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First Name: Willis

Last Name: Crittenberger

Birthplace: Baltimore, MD, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Dale

Date of Birth: 02 December 1890

Date of Death: 04 August 1980

Rank: Lieutenant General

Years Served: 1913 - 1952
Willis Dale Crittenberger

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1913

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Willis Dale Crittenberger
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army

Willis Dale Crittenberger was born on 2 December 1890 in in Baltimore, MD. After growing up in Anderson, IN, he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, graduating with the Class of 1913, two years ahead of fellow cadet, friend, and infantry officer, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Crittenberger was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Cavalry in August 1913 and assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, TX.

His advanced military education included the U.S. Army Cavalry School at Fort Riley, KS, in 1924, the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS, in 1925, and the Army War College at Washington Barracks in Washington, DC, in 1930. He was assigned to Fort Knox, KY, the new home of the 1st Cavalry Regiment (Mechanized) in 1934 and later served in staff positions with the Chief of Cavalry in Washington and with the 1st Armored Division.

World War II

With the onset of World War II, Crittenberger was commanding 2nd Brigade of 2nd Armored Division under General George S. Patton. In January 1942, he moved up to command 2nd Armored Division when Patton transferred to North Africa to command First Armored Corps. In August 1942, he organized, trained and commanded 3rd Armored Corps composed of 7th Armored Division and 11th Armored Division at Camp Polk, LA. Redesignated as XIX Corps, Crittenberger took XIX Corps to England in January 1944.

In 1943, General Dwight Eisenhower initially selected Crittenberger as one of three Corps Commanders along with Leonard "Gee" Gerow and Roscoe B. Woodruff for the 1944 Allied invasion of France. All three were well known and trusted by Eisenhower. General Omar Bradley, who Eisenhower selected as the American Commander of the D-Day invasion, replaced Eisenhower's picks, seeking differing temperaments and commanders that had more Corps combat experience. At the time, Commander, U.S. Army Forces in Europe, General Jacob L. Devers, was seeking a Corps Commander of Fifth Army's IV Corps for the Italian campaign and gave Crittenberger the job. Held in reserve during the early portion of the campaign, Crittenberger's IV Corps replaced VI Corps on the front line after the liberation of Rome.

IV Corps was in combat for over 390 days; 326 of them in continuous combat. Crittenberger commanded IV Corps as the western arm of the Allied thrust through northern Italy to the Po River which ended with the surrender of German forces in Italy on 2 May 1945.

Post-War Career

In the early post-war years, Crittenberger commanded the Caribbean Defense Command, including the Panama Canal Zone. In 1947, he became the first Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Caribbean Command, a regional unified theater command and predecessor to today's U.S. Southern Command. After a two year stint as Commanding General, First U.S. Army, at Fort Jay, Governors Island, NY, Crittenberger concluded his active duty military career in December 1952 and left New York City with a ticker tape parade up Broadway.

Medals and Awards

Army Distinguished Service Medal with Bronze Oak leaf Cluster
Mexican Border Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

Foreign Awards

Officer of the Legion of Honor (France)
Croix de Guerre (France)
Orden de Merito Militar (Peru)
Order of Abdon Calderón (Ecuador)

In Retirement

After retiring from the Army, he advised President Dwight Eisenhower on national security matters. Crittenberger served as President of the U.S. Military Academy Association of Graduates from 1955-58 and President of the Greater New York Fund.

Crittenberger was appointed on 1 October 1956 to serve as the new Chairman of the Free Europe Committee, a post he retained until 1959. He actively defended Radio Free Europe after the latter was accused in 1956 of having triggered the Hungarian rebellion. On 12 November, he stated: "The policy of Free Europe is NOT to inflame Eastern Europeans . . . [but] to base our broadcasts on factual reporting of the news WITHOUT any exaggeration, prediction, or promises. If there has been any violation of this policy, we are unaware of it." Others argue that some of the broadcasts were inflammatory and penned by Hungarian émigrés, and that they may have caused Soviet leaders to doubt Hungarian leader Imre Nagy's managerial skills, fear the power vacuum in Hungary, and conclude that a second military invasion was necessary.


Crittenberger married Josephine Frost Woodhull (1894-1978) on 23 June 1918. Two of their three sons served in the military and died in combat.

Corporal Townsend Woodhull Crittenberger (born 13 May 1925) was killed in action during the Rhine River crossing on 25 March 1945 during the final days of World War II.

Colonel Dale Jackson Crittenberger [Honoree Record ID 2392], Commander of 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division during the Vietnam War, was killed in a mid-air collision on 17 September 1969 while directing combat operations. Dale served as a White House Military Aide to President Eisenhower in 1959 and, as a newly commissioned Major, received his new badge of rank from his father's old friend, the President.

A third son, Willis D. Crittenberger, Jr. (USMA 1942) also served in the Army in World War II with the 10th Armored Division, rising from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel during the war and retiring as a Major General. He later was a spokesman for the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant General Willis Dale Crittenberger died on 4 August 1980 in Chevy Chase, MD, at age 89. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, with his wife and two sons, Townsend and Dale.

His wife, Josephine, preceded him in death in 1978. He was survived by his son, Willis D. Crittenberger, Jr. and by his great-grandsons, George Edward Harper Gay, Jr., Frost Woodhull Crittenberger Gay, and Kent Coleman Clayton Gay.

Honoree ID: 2393   Created by: MHOH




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