Best known for: Commander of the Allied Forces in the Pacific during World War II
General Douglas MacArthur Source: Department of Defense
Where did Douglas MacArthur grow up?
Douglas MacArthur was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on January 26,1880. The son of an officer of the U.S. Army, Douglas' family moved a lot. He was the youngest of three brothers and grew up enjoying sports and outdoor adventures.
As a child, his family lived mostly in the Old West. His mother Mary taught him how to read and write, while his brothers taught him how to hunt and ride a horse. Douglas' dream as a child was to grow up and be a famous soldier like his dad.
After graduating high school, MacArthur entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was an excellent student and played on the school's baseball team. He graduated first in his class in 1903 and joined the army as second lieutenant.
Douglas was very successful in the army. He was promoted several times. When the United States entered World War I in 1917 MacArthur was promoted to colonel. He was given a command of the "Rainbow" Division (the 42nd Division). MacArthur proved himself to be an outstanding military leader and a brave soldier. He often fought on the front lines with his soldiers and earned several awards for bravery. By the end of the war he had been promoted to general.
World War II
In 1941, MacArthur was named commander of the U.S. forces in the Pacific. Not long after, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. At the time, MacArthur was in the Philippines. After attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese turned their attention to the Philippines. They quickly took control and MacArthur, along with his wife and child, had to escape through enemy lines on a small boat.
Once MacArthur could gather his forces, he went on the attack. He was an excellent leader and began to win back islands from the Japanese. After several years of fierce fighting, MacArthur and his troops won back the Philippines, delivering a serious blow to the Japanese forces.
MacArthur's next job was to invade Japan. However, U.S. leaders decided to use the atomic bomb instead. After atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan surrendered. MacArthur accepted the official Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945.
MacArthur Smoking a Corn Cob Pipe
Source: National Archives
After the war, MacArthur took on the monumental task of rebuilding Japan. The country was defeated and in ruins. At first, he helped to provide food for the starving people of Japan out of the armies supplies. He then worked to rebuild the infrastructure and government of Japan. Japan had a new democratic constitution and would eventually grow to become one of the largest economies in the world.
In 1950, the Korean War broke out between North and South Korea. MacArthur was made commander of the forces fighting to keep South Korea free. He came up with a brilliant, but risky plan. He attacked at a point well behind the enemy lines, splitting the North Korean army. The attack was a success, and the North Korean army was driven out of South Korea. However, soon the Chinese joined in the war to help North Korea. MacArthur wanted to attack the Chinese, but President Truman disagreed. MacArthur was relieved of his command over the disagreement.
MacArthur retired from the army and went into business. He spent his retirement years writing his memoirs. He died on April 5, 1964 at the age of 84.
Interesting Facts about Douglas MacArthur
His father, General Arthur MacArthur, rose to the rank of Lieutenant General. He fought in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
He served as the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee for the 1928 Olympics.
He once said that "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."
He was known for smoking a pipe made from a corn cob.