Minuteman: The Military Career of General Robert S. Beightler

Minuteman: The Military Career of General Robert S. Beightler

Minuteman: The Military Career of General Robert S. Beightler

Minuteman: The Military Career of General Robert S. Beightler

Excerpt

The history of the United States Army is the history of two armies. One is the regular army consisting of professional, or career, soldiers. The other is the citizen army consisting of various components, including militiamen, volunteers, National Guardsmen, draftees, and reservists who serve on a temporary basis in times of emergency. Likening themselves to the Minutemen of the Revolutionary War, Guardsmen are federal-state soldiers who have the dual life of a civilian and a part-time soldier. The modern-day National Guard traces its roots to the volunteer militia companies of the late nineteenth century. By the early years of the twentieth century, it had become a major provider of citizen soldiers in its role as the regular army's first-line reserve, a status it held through World War II.

The story of the National Guard has been told largely through institutional studies and unit histories. Little attention has been devoted to biographical accounts, even though they can provide a personal identity for the National Guard and contribute “to a better understanding of what makes the Guard tick. ”The National Guard has not produced any figures of towering military stature, yet a number of Guardsmen have had notable military careers, some in helping to shape the National Guard and others as senior battlefield leaders.

Among those who made their mark in the crucible of combat, few stand out more than Robert Sprague Beightler. A successful civil engineer and contractor in civilian life, Beightler enlisted as a private in the Ohio National Guard in 1911 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1914. He rose to command the 37th Infantry (Buckeye) Division in 1940 with the rank of major general, and during World War II he successfully led it through several campaigns in the war in the Pacific. By war's end, Beightler was the only National Guard general to have commanded his division for the duration of the war and was the army's longest serving division commander. In 1946 he was one of two National Guard major generals to be appointed to the regular army, and thereafter he served in a variety of capacities until his retirement in 1953.

In examining Beightler's military career, one theme in particular stands . . .

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