General of the Armies, 6-Star Insignia?
Posted 28 February 2011 - 09:22 AM
I don't want to get into a pi$$ing contest about this, and I certainly don't want this to turn into a, "No! You're wrong, I'm right!" discussion, but some time back I was doing some reading about this rank that never saw the day of light. I have read there was going to be a six-star rank bestowed on certain members of the American military, including George Washington and John Pershing.
I was on an insignia forum many, many years ago, and it wasn't this one. Certain members of that forum claimed to have drawings and examples of what the proposed six-star insignia was supposed to look like. However, they could never figure out how to take pictures with their digital camera, or they didn't know how to post pictures on the internet, however they were adamant they owned these examples.
The only concept of this insignia I have ever seen is a regular 5-star cluster of stars with a sixth star in the middle. I was wondering if any collectors out there have ever seen any examples of 6-star insignia, or if anybody has any prototype of this insignia in their collection.
Thanks for the read.
Posted 28 February 2011 - 09:25 AM
Posted 28 February 2011 - 10:18 AM
Posted 28 February 2011 - 12:07 PM
If you also believe Wikipedia, it shows an image from a sketch someone made at the Institute of Heraldtry showing the 5-star cluster with an additional star in the middle. Again, I wouldn't take anything that is in Wikipedia to court, but for what its worth, the rank should have looked like this:
I was able to find the image that was created on that other insignia forum. According to descriptions given, the proposed insignia wasn't supposed to look like the above. It was supposed to look like this:
And there's this other image which I believe to be incorrect:
I know there's 5-star ACU rank out there, and I know there are other 5-star rank insignia out there that has been manufactured despite there being no 5-star generals, so I was just curious if the government ever sanctioned an insignia company to make some prototype insignia for them.
And I'm not even going to get started on the Admiral of the Navy rank Admiral Dewey held. Two thick admiral braids sandwiching a thinner braid. :/
Edited by dg0223, 28 February 2011 - 12:12 PM.
Posted 28 February 2011 - 12:17 PM
Posted 28 February 2011 - 02:47 PM
"As for why America never adopted the pinnacle rank, one may be forgiven for thinking it was thanks to George C. Marshall (see photo above), the very first 5-star army general (field marshal equivalent) of the United States. Field Marshal Marshall would have sounded undignified, and leads immediately to the theory that President Roosevelt out of deference to his chief military advisor (in Churchill's words, the "organizer of victory", the man who, after all, expanded the size of U.S. military forces forty fold), instead proposed a new rank to Congress called "General of the Army". The rank was duly approved and General Marshall was promoted on December 15, 1944. (General MacArthur received his promotion the following day, not because he was less senior to Marshall, but by virtue of not being in Marshall's shoes as Army Chief of Staff, the same position that MacArthur held more than a decade earlier.)
Indeed the need for American field marshal status came to a head in September 1944, when the irascible general, Bernard Montgomery, was promoted to the highest rank in the British Army. How could (4-star) General Eisenhower carry out his superior function as combined Supreme Commander in Europe, if he was of lower rank than Field Marshal Montgomery? As noted, the issue was solved by an act of Congress in December 1944, and Eisenhower became a 5-star General of the Army one week after MacArthur.
General MacArthur for his part, was later considered for an unprecedented new 6-star rank, "General of the Armies", which planners were calling for in July 1945, given the sheer scale of the invasion force being contemplated for Japan and its surrounding islands. The Institute of Heraldry produced a single sketch of how the insignia for six star rank would appear, which was later filed into Douglas MacArthur's service record. The 6-star rank was not to be, however, and the Instrument of Japan's Surrender was signed on September 2, 1945. Interestingly, the United States came within a hair's distance of establishing a military rank superior to that of even a field marshal.
That said, the senior 5-star (initially a 4-star) rank of "General of the Armies of the United States" (a development that goes back to 1799, which is the substantive reason why field marshal was not chosen) does currently exist and is the highest possible officer rank of the United States Army. Only two soldiers have been granted the rank of General of the Armies; John J. Pershing in 1919 to honor his service in World War I, is the only person to be promoted in his own lifetime to such a rank; and George Washington (a retroactive Congressional edict passed in 1976 promoted General Washington to the same rank but with higher seniority), as part of the American bicentennial celebrations, to commemorate his leadership and involvement in the founding of the United States. As mentioned above, Douglas MacArthur was considered for the rank, both during and after World War II, but a formal promotion order was never issued."
Posted 28 February 2011 - 07:01 PM
"...The Institute of Heraldry produced a single sketch of how the insignia for six star rank would appear, which was later filed into Douglas MacArthur's service record...
Damn, I wonder if anybody has access to that sketch...or, I guess, I wonder if anybody has access to General MacArthur's service record.
Posted 28 February 2011 - 07:07 PM
Posted 01 March 2011 - 10:30 AM
I live in Norfolk where the MacArthur Memorial is and used to teach classes there. I contacted Jim Zobel, the Archivist, and hopefully Jim will respond so we'll be able to see what might be in the files. They have a huge vault full of stuff, all of his personal papers, and documents from his campaigns in the Pacific and Korea. Might take a few days.
Response was that the entry in Wikipedia "General of the Armies" is accurate, though there seems to be no TIOH sketch in MacArthur's files as is claimed in multiple articles. The only mention of it is in other documents from the 50's and 60's when there was a campaign to bestow this rank on him.
Posted 01 March 2011 - 11:00 AM
Thank you very much for taking the time to check on this. I guess the sketch made its way out of the file, or maybe never made its way in to the file.
I can't stand people who say they have things only to have it be a complete falsehood. What does somebody gain in saying, "Oh yeah, not only have I seen the proposed 6-star insignia, but I have some 6-star insignia, but my camera is broken and I can't show you the insignia." I guess it's just going to be one of those mysteries. What happened to the sketch? I guess we'll never know.
I also read the 6-star rank would have played hell with the benefits and pay scale of those who already had 5 stars. I know it may just be vanity, since the number of stars on a general's shoulder matters less than the job they are given, but I wonder why there hasn't been anybody promoted to General of the Army, General of the Air Force, or Fleet Admiral since after World War II.
Again, thanks for the check...
Edited by dg0223, 01 March 2011 - 11:05 AM.
Posted 05 March 2011 - 05:49 PM
IMHO, if this rank would have been authorized I am pretty sure Mac would have had it and worn it. Just saying!
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