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James Alward Van Fleet, Sr
Birth: Mar. 19, 1892
Coytesville
Bergen County
New Jersey, USA
Death: Sep. 23, 1992
Polk City
Polk County
Florida, USA

US Army General. A highly decorated combat veteran of World Wars I and II and the Korean War, he rose in rank to become the commander of the US 2nd and 8th Armies and the United Nations Forces in Korea. Born in Coytesvill, Fort Lee, New Jersey, he moved with his family to Florida as a baby and grew up there. After graduating from the Summerlin Institute, Bartow, Florida in June 1911, he received an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York where he excelled in football and in June 1915 he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant of Infantry and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Regiment at Madison Barracks in Sackett's Harbor on Lake Ontario. The following year he was sent to El Paso, Texas where he participated in the Mexican Punitive Expedition (also known as the Pancho Villa Expedition). In July 1918, as a captain, he was sent to France and assumed command of the 17th Machine Gun Battalion and saw combat action in the Gerardmer Sector and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, where he was wounded. Following the end of World War I, he remained in Europe with his unit and returned to the US in June 1919 and was assigned to Camp Grant, Illinois for a year and then to the Reserve Offices Training Corps at the Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas. Following assignments as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at South Dakota State College in Brookings, South Dakota and the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida (where he was the head coach of the Florida Gators football team that posted a 12-3-4 record), he became a battalion commander with the 42nd Infantry in the Panama Canal Zone. In 1927 he returned to the US and was an instructor at the US Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 1929 he returned to his professorship at the University of Florida and four years later he was assigned to the 5th Infantry Regiment at Fort Williams, Maine. In 1935 he became an instructor with the Organized Reserves at San Diego, California and remained there until September 1939 when he returned to Fort Benning to command a battalion of the US Army 29th Infantry Regiment. In June 1941, as a colonel, he became commander of the US Army 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division and in January 1944 they were sent to England to prepare for the invasion of France and on D-Day (June 6, 1944), they landed on Utah Beach at Normandy. Later that year he commanded the US Army 4th and 90th Infantry Divisions. In March 1945 he became commander of the US Army 3rd Corps and advanced deep into Germany that led to the final defeat of the Axis powers. Following the surrender of Germany in May 1945 he returned to the US at Camp Polk, Louisiana and remained there until June 1946 when he was assigned to the 2nd Service Command at Governor's Island, New York and later became deputy commanding general of the US 1st Army there, at the rank of permanent brigadier general. In December 1947 he was sent to the US Army European Command in Germany, promoted to the permanent rank of major general, and the following February was transferred to the US Army Group, American Mission for Aid to Greece, Athens, Greece. Later that month he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and became the director of the Joint US Military Advisory and Planning Group in Greece and during the Greek Civil War, heassisted the Greek military in defeating the Communist insurgents who wanted to take control of the government. In August 1950 he returned to the US and became commander of the US 2nd Army at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. In April 1951 he was assigned to Korea and appointed Commanding General of the US 8th Army and United Nations Forces in Korea and promoted to the rank of general three months later. He retired in that position in 1953 with 38 years of continuous military service. Among his military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross (with two oak leaf clusters), the Distinguished Service Medal (with three oak leaf clusters), the Silver Star (with two oak leaf clusters) the Bronze Star (with two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart (with two oak leaf clusters), the Air Medal (with one oak leaf cluster), the Army Commendation Medal, the Mexican Border Service Medal, the World War I Victory Medal (with three service stars), the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal (1918-1923), the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with five service stars), the World War II Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal (1946-1990), the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal (with seven service stars, the United Nations Korea Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. His foreign decorations and awards include the Greek Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix, Distinguished Medal of Honor, and Grand Commander of the Order of George I, the Korean Order of Diplomatic Service Merit (with gold star), the Iranian Royal Order (grade 1), the British Distinguished Service Order, the French Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre (with palm), the Belgian Croix de Guerre (with palm), the Dutch Grand Cross of the Order of Orange Nassau (with swords), the Columbian Order of Boyaca, along with awards from Ethiopia, Republic of China, Thailand, and the Philippines. In 1957 he helped to establish the Korea Society. And in 1961 he was recalled to active duty by President John F. Kennedy to assess the US Army National Guard and Special Service Forces. He died in his sleep at the age of 100. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living US military general officer. The James A. Van Fleet Award was established by the Korea Society in his honor in 1992 to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to closer US-Korea ties. The James A. Van Fleet State Trail that runs from Polk City to Mable, Florida is also named in his honor. He was featured on the cover of the May 23, 1949 and the May 14, 1951 editions of Time magazine. In 2001 author Paul F. Braim published a biography on Van Fleet's life entitled "The Will to Win." (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  William Van Fleet (1833 - 1919)
  Medora Roxanne Scofield Van Fleet (1855 - 1918)
 
 Spouse:
  Helen Moore Van Fleet (1892 - 1984)
 
 Children:
  James Alward Van Fleet (1925 - 1952)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 7 Lot 8195-A Grid V/W-24
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: chris trieble
Record added: Oct 17, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 6859363
James Alward Van Fleet, Sr
Added by: Bobb Edwards
 
James Alward Van Fleet, Sr
Added by: Bill Heneage
 
James Alward Van Fleet, Sr
Added by: Bill Heneage
 
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Thank you for yourmilitary service to our country, in peacetime and war. May you rest in peace.
- William Bjornstad
 Added: May. 27, 2015

- sjm
 Added: Mar. 19, 2015

- Lazer
 Added: Sep. 23, 2014
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