United States Army General. Considered one of the foremost military strategists of his generation, many of his ideas have been adopted by the Army. He entered the Army in 1924 as a Private and eventually became the youngest division commander since the Civil War. Graduated from West Point in 1929 and returned ten years later as a tactics instructor; because the German blitzkrieg convinced him of the importance of armor and airborne operations, he advocated the use of mobility in warfare and saw airpower as a way of adding mobility to the battlefield. In 1942 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and attended the Command and General Staff School. Then joined the United States Army's first paratroop units under the leadership of the man who became his mentor, General Matthew Ridgway under whom Gavin rose to command the famed 82nd Airborne Division in World War II. Always the first to jump in combat, Gavin led his men on missions in Sicily, Italy, Normandy (providing support behind the German lines for the D-Day invasion), Holland (the battle for the bridge at Arnhem), and the Battle of the Bulge. He became a Major General before his 38th birthday and was widely renowned for his calm leadership in battle. After World War II, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and in 1955 appointed Chief of Research and Development for the Army. He retired from the Army in 1958, but continued in public service when President John F. Kennedy appointed him ambassador to France in 1961. Returning to private life in 1962, he joined Arthur D. Little and Company and became its chairman of the board.
Bio by: Fred Beisser