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Major General Roscoe Barnett Woodruff (February 9, 1891 – April 24, 1975) was a career United States Army officer who fought in both World War I and World War II and served for 38 years. During World War II he commanded numerous divisions and corps in Europe and the Pacific.

Roscoe Barnett Woodruff
General Roscoe Woodruff 1942 c.jpg
Nickname(s)"Woody"
Born(1891-02-09)February 9, 1891
Oskaloosa, Iowa, United States
DiedApril 24, 1975(1975-04-24) (aged 84)
San Antonio, Texas, United States
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1915–1953
RankMajor General
UnitInfantry Branch
Commands heldXV Corps
First Army
I Corps
24th Infantry Division
84th Infantry Division
XIX Corps
VII Corps
77th Infantry Division
23rd Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsMexican Border Service
World War I
World War II
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star (3)
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Purple Heart
Air Medal (2)
Commendation Ribbon

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Woodruff was born on February 9, 1891 in Oskaloosa, Iowa, the son of Rhoda Barnett Woodruff and Calvin Woodruff, an army officer. After attending numerous public schools and the Ames State University, in 1911, aged 20, he entered the United States Military Academy (USMA). He was the first captain of the corps of cadets and, on June 12, 1915, he graduated from the USMA as part the West Point class of 1915, often referred to as "the class the stars fell on". Subsequently he was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Infantry Branch of the United States Army. His classmates who he graduated alongside included Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley, along with others such as James Van Fleet, Stafford LeRoy Irwin, Charles W. Ryder, Paul J. Mueller, Leland Hobbs, John B. Wogan, and Vernon Prichard. All of these men would, like Woodruff, become general officers in the future.

Military careerEdit

After graduation, he served on the Mexican border. After the American entry into World War I, which occurred in April 1917, Woodruff, as a young captain, became a company commander in command of Company 'H' of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, part of the 2nd Infantry Division. Woodruff was among the first of his West Point classmates to enter combat in World War I in the fall of 1917, when the division was sent to the Western Front as one of the first units of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). This combat experience during 1917–1918 served Woodruff in good stead in his later command and staff assignments during the final stages of the war and in the post-war operations. The war came to an end on November 11, 1918.

Between the warsEdit

During the interwar period Woodruff remained in the army and attended various service schools. He attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School in the mid-1920s, graduating from there as an honor graduate in 1927. He then became an instructor there from 1927–1931. In 1931 he attended the U.S. Army War College. He was then was a tactical officer at the USMA from 1932–1936. In 1938, Woodruff, but now a lieutenant colonel, served in the General Staff of the War Department in the operations and tactics section.

World War IIEdit

As a lieutenant colonel, he commanded the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. He then commanded the regiment, then stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas from July 1941 to January 1942. His fellow West Point classmate, Lieutenant Colonel Dwight Eisenhower, also arrived there as a newly appointed chief of staff of the Third Army in June 1941. Both men were at Fort Sam Houston during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The German declaration of war on the United States followed just four days later, which brought the United States into World War II.

With the United States now at war, Woodruff was promoted to the one-star general officer rank of brigadier general and in March 1942 became the assistant division commander (ADC) of the 77th Infantry Division, a unit in the Organized Reserves which had been recently called up for active duty, composed almost entirely of conscripts (or "draftees"). From June 1942 to May 1943, Woodruff was promoted to the two-star rank of major general took full command of the division during its pre-deployment training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina prior to its assignment to the Pacific Theater in the spring of 1944.

In May 1943, he relinquished command of the 77th Division to Major General A. D. Bruce and took command of VII Corps, then stationed in England. Eisenhower, now a four-star general and the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, initially selected Woodruff as one of three corps commanders, along with Major General Leonard T. Gerow, commanding V Corps, and Major General Willis D. Crittenberger, commanding XIX Corps, for the Allied invasion of Normandy, which was then scheduled for May 1944. All three were well known and trusted by the Supreme Allied Commander.[1]

When Woodruff's West Point classmate and fellow infantryman, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, who had just arrived in England from serving in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), was selected to command the U.S. First Army for the upcoming Normandy invasion in October 1943, Bradley's concern was that his three corps commanders all lacked experience in amphibious operations or combat command, as, like Woodruff, neither Gerow nor Crittenberger had fought in World War II, and Crittenberger had none in World War I. Gerow, who was close to Eisenhower and a protégé of General George C. Marshall, Jr., the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, was retained, but Crittenberger moved to command of IV Corps on the Italian Front, and Woodruff was shuffled off to command of XIX Corps, Crittenberger's former command, for several weeks, before returning to the United States, and he handed over command of XIX Corps to Major General Charles H. Corlett. Upon his return to the United States Woodruff assumed command the 84th Infantry Division, then in training at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, from March to June 1944.[2] Taking over the command of VII Corps was Major General J. Lawton Collins, who had commanded the 25th Infantry Division with distinction in the Pacific.

In November 1944, Woodruff's chance at large-scale combat command finally came as commanding general (CG) of the 24th Infantry Division in the Southwest Pacific. His welcoming reception in the theater was celebrated at the paratroop headquarters, fueled with five gallons of torpedo alcohol, furnished by U.S. Navy patrol boat sailors, as the key ingredient for liquid refreshments. He led his command in the five month Battle of Mindanao to liberate that island of Philippine archipelago from Japanese occupation in the closing phases of the Leyte campaign.[3]

PostwarEdit

In November 1945, after World War II had come to an end due to the surrender of both the Germans and the Japanese, Woodruff became commander of the I Corps, part of the U.S. Eighth Army, during the Allied occupation force in southern Japan.[4][5]

From February 1948 to March 1951, Woodruff was deputy commanding general of the U.S. First Army at Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York.[6] Woodruff assumed the role of Commanding General (CG) from January to March 1949 upon the retirement of General Courtney Hodges, who had commanded the First Army during World War II, and again from October to November 1950 after General Walter Bedell Smith was appointed the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

In 1951, Woodruff took command of XV Corps at Camp Polk (now Fort Polk), Louisiana.[7] There he retired from the army, as a major general, in January 1953 after 41 years of active duty.[8]

Retirement and later lifeEdit

Woodruff and his wife, Alice Gray Woodruff retired to San Antonio, Texas. Woodruff died on July 24, 1975, aged 84. He was buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

Awards and decorationsEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ D'Este, p. 487-488
  2. ^ D'Este, p. 487-488
  3. ^ Morison, p.49.
  4. ^ Corps – A Brief History – 1862–1953
  5. ^ New York Times, March 9, 1948.
  6. ^ New York Times, March 9, 1948.
  7. ^ New York Times, February 20, 1951
  8. ^ New York Times, February 1, 1953

ReferencesEdit

  • Ray, Max (1980). The History of the First United States Army From 1918 to 1980. Fort Meade MD: First United States Army.
  • D'Este, Carlo (2002). Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life. Henry Holt. pp. 486–487. ISBN 978-0-8050-5686-0.
  • I Corps - A Brief History - 1862-1953. U.S. Army, G-3 Historical Section, I Corps.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (2002). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 13: The Liberation of the Philippines. University of Illinois Press. p. 49. ISBN 0-252-07064-X.
  • "New Deputy Commander Joins the First Army". New York Times. March 9, 1948. p. 5.
  • "First Army Deputy Named to Command XV Corps". New York Times. February 20, 1951. p. 14.
  • "15th Corps Chief Retires After 41 Years' Service". New York Times. February 1, 1953. p. 32.

External linksEdit