Robert L. Eichelberger
Robert Lawrence Eichelberger (9 March 1886 – 26 September 1961) was a general in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, who commanded the US Eighth Army in the South West Pacific Area
South West Pacific theatre of World War II
The South West Pacific Theatre, technically the South West Pacific Area, between 1942 and 1945, was one of two designated area commands and war theatres enumerated by the Combined Chiefs of Staff of World War II in the Pacific region....

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. His Army was among the very first to engage the Japanese in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Pre-World War II service

Eichelberger was born at Urbana, Ohio
Urbana, Ohio
Urbana is a city in and the county seat of Champaign County, Ohio, United States, west of Columbus. Urbana was laid out in 1805, and for a time in 1812 was the headquarters of the Northwestern army. Urbana was named after the town of Urbanna, Virginia. It is the burial-place of the Indian fighter...

. He entered the Army as an infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 from the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated 68th among his classmates from the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 in 1909, who included George S. Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

 (46), Edwin F. Harding
Edwin F. Harding
Edwin Forrest Harding commanded the 32nd Infantry Division at the beginning of World War II. He graduated 74th among his classmates from the United States Military Academy in 1909, who included George S. Patton , Jacob L. Devers , John C. H. Lee , Horace H. Fuller , Robert L. Eichelberger , and...

 (74), Jacob L. Devers
Jacob L. Devers
General Jacob "Jake" Loucks Devers , commander of the 6th Army Group in Europe during World War II. He was the first United States military officer to reach the Rhine after D-Day.-Biography:...

 (39), John C. H. Lee
John C. H. Lee
John Clifford Hodges Lee was a US Army General. He graduated 12th out of 103 graduates from the United States Military Academy in 1909.He served in World War I, World War II and rose to the rank of Lieutenant General....

 (12), and William H. Simpson (101).

For the next several years, he saw service in Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 and the U.S.-Mexico border before joining the American Expeditionary Force Siberia
American Expeditionary Force Siberia
The American Expeditionary Force Siberia was a United States Army force that was involved in the Russian Civil War in Vladivostok, Russian Empire, during the tail end of World War I after the October Revolution, from 1918 to 1920....

. In the years 1918 to 1920, Major Eichelberger observed the Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese incursion into Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and studied Japanese military strategy. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree...

 for repeated acts of bravery while assigned to the Expeditionary Force.

After further overseas duty in the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 and China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Eichelberger returned to the U.S. attended the Command and General Staff College
Command and General Staff College
The United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas is a graduate school for United States Army and sister service officers, interagency representatives, and international military officers. The college was established in 1881 by William Tecumseh Sherman as a...

 at Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army facility located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, immediately north of the city of Leavenworth in the upper northeast portion of the state. It is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C. and has been in operation for over 180 years...

 and the Army War College, progressing through promotions to Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 in October 1940.

Eichelberger became Superintendent of the Military Academy
Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
The commanding officer of the United States Military Academy is its Superintendent. This position is roughly equivalent to the chancellor or president of an American civilian university. The officer appointed is by tradition a graduate of the United States Military Academy, commonly known as "West...

 in 1940 but left West Point for active duty in 1942.

World War II service

After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, many military men returned their Japanese decorations and medals by sending them to the U.S. Army Air Corps so they could be attached to bombs marked "return to sender." Thrice-decorated Eichelberger held on to his Imperial Order of Meiji, Order of the Sacred Treasure
Order of the Sacred Treasure
The is a Japanese Order, established on January 4, 1888 by Emperor Meiji of Japan as the Order of Meiji. It is awarded in eight classes . It is generally awarded for long and/or meritorious service and considered to be the lowest of the Japanese orders of merit...

 and Order of the Rising Sun
Order of the Rising Sun
The is a Japanese order, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji of Japan. The Order was the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese Government, created on April 10, 1875 by decree of the Council of State. The badge features rays of sunlight from the rising sun...

. When asked about letting the Army Air Corps return the honors, he is famously reported to have said, "Hell, no. I'm going to take them back myself."

Eichelberger was appointed Commanding General of US I Corps and left for Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in 1942. In October 1942 he was promoted to Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General (United States)
In the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general...

. When it was reported the 32nd U.S. Infantry Division, a poorly trained and ill-equipped National Guard
United States National Guard
The National Guard of the United States is a reserve military force composed of state National Guard militia members or units under federally recognized active or inactive armed force service for the United States. Militia members are citizen soldiers, meaning they work part time for the National...

 unit, had proved ineffective in the Allied offensive against Buna and Gona
Battle of Buna-Gona
The Battle of Buna–Gona was a battle in the New Guinea campaign, a major part of the Pacific campaign of World War II. On 16 November 1942, Australian and United States forces attacked the main Japanese beachheads in New Guinea, at Buna, Sanananda and Gona. Both forces were riddled by disease and...

, the major Japanese beachhead
Beachhead is a military term used to describe the line created when a unit reaches a beach, and begins to defend that area of beach, while other reinforcements help out, until a unit large enough to begin advancing has arrived. It is sometimes used interchangeably with Bridgehead and Lodgement...

s in northeastern New Guinea, General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 told Eichelberger to assume direct control of the division:
He replaced Harding with the division's artillery commander, Brigadier General Albert W. Waldron. He also moved the I corp HQ to Buna and ran it with a batman and radio operator. "Some of the 32nd Division's officers privately denounced Eichelberger as ruthless and "Prussian". The men of the 32nd...called their division cemetery 'Eichelberger Square.'" Eichelberger concentrated decisive power, set an example by moving among the troops on the front lines, sharing their hardships and danger. Despite the risk, he purposefully wore his three silver stars while at the front, even though he knew enemy snipers targeted officers. His Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Clovis E. Byers
Clovis E. Byers
Lieutenant General Clovis E. Byers was an American soldier and General in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his role as Chief of Staff of the Eighth Army in the South West Pacific Area during World War II and in the Occupation of Japan. He was wounded while leading American...

 asked him to remove them, and he refused. Eichelberger wanted his troops to know their commander was present. He lost thirty pounds in thirty days at the front. He rewarded effective officers with increased command responsibilities and removed ineffective commanders.

Byers recommended Eichelberger for the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 but the nomination was disapproved by MacArthur. Eichelberger led the Australian-US Advanced New Guinea Force
New Guinea Force
New Guinea Force was a military command unit for Australian, territory of Papua and territory of New Guinea troops serving in the New Guinea campaign during World War II. Formed in April 1942 it was responsible for planning and directing all operations within the territory up until October 1944,...

 to victory over the Japanese at Buna, in early 1943. In 1944, Eichelberger also had notable victories at Hollandia
Jayapura City is the capital of Papua province, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea. It is situated on Yos Sudarso Bay . Its approximate population in 2002 was 200,000....

 and Biak
Biak features a tropical rainforest climate with nearly identical temperatures throughout the course of the year. The average annual temperature in the city is 27 degrees celsius, which is also generally the average temperature of each day in Biak...

, in Dutch New Guinea.

As Commanding General of the newly formed Eighth Army, he led the invasion of the Philippines clearing the islands of Mindoro
Mindoro is the seventh-largest island in the Philippines. It is located off the coast of Luzon, and northeast of Palawan. The southern coast of Mindoro forms the northeastern extremum of the Sulu Sea.-History:...

, Marinduque
In 1945, combined American and Philippine Commonwealth troops attacked from the Japanese Troops liberated to the Battle of Marinduque in the Second World War.-Archaeology:...

, Panay
Panay may refer to*Panay Island*Panay *Panay, Capiz*Panay River*Panay Gulf* USS Panay *Panay incident...

, Negros, Cebu
Cebu Island
Cebu is an island of the Philippines. It is the main island of Cebu Province at the center of the Visayan Islands, south of Manila.It lies to the east of Negros Island; to the east is Leyte and to the southeast is Bohol Island. It is flanked on both sides by the Cebu Strait and Tañon Strait...

 and Bohol
Bohol is an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region, consisting of Bohol Island and 75 minor surrounding islands. Its capital is Tagbilaran City. With a land area of and a coastline long, Bohol is the tenth largest island of the Philippines...

. By July 1945, Eichelberger's forces had defeated the Japanese on Mindanao
Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...


In August 1945, Eichelberger's Eighth Army began a three-year stint as part of the Occupation of Japan, where he was also responsible for the review of sentences passed to Class B or C war criminals at Yokohama.

Retirement and death

After nearly 40 years service, he retired in September 1948. He wrote Our Jungle Road to Tokyo, the story of the army's ground war in the Pacific. Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, in recognition of his service, promoted Eichelberger to full General in 1954 (Public Law 83-508, July 19, 1954).

He died at Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 11th largest city in North Carolina. The City is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center , which is the world's largest active...

, on 26 September 1961, and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...


External links

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