- Published: 23 April 2008
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Christine Cafaro, age 16, of Vancouver, Wash., for her question:
WHY DID GENERAL MacARTHUR SAY "I SHALL RETURN"?
One of America's leading World War II generals was Douglas MacArthur. He served as military adviser to the Philippine government from 1935 to 1941, before the war started. When ordered to leave and go to Australia as the commander of the United States Army forces in the Far East, MacArthur made his famous promise: "I shall return."
MacArthur made the promise to his men in the Philippines as he became commander of the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific.
Late in 1942, after spending several months assembling men and supplies, MacArthur opened a three year offensive against the Japanese. By early in 1944, his troops had freed most of New Guinea, New Britain, the Solomons and the Admiralty Islands.
By autumn of 1944, MacArthur was ready to make good his promise and return to the Philippines. On Oct. 20, 1944, his forces invaded Leyte Island and six months later most of the Philippine Islands were free.
On his campaign to free the Philippines, MacArthur showed great military genius and personal bravery. His haughty manner, however, aroused some resentment. But his heroism was seldom questioned.
In December 1944, MacArthur became a five star general and took command of all American Army forces in the Pacific.
President Harry Truman announced the Japanese acceptance of Allied surrender terms on Aug. 14, 1945, and he made MacArthur supreme commander for the Allied Powers. As supreme commander, it was MacArthur's job to receive the surrender and to rule Japan. He accepted the Japanese surrender aboard the battleship Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.
MacArthur set up headquarters in Tokyo and became the sole administrator of the military government in Japan. His firm but fair methods won him wide respect.
In 1950, North Korean Communists invaded South Korea, and the United Nations authorized the U.S. to organize armed forces to fight the Communists. MacArthur, in addition to his occupation job, became U.N. commander in Korea.
After the Chinese Communists entered the war on the side of North Korea, MacArthur wanted to attack the Chinese mainland. But his superiors forbade this action, feeling it would increase the risk of a world war.
MacArthur made a number of public statements that did not agree with U.N. policies and those of the U.S. State and Defense Departments. He also violated an order of public silence imposed on him by President Truman.
In April 1951, Truman relieved MacArthur of his Far Eastern commands, causing a nationwide controversy.
MacArthur's father had also been a famous general. He was Arthur MacArthur, who joined the Union Army when he was 17 and fought in the Civil War.
Douglas MacArthur graduated in 1903 at the age of 23 as the number one man in his class at the U.S. Military Academy.