Lucian King Truscott, Jr.
Engagements: • World War II (1941 - 1945)
Lucian King Truscott, Jr.
Lucian King Truscott, Jr. was born on 9 January 1895 in Chatfield, TX, to an English father and Irish mother. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and, after completing officer training, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Cavalry. Between World Wars I and II he served in several cavalry and staff assignments.
World War II
In 1942, Truscott (then a Colonel) was instrumental in developing an American commando unit patterned after the British commando units. On 19 June 1942, a newly-promoted Brigadier General Truscott activated the new commando unit as the 1st Ranger Battalion and placed it under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William O. Darby.
As a Major General, on 8 November 1942 he led the 9,000 men of the 60th Infantry Regiment, and the 66th Armored Regiment, in landings at Mehdia and Port Lyautey in Morocco. The landings were part of Operation Torch under the command of General George S. Patton.
3rd Infantry Division
Truscott took command of the 3rd Infantry Division in April 1943, and oversaw preparations for the invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky. He was known as a very tough trainer and brought the 3rd Infantry Division up to a very high standard. He led the division in the assault on Sicily in July 1943. (Truscott received the Army's second-highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions in Sicily on 11 July 1943, the second day of the invasion.)Here his stringent training paid off when the Division covered great distances in the mountainous terrain at high speed. The famous "Truscott Trot" was a marching pace of 5 miles per hour over the first mile, then 4 miles per hour, much faster than the usual standard of 2.5 miles per hour. The 3rd Infantry Division was considered by many the best-trained, best-led division in the Seventh Army. In mid-September 1943, nine days after the initial Allied landings, he led the division ashore at Salerno on the Italian mainland, where it fought its way up the peninsula.
In January 1944, the division assaulted Anzio as part of U.S. VI Corps. Allied forces soon became mired on the beachhead, and Truscott was given command of VI Corps, replacing the initial commander, Lieutenant General John P. Lucas, who had proved to be indecisive during the battle. Major General John "Iron Mike" O'Daniel succeeded Truscott in command of 3rd Infantry Division.
Following Anzio, Truscott continued to command VI Corps through the fighting up the Italian boot. However, his command was then withdrawn from the line to prepare for Operation Dragoon, the amphibious assault on southern France. On 15 August 1944, VI Corps landed in southern France and initially faced relatively little opposition.
The rapid retreat of the German Nineteenth Army resulted in swift gains for the Allied forces and the Dragoon force met up with southern thrusts from Operation Overlord in mid-September near Dijon.
A planned benefit of Dragoon was the usefulness of the port of Marseille. The rapid Allied advance after Operation Cobra and Dragoon slowed almost to a halt in September 1944 due to a critical lack of supplies. Thousands of tons of supplies were being shunted to northwest France to compensate for the inadequacies of port facilities and land transport in northern Europe. Marseille and the southern French railways were brought back into service despite heavy damage to the port of Marseille and its railroad trunk lines. They became a significant supply route for the Allied advance into Germany, providing about a third of the Allied needs.
On 2 September 1944, Truscott was promoted to Lieutenant General and in October he was appointed commander of the newly formed U.S. Fifteenth Army, which was largely an administrative and training command.
Truscott's next command came in December 1944. He was promoted to Command of the U.S. Fifth Army in Italy when its Commander, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, was made Commander of 15th Army Group. Truscott led the Army through the hard winter of 1944-45, where many of its formations were in exposed positions in the mountains of Italy. He then led U.S. forces through the final destruction of the German Army in Italy.
Truscott had a very gravelly voice, said to be the result of an accidental ingestion of acid in childhood. He was superstitious about his clothing, and usually wore a leather jacket, "pink" (light khaki) pants and his lucky boots in combat. He also wore a white scarf as a trademark (first worn during the Sicilian campaign).
Truscott once said to his son, "Let me tell you something, and don't ever forget it. You play games to win, not lose. And you fight wars to win. That's spelled W-I-N ! And every good player in a game and every good commander in a war has to have some son-of-a-bitch in him. If he doesn't, he isn't a good player or commander....It's as simple as that. No son-of-a-bitch, no commander."
Truscott was respected by those who served under him. A medical officer in the Seventh Army related stories he'd heard from the men who served under Truscott earlier. Unlike some commanders, Truscott wasn't known for self-glorification and he didn't put up with it from his superiors. Others noted he was humbled by the sacrifices made by those under him. Bill Mauldin described the time Truscott gave the address on Memorial Day, 31 May 1945, in the military cemetery at Nettuno, outside Anzio: "He turned his back on the assembled windbags and sparklers and talked to the crosses in the cemetery, quietly, apologizing, and then walked away without looking around."
Truscott took over command of the U.S. Third Army from General George S. Patton on 8 October 1945 and led it until April 1946. This command included the Eastern Military District of the U.S. occupation zone of Germany, which consisted primarily of the state of Bavaria. When the U.S. Seventh Army was deactivated in March 1946, Truscott's Third Army took over the Western Military District (the U.S.-occupied parts of Baden, Württemberg and Hesse-Darmstadt).
Will Lang Jr. from LIFE Magazine wrote a biography on Truscott that appeared in the 2 October 1944 issue of LIFE.
Soon after his retirement from active duty in 1947, Lieutenant General Truscott helped evaluate officers as a member of the War Department Screening Board. Then in 1948-49, he spent a year as the Chairman of the Army Advisory Board for Amphibious Operations, at Fort Monroe, VA. It was between meetings of this Board that he began assembling the material for his two books.
His first book, Command Missions, was published in 1954. The second book, The Twilight of the U.S. Cavalry, was published after his death by his son, Lucian III, in 1989. Seven months after the publication of Command Missions, Congress passed Public Law 88-508, which gave Truscott an honorary promotion to four-star general with an effective date of rank of 19 July 1954.
[Eleven lieutenant generals (including Truscott) were promoted to 4-star rank on 19 July 1954. Seven promotions were granted to living retirees; four were awarded posthumously.]
In 1951, retired General Walter Bedell Smith, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), appointed Truscott as "Special Consultant to the United States Commissioner" in Frankfurt, Germany. However, this was simply a cover for his real assignment as senior Central Intelligence Agency representative in Germany. Truscott had been placed in charge of cloak-and-dagger operations in a vital part of Europe. (This information was first revealed after declassification of a secret memorandum in 1994.)
In 1953, President Eisenhower approved CIA Director Allen Dulles' recommendation that General Truscott be appointed the CIA's Deputy Director for Coordination. This appointment meant that Truscott was now controlling the agency's rapidly expanding network of agents world-wide. Two of his many accomplishments were the overthrow of communist-leaning governments in Iran and Guatemala. Truscott left the CIA in 1958. He wrote nothing about his service in the CIA in Command Missions, and there is nothing about his CIA activities in his papers at the George C. Marshall Library.
Lucian Truscott married Sarah "Chick" Nicholas Randolph on 27 March 1919.
Mary Randolph Truscott, a daughter, was born 3 May 1920. In 1989, her book, Brats: Children of the Military Speak Out, a compilation of tales of army life by others, was published.
Lucian K. Truscott III, a son, was born 17 September 1921. Graduating from West Point in 1945, he fought in the Korean War as a rifle company commander, and also served in Vietnam. He died on 12 March 2000, from a brain tumor.
James Joseph Truscott III, a son, was born 26 December 1930. He graduated from West Point in 1954 and served in the U.S. Air Force. Retiring in 1981, he worked for Northrop Aviation Corporation until 1992. He helped provide information for Jeffers' book Command of Honor.
A grandson, Lucian K. Truscott IV, graduated from West Point in 1969 but resigned from the Army 13 months later and became a journalist and screenwriter. He wrote the books Dress Gray, Heart of War, Army Blue, and Full Dress Gray. In 2003, he was a journalist assigned with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.
Medals and Awards
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross Citation
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major General Lucian King Truscott, Jr. (ASN: 0-7096), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Commanding General, 3d Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces near Agrigento, Sicily, on 11 July 1943. Completely disregarding his own safety, General Truscott personally directed the successful operation which expended the 3d Division's Licata beachhead, and by his continuous presence with the forward elements, as well as his exemplary judgment and leadership, inspired his command to the early capture of Agrigento and the continuance of the attack northward. General Truscott's contact with the assault units was maintained in the face of intense artillery, mortar, and small arms fire, and he repeatedly exposed himself to this enemy fire in order to confer with the officers leading the attack and to keep them informed of the enemy situation. When certain elements were temporarily halted by an enemy counterattack he calmly and courageously assumed personal command and rallying his officers and men ordered a renewal of the attack, thereby regaining the initiative. By his intrepid direction, heroic leadership, and superior professional ability, General Truscott set an inspiring example for his command, reflecting the highest traditions of the armed forces.
General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 11 (February 7, 1944)
On 29 April 1966, Truscott Hall, a bachelor officers' quarters at the Army War College, was named after him.
Truscott was portrayed by actor John Doucette in the 1970 film Patton.
Death and Burial
General Lucian King Truscott, Jr. died on 12 September 1965 in Alexandria, VA. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.
On 7 August 1994, Sarah Truscott, his wife, died and was buried next to him at Arlington Cemetery.
|Honoree ID: 42||Created by: MHOH|