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First Name: John

Last Name: Guthrie

Birthplace: Phillipsburg, NJ, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Reiley

Date of Birth: 20 December 1921

Date of Death: 25 May 2009

Rank: General

Years Served: 1942-1981
John Reiley Guthrie

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


John Reiley Guthrie
General, U.S. Army

John Reiley Guthrie was born on 20 December 1921 in Phillipsburg, NJ. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. degree in 1942. An honor graduate of the Princeton ROTC, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Field Artillery Reserve, and immediately ordered to active duty. He was integrated into the Regular Army in July 1946, while on duty with the War Department General Staff. In October 1946, he was assigned to London, England as Assistant to the Military Attaché, where he served for three years.

In November 1949, he returned to the U.S. and was assigned to the 39th Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, GA. He served as Battery Commander and S-3 of the 39th at Fort Benning, Japan and Korea, until June 1951 when he was assigned as S-3, 3rd Infantry Division Artillery. During this period, he participated in operations against guerrillas in the Wonsan area; the evacuation from Hŭngnam; the reoccupation of Seoul; and the spring Chinese offensive and United Nations counteroffensive.

Upon his return to the U.S., he commanded the 602nd Field Artillery Battalion at Fort Sill from February 1952 to May 1953. He was then assigned to the Staff and Faculty at the Artillery and Guided Missile School as a member of the Combat Developments Department. In March 1956, he was transferred to the Office of the Chief of Research and Development, HQDA, for duty with the Surface-to-Surface Missiles Division and later with the Missiles and Space Division. He was the Army Staff project officer for the launching of the United States' first artificial earth satellite; Explorer 1. In July 1958, he was assigned as the Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Army and was appointed Assistant Executive to the Secretary of the Army on 1 August 1959.

After serving in this position for a year, he attended the National War College and graduated in 1961. He was then assigned to the Staff, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, Camp H. M. Smith, HI, serving as Deputy Chief, War Games Branch, and Group Operations Officer, from August 1961 to February 1964. In February 1964, he assumed command of the 25th Infantry Division Artillery at Schofield Barracks, HI, which he commanded until appointed as Chief of Staff, 25th Infantry Division, in July 1964. He returned to the Continental U.S. in July 1965 and was assigned to the Requirements and Development Division, J-5 Directorate, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC.

He became Director of Developments, Office of the Chief of Research and Development, HQDA, in March 1966. He remained in that position until his reassignment to Korea , where he served as Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver) and Assistant Division Commander (Support), 2nd Infantry Division, which at the time was actively engaged in counter-infiltration operations along the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Guthrie was named Deputy Director of Development and Engineering, Army Materiel Command (AMC), in November 1968; became Director of Research, Development and Engineering in August 1969; and was selected as Deputy Commanding General for Materiel Acquisition, AMC, in April 1971. In October 1973, General Guthrie returned overseas to become Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Pacific Command, Hawaii. In March 1975, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned as Commanding General, IX Corps and U.S. Army, Japan.

In May 1977, Guthrie returned to AMC (which had been redesignated the U.S. Army Materiel Readiness and Development Command) as its Commanding General. That assignment came with four-star rank. He remained in that assignment until his retirement in August 1981.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Commendation Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star
Korean Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
United Nations Service Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Army Staff Identification Badge

In Retirement

In retirement, Guthrie was Director of the Association of the U.S. Army's Landpower Education Program, a position he filled until December 1986. He also served as a Trustee of Princeton University from 1981 to 1985 and was on the Board of Directors of the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association. He served on the Board of Advisors of the National Contract Management Association. He was also a member of the National Research Council's Space Technology Assessment Panel and its Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Army Robotics.


• The 2010 Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution celebrating his life and expressing the "high regard" in which his memory is held by the members of the legislature and the citizens of Virginia.

• Distinguished Service Award from Federally Employed Women.

• The Minuteman Hall of Fame Award.

• In 2000, he was recognized with the Harold H. Helm award, given annually to a single Princeton alumnus to recognize "exemplary and sustained service to Annual Giving."

• In 2007, the Alumni and Friends of Princeton University ROTC established the General John R. Guthrie '42 ROTC Scholarship Fund.

Death and Burial

General John Reiley Guthrie died peacefully at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Memorial Day, Monday, 25 May 2009, with his loving family at his bedside. He was 87. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Guthrie was married to Rebecca Jeffers Guthrie who he had met while on assignment in England. Married for 58 years, Rebecca preceded him in death on 11 April 2005. They had six children, one of whom is autistic.

Guthrie is survived by his six children and their husbands and wives: Claire G. Gastaaga and Javier of Richmond, VA; Michael R. Guthrie and Dottie of Charlottesville, VA; John J. Guthrie and Marty of Arlington, VA; Peter B. Guthrie of Princeton, NJ; Margaret G. Ressner and Dick of Toledo, OH; and Kevin McGuthrie and Sari of New York, NY; and nine grandchildren.

Honoree ID: 240   Created by: MHOH




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