Robert L. Eichelberger was, in the words of an editorial in the Army and Navy Journal, "one of the really great soldiers that America has produced." 1 A 1909 graduate of West Point, Eichelberger held a number of prominent positions during his military career, including Superintendent of West Point and Secretary to the General Staff of the War Department. He served as a division, corps, and army commander, and was part of the "American Expeditionary Force" that was stationed in Siberia during World War I.
During World War II, Eichelberger won a number of victories against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater. As commander of the I Corps and later the 8th Army, he successfully defeated the Japanese at Buna and Hollandia in New Guinea, and at Biak in the Schouten Islands. In 1944, he participated in the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines, and played a large role in the capture of Manila. During the early part of 1945, his 8th Army landed in rapid succession on Palawan, Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Mindanao, and successfully completed a series of brilliant strikes against the Japanese forces in the southern Philippines. Eichelberger was subsequently awarded a leading role in Operation Coronet (the proposed invasion of Japan) and, after the Japanese surrender, was placed in charge of the American forces that occupied Japan.
During these many assignments, Eichelberger advanced in rank from lieutenant to lieutenant general (in addition, he received a fourth star after his retirement from the army). He also received more than a dozen decorations, and served with a number of prominent officers, including Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley, and George S. Patton. Eichelberger received high marks from his superiors during every part of his career, and retired from the army in 1948 with a sterling reputation for duty and gallantry.
Despite this distinguished career, Eichelberger has never received the attention and fame that would normally accrue to a man of his talents and accomplish