Service summary of Douglas MacArthur

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Douglas MacArthur, United States Army General began his career in 1899, served in three major military conflicts and held the highest military office of the United States and of the Philippines during that service.

Summary of service[edit]

West Point[edit]

Early career[edit]

  • June 1903: Serves with the 3rd Battalion of Engineers in the Philippine Islands.
  • 1904: Assigned to the California Debris Commission.
  • April 1904: Promoted to First Lieutenant, becomes acting Chief Engineering Officer for the Army Pacific Division based in San Francisco, California
  • October 1904: Reports to Tokyo, Japan to serve as an aide to his father (Major General Arthur MacArthur, Jr.) in the Far East
  • December 1906: Serves as aide-de-camp to President Theodore Roosevelt
  • August 1907: Attends the "Engineering School of Application" in Washington, D.C.
  • February 1908: Assigned as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Improvements Commission, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • April 1908: Appointed as Commanding Officer, Company K, 3rd Battalion of Engineers. Later that year becomes an instructor at the Mounted Service School, Fort Riley, Kansas
  • April 1909: Becomes Quartermaster for the 3rd Battalion of Engineers
  • February 1911: Promoted to Captain and serves as the Officer-in-Charge of the Engineering Depot at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
  • November 1912: Assigned to the General Staff Corps, for duty as a Member and Recorder of the Board of Engineering Troops
  • April 1913: Appointed as Superintendent of State, War, and Navy Buildings as a member of the General Staff
  • April 1914: Becomes the Assistant Engineering Officer of the military expedition to Veracruz, Mexico
  • December 1915: Promoted to Major, serves as an Engineering Officer on the Army General Staff
  • August 1917: Advanced to the temporary rank of Colonel in the National Army. Reports to Camp Mills, Long Island, New York to begin forming the 42nd Division.

World War I[edit]

  • 1917 – 1918: Becomes Chief of Staff of the 42nd Division and is credited with naming it the "Rainbow Division". Joins the American Expeditionary Force bound for France. Departs U.S. for France in November 1917.
  • June 1918: Appointed a Brigadier General in the National Army and in August is appointed as Commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade. Briefly commands the 42nd Division from 10 to 22 November 1918.
  • 1918 – 1919: Receives two Distinguished Service Crosses and seven Silver Star Citations (later converted to Silver Stars) for battlefield leadership and bravery and also is wounded in action and gassed by the enemy. Was known for personally leading troops into battle, often without a weapon of his own. Begins to develop a negative relationship with General of the Armies John Pershing, after feeling that Pershing is wasting the lives of his troops with bad military tactics.
  • May 1919: Returns to the United States as a hero, but is distraught over the lack of recognition his Rainbow Division receives for actions in France.

Inter-war years[edit]

  • June 12, 1919: Becomes the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, West Point.[1]
  • January 20, 1920: Appointed as a brigadier general in the Regular Army.[1] Is one of the few officers who retain their wartime rank. Receives a negative evaluation report from Pershing, now Chief of Staff, who ranks Macarthur 38 out of 45 generals and states that MacArthur has an "exalted view of himself and should remain in his present grade for several years".
  • November 1, 1922: Becomes Commanding General, District of Manila, in the Philippines.[1]
  • June 29, 1923: While still serving as District of Manila Commander, also becomes commander of the 23rd Infantry Brigade.
  • November 18, 1924: Assigned as commander of the Philippine Division.[1]
  • January 17, 1925: Promoted to major general, becoming the youngest two-star general in the U.S. Army. Returns to the United States to become a corps commander.[1]
  • May 1, 1925: Assigned as 4th Corps Area Commander, encompassing the southeastern states with headquarters in Atlanta.[1] Quickly reassigned as local residents did not welcome MacArthur because his father was a Union officer during the Civil War.
  • August 1, 1925 – September 3, 1928: Serves as 3rd Corps Area Commander, with headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.[1]
  • Summer 1928: Leads the United States Olympic Team to Amsterdam.
  • October 1, 1928: Assigned as the Commanding General of the Philippine Department, with headquarters in Manila.[1]
  • October 2, 1930: Becomes the commander of the Ninth Corps Area with headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco, California.[1]
  • November 21, 1930: Appointed by President Hoover as Chief of Staff of the United States Army and promoted to the rank of general on the same date.[1]
  • June 1932: Presides over the dispersal of the "Bonus Army", deemed a low point of his tenure as Army Chief of Staff.
  • October 1935: Completes his tour as Chief of Staff and declines retirement from the Army. Per Army regulations, reverts to his permanent rank of Major General and becomes the Chief Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines.
  • December 31, 1937: Retires from the Army at his own request. Placed on the retired list as a four-star general.
  • 1937 – 1941: Civilian adviser to the Philippine Government on military matters. Is appointed a Field Marshal in the Philippine Army, the only American officer in history accorded with that rank. Begins wearing the "scrambled eggs" cap often associated with him.
  • April 1937: marries Jean Faircloth.
  • February 21, 1938: Arthur MacArthur IV is born.

World War II[edit]

  • July 26, 1941: Recalled to active service in the United States Army as a Major General.
  • July 27, 1941: Appointed Lieutenant General in the Army of the United States and becomes Commanding General of USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East).
  • December 1941: Japanese invade the Philippines.
  • December 18, 1941: promoted to General in the Army of the United States.
  • December 1941–May 1942; Allied forces retreat to Bataan and Corregidor
  • February–March 1942: Roosevelt orders MacArthur to leave the Philippines and base in himself in Australia; on March 20, in Terowie, South Australia, MacArthur promises, "I came out of Bataan and I shall return."
  • May 1942: MacArthur is appointed Supreme Allied Commander, South West Pacific Area. Australian Prime Minister John Curtin gives MacArthur control of the Australian military, which commences the New Guinea campaign.
  • 1943: MacArthur implements Operation Cartwheel, the Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to isolate the major Japanese base at Rabaul.
  • 1943 – 1944: argues with the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding reconquest of the Philippine Islands. Chiefs propose bypass; MacArthur appeals to President Roosevelt.
  • October 1944: MacArthur fulfills his promise to return to the Philippines. U.S forces landed at Leyte and began reconquest of Philippines.
  • December 1944: Promoted to the newly created rank of General of the Army becoming second highest ranking active duty officer of the U.S. Army, second only to George Marshall.
  • 1944 – 1945: Due to logistics issues the Joint Chiefs decided to invade the Philippine Islands. MacArthur again must fight to convince his superiors to invade the entire Philippine Islands, whereas initial plans call for only an invasion of the south. The Joint Chiefs at last agreed that MacArthur is to invade the Philippine Islands at Leyte Gulf and strike toward Manila.
  • February 5, 1945: Forces under MacArthur's command liberate Manila.
  • Summer 1945: in Manila to plan invasions of Japan in October, 1945. Is stunned by the news of the use of the atomic bomb, and is quoted as saying that "this apparatus will make men like me obsolete".
  • September 2, 1945: Presided over the Japanese surrender ceremony and is appointed military governor of Japanese home islands. Threatens the Soviet Union with armed conflict should Red Army soldiers attempt to occupy any part of Japan.

Occupation of Japan[edit]

  • December 15, 1945: Orders the end of Shinto as the state religion of Japan
  • 1945 – 1948: Begins sweeping reforms, drafts a new constitution for Japan, and puts an end to centuries of Emperor god-worship.

Korean War[edit]

  • July 8, 1950: Following the invasion of North Korea into South Korea, MacArthur is named Commander of all United Nations forces in Korea.
  • July 31, 1950: Travels to Taiwan and conducts diplomacy with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek
  • September 15, 1950: Leads UN forces at the Battle of Inchon, seen as one of the greatest military maneuvers in history
  • October 15, 1950: Meets with President Truman on Wake Island after heavy disagreements develop regarding the conduct of the Korean War. When meeting Truman, it is very noticeable that MacArthur does not salute his Commander-in-Chief but rather offers a handshake. Truman awards MacArthur a fourth oak leaf cluster on his Distinguished Service Medal.
  • November – December 1950: With China committed to all-out war against the US on the Korean peninsula, MacArthur advocates for the same in return against China but is prohibited. He is outraged when military leaders in Washington restrict the war to only the Korean theater, meaning that he cannot bomb even the bridges of the Yalu river over which Chinese troops, supplies, and material are streaming across. He is further restricted from bombing their bases in Manchuria. MacArthur expressed his outrage later, saying that "The order not to bomb the Yalu bridges was the most indefensible and ill-conceived decision ever forced on a field commander in our nation's history."
  • April 11, 1951: After several public criticisms of White House policy in Korea, which were seen as undercutting the Commander-in-Chief's position, Harry Truman removes MacArthur from command and orders him to return to the United States. Some suggest Truman may have exchanged MacArthur for a sound nuclear policy in Korea since he did not trust "Brass Hat MacArthur" with nuclear weapons. Some disagree with this, however, since (as David Horowitz noted in The Free World Colossus) MacArthur later came out against Truman's use of the bomb against Japan and there seems to be no concrete evidence of a major change in his views.
  • April 19, 1951: At a farewell address before the United States Congress, MacArthur gives his famous "Old Soldiers Never Die" speech [1]
  • May 1951: Retires a second time from the U.S. Army, but is listed as permanently on active duty due to the regulations regarding those who hold the rank of General of the Army. For administrative reasons, he is assigned in absentee to the office of the Army Chief of Staff

Later life[edit]

  • 1952: Allows name to be placed on primary ballots for Republican nomination, but does not campaign or announce as a candidate. Senator Robert Taft promises supporters to name MacArthur as candidate for Vice President, but Taft loses nomination to Eisenhower.
  • 1955: Is considered for promotion to the rank of General of the Armies. The promotion does not take place, various difficulties having arisen.
  • May 12, 1962: Gives famous Duty, Honor, Country valedictory speech at West Point
  • Active in U.S. Olympic affairs
  • April 5, 1964: Douglas MacArthur dies of liver and kidney failure following gallbladder surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C..

Dates of rank[edit]

No pin insignia in 1903 Second Lieutenant, Engineers, Regular Army: June 11, 1903
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lieutenant, Engineers, Regular Army: April 23, 1904
US-O3 insignia.svg Captain, Engineers, Regular Army: February 27, 1911
US-O4 insignia.svg Major, Engineers, Regular Army: December 11, 1915
US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel, Infantry, National Army: August 5, 1917
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General, National Army: June 26, 1918
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General, Regular Army: January 20, 1920
US-O8 insignia.svg Major General, Regular Army: January 17, 1925
US-O10 insignia.svg General for temporary service as Army Chief of Staff: November 21, 1930
US-O8 insignia.svg Reverted to Major General, Regular Army: October 1, 1935
US-O10 insignia.svg General, Retired list: December 31, 1937
US-O8 insignia.svg Recalled to active service as Major General, Regular Army: July 26, 1941
US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General, Army of the United States: July 27, 1941
US-O10 insignia.svg General, Army of the United States: December 18, 1941
US-O11 insignia.svg General of the Army, Army of the United States: December 18, 1944
US-O11 insignia.svg General of the Army, Regular Army: March 23, 1946

In 1955, a bill was in the early stages of consideration by the United States Congress which would have authorized the President of the United States to promote Douglas MacArthur to the rank of General of the Armies (a similar measure had also been proposed unsuccessfully in 1945). However, because of several complications which would arise if such a promotion were to take place, the bill was withdrawn.

Awards and decorations[edit]

A graphic representation of Douglas MacArthur's American military ribbons, as they would be displayed today.

During his military career, General MacArthur was awarded the following decorations from the United States and other allied nations. The list below is of those medals worn on a military uniform, and does not include commemorative medals, unofficial decorations, and non-portable awards.

United States awards[edit]


Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Cross with two oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Navy Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star six oak leaf clusters, represented by one silver and one bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star with "V" device
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal

Unit award[edit]

Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Presidential Unit Citation six oak leaf clusters, represented by one silver and one bronze oak leaf cluster

Service medals[edit]

Philippine Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Philippine Campaign Medal
Mexican Service Medal ribbon.svg Mexican Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
World War I Victory Medal with five battle clasps (Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector)
Army of Occupation of Germany ribbon.svg Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
Bronze star
American Defense Service Medal with "Foreign Service" clasp
Silver star
Silver star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two silver service stars and arrowhead device
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Army of Occupation Medal with "Japan" clasp
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal (posthumously eligible for bronze service star)
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with three bronze service stars and arrowhead device


Foreign awards[edit]



Unit awards[edit]

Service medals[edit]


General MacArthur belonged to several military and patriotic societies including the Society of the Cincinnati (honorary member of the New York Society), Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (insignia number 15,317), Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Sons of the American Revolution (accepted by the Empire State Society on August 27, 1945 and assigned national membership number 65,843 and state membership number 7,723), Military Order of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the World Wars and the American Legion. In 1942 he received the American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal. [2]

He was also eligible for membership in the Order of Lafayette, Sons of the Revolution and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but his membership in these organizations has not been confirmed.

On January 17, 1936, MacArthur was made a Freemason at sight by Samuel Hawthorne, Grand Master of Masons in the Philippines in a two-hour ceremony. After being raised to the degree of Master Mason, MacArthur joined Manila Lodge No.1. On October 19, 1937, he was elected Knight Commander Court of Honor, and on December 8, 1947, he was coroneted to the honorary 33rd Degree at the American Embassy in Tokyo. He was also a life member of the Nile Shrine in Seattle, Washington.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cullum's Register of Graduates of the USMA. Vol. VII pg. 576.
  2. ^

External links[edit]