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Lyman Lemnitzer
American general

Lyman Lemnitzer

Lyman Lemnitzer
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American general
A.K.A. Lyman Louis Lemnitzer
Was Military personnel
From United States of America
Field Military
Gender male
Birth 29 August 1899, Honesdale, USA
Death 12 November 1988, Washington, D.C., USA (aged 89 years)
Star sign Virgo
United States Military Academy
Order of the Rising Sun, 1st class  
Grand Officer of the Military Order of Savoy  
Commander of the Order of the British Empire  
Legionnaire of Legion of Merit  
Honourary Cross of the Bundeswehr in Gold  
Grand Officer of the Order of the White Eagle  
Presidential Medal of Freedom  
Silver Star  
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour  
The details (from wikipedia)


Lyman Louis Lemnitzer (August 29, 1899 – November 12, 1988) was a United States Army general, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1960 to 1962. He then served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1963 to 1969.

Early life and education

Lemnitzer was born on August 29, 1899 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. He was raised Lutheran, and graduated from Honesdale High School in 1917. He then entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1920 with a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps.

Early career

Lemnitzer graduated from the Coast Artillery School in 1921, and then served at Fort Adams in Rhode Island and in the Philippines. He was an instructor at West Point from 1926 to 1930.

Lemnitzer served again in the Philippines from 1934 to 1935, and graduated from the United States Army Command and General Staff College in 1936. He was an instructor at the Coast Artillery School, and graduated from the United States Army War College in 1940.

At the start of World War II Lemnitzer served with the 70th Coast Artillery Regiment and then the 38th Coast Artillery Brigade. In May 1941, Lemnitzer, then a colonel, was assigned to the War Plans Division of the Army staff, and then to the staff of the Army Ground Forces.

World War II

Lemnitzer was promoted to brigadier general in June 1942 and commanded the 34th Coast Artillery Brigade. He was subsequently assigned to General Dwight D. Eisenhower's staff, where he helped plan the invasions of North Africa and Sicily and was promoted to major general in November 1944. Lemnitzer was one of the senior officers sent to negotiate the Italian fascist surrender during the secret Operation Sunrise and the German surrender in 1945.

Post-World War II

Following the end of World War II, Lemnitzer was assigned to the Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was later named Deputy Commandant of the National War College.

Korean War

In 1950, at the age of 51, Lemnitzer took parachute training and was placed in command of the 11th Airborne Division. He was assigned to Korea in command of the 7th Infantry Division in November 1951 and was promoted to lieutenant general in August 1952.

Post-Korean War

Lemnitzer was promoted to the rank of general and named commander of US Army forces in the Far East and of the Eighth Army in March 1955. He was named Chief of Staff of the United States Army in July 1957 and appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 1960. As Chairman, Lemnitzer was involved in the Bay of Pigs crisis and the early years of United States involvement in the Vietnam War. He was also required to testify before the United States Senate Foreign Affairs Committee about his knowledge of the activities of Major General Edwin Walker, who had been dismissed from the Army over alleged attempts to promote his political beliefs in the military.

Lemnitzer approved the plans known as Operation Northwoods in 1962, a proposed plan to discredit the Castro regime and create support for military action against Cuba by staging false flag acts of terrorism and developing "a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington". Lemnitzer presented the plans to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962. It is unclear how McNamara reacted, but three days later President John F. Kennedy told the general that there was no chance that the US would take military action against Cuba. Within a few months, after the refusal to endorse Operation Northwoods, Lemnitzer was denied another term as JCS chairman.

In November 1962, Lemnitzer was appointed as commander of U.S. European Command, and as Supreme Allied Commander Europe of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). His time in command saw the Cyprus crisis of 1963–1964 and the withdrawal of NATO forces from France in 1966. As of 2015, Lemnitzer is the only Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to hold another U.S military command after his term as Chairman ended, rather than retiring.

Later life and death

Lemnitzer retired from the military in July 1969. His 14-year tenure as a four star general on active duty is the longest in the history of the U.S. Army. He was the only person in history to serve as Army Chief of Staff, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Supreme Allied Commander for NATO.

In 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed Lemnitzer to the Commission on CIA Activities within the United States (aka the Rockefeller Commission) to investigate whether the Central Intelligence Agency had committed acts that violated US laws, and allegations that E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis (of Watergate fame) were involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Lemnitzer died on November 12, 1988, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Katherine Tryon Lemnitzer (1901–1994), is buried with him.

In popular culture

Lemnitzer was played by John Seitz in the 1991 Oliver Stone film, JFK.

Awards and decorations

Lemnitzer was awarded numerous military awards and decorations including but not limited to:

Army Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with two campaign stars)
National Defense Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Korean Service Medal (with two service stars)
Foreign decorations
Order of Military Merit Teaguk with Gold Star (Korea)
Order of National Security Merit Gugseon with Silver Star (Korea)

Lemnitzer was a Freemason.

Dates of rank

Insignia Rank Component Date
No insignia Cadet United States Military Academy June 14, 1918

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 04 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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