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Douglas MacArthur: 1930

November 1930. Washington, D.C. "MacArthur, Douglas, General." Pipe, corncob, evidently at the cleaners. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

November 1930. Washington, D.C. "MacArthur, Douglas, General." Pipe, corncob, evidently at the cleaners. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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For years, my opinion of MacArthur ran much along the lines as yours. What changed it was reading "American Caesar" by William Manchester.

MacArthur was arrogant, flamboyant, conceited, and in every way a prima donna, who both used and relished media showboating. And despite the brilliant Inchon invasion, he deserved being fired by Truman for his insubordinate statements regarding how to deal with North Korea and China.

But he was also an extremely able general, who consistently kept several steps ahead of the enemy. Moreover, he took and held more territory with a smaller loss of lives on our side than any other WW2 general we had.

By counter-example, much of the bloodbath of Okinawa would have been sidestepped had he been in charge there. His plan was to capture enough of the island to provide us with airbases for attacking the home islands. This was achieved early in the campaign, as the Japanese decided to let us land essentially unopposed. As a result, we gained control of a large swath of central and northern Okinawa quickly and with low losses.

MacArthur could see no point in spending thousands of American lives to root out the Japanese army in the south of the island, where they had dug in for the usual to-the-last-man defense. Instead it was better, he thought, to use the Army and Marines to keep them bottled up there at low cost to us.

And, finally, he ran the postwar occupation of Japan much better than anyone else likely could have.

General Studies

Here's someone who spent a fair amount of time in front of a mirror. Note the jaunty tilt of the off-center cap. Bravo.

Forward to 1942

Following the loss of the Philippines, Dougout Doug (as my father also called him) was awarded the Medal of Honor for his failed defense. His father, Arthur McArthur, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his 1863 bravery at Missionary Ridge. I have looked for, and never seen, a photo of Doug wearing the Medal of Honor or the ribbon. I think in 1942 he was so ashamed to have received the Medal of Honor that he gave up wearing decorations for the remainder of his life.

He certainly was not camera-shy, and if some one can find the photo I am looking for I would like to see it.


It was almost as if MacArthur was really looking to be King of the Philippines. He formed the country's army in the 1930s but it wasn't ready for the Japanese attack in 1941. It was rumored that he had vast personal holdings there. He was Field Marshal of the Philippine Army (a rank that didn't exist in the U.S. Army). After Pearl Harbor he led the U.S. to victory in the Pacific, but when North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950, and the Chinese Red Army went to the aid of the North, he wanted to nuke China and President Truman objected, called him home, and fired him. Truman's action as Commander-in-Chief effectively ended his military career and solidified Presidential command of the armed forces. Some felt that he should have been the Republican nominee in 1952 presidential election but the GOP wisely chose General Dwight Eisenhower, his archrival.


Many of his staff and other soldiers under his command in the Philippines referred to him as Dugout Doug. One has to wonder why, when another American Army general halfway around the globe was "Old Blood and Guts" Patton. For all practical purposes, MacArthur sat out the war while his subordinate commanders fought and died. Meanwhile Patton was in the thick of it. Even MacArthur's "I Have Returned" publicity photo on the beach at Leyte was staged.

Captures the whole man

A mix of brilliance, arrogance and probably more than a little entitlement. I'd love to see a picture of his father, Arthur MacArthur, sometime.

Dirty Doug

"Doug" kept a mistress for quite a number of years Isabel Rosario Cooper, a Filipino actress whom he met when she was 16 years old. Her pet name for him was "Daddy".

He is famously reported as having given her many gifts but no raincoat because "She didn't need one ... her duty lay in bed".

Living Off Post

I guess that's why he graduated top of his class. An amazing amount of negative comments for a man whose contributions to this nation were so great as to even enabled a cottage industry of heelbiters.

Not long before attacking his own side

The Bonus Army (WWI Veterans) marched on Washington during the Depression, and MacArthur and Eisenhower were instrumental in running them out of town. Tsk Tsk.

Dougout Doug

Looking rather spiffy in front of the oft-occasioned camera.

MacArthur Military Museum

I shall return to this museum in Little Rock to see a display of photos from the Vietnam War by two journalists that served there in the 60's. This museum is an old military arsenal from the middle 1800's and happens to be the birthplace of the general in 1880.

Generally speaking

A REAL gentleman!

A Dandy

Not bad for a kid who spent his last three years at West Point living off post with his mother.

Appropriate for the Leyte invasion anniversary

October 20, 1944

New Chief of Staff

In November 1930 he became Army Chief of Staff and was promoted to full general (four-star) from major-general (two-star). He's wearing four here, so it would have been just after the promotion I think.

This is a pretty remarkable attainment for a guy who had just turned 50.

Character Study

Perhaps it's only my perceptions, filtered through a knowledge of what was to come for McArthur, but it seems to me you can see a great deal in this: his expression shows self-confidence, almost arrogance; an instinct for how he's viewed by the camera; nattiness of dress (although what's up with the knitted tie?); and a kind of superciliousness.

Yet to come were Corregidor and Korea and the Old Soldier fading away....

Interesting feature

Interesting plane of focus with his pants going soft very quickly, together with his right shoulder but not his left.

Nuke 'em !

And to think that 21 years later, he was willing to nuke China ... He does not appear so rabid in this picture !

The same

Douglas MacArthur who two years later in D.C. led troops against World War I veterans and their families protesting to get their bonus pay.

Phillipines, The

Return, shall I.


I couldn't help but compare General MacArthur to this clown:

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