Saturday, March 08, 2014

May 1943 - JFK explains why the Marines and Navy dislike "Dugout Doug" MacArthur

May 14, 1943
[Somewhere in Solomon Islands]

Dear Dad & Mother,

I was very interested in what you said about MacArthur’s popularity. Here he has none – is, in fact, very, very, unpopular. His nick-name is “Dugout Doug”; which seems to date back to the first invasion of Guadalcanal. The Army was supposed to come in and relieve the Marines after the beach-head had been secured. In 93 days, no Army. Rightly or wrongly (probably wrongly) MacArthur is blamed. He is said to have refused to the send the Army in – “He sat in his Dug-out in Australia”, ( I am quoting Marine and Navy personnel) and let the Marines take it. [Note: JFK was right to believe MacArthur was wrongly blamed. MacArthur had nothing to do with Guadalcanal - it was Admiral King and Nimitz's show, and he had no troops to send. He sent as much air support as he could, but was tied up helping the Australians in New Guinea - Rcocean].

…In regard to MacArthur, there is no doubt that as men start to come back, that “Dugout Doug” will spread – and I think will kill him off. No one here has the slightest interest in Politics – they just want to get home – morning, noon, and night. They wouldn't give a damn whether they could vote or not and would probably vote for Roosevelt just because they know his name.

Feeling OK. The back has really acted amazingly well and gives me scarcely any trouble and in general feels pretty good. Good bunch out here, so all in all it isn't too bad, but when I was speaking about people who would just as soon be home I didn't mean to use “they”- I meant “WE”.  I figure should be back within a year though, but brother from then on its going to take an act of Congress to move me, but I guess that act has already been passed – if it hasn't, it will be.

                                                        My Love to everyone 
                                                       /s/ Jack.


edutcher said...

There were always tales of MacArthur living in palatial splendor in the Pacific.

When a couple of 11th Airborne paratroopers showed up at Hollandia to check it out, the Supreme Commander himself gave them a guided tour of his digs - an expanded Quonset hut.

PS It was only at the end of the war, when guys in the SWPA found out how much more bleeding was going on in other theaters (MacArthur was far more thrifty with the lives of his Marines, as well as his soldiers than Nimitz of Howlin' Mad Smith) that they came to prize him.

rcocean said...

Thanks for the story Ed. Agree on MacArthur being thrifty with lives.

Ben Weihrich said...

At no time did Dugout have real command of Marine. The only he might had wold the Marine detail on any capital ships that might attached to dugout.

rcocean said...

"At no time did Dugout have real command of Marine."

MacArthur latter had command of the 1st Marine Division for the Cape Gloucester invasion. Needless to say he wanted to keep the division, but Nimitz disagreed.