In Caesar's Shadow: The Life of General Robert Eichelberger

By Paul Chwialkowski | Go to book overview
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5
PREPARATION FOR WARTIME COMMAND

In September 1936, Eichelberger wrote to Generals Connor, Simonds, and Craig about a possible transfer to the infantry. Responding that "a transfer would be worthwhile taking a chance on," Simonds stated that "there is no doubt as to your qualifications to be a combat commander." General Connor agreed, stating that "I would make the move if I were you at the earliest moment that I could and, as you intimate, use the next two years to let the few who would notice it have time to forget it." General Craig also supported Eichelberger's transfer, with the provision that he remain as secretary to the General Staff for an additional year. 1

In August 1937, Eichelberger submitted a one-line request for a transfer from the AGC to the infantry. This was a difficult decision; the Adjutant General's Department had treated him wonderfully and had invested a great deal of time and effort in his advancement and promotion. General James McKinley (the Adjutant General) and General Frank Burnett (the assistant AG) were both upset by the request. Nevertheless, Eichelberger convinced them to approve his transfer, and means were found to have him retained as secretary to the General Staff for an additional 15 months (as an infantry officer). 2

In the meantime, Generals Craig, Simonds, Graves, and Connor attempted to find him an appropriate unit to command upon the completion of his duties in Washington. This was a difficult task; there were only a few regiments in the U.S. Army, and command experience was in high demand. General Craig eventually decided to give Eichelberger the 29th Infantry Regiment, an elite show regiment stationed at Fort Benning. After some deliberation, Eichelberger turned down the assignment "because I felt it would produce jealousy among aspiring infantry officers who know I had been out of the infantry for some years." Instead, he accepted the command of the 30th Infantry Regiment, stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco. Even this more modest assignment did not insulate him from the jealousy of his peers; one bitter army wife complained that "Bob

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