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General George Smith Patton, Jr. was born November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. He was known for carrying ivory pistols and his intemperate manner, and is regarded as one of the most successful United States field commanders of any war. He continually strove to train his troops to the highest standard of excellence.

Patton decided during childhood that his goal in life was to become a hero. His ancestors had fought in the Revolutionary War, the Mexican War and the Civil War, and he grew up listening to stories of their brave and successful endeavors. He attended the Virginia Military Institute for one year and went on to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point on June 11, 1909.

Patton’s first real exposure to battle occurred when he served as a member of legendary General John J. Pershing’s staff during the expedition to Mexico. In 1915, Patton was sent to Fort Bliss along the Mexican border where he led routine cavalry patrols. A year later, he accompanied Pershing as an aide on his expedition against Francisco “Pancho” Villa into Mexico. Patton gained recognition from the press for his attacks on several of Villa’s men. Pershing promoted him to Captain and asked him to command his Headquarters.

With the onset of World War I in 1914, tanks were not being widely used. In 1917, however, Patton became the first member of the newly established United States Tank Corps. Patton’s first action was with his brigade of American-crewed French Renault tanks on September 12th, 1918. The US Tanks Corps saw limited action during the war, and was eventually disbanded in 1920.

When the German Blitzkrieg began on Europe, Patton finally convinced Congress that the United States needed a more powerful armored striking force. With the formation of the Armored Force in 1940, he was transferred to the Second Armored Division at Fort Benning, Georgia and named Commanding General on April 11, 1941. By November 8, 1942, Patton was commanding the Western Task Force, the only all-American force landing for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. After succeeding there, Patton commanded the Seventh Army during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and in conjunction with the British Eighth Army restored Sicily to its citizens.

Patton commanded the Seventh Army until March 1944, when he was given command of the Third Army in France. Patton and his troops dashed across Europe after the battle of Normandy and exploited German weaknesses, covering the 600 miles across France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. When the Third Army liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp, Patton slowed his pace. He instituted a policy, later adopted by other commanders, of making local German civilians tour the camps. By the time WWII was over, the Third Army had liberated or conquered 81,522 square miles of territory.

In October 1945, Patton assumed command of the Fifteenth Army in American-occupied Germany. On December 9, he suffered injuries as the result of an automobile accident. He died 12 days later, on December 21, 1945 and is buried among the soldiers who died in the Battle of the Bulge in Hamm, Luxembourg. Remembered for his fierce determination and ability to lead soldiers, Patton is now considered one of the greatest military figures in history.

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

“If a man does his best, what else is there?”

A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.

A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.

By perseverance, study, and eternal desire, any man can become great.

Do everything you ask of those you command.

Do more than is required of you.

Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.

Its the unconquerable soul of man, not the nature of the weapon he uses, that insures victory.

Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.

Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.

No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Success is how you bounce on the bottom.

You’re never beaten until you admit it.

You shouldn’t underestimate an enemy, but it is just as fatal to overestimate him.

“A man must know his destiny if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder if he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take, if he has the guts, he will take it.”

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

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