tv Reel America Famous Generals - Eisenhower - 1963 CSPAN August 19, 2021 12:56pm-1:26pm EDT
♪♪ ladies and gentlemen, mr. walter matthau. >> you will enter the continent of europe and in conjunction with the other united nations undertake operations aimed at the heart of germany and the destruction of her ram forces. this was without a doubt the most difficult assignment ever given to one man. the brilliance with which he
answered this awesome challenge marks him as one of our greatest soldiers. mr. raymond massie, the distinguished actor, now brings you some of the finest moments in our history. the story of general of the army, dwight d. eisenhower. ♪♪ ♪♪ >> the time is june 1945. the occasion, the return to his homeland of a war hero whose stature has seldom been matched in the esteem of his country men. the european phase of the greatest war america ever fought is over and part of the warmth with which the people of
abilene, kansas, greet general dwight d. eisenhower reflects the deep joy of a nation approaching peace again. some of it is the kind of welcome any hometown might give a favorite son who has done a good job but more than anything else it is a tribute. a gratitude felt in every corner of the allied world, no less than in abilene. towards a man who stewarded a crew said towards its victory. it was a crew said with battles and triumphs but found its symbol in one day above all others. d-day. june 6th, 1944. the invasion of fortress europe was one of the greatest military adventures of all time. from the outcome of this bold adventure hung the fate of war
and freedom. it was because so much of man's hope had been bound up in the success this have adventure that the architect of that success found the hearts of the people open to him from europe to the town of his boyhood, where the adventure of dwight d. eisenhower the man began. abilene, kansas, today, a busy and proud town of almost -- western wheatland is typical of the kind of town that comes to mind with the phrase grassroots america. the mark of the past is on it but it does not live in the past, its streets and buildings bear testimony to a living and growing america. one of its newest and proudest buildings is the eisenhower museum which carries forth the spirit and the history of the
eisenhower family of abilene. it is visited daily by citizens from all parts of the country ranging from dignitary to school boy. inside the museum the life of dwight eisenhower, boy and man, is depicted in a series of murals. from infancy that life had the flavor of grassroots america about it. eisenhower was born in 1890 in dennison, texas, of parents whose families had migrated to pennsylvania from europe, advanced through the american midwest. young eisenhower's parents had lived in abilene before his birth and it was to abilene once the wild town at the end of the chisolm trail, now a peaceful village of the plains, that they returned when he was an infant. and it was here that he grew to
maturity through a childhood that was active, eager and happy. an experience shared with devoted parents and spirited brothers a childhood that was rich in the important things of life has ever graced the development of any man. it was an active boyhood in which sports played an important part. he excelled at baseball both in school and on a vacant lot next to his home. but football was his first love and his high school coach called him the most outstanding tackle in the valley. the active life was important but the greatest single staple of the eisenhower family life was religious observance. the family home in abilene shows the influence of that serious
religious conviction, the bible was the guide of family life and its chroniceler as well. on the bedroom on the wall still hangs the simple testament of faith, thy will be done. it was a home of patriotism as well as faith and of respect for things of the mind. work, constant and hard work, was also a staple of the family routine. the creamery where young eisenhower worked during his spare time when he was in school is still one of abilene's light industries. in this way and by these standards young dwight eisenhower grew to a manhood the world would one day know well. he was 20 when he left abilene.
for the military academy at west point. many a great american has begun his march into history as a cadet on the plain at west point. eisenhower was graduated from the military academy in 1915 and commissioned to second lieutenant of infantry. a new phase of life was beginning. in the summer of 1916 as a newly promoted first lieutenant stationed at fort sam houston, texas, he married mamie geneva dowd of denver. events in europe were forging a new phase of life for the entire world.
world war i gave many a future general his first experience with combat. when young eisenhower was not among them. world war i brought him instead command of a tank training center at gettysburg, pennsylvania, where he prepared troops at the new tank corps for overseas duty. his performance won for him the distinguished service medal, but before he was able to get to europe the war ended. in the late 1920s after graduation from the command and general staff school major dwight d. eisenhower was assigned to france to prepare a guidebook on american battlefields in europe. it was his first direct experience with that continent. with the '30s came other assignments, climaxed by service under general douglas mcarthur in the philippines.
for four years he worked with macarthur to help the commonwealth government work out a plan for its military defense. ordered back to the states in december 1939 lieutenant colonel eisenhower went to ft. lewis, washington, as executive officer of the 15th infantry regiment. in the dark spring of 1940 german armored divisions were crashing through holland and belgium. it was streaking its destruction through europe's skies, france was problems trait and beleaguered -- standing alone. the united states had passed the selective service act to prepare for what inevitably lay ahead.
and the biggest challenge in colonel eisenhower's life was to aid in that preparation. late in 1940 he was made chief of staff of the third division where his staff work brought him assignment as chief of staff of the ninth corps. in the summer of 1941 colonel eisenhower became chief of staff to general walter krueger whose newly organized third army was preparing to participate in the most realistic war maneuvers yet held by american troops. in these maneuvers over the louisiana countryside as america fought for the time to train its growing army of citizen soldiers eisenhower's task was to work out a plan of defense against an invading mechanized force.
soon after the maneuvers were over eisenhower was promoted to brigadier general and within a matter of days came the bombing of pearl harbor. from almost this moment on the fate of the nation and the fate of general dwight d. eisenhower would be inextricably bound together. called to washington in the first weeks after the war began eisenhower went to work in the war plans office of the war department. among the plans formulated during this time was the central strategic determination to make an eventual attack across the english channel the principal allied defensive effort. a mural covering the west wall of the eisenhower museum dramatizes the high spots of the next great sequence in the
adventure involving the nation and man whose ability to rise to grave responsibilities brought him rapid promotions. because an all out channel invasion would be impossible before 1944 and because the need for offensive action was immediate in 1942, the allies undertook as a combined operation under the command of general dwight d. eisenhower the invasion of north africa. the minimum objective of this maneuver was to seize the main ports between casablanca and algiers. >> along the rim of a north african coast troops were ashore in late november encountering resistance ranging from mild at algiers to surprisingly staff at casablanca. >> the commanders hope was to push east along the
mediterranean and take the posts of bizette and tunis. but a number of unfavorable circumstances including treacherous weather conditions prompted the commander to hold off on his vital assault. in the spring, however, troops of omar bradley's second corps were able to take bizette and at the same time tunis fell to the british first army. and with these victories came the end of the axis empire in africa. the allied leaders and the men who had fought under them proudly commemorated their
victory. one of the greatest products of this victory in the words of the commander himself was the progress achieved in the welding of allied unity and the establishment of a combat team that was already showing the effects of a growing can have tens and trust among all its members. the successful end of the campaign brought personal recognition of eisenhower throughout the world as a great leader but the commander himself interpreted this recognition as proof that free men can find in unity the way to victory, even against seemingly invincible odds. the next big campaign, the invasion of sicily, brought further demonstration of his basic truth.
allied troops took this vital rock in the summer of 1943. the effect of sicily's fall was electric. italy surrendered, the first of the axis partners to capitulate. and now the allies prepared for what was to be the most fought battle of the mediterranean war. the invasion of italy at solerno. >> through a miracle of courage and tenacity troops of general mark clark's fifth army established a beach head against
overwhelming german odds and went on to take slayer know and the vital port of naples. the first major objectives of the italian campaign were accomplished. allied force were on european soil and would be able to pin down troops far from the scene of the cross-channel invasion planned for the following year. president roosevelt visited the combat area with general eisenhower when he came over for the cairo conferences where agreement was once again established that the principal allied effort to be the invasion of europe. shortly after ward the man who would command this awesome undertaking was named, general dwight d. eisenhower who people
throughout the free world were now calling the man of the hour. on the opposite wall of the museum another mural depicts some of the major episodes in the great crew said which liberated europe. the stream commander's orders from the combined chiefs of staff were quite simple, to land on the coast of france and thereafter to destroy the german ground forces. between the order and its execution lay an agony of effort. across the channel the heavy fortifications lining the coast of france bespoke the nazi's belief that they could push the invading armies back into the sea. in france alone 58 german divisions were waiting, preparing for the invasion was a job without let up.
incessant and realistic training was of paramount importance. the challenges of morale, the myriad of details of coordination on every level, all these were overwhelming. but through those tense months in the early part of 1944 the preparations continued. and finally after being postponed one day because of weather conditions the eve of the day of decision was at hand. the commander visited the airborne troops who would lead the invasion. i found the men in fine gettel he wrote later joshingly admonishing me that i had no cause for worry. d-day with the fate of the war hanging in the balance.
one week after the landings the commander was able to say to the vast armies underhim, your accomplishments in the last seven days of this campaign have exceeded my highest hopes. less than two months after the invasion the allied force broke out of the beach head perimeter in the hedge row country around st. lowe. >> the breakout was the next step and now there began the dramatic pursuit spearheaded by general george s. patton's armored force across the heart of france. and then the grand triumphant march through paris which was freed by french troops and soldiers of the u.s. fifth
corps. beyond paris lay the liberation of belgium and the yard by yard struggle across the german border. blocking the steady pursuit of victory lay the nazi counteroffensive in the sector known as the battle of the bulge. through a grim and bleak period of several weeks the enemy supported by the most devastating of weather conditions isolated and assaulted allied forces. general eisenhower called upon all troops to rise to new heights of courage and effort. the brave men of the beleaguered forces held and steadily began
pressing the enemy back and from that moment on ward the supreme commander counted on weakened nazi resistance. the bridge across the ryan, one of the sturdiest symbols of the war. with its crossing in march 1945 the heart of the ken me's defenses was cracked. there remained a substantial task of mopping up what was left of the enemy west of the rhine. and accepting his surrender in the droves that began to appear. the great cities of the enemy's father hand were rubble as allied troops moved through them in the last stages of the enemy's defeat. both commander and gi were able
to find the exultation that comes when victory is close. victory came finally with the german surrender in a schoolhouse on may 7th, 1945. the return to peace was signaled by the supreme commander. >> i have the proud privilege of speaking for a victorious army of almost 5 million fighting men. they and the women who have so ably assisted them, constitute the allied expeditionary forces that have liberated western europe. they have captured or destroyed enemy armies totaling more than their own strength. merely to name my principal supporters in the canadian, french, american and british forces is to present a picture of the utmost in efficiency, skill, loyalty and devos to duty. the united nations will
gratefully remember tetter, montgomery, spats, bradley, bilar, krieger and many others. but all these agree with me in the selection of the truly heroic figure of this war, he is g.i. joe and his counterpart in the air, the navy and the merchant marine of every one of the united nations. he has braved the dangers of u boat infested seas, he has surmounted charges into desperately defended beaches, he has fought his patient way through the ultimate in fortified zones. he has endured cold, hunger, fatigue. his companion has been danger, death has dogged his footsteps. he and his platoon commanders have given us an example of loyalty, devotion to duty and indomitable courage that will live in our hearts as long as we admire those qualities in men. >> and now the long and happy
road home. for dwight eisenhower that road was paved with the cheers of the people of the allied countries. in his own homeland a hero's welcome awaited him. america's greeting for a favorite son. here the story of dwight d. eisenhower might well have ended. on this note of triumphant claim for a job so splendidly done. but america had other tasks waiting for its favorite soldier. eisenhower succeeded general marshall as the army's first post-war chief of staff. he expressed the belief that one of the greatest pillars of world peace is a strong united states.
he visited troops stationed in various parts of the world who show america's growing sense of global responsibility. we must remain, he said, the first champions of those who seek to lead their own lives in peace with their neighbors. finally on february 7th, 1948, the general from abilene after 36 years of service to his country left active military assignment. but not active participation in the life of his nation. he accepted an invitation from columbia university to serve as president of that great institution enabling him so he thought at the time to devote the remainder of his useful life to the challenges of education. but events the post world war
dictated otherwise. the urgent necessity for unity in the free world brought into being the north atlantic treaty organization and it was evident that only one man could make that vital and complicated organization work from the outset, dwight d. eisenhower. at the end of 1950 he answered his country's call once more and once more he was on european soil to assume supreme command of the land, the sea and the air forces of a grand offensive alliance. against the new threat rising from the soviets who had once been his nation's ally he had to create in the war wary european soul the will to defend itself so that freedom so dearly bought would not be lost. for more than a year he labored diligently at his task of coalition. when he turned over the reins of
command to general matthew ridge way the unity on free nations of which rested the hope for continued peace was established. once again with the accomplishment of substantial victory behind him, this might well have been the end of his public career and in a sense it was. the closing chapter in the story of eisenhower the soldier. history is recording today the story of eisenhower the statesman, the stories may be separate, but soldier and statesman they are the same man. dwight d. eisenhower, citizen of the united states, spokesman for and symbol of the free world. and son of abilene, as rich a study as this nation has produced of the capacity for greatness which lies at its