- Ridgway, Matthew Bunker
▪ 1994general (ret.), U.S. Army (b. March 3, 1895, Fort Monroe, Va.—d. July 26, 1993, Fox Chapel, Pa.), was a valiant leader and brilliant strategist who parachuted with his troops into Sicily (July 1943) during World War II, therewith planning and executing the first major airborne assault in U.S. military history. Ridgway, a 1917 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., served in various staff positions during World War I. By 1942 he was a brigadier general and commander of the 82nd Infantry Division, which he converted to the 82nd Airborne Division and then commanded during the Sicily campaign. Of all the generals, Ridgway saw the most combat during the war; he parachuted with his troops into Normandy during the D-Day invasion (June 6, 1944) and led his corps in action in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Ridgway was known for his ability to rally dispirited troops and was visually distinguished by the hand grenade that he wore strapped to a shoulder of his battle jacket. As commander of the U.S. 8th Army in Korea during the Chinese Communist offensive in late 1950, he energized demoralized and retreating United Nations forces and launched a counteroffensive that drove the Chinese out of South Korea. In 1951 Ridgway succeeded Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was relieved of his command as Allied commander in the Far East. Ridgway launched the negotiations that eventually led to an armistice ending the Korean War. He replaced Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower as supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe in 1952, and the following year he was appointed chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Ridgway retired in 1955 as a four-star general. He published his memoirs, Soldier, in 1956 and another volume, The Korean War, in 1967.
* * *▪ United States generalborn March 3, 1895, Fort Monroe [Hampton], Virginia, U.S.died July 26, 1993, Fox Chapel, near Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaU.S. Army officer who planned and executed the first major airborne assault in U.S. military history with the attack on Sicily (July 1943).A 1917 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Ridgway was assigned as an instructor at the academy during World War I. He later saw service in China, Nicaragua, and the Philippines and at the outbreak of World War II was working in the war plans division of the War Department. In 1942 he took command of the 82nd Infantry Division and oversaw its conversion to the 82nd Airborne Division, which he then commanded in the Sicily campaign. Ridgway parachuted with his troops into Normandy, France, in June 1944 during the Normandy Invasion, and he subsequently led the XVIII Airborne Corps in action in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Ridgway was known for his ability to rally dispirited troops and was visually distinguished by the hand grenade that he wore strapped to a shoulder of his battle jacket.Assuming command of the U.S. Eighth Army in the Korean War during the Chinese communist offensive in late 1950, Ridgway rallied the United Nations forces and initiated a counteroffensive that drove the Chinese out of South Korea. Promoted in 1951 to the rank of general, he succeeded General Douglas MacArthur (MacArthur, Douglas) as Allied commander in the Far East and continued the successful defense of South Korea. He subsequently oversaw the end of the U.S. occupation of Japan in 1952.In 1952 Ridgway succeeded General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Eisenhower, Dwight D.) as supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, and the following year he was appointed chief of staff of the U.S. Army. He retired in 1955 as a general. Ridgway's war memoirs, entitled Soldier, were published in 1956, and The Korean War: How We Met the Challenge appeared in 1967. Ridgway was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1986 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1991.Additional ReadingPaul M. Edwards (compiler), General Matthew B. Ridgway: An Annotated Bibliography (1993), lists works by and about Ridgway and includes a brief biography. Specifics of Ridgway's career are examined in Clay Blair, Ridgway's Paratroopers: The American Airborne in World War II (1985); and Roy E. Appleman, Ridgway Duels for Korea (1990), covering November 1950 to July 1951.
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