Thursday, July 24, 2008

MacArthur, Krulak and God

When my father, John Mitchell, was working on his PhD at the University of Missouri in the 1950s, he knew another graduate student named John Mitchell who had worked as part of General Douglas MacArthur’s security detail in Japan during the occupation. MacArthur was the only non-Japanese shogun the Japanese ever had.

The other John Mitchell told this story: The security detail's codeword for MacArthur was 'God'. This should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with that man’s reputation as an egomaniac of monumental proportions. His son, Arthur MacArthur (named after the General's father ) was known as 'Jesus'.

Many years later, when I was in Bethel, Alaska, I got to be friends with a retired Marine Sergeant Major who told me he had served with General Victor Krulak, who retired as the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Sergeant Major Bowles told me that when Krulak was serving as Battalion Commander in the Pacific during WWII, he developed an outstanding reputation with his men, not just as a very brave man, but as a meticulous planner who left nothing to chance. Time after time, his unit achieved their objectives with minimal casualties. It did not take long for Krulak's men to figure out that they had an extraordinary CO. After a while, the Marines in that unit nicknamed 'God'. As in: “God will provide. God will protect us. God will get us out of this.”

I find it ironic that two officers would have exactly the same nickname, with such completely different meanings.


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