Patton-the Death of a Legend

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Although he was a highly controversial character  there are two things that no one can deny.1. He was a hero,2. he was and is a legend.

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The commander of the U.S. Third Army, General George S. Patton, Jr., took no great pleasure in the end of the war in Europe; he already knew that despite his lobbying of many influential figures in Washington, D.C., he had no hope of being reassigned to the Pacific Theater to command combat troops there. As he put it to his III Corps commander, Maj. Gen. James Van Fleet, “There is already a star [MacArthur] in that theater and you can only have one star in a show.

Patton was also depressed because he knew there would be a rapid reduction in the strength of the U.S. Army in Europe, and he believed this was inviting disaster.

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Patton always had a fighting and competitive spirit, already as a young man.This was even evident in the sports he played.

In 1912 he competed at the Stockholm Summer Olympic games in the fencing event, but he didn’t win a medal.

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On December 8, 1945, Patton’s chief of staff, Major General Hobart Gay, invited him on a pheasant hunting trip near Speyer to lift his spirits. Observing derelict cars along the side of the road, Patton said, “How awful war is. Think of the waste.” Moments later his car collided with an American army truck at low speed.

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Gay and others were only slightly injured, but Patton hit his head on the glass partition in the back seat. He began bleeding from a gash to the head and complained that he was paralyzed and having trouble breathing. Taken to a hospital in Heidelberg, Patton was discovered to have a compression fracture and dislocation of the cervical third and fourth vertebrae, resulting in a broken neck and cervical spinal cord injury that rendered him paralyzed from the neck down. He spent most of the next 12 days in spinal traction to decrease spinal pressure. All non-medical visitors, except for Patton’s wife, who had flown from the U.S., were forbidden. Patton, who had been told he had no chance to ever again ride a horse or resume normal life, at one point commented, “This is a hell of a way to die.” He died in his sleep of pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure at about 18:00 on December 21, 1945.Patton was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in the Hamm district of Luxembourg City, alongside wartime casualties of the Third Army, per his request to “be buried with his men

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One thought on “Patton-the Death of a Legend

  1. The conspiracy theories revolving around his death in my mind are akin to the Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations. One other thing for sure, was that he was the right man at the right time!

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