The Life of General George S. Patton


When thinking of iconic figures in U.S. military history, you might think of George Washington going back to Revolutionary War time, Ulysses S. Grant in Civil War time and when moving forward to the 20th Century one of the most memorable characters was General George S. Patton . Patton had the reputation as a no-nonsense military commander, but his life was filled with much more.

George Smith Patton Jr was born on November 11, 1885 in California. Patton was born into a military family with his ancestors being soldiers dating back to the Revolutionary War. So, it was no surprise that the military was in George Patton’s future. After completing one year at Virginia Military Institute , he transferred to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, being commissioned as an officer in 1909.

In addition to being an outstanding academic in the field of military training, he was also an excellent athlete. Patton represented the United States in the Modern Pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Summer Olympics . The pentathlon consisted of five events: fencing, shooting, show jumping, swimming and running. This test of endurance and diverse talents was perfect for the multi-talented Patton. In the Olympics, George Patton finished 5th out of 37 competitors, and being an all around good athlete allowed him to finish in the top 10 in each event.

After graduating from West Point , Patton began his military career as an aide to General Pershing. One of their tasks was to capture Pancho Villa in New Mexico. While they did not capture Villa, Patton did capture two of Villa’s leaders and brought them to General Pershing, which was an event which captured a lot of headlines, and began the legend of George S. Patton .

For his outstanding work with Pershing, when World War I began, Patton was promoted to the rank of Captain. During the war he fought in the European theater and rose to the rank of Colonel, and was in charge of a brigade of tanks. If you conducted a people search for soldiers in the war, Patton would show as an outstanding leader. In World War I, Patton was recognized for his hard work by being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross , Distinguished Service Medal and a Purple Heart .

When World War II broke out Major General Patton was placed in charge of the Western Task Force of the US Army. Patton’s troops led the North African campaign, which successfully re-took the city of Casablanca. Because of his success in North Africa, Patton was soon promoted to Lieutenant General and placed in command of the US II Corp. With “ Old blood and guts ” in charge, the Allies soon began pushing the Germans and Italians backward out of North Africa.

Patton was a demanding leader , but got the most out of his troops. Under Patton, the U.S. was successful in helping the Allied forces in Sicily, Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge . Unfortunately, on December 21, 1945, tragedy struck. While riding in a car in Germany, the vehicle was involved in an accident with a truck. While the accident did not cause much damage, the jolt of the impact slammed Patton’s head into the metal sheet. As a result of the trauma, Patton died .

George S. Patton will be remembered many ways. Whether as the athlete leading the U.S. in the Olympics, a student of military history, a leader and as one of the greatest legends in the history of the U.S. Army, George S. Patton will be remembered as a hero. Patton has been the subject of many books and films, including the Oscar winning 1970 film , starring George C. Scott. Patton’s prowess as a military genius, and his recognition of awards and honors , will go down in history books for future generations to study.