Ultimate vets

12 special ones, and 100 million more who are just as deserving

Sunday is, of course, Nov. 11, the day set aside to honor our nation’s veterans. There will be observances throughout next week.

It’s estimated that 100 million Americans have served in our country’s armed forces since its first branch was created on June 14, 1775.

In those past 237 years, 12 men have attained the rank of five stars or greater. You might call this the list of “ultimate veterans.” Here they are:

General and Commander-in-Chief

• George Washington—Since Washington, only the presidents— and, of course he was the first one—have served the USA as commander-in-chief. In 1978 Washington was posthumously promoted to the rank of General of the Armies so no one could ever outrank him in U. S. history.

General of the Armies

• John Joseph Pershing—Leader of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I.

Five-Star Generals

• George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight David Eisenhower, Henry H. Arnold (Air Force) and Omar Bradley—Eisenhower was born in a small frame house in Denison, Texas, and, of course, led the D-Day invasion.

Admiral of the Navy

• George Dewey—Naval hero of both the Civil War and, at age 61, the Spanish-American War.

Five-Star Admirals

• William Leahy, Ernest King, Chester W. Nimitz and William F. (Bull) Halsey—Nimitz was from Fredericksburg. The late Reporter employee, and WW II Navy veteran, Sam Summers, encountered Halsey aboard the USS Cowpens during the war. “He was cussing when he came on board and he was cussing when he left,” Summers recalled.

Then again, except for Pershing and MacArthur, who were special ego cases, every one of those 12 men would probably tell you the real “ultimate veterans” are all 100 million Americans who served their country.

Thank you, veterans, whatever your rank.—M.B.

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2012-11-08 digital edition

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