General George Smith Patton Jr. was a smart kid with an interest in military history from the suburbs outside of Los Angeles. He was a third generation student at the Virginia Military Institute, following his father and grandfather, and transferred to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after 1 year. There, he was an accomplished student and athlete, placing 5th in the 1912 summer olympic modern pentathlon. After schooling, he traveled to France where he studied fencing techniques, and upon returning to the states, he redesigned sword combat for the U.S. cavalry, emphasizing thrusts over slashes. This led to his invention of the Model 1913 Cavalry Saber, also known as the Patton Saber. After earning the title Master of the Sword, he became the first officer appointed to the US Army Tank Corps in WWI, making him one of the first practitioners of tank warfare.
Patton continued his military career through WWI, and by WWII he’d earned the nickname among his troops of “Old Blood-and-Guts”. It’s said that he once lay in a shell hole for hours badly wounded by machine-gun fire, but refused to seek medical attention until he’d reported to his commander. For this, he earned the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery under fire. His effective and aggressive commanding techniques and disregard of classic military rules earned him great military success throughout the war. He was commanding general for the Western taskforce for landings at Casablanca in 1942, and led the Seventh Army as lieutenant general into Sicily, capturing Messina and Palermo in 1943. In 1944, his Third Army captured much of France, and he was placed in charge of the fictitious First U.S. Army, which was used as a diversion of German troops during the invasion of Normandy. German military presence was maintained in Pas-De-Calais, France for over a month after the invasion, in anticipation of an attack from Patton’s non-existent paper army. In 1945, after being commanded to bypass the German city of Trier because it would take at least 4 divisions to seize, Patton reported: “Have taken Trier with two divisions. Do you want me to give it back?” Ultimately, Patton’s Third Army captured over 80,000 square miles in only 9 months, and suffered roughly 10% of the casualties it inflicted on the enemy. After the German surrender, Patton was removed from command of the Third Army due to criticism against the Allies and rash comments to the press. He died shortly from injuries sustained in a car accident, in December of 1945. Some conspiracy theorists claim that he may have been assassinated by the U.S. government in fear of his uncensored public comments.
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