Honoring a war hero

Legion to dedicate new marker
for Krueger on courthouse lawn

By Don Ward

(May 2006) – Memorial Day Weekend will be a special time for area veterans who will be celebrating a new marker on the Jefferson County courthouse lawn to honor the late U.S. Army Gen. Walter Krueger.

Walter Krueger, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Gen. George Marshall

Photo provided

Then-Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, left,
is pictured in 1943 at a field
headquarters during World War II with
Gen. Douglas MacArthur
(center) and Gen. George Marshall.

The four-star general will be immortalized with a marker dedicated in full military honors by America Legion Post No. 9 in Madison. Krueger grew up in Madison before moving away at age 18 to join the military, where he served for 69 years in five wars. The 10-acre Krueger Lake located just inside the gates of the Jefferson Proving Ground is named for the former Madison resident.
Krueger became the only private to rise all the way to general, playing a major role in World War II by commanding the 6th Army under Douglas MacArthur. He was on board the U.S.S. Missouri during the Japanese signing of the surrender treaty at the end of World War II.
Krueger was born in 1881 in Flatlow, West Prussia (now Zlotow, Poland) and came to the United States at age 8. He enlisted in the Army in 1898 for volunteer service in the Spanish-American War. In 1899, having served in Cuba, he enlisted as a private in the Regular Army. While serving in the Philippines in 1901, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 30th Infantry. He graduated from the Infantry and Cavalry School in 1906 and the Staff College in 1907.
He participated in the Mexican Punitive Expedition in 1916 and went to France in 1918 to serve as assistant chief of staff of the 26th Division and the 84th Division before becoming chief of Staff of the Tank Corps. He was promoted to the temporary rank of colonel while serving in occupation duty as assistant chief of staff of the VI and IV Corps.

Walter Krueger

Photo provided

Walter Krueger, formerly
of Madison, is the only
private to rise to
Army general.

Following a stint at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, he commanded the 55th Infantry at Camp Funston, Kan., before attending the Army War College and graduating in 1921. He remained there as an instructor until assigned to the War Plans Division of the General Staff from 1922 to 1925. In 1926 he graduated from the Naval War College and taught there from 1928 to 1932.
For two years he commanded the 6th Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., until returning to the War Plans Division in 1934 and becoming its Chief in 1936.
In June 1938 Brig. Gen. Krueger became commander of the 16th Infantry Brigade at Fort George Meade, Md., and in February 1939 he was promoted to major general in command of the 2nd Division at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
In October 1940 he took command of the VIII Corps and in May of 1941 he was promoted to temporary lieutenant general in command of the Third Army and Southern Defense Command.
LTG Krueger took command of the 6th Army in January of 1943 in Australia and remained with the 6th throughout its combat periods of World War II. He command and directed 21 successful amphibious operations in the Southwest Pacific. These operations included Kiriwina and Woodlark Islands, New Britain, the Admiralty Islands, Biak Island, new Guinea, Morotai, Leyte and Mindoro, the Philippines and Luzon. In September 1945 the 6th Army assumed occupation duties on Honshu, Japan.
Gen. Krueger was one of the Army's most accomplished strategists and tacticians. His outstanding leadership contributed materially to the successful outcome of World War II. Gen. MacArthur said of him, "He was swift and sure in attack, tenacious and determined in defense; modest and restrained in victory; I don't know what he would have been in defeat because he was never defeated. No Army in military history ever had a greater leader than Gen. Krueger."
After retiring from the military in 1946 as a full general, Krueger resided in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife, Grace Norvell Krueger, who died in 1956. Their three sons all graduated from West Point military academy.
Krueger died Aug. 20, 1967 at Valley Forge, Pa., at age 86 and is buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., among a number of family members. He wrote no memoirs, however, he authored a now hard-to-find book, "From Down Under to Nippon."
"I have been trying hard to find a copy of the book but so far have been unsuccessful," said Madison resident and historian Jim Courter, who initated the effort to get the marker at the courthouse. "I started reading about Krueger and thought it would be appropriate to honor those important people who were from here." Courter initiated another recent effort to erect a state historical marker at the Ohio Theatre to honor another former Madison resident who went on to Hollywood film greatness, Irenne Dunne. That marker ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. on May 19.
After researching the general's biography, Courter approached the American Legion and its Honor Guard about the idea. The legion agreed to contribute $500 toward the cost of the marker, while its Honor Guard contributed $800. Jim Holt of Madison Monument Co. is helping to design the granite monument. It will be four feet tall, three feet wide and eight inches thick. Tim Breeding, a local contractor, has donated the base on which the monument will sit. Local historian Lee Rogers helped conduct research for the monument.
"He's the only four-star general to ever come from Madison, so we think it is fitting that he be honored in this way," said the Legion's Arthur Perkinson, 75. "He was (President Dwight D.) Eisenhower's top man, and he had been picked to lead the invasion of Japan if we had to do it. We plan to conduct a full military ceremony with the Legion's Honor Guard."

• Supplemented with information from the Third U.S. Army website.

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