Character Study on General George C. Marshall


General George C. MarshallThe great grandson of Chief Justice John Marshall, George Marshall graduated from VMI in 1901 and became Chief of Staff just prior to WW II. He attained the rank of General of the Army (5 stars) in 1944 and oversaw the deployment of over 8,000,000 men and women.

He was the first professional soldier to hold the office of Secretary of State and he was the author of the European Recovery Program, now known as the Marshall Plan. For this, Marshall received the Nobel Peace prize in 1953

Positive reputation – FDR, Churchill, the U. S. Congress and allied military had the confidence that once a directive or plan left Marshall’s hands, it was the absolute best anyone could devise. He kept a black notebook on officers he liked and disliked. Promotions depended on who was on that list.

Value to the team – Marshall was able to digest complex volumes of data and synthesize them into simplified forms so that workable solutions could be devised. He was considered to be a logistical genius.

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Character traits:

Quick at grasping details

Valued loyalty and teamwork

Sought out contrary opinions

Patient and calm in the hearing and

Confident in decision-making

       weighing of conflicting opinions

Professionally was aloof

Diplomatic and tactful

Privately bantered with those he knew

Seldom intervened in others duties

Showed sensitivity in staff memos

Projected selflessness

What others had to say about George C. Marshall:

Winston Churchill – “At Quebec, I told President Roosevelt that General Marshall was my choice for Supreme Commander of Operation Overlord [D-Day] because he was hands down the best man for the job.”

Omar Bradley – “If ever a man deserved the (Overlord) appointment, that man was General Marshall. However, had General Marshall left Washington to go to Europe, no one – not even Eisenhower – could have taken his place.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt – “I originally planned to give the command of Overlord to Marshall but ruled against it because I would not have been able to sleep knowing Marshall was out of the country... I then selected Eisenhower for the job.” 

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