George PattonGeorge Smith Patton (November 11, 1885 - December 21, 1945), born in San Gabriel, California, was an American general leading U.S forces in various World War II campaigns.
During the Mexican Border Campaign of 1916, Patton, while assigned to the 13th Cavalry Regiment in Texas, accompanied then-Brigadier General John Pershing as his aide during the Punitive Expedition into Mexico.
During World War I, Patton, then a lieutenant colonel, was placed in charge of the U.S. Tank Corps, which was part of the American Expeditionary Force and then the First U.S. Army. He took part in the St. Michel offensive of September, 1918, and was seriously wounded.
Between the wars, Patton wrote professional articles on tank and armored car tactics, suggesting new methods to use these weapons.
During the buildup of the American Army prior to its entry into World War II, Patton established the Desert Training Center in Indio, California. He also commanded one of the two wargaming armies in the Louisiana Manuevers of 1941. Fort Benning, Georgia is well known for General Patton's presence.
In 1942, Major General Patton commanded the Western Task Force of the U.S. Army, which landed on the coast of Morocco in Operation Torch. Following the defeat of the U.S. Army by the German Afrika Korps at the Battle of Kasserine Pass in 1943, Patton was made lieutenant general and placed in command of II Corps. Although tough in his training, he was generally considered fair and very well-liked by his troops.
Patton led the Seventh Army in the 1943 Sicilian campaign, but relinquished command of the Army prior to its operations in Italy. During this period, while visiting a hospital, he slapped a soldier who he thought was showing cowardly behavior. (The soldier was suffering from battle fatigue or shell-shock and had no visible wounds). Because of this action, Patton was kept out of public view for some time.
In the period leading to the Normandy invasion, Patton gave public talks as commander of the (fictional) First U.S. Army Group (FUSAG), which was supposedly intending to invade France by way of Calais. This was part of a sophisticated Allied campaign of military deception, Operation Fortitude.
Following the Normandy invasion, Patton was placed in command of the Third U.S. Army, which was on the extreme right (west) of the Allied land forces. He led this army during Operation Cobra, the breakout from earlier slow fighting in the Norman system of planting hedgerows, besieged Cherbourg, and then moved south and east, assisting in trapping several hundred thousand German soldiers in Falaise.
The Third Army was stopped because of a lack of fuel in September, and resumed offensive operations in the late fall of 1944. When the German army counterattacked during the Battle of the Bulge, Patton was able to disengage his army fighting eastward and turned it ninety degrees north—a considerable tactical and logistical achievement.
In October 1945 General Patton assumed control of the Fifteenth Army, a paper army, in American-occupied Germany. He died from injuries suffered in an auto accident and was buried in American War Cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg.
George Patton was the focus of the 1970 Academy Award winning movie Patton. As a result of that movie and its now-famous opening monologue, in popular culture Patton has come to symbolize a warrior's fierceness and aggressiveness.