Robert Charlwood Richardson, Jr.
Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1904
Engagements: • World War I (1914 - 1918)• World War II (1941 - 1945)
Robert Charlwood Richardson, Jr.
Robert Charlwood Richardson, Jr. was born on 27 October 1882 in Charleston, SC. He was admitted as a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) on 19 June 1900. Upon his graduation from West Point in 1904, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Calvary, the mounted force of the U.S. Army.
Richardson was ordered to the Philippine Islands to join the 14th Cavalry Regiment, where he served in the field against the hostile Moros Tribemen at Jolo during the Philippine War guerrilla insurrection. He was wounded in action at Cotta Usap on 7 January 1905, and was subsequently awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action. He later took part in other engagements against the insurgents until he left the Philippines on 21 October 1905. Returning to the U.S., he was with the 14th Cavalry Troop at the Presidio of San Francisco, CA, during the 1906 Earthquake and led his troop from the Presidio as part of the government's response to the earthquake and subsequent firestorm.
He returned to USMA on 25 October 1906 as an Assistant Instructor of Modern Languages and remained at West Point until 13 August 1911. Richardson returned to San Francisco until 4 October when he sailed for his second tour in the Philippines's with the 14th Cavalry Regiment at Camp Stotsenburg. He returned to the U.S. on 4 March 1912, to join the 23d Infantry at Texas City and Fort Clark, TX. In August 1914, he returned for his second tour at West Point as Assistant Professor of English and remained in that assignment until June 1917.
In June 1917, Captain Richardson was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry at Fort Ethan Allen, VT, and on 9 July he was appointed Aide to Major General T. H. Barry who commanded the Central Department at Chicago, IL. He helped in the rapid buildup and training of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) that was preparing to go to France. At the temporary rank of Major, Richardson sailed with General Barry from New York to France on 1 December 1917. Fluent in French, Major Richardson served as Aide, and observer with foreign armies, until 9 January 1918.
In June, he was assigned to the Operations Division, General Staff, AEF as Liaison Officer for General Headquarters (GHQ), Allied Headquarters and with American Armies, Corps, and Divisions during the combat operations of 1918. He escorted Allied missions in the St. Mihiel Offensive. By now a temporary Lieutenant Colonel, Richardson was Liaison Officer with Headquarters, First Army for the opening of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the Operations Officer Representative at Advance GHQ. With the end of hostilities Richardson, now a temporary Colonel, joined the Reparations Board, Peace Commission, Paris from 28 January to 28 February 1919. As part of the Army Occupation Forces, Colonel Richardson served on temporary duty at Headquarters, Third Army in Coblenz (pre-1926 spelling), Germany, and was attached to Headquarters, l0th French Army, Mayence, Germany until 1 June 1919.
Richardson returned to the U.S. on 6 July 1919, to join the Morale Division, War Plans Division, War Department General Staff, in Washington. In March 1920, Richardson reverted to his permanent regular rank of Captain. On 9 August 1920, he joined the Office of the Chief of Cavalry until 28 January 1921, when he returned for his third tour of duty in the Philippines.
In the Philippines, (soon to be Major) Richardson served as Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters, Philippine Department in Manila, until 6 April 1923. He then returned to the U.S. to attend the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS. After his graduation in June 1924, Major Richardson sailed for France to attend the Ecole Superieure de Guerre in Paris and, upon graduation on 2 September 1926, he was ordered to Rome, Italy to serve as Military Attaché. In March 1928, a newly-promoted Lieutenant Colonel Richardson returned to the U.S. to join the 13th Cavalry at Fort Riley, KS.
Once again, Richardson received an assignment at West Point. On 20 August 1928, he was made Commanding Officer, Provisional Battalion, and Executive Officer; then, on 2 March 1929, he became Commandant of Cadets and Head of Department of Tactics. He became a student at the Army War College in Washington on 30 June 1933 and, after graduation, he served in the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department General Staff until 7 December 1935. Soon to be promoted to Colonel, he was given command of the 5th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Clark, TX. In June 1938, Colonel Richardson assumed command of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade at Fort Bliss, TX; then, on 10 October 1940, he assumed command of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss. On 11 February 1941 he became the Director of Public Relations in Washington.
After the Pearl Harbor bombing and the start of World War II, Major General Richardson commanded VII Corps, where he oversaw the buildup of U.S. defenses in California. Several months after Pearl Harbor, General George Marshall sent him on a personal reconnaissance of the whole Pacific Theater to assess the extent of the Allied situation. While in Australia, General Douglas MacArthur, Richardson's classmate at West Point, requested of General Marshall that Richardson return to command the Army Corp being stood up in Australia. Upon his return to Washington, Richardson frankly reported to General Marshall the inappropriateness of US forces being placed under the command of foreign officers. This was based on his WWI experience gained from General John J. Pershing who insisted that US Forces fight under US command. This led to the unconfirmed rumor that his report cost him the Corp command under General MacArthur.
In June 1943, Richardson was promoted to Lieutenant General and made Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department, which included being the Military Governor of Hawaii (at that time it was still a U.S. Territory), and Commanding General of U.S Army Forces in the Pacific Ocean and Mid-Pacific Areas. During his Hawaiian command, Richardson built up an extensive training operation on the Hawaiian Islands to train all military personnel in amphibious operations, jungle fighting, and other command and support operations. He oversaw the construction of Richardson Hall in a scant 49 days. Also known as the "Pineapple Pentagon," it has remained the planning and operational support centers for soldiers of the U.S. Army, Pacific since 1944.
During this period, another controversy arose. In June 1944, Richardson disputed Marine General Holland Smith's removal of Army General Ralph C. Smith as Commander of the Army's 27th Division during the Saipan campaign. As the Administrative Commander of all Pacific Army personnel, General Richardson, questioned whether Marine General Holland Smith, as the Operational Commander, had the authority to relieve Army General Smith and whether the relief was justified by the facts. This minor inter-service controversy was fanned by the media into controversy over Pacific war strategy and led to bitter inter-service relationships in the Pacific Theater. At the core, this was a difference of opinion between U.S. Navy/USMC and U.S. Army, over command authority, pre-campaign planning, and operational tactics. Also fueling the issue was General Holland Smith's low opinion and poor treatment of the Army personnel under his control.
As the Administrative Commander, Richardson oversaw all the Army's planning, logistical preparation, training, and force deployment efforts as part of the overall U.S. Joint Forces island-hopping campaign that led to surrender of Japan. His Army ground and air forces fought in all the major central and mid-Pacific battles under the operational command of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. Lieutenant General Richardson was in the front row of senior leaders who witnessed Japan's formal surrender on the deck of the Battleship USS Missouri.
Lieutenant General Robert Charlwood Richardson, Jr. retired in October 1946.
Posthumous Promotion to General
By a Special Act of U.S. Congress, Public Law 83-508, Richardson was posthumously promoted to the four-star rank of General on 19 July 1954.
Medals and Awards
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Foreign Medals and Awards
French Legion of Honor
Death and Burial
Lieutenant General Robert Charlwood Richardson, Jr. died on 2 March 1954, while on vacation in Rome, Italy. He is buried at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, NY.
|Honoree ID: 310||Created by: MHOH|