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Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981)

General Of the Army

Born in Clark, Missouri, Feb. 12, 1893, Bradley was the U.S. Army officer who commanded the highly effective 12th Army Group, which helped ensure the Allied victory over Germany during World War II. Bradley was know by his troops as "The Soldier's General" because of his care of and compassion for those soldiers under his command. He later served as first chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (1949-53).

Bradley graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1915. At the opening of World War II he was commandant of the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Ga., and later commanded the 82nd and 28th infantry divisions. After being placed at the head of the 2nd Corps for the North African campaign, under General George S. Patton, he captured Bizerte, Tunisia, in May 1943. This victory contributed directly to the fall of Tunisia and the surrender of more than 250,000 Axis troops. Bradley then led his forces in the Sicilian invasion, which was successfully concluded in August.

Later in 1943 Bradley was transferred to Great Britain, where he was given command of the U.S. 1st Army in 1944. Placed temporarily under the command of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, he took part in planning the invasion of France. In June 1944 he joined his troops in the assault on the Normandy beaches and in the initial battles inland. At the beginning of August he was elevated to command of the U.S. 12th Army Group. Under his leadership the 1st, 3rd, 9th, and 15th armies, the largest force ever placed under an American group commander, successfully carried on operations in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and Czechoslovakia until the end of European hostilities.

After the German surrender, Bradley returned to the United States to serve as administrator of veterans' affairs (1945-47) and chief of staff of the Army (1948-49). He was well liked by both officers and enlisted men and, after the unification of the armed forces, was chosen in 1949 as the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While at that post he was promoted (1950) to General of the Army.

After retiring from the Army in 1953, Bradley was active in private enterprise. In 1951 he published his reminiscences, A Soldier's Story. A General's Life (with Clay Blair) was published in 1983.