Thursday, August 23, 2012


Destiny...Preordained...Fate...Timing...Luck...Irony...All these words came to mind as I was recalling the differences in the lives of  General Jonathan Wainwright and General Douglas MacArthur.

During World War II President Roosevelt made the decision to promote General Wainwright to Commander of All Allied Forces in the Philippines and transfer General MacArthur from his command in the Philippines to Australia.  Up until this point Wainwright had been a lieutenant general under MacArthur's command.

In 1942, General Wainwright's first strategic decision was to move his troops to a fortified garrison in Corregidor.  War was raging in Battan and was taken by the Japanese with their Bataan "Death March" of capturing all Allies.  Corredigor became the next battle ground.  General Wainwright and his 13,000 troops held out for a month despite all the heavy artillery fire.  Finally he and his troops surrendered.  He was captured and became a POW until the end of the war in 1945.

General Wainwright spent three and a half years as a POW in Luzon, Philippines, Formosa (now Taiwan), and Manchuria, China.  He was finally freed when Russian forces liberated the POW camp.  The General was emaciated, his hair had turned white, and his skin was cracked and fragile.  After his return to the United States he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

General MacArthur transferred to Australia where he became Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific Area.  For his defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor. After more than two years of fighting in the Pacific, he fulfilled a promise to return to the Philippines. He officially accepted Japan's surrender on September 2, 1945, and oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951. As the effective ruler of Japan, he oversaw sweeping economic, political and social changes. He led the United Nations Command in the Korean War until he was removed from his duty by President Truman on April 11, 1951.

Was General Wainwright just unlucky in the timing of his promotion?  Was General MacArthur lucky in the timing of his promotion?  Destiny...Preordained...Fate...Timing...Luck...Irony...

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