James Alward Van Fleet (March 19, 1892 – September 23, 1992) was a U.S. Army officer during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Van Fleet was a native of New Jersey, who was raised in Florida and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy. He served as a regimental, divisional and corps commander during World War II and as the commanding General of U.S. Army and other United Nations forces during the Korean War.
James Van Fleet
Van Fleet c. 1953
|Birth name||James Alward Van Fleet|
|Born||March 19, 1892|
Coytesville (Fort Lee, New Jersey)
|Died||September 23, 1992 (aged 100)|
Polk City, Florida
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1915–1953|
James Van Fleet was born in the Coytesville section of Fort Lee, New Jersey, but his parents moved to Florida when he was an infant and he was raised there. Van Fleet received his high school education at the Summerlin Institute in Bartow, Florida.
After graduating from Summerlin in 1911, Van Fleet received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. While he was a cadet at West Point, he was a member of the Army football team and was a standout fullback on the undefeated Army team of 1914. Van Fleet graduated in the famous West Point Class of 1915, which included so many future generals that it has been called "the class the stars fell on" (stars being the insignia of generals). Van Fleet's classmates included Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. After graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army infantry.
While serving as the senior officer of the University of Florida's U.S. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program, Van Fleet also served as the head coach of the Florida Gators football team in 1923 and 1924, after assisting William G. Kline for a year. He led the Gators into national prominence with a 12–3–4 (.737) record.
Van Fleet commanded the 8th Infantry Regiment for three years and led it into combat in Europe in World War II, participating in the D-Day landings on Utah Beach in June 1944. Although widely regarded as an outstanding officer, he was blocked from promotion because the Army Chief of Staff, General George Marshall, erroneously confused Van Fleet with a well-known alcoholic officer with a similar name.
When Eisenhower, now the European Theater commander, informed Marshall of his mistake, Van Fleet was soon promoted to divisional and corps command. On 17 March 1945, he replaced General John Millikin as commander of III Corps where Millikin served with General George S. Patton's Third Army.
In 1946, Van Fleet was sent to Greece as the head of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group and executor of the "Truman Doctrine," and he was instrumental in the outcome of the Greek Civil War by providing advice to the Greek government and 250 military advisers, as well as administering $400 million in military aid. The central square in the northern Greek city of Kastoria has featured a bust of Van Fleet for many years, and was replaced with a new statue as recently as 2007.
Van Fleet was commanding general of the Second United States Army from August 10, 1950 to April 11, 1951.
On April 14, 1951, Van Fleet replaced General Matthew B. Ridgway as commander of the U.S. Eighth Army and United Nations forces in Korea when Ridgway took over for General MacArthur upon MacArthur's recall to the United States. He continued Ridgway's efforts to strengthen the Eighth Army in its campaign against numerically superior Communist Chinese and North Korean enemy forces. His only son, U.S. Air Force Captain James Alward Van Fleet Jr., was a B-26 bomber pilot who was MIA/killed in the Korean War.
At the time of his retirement from active duty on March 31, 1953, former President Harry S. Truman said "General Van Fleet is the greatest general we have ever had . . . I sent him to Greece and he won the war. I sent him to Korea and he won the war." Van Fleet was the recipient of three Distinguished Service Crosses (the U.S. Army's second highest award for bravery in combat), three Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts for wounds received in combat, and his most prized decoration—the Combat Infantryman's Badge of the common foot soldier. He appeared on the July 26, 1953, episode of What's My Line?.
In 1957, Van Fleet was the moving spirit behind the establishment in New York of the Korea Society, the first nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to the promotion of friendly relations between the peoples of the United States and Korea "through mutual understanding and appreciation of their respective cultures, aims, ideals, arts, sciences and industries."
Van Fleet died in his sleep on his ranch outside Polk City, Florida on September 23, 1992, several months after celebrating his 100th birthday in 1992. He was the oldest living general officer in the United States at the time of his death. Van Fleet was buried in Section 7 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Shortly after his death, The Korea Society established its annual James A. Van Fleet Award to recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to closer U.S.-Korea ties. The Gen. James A. Van Fleet State Trail, running from Polk City to Mabel, Florida, is also named in his honor. The University of Florida presented Van Fleet an honorary doctorate in 1946, and the university's military sciences building, which houses the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy ROTC programs, is named Van Fleet Hall. He was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as an "honorary letter winner" in 1971. In 1998, a panel of Florida historians and other consultants named Van Fleet one of the fifty most important Floridians of the 20th century.
Van Fleet's estate donated his papers to the George C. Marshall Foundation, and are the second largest collection of papers held by the foundation, after those of General Marshall.
General Van Fleet was also an art collector and donated many rare and exceptional Asian objects to the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.
Van Fleet and his wife, Helen Moore Van Fleet (1892–1984), had three children, eight grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren.
Van Fleet's personal decorations include:
|1st Row||Combat Infantryman Badge|
|2nd Row||Distinguished Service Cross
w/ two Oak leaf clusters
|Distinguished Service Medal
w/ three Oak leaf clusters
w/ two Oak leaf clusters
|3rd Row||Legion of Merit
w/ one Oak leaf cluster
w/ two Oak leaf clusters
w/ two Oak leaf clusters
w/ one Oak leaf cluster
|4th Row||Army Commendation Medal||Mexican Border Service Medal||World War I Victory Medal w/ 3 bronze service stars||Army of Occupation of Germany Medal|
|5th Row||American Defense Service Medal||American Campaign Medal||European-African-Middle Eastern
Campaign Medal w/ Arrowhead
and five Service stars
|World War II Victory Medal|
|6th Row||Army of Occupation Medal||National Defense Service Medal||Korean Service Medal
w/ seven Service stars
|United Nations Korea Medal|
|7th Row||Army Presidential Unit Citation||Republic of Korea
Presidential Unit Citation
Van Fleet also received the following foreign decorations:
Also decorations from the following countries:
|No insignia||Cadet, United States Military Academy: June 14, 1911|
|Second Lieutenant, United States Army: June 12, 1915|
|First Lieutenant, United States Army: July 1, 1916|
|Captain, United States Army: May 15, 1917|
|Major, National Army: June 17, 1918|
|Major, Regular Army: July 2, 1920|
|Captain, Regular Army: November 4, 1922|
|Major, Regular Army: December 6, 1924|
|Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: October 1, 1936|
|Colonel, Army of the United States: June 26, 1941|
|Colonel, Regular Army: February 1, 1944|
|Brigadier General, Army of the United States: August 1, 1944|
|Major General, Army of the United States: November 15, 1944|
|Brigadier General, Regular Army: June 27, 1946|
|Major General, Regular Army: January 24, 1948|
|Lieutenant General, Army of the United States: February 19, 1948|
|General, Army of the United States: July 31, 1951|
|General, Retired List: March 31, 1953|
|Florida Gators (Southern Conference) (1923–1924)|
Lt. Gen. Matthew Ridgway
| Commanding General of
Eighth United States Army
Lt. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor
The 1914 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1914 college football season. In their second season under head coach Charles Dudley Daly, the Cadets compiled a 9–0 record, shut out six of their nine opponents, and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 219 to 20 – an average of 24.3 points scored and 2.2 points allowed. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Cadets defeated the Midshipmen 20 to 0. The Cadets also defeated Notre Dame 20–7.
The team was recognized as the national champion by the Helms Athletic Foundation, the Houlgate System, and the National Championship Foundation, and a co-national champion by Parke H. Davis.Three Army players were recognized as first-team players on the All-America team: end Louis A. Merrilat; center John McEwan; and quarterback Vernon Prichard. Tackle Alex Weyand was selected as a third-team All-American by Walter Camp. Four players from the 1914 team were later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame: McEwan; Weyand; Robert Neyland (later coach at Tennessee); and Elmer Oliphant.1929 Florida Gators football team
The 1929 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida during the 1929 college football season. The season was Charlie Bachman's second as the head coach of the Florida Gators football team. Bachman's 1929 Florida Gators finished with an overall record of 8–2, and a conference record of 6–1, placing fourth of twenty-three conference teams.The highlights of the year included Southern Conference victories over the Virginia Military Institute Keydets, Auburn Tigers, Georgia Bulldogs, Clemson Tigers, South Carolina Gamecocks and Washington & Lee Generals, and a 20–6 intersectional upset over coach John McEwan's Oregon Webfoots in a neutral site game played at the old Madison Square Garden stadium in Miami, Florida.1946 Greek referendum
A referendum on maintaining the monarchy was held in Greece on 1 September 1946. The proposal was approved by 68.4% of voters with a turnout of 88.6%.Alexander Patch
General Alexander McCarrell "Sandy" Patch (November 23, 1889 – November 21, 1945) was a senior United States Army officer, who fought in both World War I and World War II. During World War II he commanded U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps forces during the Guadalcanal Campaign, and the U.S. Seventh Army on the Western Front. He died in November 1945, a few months after the end of the war and two days before his 56th birthday. Patch was, along with James Van Fleet and Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., one of the very few senior American commanders to command a division, corps and field army on active service during World War II.Charlie Bachman
Charles William Bachman Jr. (December 1, 1892 – December 14, 1985) was an American college football player and head coach. Bachman was an Illinois native and an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, where he played college football. He served as the head football coach of Northwestern University, Kansas State College, the University of Florida, Michigan State College, and Hillsdale College. Bachman was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1978.Democratic Army of Greece
The Democratic Army of Greece (Greek: Δημοκρατικός Στρατός Ελλάδας, DSE (ΔΣΕ)), was the army founded by the Communist Party of Greece during the Greek Civil War, 1946–1949. At its height, it had a strength of around 50,000 men and women.
The DSE was backed up by the Popular Civil Guard (Λαϊκή Πολιτοφυλακή, ΛΠ), the Communist Party's security police force.Eighth United States Army
The Eighth United States Army (EUSA) is a U.S. field army which is the commanding formation of all United States Army forces in South Korea. It commands U.S. and South Korean units and is headquartered at the United States Army Garrison-Humphreys, in the Anjeong-ri of Pyeongtaek, South Korea.Everett Yon
Col. Everett Marion Yon, Sr. (January 13, 1895 – November 25, 1965) was a decorated U.S. Army officer, athlete, coach and athletics administrator. Yon was director of athletics at the University of Florida in Gainesville from 1925–28.Yon played for the Florida Gators football team in 1914 and 1915, and the Gators baseball team in 1915 and 1916. His career was cut short when he was called by the National Guard to defend the Mexican border in the Battle of Columbus in the spring of 1916. He graduated a few months later before serving in the first World War. He then attended the United States Army Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, before returning to Gainesville in 1923 as a football coach and an ROTC instructor.He was a line coach at his alma mater under Gen. James Van Fleet from 1923–25. He was appointed athletic director in 1925 but was forced to leave in 1928 when his unit was reactivated. Yon returned to the university after World War II, when he commanded the 25th Infantry in Bougainville Island. During his distinguished career, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit twice and the Silver Star.Yon was later president of the university's booster club. He was the director of Public Relations at the athletic department at the time of his death in 1965, following a long illness.He was the father of Everett Marion Yon, Jr., a West Point graduate with the class of 1956.Great Floridians
Great Floridian is a title bestowed upon citizens in the state of Florida by the Florida Department of State. There were actually two formal programs. Whereas the Great Floridian 2000 program honored deceased individuals who made "significant contributions in the history and culture" of Florida (many times within a local community), the new program is more restrictive, selecting those persons, dead or alive, who made "major contributions to the progress and welfare" of Florida.List of Florida Gators head football coaches
This list of Florida Gators head football coaches includes those coaches who have led the Florida Gators football team that represents the University of Florida in the sport of American football. The Florida Gators currently compete in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Twenty-six men have served as the Gators' head coach, including four who served as interim head coach, since the Gators began play in the fall of 1906. In December 2017, Dan Mullen was hired as the Gators' latest head coach.
The Gators have fielded a team every season since 1906, with the exception of 1943 wi, and have played more than 1,000 games during 110 seasons. During that time, fourteen coaches have led the Gators in postseason bowl games: George E. Pyle, Bob Woodruff, Ray Graves, Doug Dickey, Charley Pell, Galen Hall, Gary Darnell, Steve Spurrier, Ron Zook, Charlie Strong, Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp, DJ Durkin and Jim McElwain Two Gators coaches have also won SEC championships: Spurrier won six, and Meyer won two. During their tenures, Spurrier won one and Meyer won two national championships with the Gators.Spurrier is the leader in seasons coached, games won and winning percentage, with 122 victories and a winning percentage of .817 during his twelve years leading the program. Raymond Wolf has the lowest winning percentage of those who have coached more than one game, with .359. Of the twenty-seven head coaches who have led the Gators, Charlie Bachman, Graves, Dickey, and Spurrier have been inducted as head coaches into the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.Lucian Truscott
General Lucian King Truscott Jr. (January 9, 1895 – September 12, 1965) was a highly decorated senior United States Army officer, who saw distinguished active service during World War II. Between 1943–45, he successively commanded the 3rd Infantry Division, VI Corps, Fifteenth Army and Fifth Army. He was, along with Alexander Patch and James Van Fleet, among the few U.S. Army officers to command a division, a corps, and a field army on active service during the war.Luis R. Esteves
Major General Luis Raul Esteves (April 30, 1893 – March 12, 1958) was the first Puerto Rican and the first American citizen of Hispanic heritage to graduate from the United States Military Academy (West Point), and the founder of the Puerto Rico National Guard. Of his West Point class, that included Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Joseph McNarney, James Van Fleet and George E. Stratemeyer, Esteves was the first to achieve the rank of General.Operation Blaze
Operation Blaze (2 July 1952) was an Australian Army operation near Kangao-ri during the Korean War to capture a prisoner. The raid involved a company-sized attack from the newly arrived 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) on Chinese positions on Hill 227. Although the Australians were able to take some of the Chinese positions on the hill, they did not achieve all of their objectives and were eventually forced to withdraw after running out of ammunition.Operation Commando
Operation Commando was an offensive undertaken by UN forces during the Korean War between 3–12 October 1951. The U.S. I Corps (including four U.S. Divisions, the 1st Commonwealth Division and the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) 1st Infantry Division) seized the Jamestown Line, destroying elements of the People's Volunteer Army (PVA) 42nd, 47th, 64th and 65th Armies. This prevented the PVA from interdicting the U.N. supply lines near Seoul.
The attack began on 3 October 1951 from the Wyoming Line, which had been extended during Operation Minden and ended on 12 October, with a few hills south of the line still in PVA hands. Seizing these hills required a follow-up operation—Operation Polecharge. As a result of this 6 miles (9.7 km) advance, the badly mauled U.S. 1st Cavalry Division was withdrawn to Japan for refitting.Commando and Polecharge were the last actions in the war of manoeuvre, which had lasted sixteen months. It was replaced by a static war, characterised by fixed defences, trench lines, bunkers, patrols, wiring parties and minefields reminiscent of the Western Front in 1915–17. Australian involvement in this operation is known by historians as the Battle of Maryang San.Operation Minden
Operation Minden was an offensive undertaken by United Nations (UN) forces during the Korean War between 8–12 September 1951, as part of a general advance to extend the Wyoming Line. Operation Minden was the precursor to the much larger Operation Commando, which established the Jamestown Line.Silver Star
The Silver Star Medal, unofficially the Silver Star, is the United States Armed Forces's third-highest personal decoration for valor in combat. The Silver Star Medal is awarded primarily to members of the United States Armed Forces for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.University of Florida ROTC
University of Florida ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) is the official officer training and commissioning program at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. The ROTC Program offers commissions for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, and the U.S. Air Force. The unit is one of the oldest in the nation, and is currently located in Van Fleet Hall on the university's campus. The university's Air Force ROTC won the Right of Line Trophy in 2007 and 2009 ranking it as the top program of its size in the nation. The unit has also been home to the prestigious Gator Guard Drill Team since 1953.Van Fleet
Van Fleet is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:
Beth Van Fleet (born 1977), American beach volleyball player
James Van Fleet (1892–1992), United States Army officer
Jo Van Fleet (1914–1996), American actress
William Cary Van Fleet (1852–1923), American judgeVan Fleet Hall (Gainesville, Florida)
General James A. Van Fleet Hall is an historic building on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, and completed in 1952. It was designed by Guy Fulton in a mild Mid-Century modern style as a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) classroom and training facility for University of Florida students seeking commissions in the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. The building is named for U.S. Army General James Van Fleet, who served as an ROTC instructor at the university and as the head coach of the Florida Gators football team from 1923 to 1924.
# denotes interim head coach