One of my very interesting readers, War Pig, was inspired by the General Patton quotes this week to provide a personal remembrance of General Patton the Younger in the comments. On hearing that he had more stories I asked if he’d provide them and allow me to post them here. He kindly agreed and here they are.
Some personal anecdotes about Major General George S. Patton IV (son of the WWII Patton).
General Patton the Younger (as we called him) was every bit as much of a firebrand as his father, and could be as spectacularly profane as his sire.
I was a young sergeant assigned to the 2nd Armored Division at Ft Hood, Texas in the middle 1970s. Patton commanded the division back then. He spent as much time as he could riding in his specially modified jeep and out of headquarters. You never knew when or where he’d show up. His jeep had a bar on his side for him to hold onto. He disliked sitting as he had a bad hip. He also had a flasher light and a siren installed. His driver was on leave for some reason and he called my brigade for a replacement. I was a counterintelligence agent and I was attached to the division artillery. The Command Sergeant Major wasn’t too fond of intel types so he tasked me to drive Patton for almost 6 weeks.
As I have said elsewhere, Patton despised lieutenants. He said to me, once; “A private knows nothing and we expect him to do nothing more than to follow orders. Unfortunately, lieutenants also know nothing yet they are allowed to give orders. Without a good sergeant, a lieutenant is the most dangerous thing on the battlefield – to our own cause.”
Patton had a high regard for NCOs. But had little time for officers below Lt Colonel. He also trusted the troops, the enlisted men. My time driving for him was interesting, to say the least. He had a deep respect and care for the enlisted men under his command.
One day that summer it was a Black Flag day. It was so hot and humid that training was to be kept indoors if possible. The heat index that day was, I believe, 110 degrees. Of course, I drove Patton’s jeep as it was open-topped and we were moving. We were heading to corps headquarters for some briefing or another. As we were driving along Patton yelled; “Stop this f**king jeep!” I stopped as quickly as I could without throwing him head first over the windshield. Between two barracks was a platoon of soldiers doing close order drill on the dry grass. In the heat, on a black flag day. “Pull over there!” he yelled. I drove across the concrete median, over the sidewalk and up to the platoon on the grass. Patton’s jeep went where Patton said, and screw the traffic laws. In the shade stood a platoon sergeant, looking pissed off.
The lieutenant saluted but Patton yelled; “What the f**k do you think you’re doing? Where in hell’s your platoon sergeant and why isn’t he kicking your ass right now? Who’s your company – your battalion – who’s your brigade commander lieutenant?!”
The lieutenant tried to stammer out a reply but Patton was on a roll. “What the f**k are you doing? Answer me!”
“The platoon needed discipline, sir.”
About this time Patton saw the platoon sergeant. “Why aren’t you kicking his ass, sergeant?” To which the sergeant answered that he was ordered to stand aside.
“You!” Patton said to the lieutenant, “You will have yourself and your entire chain of command in my office at sixteen hundred. You got me?!”
“Sergeant, you are now in command of this platoon until further notice. Dismiss the men.”
We went to the meeting/briefing/conference. We were back in Patton’s office before 16:00 Waiting outside were the lieutenant, his company commander, the battalion commander and the brigade commander. They were called into the office in order of seniority, the door was closed, and loud voices were heard. By the time the lieutenant was called in I was sitting by the door and could hear what was said. Patton was swearing up a storm and the young lieutenant was catching it for disobeying a training directive, putting his troops in danger of heat stroke, and refusing to listen to his platoon sergeant.
“Well, you’re f**king fired. Relieved of command of the platoon and a commanding general’s official letter of reprimand will be placed in your records.”