Engagements: • Spanish-American War (1898)• Philippine-American War (1899 - 1902)• World War I (1914 - 1918)• World War II (1941 - 1945)
The Early Years
Walter Krueger was born on 26 January 1881 in Flatow, West Prussia (now Złotów, Poland); one of three children born to Julius and Anna Hasse Krüger. Julius was a Prussian landowner that had served as an officer in the Franco-Prussian War. Julius' died when Walter was eight years old and Anna and her three children immigrated to the U.S. to be near her uncle in St. Louis, MO. Anna later remarried and the family relocated to Madison, IN.
A Military Career Begins
On 17 June 1898, Krueger and many of his high school classmates enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve in the Spanish-American War with the 2nd Volunteer Infantry. However, he didn't reach Santiago de Cuba until a few weeks after the Battle of San Juan Hill. Mustered out of the Volunteers in February 1899, he returned home to Ohio with a plan of becoming a civil engineer.
Many of Krueger's friends were reenlisting for service in the Philippine-American War so, in June 1899, Krueger reenlisted as a private in M Company of the 12th Infantry. He was soon on his way to fight, as part of Major General Arthur MacArthur, Jr.'s 2nd Infantry Division, the pro-independence Filipinos under the command of Emilio Aguinaldo. He took part in the advance from Angeles City to Tarlac City; Aguinaldo's capital. But Aguinaldo had fled, and the 12th Infantry pursued him vainly all the way through Luzon's central plain to Dagupan City.
Krueger was promoted to Sergeant while serving in an infantry unit in the Philippines. On 1 July 1901, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to the 30th Infantry on Marinduque.
In December 1903, Krueger returned to the U.S. with the 30th Infantry. In September 1904, he married Grace Aileen Norvell, whom he had met in the Philippines. They had three children: James Norvell (29 July 1905-December 1964); Walter Jr. (25 April 1910-15 February 1997); and Dorothy Jane, born on 24 January 1913. Both James and Walter Jr. attended the U.S. Military Academy; James graduated with the class of 1926 and Walter Jr. with the class of 1931. Dorothy married an Army officer, Aubrey Dewitt Smith (Honoree Record ID 220053), who she stabbed to death in 1952.
Krueger graduated from the Infantry-Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth, KS in 1904; he graduated from the General Staff College in 1907. After a second tour in the Philippines, he was assigned to Department of Languages at Fort Leavenworth as an instructor in Spanish and German, which he spoke fluently along with French and English. Not only was Krueger an expert on discipline and training, he was also a noted military historian and scholar of military affairs. He published translations of several German military texts, most notably William Balck's Tactics.
World War I
With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Krueger was offered a post as an observer with the German Army but was forced to turn it down due to family commitments. Instead, he was posted to the 10th Infantry Regiment of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. The regiment was mobilized on 23 June 1916 and served along the Mexican border for five months as part of the Mexican Punitive Expedition under General John J. Pershing, although no Guard units fought Mexican troops. The unit was mustered out in October 1916.
After the U.S. began hostilities in WWI, Krueger became Assistant Chief of Staff G-3 (Operations) of the 84th Infantry Division at Camp Zachary Taylor. With the rank of Major he became its Chief of Staff on 5 August 1917. In February 1918, he was sent to Langres to attend the American Expeditionary Force General Staff School. In May 1918, all officers whose division was not under orders for France were ordered to return home, but Krueger stayed on as G-3 of the 26th Infantry Division. The French Army apparently requested that Krueger be sent home due to his German origin, so Krueger was re-posted to the 84th Division. But he soon returned, as it embarked for France in August 1918. In October 1918, he became Chief of Staff of the Tank Corps. Following the end of the war, Krueger was assistant Chief of Staff of VI and IV Corps on occupation duty, advancing to the rank of temporary Colonel. For his service in France, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919.
The Inter-War Years
With the end of WWI, Krueger reverted to his permanent rank of Captain on 30 June 1920; but he was promoted to the permanent rank of Major the following day. After periods at the Infantry School in Fort Benning, GA, and in command of the 55th Infantry Regiment at Camp Funston, KS, Krueger attended the Army War College, graduating in 1921. He then remained there for a year as an instructor. From 1922 to 1925, he served in the War Plans Division of the U.S. Army General Staff. In 1927 he tried to transfer to the U.S. Army Air Corps but his flight instructor, Lieutenant Claire Lee Chennault flunked him. Krueger graduated from the Naval War College in 1926, and from 1928 to 1932 served as an instructor there.
Krueger commanded the 6th Infantry at Jefferson Barracks from 1932 to 1934. Returning to the War Plans Division, he then became Chief of the Division in May 1936. He was promoted to the temporary rank of Brigadier General in October 1936. In June 1938, Krueger went to Fort George G. Meade as Commander of the 16th Infantry Brigade. He was promoted to temporary Major General in February 1939 while Commanding the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Sam Houston. In October 1939 he took command of VIII Corps.
In May 1941, Krueger was promoted to temporary Lieutenant General in command of the U.S. Third Army and the Southern Defense Command. He held this post for more than a year after the U.S entered World War II.
World War II
A month after the activation of the Sixth Army in January 1943, Krueger took command of the Army, which was based in Australia. He remained in command of the Sixth Army - which included in various combinations at different times I, X, XIV and XXIV Corps - throughout its combat duties. These included the assaults on Japanese positions on Kiriwina and Woodlark Islands (July 1943) as part of Operation Coronet; New Britain (December 1943-February 1944); Admiralty Islands (February-May 1944); mainland New Guinea (July-August 1944); Morotai (Netherlands East Indies, September-October 1944); Leyte and Mindoro (the Philippines, October-December 1944); and Luzon (January-February 1945).
In November 1943 Krueger formed a top secret ad hoc unit called the Alamo Scouts. Named for his beloved association with San Antonio, TX, and the Alamo, Krueger envisioned that the Alamo Scouts, consisting of small teams of highly trained volunteers, would operate deep behind enemy lines to provide intelligence-gathering and tactical reconnaissance in advance of Sixth U.S. Army landing operations.
Krueger was promoted to temporary General (four-star) in March 1945. In September 1945, the Sixth Army took up occupation duty in Japan. In January 1946 it was deactivated and Krueger reverted to Lieutenant General. However, when he retired in July 1946, it was at the four-star rank of General.
Walter was the first soldier to rise from the rank of Private to General in the United States Army.
Krueger retired to San Antonio, TX, where he bought a house for the first time. In retirement, he wrote From Down Under to Nippon: the Story of the 6th Army In World War II, which was published in 1953.
His retirement was marred by family tragedies. His son James was dismissed from the Army in 1947 for conduct unbecoming an officer. Grace's health deteriorated and she died on 13 May 1956.
In 1952, Dorothy fatally stabbed her husband, Colonel Aubrey Dewitt Smith, with a hunting knife while he slept in their Army quarters in occupied Japan. By six votes to three, a U.S. Army court-martial found her guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced her "to be confined at hard labor for the rest of her natural life" (a unanimous verdict of guilty would have made the death sentence mandatory). In 1955, the US Supreme Court ruled that military trials of civilians were unconstitutional, and Dorothy was released. The Supreme Court considered the issue of the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to civilian dependents of service personnel stationed overseas and initially affirmed the conviction of Dorothy Krueger Smith in 1956, but reversed itself in 1957, overturning her conviction.
Medals and Awards
Distinguished Service Cross
In 1962, Krueger Middle School was established in San Antonio, TX.
In the 2005 war film The Great Raid, a little-known true story of the rescue of American POWs from the notorious Cabanatuan Japanese POW camp on Luzon, Krueger was portrayed by actor Dale Dye.
Death and Burial
General Walter Krueger died on 20 August 1967 at Valley Forge, PA. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 30, Lot 794 RH, among a number of family members.
In 1943, General Douglas MacArthur gave Krueger Command of the 6th U.S. Army in the Southwest Pacific. Krueger fought a brilliant campaign in the Philippines. He was considered a "detail man" who arranged everything "just right" before going on the offensive. He displayed a remarkable ability for conducting the amphibious assaults that were so characteristic of the Pacific War. Krueger never suffered a defeat during his entire career and was widely credited with keeping friendly casualties low.
|Honoree ID: 268||Created by: MHOH|