Alexander McCarrell Patch
Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1913
Engagements: • World War I (1914 - 1918)• World War II (1941 - 1945)
Alexander McCarrell "Sandy" Patch
Alexander McCarrell Patch was born on 23 November 1889 at Fort Huachuca, a military post in Arizona where his father commanded a detachment. He never considered any career other than the Army, and received his appointment to West Point in 1909. He wanted to follow his father into the Cavalry, but realizing that they were becoming obsolete, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry after his graduation in 1913.
In World War I, Patch served as an infantry officer and as an instructor in the Army's machine gun school. While commanding troops on the front line, his leadership came to the attention of George C. Marshall, then a member of General John J. Pershing's staff. During the buildup before the U.S. entry into World War II, Marshall was appointed Army Chief of Staff. Marshall promoted Patch to Brigadier General on 4 August 1941 and sent him to Fort Bragg to supervise the training of new soldiers there.
World War II
On 10 March 1942, Patch was promoted to Major General and sent to the Pacific to organize the reinforcement and defense of New Caledonia. He took command of a loose collection of units, and formed them into the Americal Division (a name adopted on Patch's suggestion after it was proposed by a soldier in the division.) This unit first saw action in the Guadalcanal campaign. Starting in October 1942, they were brought in to relieve the valiant and malaria-ridden 1st Marine Division. In December, Patch moved up to Command XIV Corps and he was given charge of the entire offensive on Guadalcanal. Patch personally led troops under his command on a dangerous offensive in the Battle of Mount Austen; the Galloping Horse; and the Sea Horse, to capture several fortified hills and ridges from the Japanese forces. Under his leadership, by February 1943 the Japanese were driven from Guadalcanal.
Impressed by Patch's performance on Guadalcanal, General Marshall ordered him to Europe, where he took over command of the Seventh Army from General Mark Clark. Under Patch, the Seventh Army landed in Southern France on 15 August 1944. On 18 August 1944, he was promoted to Lieutenant General. Patch led the Army in a fast offensive up the Rhone Valley. On 9 September near Dijon, France, it met up with elements of Patton's US Third Army that had driven east from the beaches of Normandy. Patch suffered personal tragedy when his son, Captain Alexander M. Patch III, was killed in action on 22 October 1944, while serving as an infantry company commander in the U.S. 79th Infantry Division.
Patch retained command of the Seventh Army until the end of the war, crossing into Germany, over the Rhine River, leading the Seventh's attack on the German Siegfried Line, and then into southern Germany.
Medals and Awards
Army Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Foreign Medals and Awards
Companion of the Order of the Bath, UK
• Kurmaumlker Kaserne, in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany, was renamed Patch Barracks in his honor on 4 July 1952. Patch Barracks is the home of Headquarters, United States European Command (HQ USEUCOM), the supreme US military command in Europe. Patch Barracks also has an elementary and high school named after General Patch.
• The transport ship USNS General Alexander M. Patch (T-AP-122) was also named for General Patch.
Death and Burial
In August 1945, Patch returned to the U.S. to take command of the Fourth Army, but he was soon hospitalized with lung problems.
Lieutenant General Alexander McCarrell Patch died of pneumonia on 21 November 1945 at Brooke General Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, TX. He is buried at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, Orange County, NY, in Section 2.
Patch was posthumously promoted to four-star general on 19 July 1954 under Public Law 83-508. [Eleven lieutenant generals (including Patch) were promoted to 4-star rank on 19 July 1954. Seven promotions were granted to living retirees; four were awarded posthumously.]
|Honoree ID: 302||Created by: MHOH|