I SHALL RETURN
Artist: Mike Koulermos
Writer: Kennith Schulz
Certainly Douglas MacArthur is the most controversial and contradictory general in our nation's history. At his farewell speech to Congress following his removal from command in Korea in 1951 for insubordination he displayed his inability to live in a more nuanced world. "War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.
In war there is no substitute for victory.” And yet, he counseled JFK in 1962 to avoid an Asian land war at all cost. He famously wrote into the Japanese Constitution a plank outlawing war.
MacArthur graduated from West Point in 1903 first in his class (he would return twenty years later as an innovative and its youngest Superintendent); he was America's most decorated soldier in WWI and its youngest general.
He assumed the responsibility for the defense of the Philippines. A day after Pearl Harbor, Japan attacked. He escaped by PT boat, and within little more than thirty months, he made good on his promise ("I shall return"). His masterful generalship led to victory in the Philippines with a dearth of casualties. (MacArthur’s casualty lists were always short. There were twice the US casualties at Iwo Jima and Okinawa than MacArthur incurred against far larger forces during all his battles when taking the Philippines.)
MacArthur accepted the surrender of the Japan on the deck of the battleship Missouri.
He became Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and was a remarkable ruler leading its recovery and transforming its political system.
In the summer of 1950 he led the defense of the invaded South Korea. His masterstroke Inchon Landing is in the Pantheon of battles that changed the course of a war.
The Chinese Communist entry into the war prevented total victory, and MacArthur’s public insistence on having his military options increased was the cause for his firing by Harry Truman.