment
General Gaither died of congestive heart failure Oct. 26, 1992 at the Fairfield Nursing Center in Annapolis.
Boys' Latin School of Maryland biography, Ridgely Gaither, accessed January 23, 2011
Ridgely Gaither page, Arlington Cemetery web site, accessed January 23, 2011
Ridgely Gaither page, Find A Grave web site, accessed January 23, 2011
- Newspaper article, Miss D. W. Bassford Weds Lieut Ridgely Gaither, Baltimore Sun, July 19, 1924
- Social Security Death Index
- Newspaper article, 626 U.S. Citizens Listed in Tientsin, New York Times, July 30, 1937
- Official U.S. Army Register, compiled by U.S. Army Adjutant General, published by U.S. Government Printing Office, 1956
- Newspaper photo caption, Giraud Inspects Benning Troops, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 15, 1943
- Newspaper article, Leaps Minor Study for Paratroopers, New York Times, by Hanson W. Baldwin, New York Times, October 21, 1943
- Black Americans in Defense of Our Nation, published by Diane Publishing Company, 1990, page 103
- Newspaper article, Baltimore Officer Lands Atop Anti-Aircraft Guns, Baltimore Sun, April 18, 1945
- Newspaper article, Commander Of 11th Airborne Has Long Record Of Service, Kentucky New Era, February 23, 1952
- Newspaper article, Gaither Denies MP's Abused Tito's Soldiers, Baltimore Sun, Sep 16, 1946
- Newspaper article, Elizabeth Gaither Engaged, New York Times, January 18, 1948
- Newspaper article, Allies Find Yugoslavs Bolshevize Trieste Zone, by Camille M. Cianfarra, New York Times, March 27, 1948
- Newspaper article, Powederkeg Peril in Triests Denied, New York Times, May 9, 1948
- Newspaper article, U.S. to Shift Trieste Command, New York Times, Feb 14, 1949
- Serving History web site, 82nd Airborne Division, Past Division Commanders page
- 82nd Airborne Division, Steven J. Mrozek, 1997, page 82
- Newspaper article, Army Commands in Korea Shifted, New York Times, December 1, 1951
- Web site, History of the 11th Airborne Division, by Leo Kocher, accessed July 12, 2010
- Newspaper article, 13 Generals In Far East Reassigned, Army Announces Minor Shakeup, by United Press, published in Pittsburgh Press, Dec 1, 1951
- Newspaper article, 11th Airborne Opens Reunion, New York Times, December 7, 1952
- Korean War order of battle: United States, United Nations, and Communist ground, Naval and Air Forces, by Gordon L. Rottman, 2002, page 32
- Newspaper article, General Moves, by Associated Press, published in The Straits Times (Singapore), January 18, 1954
- USA Airborne: 50th Anniversary, by Bart Hagerman, 1990, page 435
- Newspaper article, Maj. Gen. Gaither Appointed Army Chief of Intelligence, Baltimore Sun, August 11, 1955
- Newspaper article, Top Brass Inspects Guard Division, by Associated Press, published by Reading (Pennsylvania) Eagle, August 22, 1957
- Newspaper article, Caribbean Command to Shift, New York Times, March 7, 1958
- Newspaper article, Dr. Milton Eisenhower Applauded in Panama, Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1958
- Newspaper article, Mock War in Panama; Five Latin Countries Join the U.S. In Testing 'Remote' Canal Defense, by Hanson Baldwin, New York Times, March 6, 1960
- Newspaper article, Gaither Assumes New Command, Baltimore Sun, August 2, 1960
- Official U.S. Army Register, compiled by U.S. Army Adjutant General, published by U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946
- Newspaper article, Army Honors Gen. Gaither; Legion Of Merit Presented In Washington Ceremony, Baltimore Sun, February 14, 1946
- Official U.S. Army Register, compiled by US Army Adjutant General, published by U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960
- Home of Heroes, Army Recipients of the Silver Star for Conspicuous Gallantry in Action During World War II, accessed July 12, 2010
- Newspaper article, Gaither Gets Council OK, Baltimore Sun, January 4, 1966
- Newspaper article, Gaither Bows Out After 8 Years in Post, The Capital (Annapolis), May 30, 1973
- Newspaper article, Lt. Gen. Ridgely Gaither Dies; Led Infantry Division in Korea, The Washington Post, October 29, 1992
- Newspaper article, Lt. Gen. Ridgely Gaither, Pioneer Paratrooper, October 29, 1992, Baltimore Sun
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Nationwide Gravesite Locator