The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






Seven Silver Stars

Bizarre, Fascinating, and Wacky World War I & ll Secrets.

by Cecil Owen

"Suddenly, We leaped down into the "boche" (German) trench! Savage hand to hand fighting began, as they knew we were coming, there was no mercy shown on either side. For the boche were well trained and hardened veterans, but so was the French (allied) raiding party."

War is never glamorous nor glorious, as often portrayed in the movies. Especially in trench combat, it is kill or be killed!

"Now it was an overcast night, but we daubed face black to cover our white faces. This was supposed to be a surprise raiding party, to capture live German prisoners. Then they could be interrogated to learn the strength of the enemy. We all carried wire cutters, to cut a hole in the enemy barbed wire barricades. So we slipped out of our trench, and began to crawl across no-man's-land. (A big open space between the enemy lines and the allied lines.) So now we slip and slide along in the mud! I always wondered why the infantry soldiers were not called Mud Boys, instead of Dough Boys."

"As we neared the enemy trench, a German sentry heard our approach. Quickly the alarm spread throughout the trench, and everyone began to shoot! Then flares lit up the whole area like a Christmas tree! Next, the enemy artillery batteries laid down a heavy barrage in front of their lines! So actually, we had only one way to go.... forward and engage the boche! Finally, most of the enemy soldiers were dead, but a few did surrender."

Cecil Owen

"When the flares were all burnt out, we began our return trip back to our own lines. It was now harder than before, crawling along in the mud and herding the German prisoners too. When we reached our own trench, the veteran French soldiers all crowded around me! They began shaking my hand, and slapping me on the back. they also offered me cognac (French brandy) and absinthe (French wine). I was probably the first American soldier that they had ever seen! And now I was considered one of them. The French general George de Bazelaire kissed me on both cheeks, and gave me the French medal "The Croix de Guerre" (Cross of War). The American command awarded me the silver star, for extraordinary heroism and gallantry in action! The award seemed a little bit too much to me, but of course I was glad to have it. Oh! Who am I? Didn't I tell you?.. My name is General Douglas MacArthur!"

The time is February 26, 1918, and the locale is the allied front lines near Rechicourt, France. Why would a high ranking American general be with a raiding party of French soldiers? Because he wanted to see first hand what the enemy troops were like. That was very unusual, and General Mac had to get permission from the French general de

Bazelaire to participate.

General MacArthur was chief of staff of  the all American 42 Infantry Division, nicknamed the Rainbow Division. It was organized in Long Island, New York, consisting of 27,000 men. This took place during August and September of 1917. Then on October 18, 1917, the Rainbow Division set sail for France, onboard the troop ship convoy. The convoy was tracked by German submarines, which was very nerve-racking. However the convoy was too well guarded by escort

warships. One being the heavy cruiser USS Chattanooga, commanded by General Mac's brother, Captain Arthur MacArthur.

In February of 1918, The Rainbow Division was stationed in a combat area at Luneville-Baccarat. But so far had seen no combat duty. This is why General Mac wanted to go on the French raiding party. He did not believe in leaving anything to chance. He said, it is imperative to know by personal observation what my division will have to face. It is all very well to make a perfect plan of attack, then work out in theory for a foolproof design for victory. But that plan must consider the caliber of the troops, and the terrain to be fought over. And of course the strength of the enemy opposed, or it may become confused and fail.

Early in March, the high command, General Pershing decided that the Rainbow Division was ready for combat. It had withstood an enemy attack, endured a night gas attack, and conducted itself well in trench duties. But what our allies wanted to know, what would the "yanks" do in hand combat with the boche? The target was a section of the German trench on the Salient du Feys. Zero hour was to be five o'clock plus five minutes.

The French moved their artillery and prepared to begin firing at five minutes short of zero hour. Soon the night trembled with the thunderous roar of sixty artillery batteries. As fast as gunners could throw in shells, the guns flashed their fire. American officers and sergeants stood ready, with their whistles in their teeth. "All ready Casey?" General Mac yelled into the ear of Captain Charles J. Casey. He was company battalion commander, who was standing next to MacArthur. "Now," he said, and everyone blew their whistles.

"We went up and over the top of our trench as fast as we could. we ran across no-man's-land and quickly pounced upon the boche."

General MacArthur was always a leader, and never a follower. Even in the hottest battle he was in the forefront. He was now

37 years old and somewhat of an eccentric. He would not wear the steel GI helmet, because it was too heavy and hurt his head. He would not use a gas mask, because it hampered his movements. (That is why he was gassed twice) He always carried a riding crop (a small whip with a leather loop for a lash.)

General Mac was wounded twice, but nothing seriously, just flesh wounds. The German high command did not believe that the yanks could fight, just a bunch of hillbillies and plowboys! Yet in the Rainbow Division's first hand to hand fight, they completely obliterated the entire boche trench! From that time on, friend and foe alike knew that the Rainbow Division was a top gun fighting machine!

For leading this charge, Captain Casey and General Mac were both awarded the medal, The Distinguished Service Cross! Which is second only to the Medal of Honor, our country's highest battle decoration.

General MacArthur was military all of his life. He enrolled, at 19 years of age, at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated with the highest score ever received by a cadet. His father and grandfather were both in the military. During General Mac's long career, he served under eight presidents. As a career soldier, he was acclaimed as a genius in many categories. No other man was so outspoken in his commitment to his troops or his beliefs.

The republican party wanted to draft him to run for president, but he refused. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, he wanted to stay and fight, but President Roosevelt ordered General Mac to proceed down to Australia, as Supreme Commander of the Pacific Allied Forces. He was the architect of the campaign to drive the Japanese from New Guinea, Corregidor, and Bataan.

His now legendary promise of return became the only hope for a forgotten people. If General Mac had been given a free hand in Korea, by President Truman.... he would have won that war in six months!

Why are the Democrats raising so much cain to bring our troops back from Iraq? The Korean war ended in 1952, this is 2008, yet the United States still has several thousand troops on duty in Korea. Why is there no cry from our Democrats to bring them back home?

The exploits of General Douglas MacArthur are so numerous, it is hard to select one to write about. His leadership of the famous Rainbow Division is not that well known, thus my selection. In only eight and one half months, he was highly decorated. The top American General John J. Pershing awarded him seven silver stars, and two distinguished service crosses. But the French went wild in decorating General Mac: two Croix de Guerre, commander in the legion of honor, honorary corporal of the 8th Regiment of the line with legion of honor forragere, and honorary first class private of the Battalion de Chasseurs Alpins with medal militaire fourragere. (Sorry, I could find no Frenchman to interpret!)

On April 30, 1937, General Mac made one of his most important decisions: In New York City, he married Jean Marie Faircloth, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee!

Then at 1:00 am on April 11, 1951, President Harry Truman fired the greatest of all generals, Douglas MacArthur, as supreme commander of our U.S. forces in Korea! General Mac learned of it through a press dispatch on the public radio.

What a callous disregard for ordinary decencies, no formal notification, no hearing, no warning at all. Not even a chairwoman, or servant of any kind would have been dismissed under these conditions.  Most people did not realize General Mac was dealt a double low blow. He was also fired as supreme commander of the nation of Japan! He had been ruler over Japan ever since World War Two had ended! What a shabby and dastardly way for a president of the United States to act!

General Mac went before congress and gave an elegant farewell speech. Congress stood up and cheered him as he ended, "old soldiers never die, they just fade away!"

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