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First Name: Holmes

Last Name: Dager

Birthplace: Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Ely

Date of Birth: 23 June 1893

Date of Death: 24 July 1973

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
Holmes Ely Dager

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


Holmes Ely Dager
Major General, U.S. Army

Holmes Ely Dager was born on 23 June 1893 in Asbury Park, NJ. His ambition in life was to practice medicine as a surgeon. His family moved to Newark, NJ where he attended high school, graduating in 1911. He then went to college for the medical courses and graduated in 1916. During this period, from 1910-16, he was a member of the New Jersey National Guard. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and attained the position of Platoon Leader.

Dager was an alert young man and his favorite reading was books on world affairs. As a youth and during his college days, Dager was interested in fishing, hunting, amateur bicycle racing, swimming and boxing.

He went into the Regular Army in 1917 and, from March to August, was a student at the Training School in Ft. Leavenworth, KS. While there, he was promoted to First Lieutenant. After graduation he was assigned to the 51st U. S. Infantry.

World War I

Early in 1918 he went overseas with the 51st Infantry and participated in the fighting in the defensive sector of the Vosges Mountains; he also fought in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. During this time he was promoted to Captain and served as a company commander; later he was promoted to Major and served as a battalion commander. During World War I, Dager was awarded the Silver Star Medal for valor.

The Inter-War Period

After a short tour of duty with the occupational forces after the war, he returned to the U.S. in 1920 and became a professor of Military Science and Tactics at Clason Military Academy in the Bronx, NY. He remained at the Academy until the end of 1924.

In 1925, he became a student at the Infantry School in Fort Benning, GA, and in 1926 he was made Company Commander of Company K, 29th Infantry Division at Fort Benning. Still at Benning in 1927, he was made a Regimental Adjutant. In 1928 he once again became a student at Fort Benning, taking an Advanced Officers Course at the Infantry School. Upon completion, in 1929 he was transferred to the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. He remained at this school as a student until his graduation in 1931.

Dager was assigned to the 65th Infantry Division in 1931 as a Battalion Commander. The unit was sent to Puerto Rico and he remained with the 65th until the end of 1934. Upon his return to the U.S., he was assigned for a short time in 1935 as G-3 in the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Hamilton, NY.

Late in 1935, Dager was again a student, this time at the Army War College in Washington, DC. After graduation he was sent back to Command and General Staff School in Fort Leavenworth as an Instructor. He remained in this assignment from 1936-40 and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Early in 1940, Dager was assigned to Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island in New York, where he was Post Commander. Later that year, he was assigned as Assistant G-3 in Headquarters of the First Army stationed at Governors Island, NY. During this assignment he wrote the Carolina and Louisiana Maneuver Problems.

As war threatened again, Dager was transferred in 1941 to the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment of the Second Armored Division, which was in training at Fort Benning. Dager was assigned as Regimental Commander and during this period he was promoted to Colonel.

In September 1941, Dager was promoted to Brigadier General and made Commanding General of Combat Command B (CCB) of the 8th Armored Division, then stationed at Fort Knox, KY.

World War II

Early in 1942, Dager was assigned to the 4th Armored Division as Commanding General of CCB and joined them at Pine Camp, NY. He trained with the Division in Tennessee desert maneuvers and at Camp Bowie, TX. He went overseas with the 4th Armored and he was with them from Omaha Beach to the Rhine. He led CCB of the 4th in the famous 65 mile "rat-race" to the Rhine in 58 hours. There General Patton came up and pissed in the Rhine remarking, "Dager, I've been waiting three long years to piss in this creek!" This job was one of many famous "crash-drives" for which the 4th and 11th Armored Divisions became famous.

In March of 1945 at Mayen, Germany, Dager was promoted to Major General and assumed command of the 11th Armored Division. He remained with the Division until September of 1945. He commanded the 11th from the Rhine to Linz, Austria and the meeting with the Russian 7th Paratroop Guards Division. This was a 150-mile drive through varying hard and light opposition but made with an average of 15miles a day. On reaching Linz, the nearest troops to the 11th Armored were miles behind and none were on either flank. Even the nurses were with them all the way. The Army's determined armor "paid the rent" and pulled the infantry along. It was the farthest-east unit of all American troops when the war ended and it was itching to go further.

Major General Holmes E. Dager was privileged to have the most unusual experience of leading troops in two famous hard-hitting Armored Divisions in Third Army during World War II. General Patton laid his most heavy and difficult assignments on the 4th and 11th Armored Divisions, and they never failed him. These men laid their name, reputation and prestige on the line and they paid willingly and heavily with their lives and wounds. This is the material of which fighting units are built--alert, highly-trained and physically fit officers and men with plenty of guts.

In 1947, Dager retired from active service as Commanding General of the U.S. Forces, Austria.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Service Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Presidential Unit Citation

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Synopsis)

Brigadier General Holmes E. Dager (ASN: 0-5013), United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 4th Armored Division, in action against enemy forces on 31 July 1944. Brigadier General Dager's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 4th Armored Division, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, Third U.S. Army, General Orders No. 60/ (1944)

Death and Burial

Major General Holmes Ely Dager died on 24 July 1973. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 2406   Created by: MHOH




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