By Den Ardinger 32° KCCH
One of America’s most famous war time generals was one of us, General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964).
Douglas MacArthur was born into a military family at Little Rock Barracks, Arkansas on 26 January 1880. He was the youngest son of Captain, later Lieutenant General, Arthur MacArthur and his wife, Mary Pinkney Hardy. Douglas’ father was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Gettysburg while with the Union Army in 1863. Douglas, always a high achiever himself, was recommended for the Medal of Honor three times and was awarded it in World War II during the Philippine’s Campaign. They remain the only father-son recipients of the medal to this day.
The MacArthur family was frequently reassigned to various posts around the country. Douglas attended the West Texas Military Academy in 1893 where he excelled in sports as well as scholarship. In 1899 he entered West Point Military Academy and graduated with the third highest score ever obtained. He graduated first in his class of 93 cadets.
In 1903 he served in an Engineer Battalion in the Philippines and supervised the construction of facilities. On one occasion he was ambushed by two guerillas where he shot and killed both. In 1904 he contracted malaria and had to return to California.
In 1905 he was posted as an aide-de-camp with his father in Tokyo. They inspected numerous military bases before departing to tour bases in Southeast Asia and India. After returning to the United States, he attended Engineer School in Washington, D.C. and was an aide for assisting at White House functions at the request of the President Teddy Roosevelt.
President Woodrow Wilson ordered the occupation of Veracruz, Mexico in 1914 and MacArthur joined the headquarters unit. To secure the logistics needed for the operation, railroad stock was needed which was short of locomotives. MacArthur secured the use of a handcar and three laborers to look for operational engines. While searching, they were repeatedly attacked by bandits but MacArthur held them off, killing seven while taking four bullet holes through his clothing without receiving a nick.
When the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917, MacArthur was assigned as the chief of staff to the 42nd “Rainbow” Division and sailed for France on 18 October 1917. In February 1918 MacArthur accompanied a raid by French troops and took prisoners for which he was decorated. He was decorated again in March but was gassed during a later raid and had to take several days to recover.
On 26 June 1918, MacArthur was promoted to Brigadier General. He was decorated several more times in fighting at Chalons-en-Champagne. In October he was gassed a second time and was awarded a second Wound Chevron. Later in October, he led a pre-dawn patrol to confirm the route of an upcoming attack through enemy territory. Although wounded, he was the only survivor of the patrol. Before the war ended in November, he was decorated several more times for bravery and returned to New York victorious in April 1919 where he was posted as the Superintendent of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.
In 1922 he married heiress Louise Cromwell Brooks. In October they sailed to the Philippines to assume command of the Military District of Manila. He was promoted to Major General in 1925 and became the Army’s youngest at that rank. They divorced in 1929.
MacArthur retired from the military in 1935 and the President of the Philippines then asked him to organize the Philippine Army which he did. He was made a Field Marshal in 1936. It was at this time that he became a Freemason. MacArthur was made a Mason on January 17th, 1936 under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines which was witnessed by over 600 Master Masons. He later affiliated with Manila Lodge No. 1, and joined the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1937. He was later coroneted Inspector General 33rd Degree. In addition to the Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite, he was a life member of Nile Shrine Temple in Seattle, Washington.
In 1937 he married Jean Faircloth and they had a son, Arthur, in 1938.
Just prior to World War II breaking out for America, President Roosevelt federalized the 22,000 men in the Philippine Army and MacArthur was recalled to active duty as a Major General. He served as commander of U. S. Army Forces in the Far East and was later appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area. The war started badly for the Americans and MacArthur was forced to escape the Philippines in February 1942 when he and his family were taken to Australia. Bataan surrendered in April and Corregidor in May.
MacArthur returned to the Philippines as he said he would, in October 1944. He was promoted to a five-star general in December as General of the Army.
With the surrender of the Japanese in September 1945, MacArthur was ordered to oversee the occupation of Japan. Working with Emperor Hirohito, Japan was then set up as a democratic government with MacArthur the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.
MacArthur ran for President of the United States in 1948 but his lack of personal contacts within the GOP was a handicap that he could not overcome.
In June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. The South Korean area was defended by Allied Forces now under the United Nations. MacArthur was named commander of this defending force. However, there were strong disagreements between MacArthur and President Truman. Additionally, the European Allies did not trust MacArthur and felt his world view may bring on a larger war involving China and Russia siding with the North Koreans. The use of nuclear weapons was discussed but their use was kept from MacArthur for a number of reasons.
MacArthur stayed in Japan until relieved by President Truman in April 1951 after the fall of Seoul. Truman relieved him because, “…he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President.”
MacArthur retired from the military after 52 years of service. He gave a farewell address to Congress in April 1951 during his first visit to the United States since 1937. He gave speeches during the presidential election but in 1952 the GOP and the American People were not interested in his message.
On 5 April 1964, Douglas MacArthur died in Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was given a state funeral attended by an estimated 150,000 people. He and his wife are buried in the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia.
General Douglas MacArthur…more than a man, a Mason.