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First Name: Garrison

Last Name: Davidson

Birthplace: Bronx, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Holt

Date of Birth: 24 April 1904

Date of Death: 25 December 1992

Rank: Lieutenant General

Years Served:
Garrison Holt Davidson

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1927

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Garrison Holt Davidson
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army

Garrison Holt Davidson was born on 24 April 1904 in the Bronx, NY. His father was a National Guard officer.

In 1923, he graduated from the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City, where he was a star on the school's championship football team and a member of the Omega Gamma Delta Fraternity. Davidson realized his boyhood dream of becoming a soldier when he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy. There he distinguished himself in football and graduated with the Class of 1927. Upon graduation, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers with the 1st Engineer Regiment at Fort DuPont, DE, and maintained a West Point connection as an Assistant Army Football Coach.

In 1930, he returned to West Point as an Instructor in the Physics Department and Assistant Football Coach. In 1933, he became Head Football Coach (at a record young age), finishing in the 1937 season with a record of 35 wins, 11 losses and 1 tie. From 1938-40 he was posted to Hawaii as a Company Commander with the 3rd Engineer Regiment. In 1940, he returned to California as the Post Engineer for Hamilton Army Airfield (now Hamilton AFB) on the north shore of San Francisco Bay. At the time of Davidson's arrival, Hamilton's mission was being expanded from that of a bomber base with the addition of three wings or six squadrons of Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and Curtiss P-36 Hawk fighter planes.

World War II

In February 1942, Davidson transferred to Washington, DC, as Assistant Chief, Construction Division, Office of Chief Engineer working for Corps of Engineers Colonel Leslie Groves on the construction of The Pentagon.

By October 1942, Davidson was a Colonel and Chief Engineering Officer for the Seventh Army, serving under General George S. Patton in North Africa and Sicily. As a combat engineer, his efforts enabled Patton's armor to move rapidly across enemy territory. An appreciative Patton used his own general's stars to honor Davidson in a September 1943 battlefield promotion to Brigadier General. Davidson remained with Seventh Army as General Alexander Patch succeeded Patton, planning for Operation Anvil / Operation Dragoon, the Allied landing in southern France after the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944, and continued with the Seventh Army in its move through Germany. At the conclusion of the war he was an engineer with Fifteenth Army and served as President of the first Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal for military defendants.

Korean War

After World War II, in 1946 he was assigned to Sixth U.S. Army as its Chief Engineer and in 1948 became Chief of Staff for General Mark W. Clark and General Albert C. Wedemeyer at the Presidio of San Francisco. In July 1950, he was called to Korea by Eighth Army Commanding General Walton H. Walker, who also served under Patton in World War II, and directed Davidson to construct a defensive line protecting the Pusan Perimeter. Known as "Line Davidson," Davidson had to subvert his professional better judgment to construct the line to the preferences of General Douglas MacArthur and Walker, trading away defensibility and good internal communications.

As the North Korean invasion was repelled, Davidson was assigned to the 24th Infantry Division as its Assistant Commander. Davidson reprised his effort at fortifying a more defensible perimeter around Pusan with the second North Korean invasion. He then headed "Task Force Davidson" as it broke out of the perimeter to hook up with the forces invading from Inchon. Afterwards, he constructed fortifications north of Seoul. He concluded his tour of duty as Acting Commander of the Korean Military Assistance Group. From 1951-54 he was a weapons system analyst at the Pentagon.

Military Educator and Cold War Warrior

During the next six years, Davidson played a significant role in training officers serving in the post-war and atomic eras. Starting in 1954, he was Commander of the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS. In 1956, he returned to the U.S. Military Academy as its Superintendent. There he largely prevailed over strong traditionalist viewpoints, breaking barriers and initiating a process of revision and modernization of the Academy's instructional program that had been little changed since Sylvanus Thayer (1817-33), the Academy's legendary Superintendent. The momentum of his reforms continued through the superintendency of his successor, William Westmoreland and into the 1970s. In 1957, while at West Point, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.

After West Point, Davidson returned to Seventh U.S. Army, not as its Chief Engineering Officer under Patton as he was in World War II, but as its Commanding General. Seventh Army was now posted in West Germany as a forward deployed force during the Cold War. During the Berlin Wall crisis in the summer of 1961, Davidson would have been in command of any American military intervention.

In 1962, his final command was of First U.S. Army headquartered at Fort Jay, Governors Island, NY. While there he also served as U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations. After a 37- year military career, Davidson retired from active duty on 30 April 1964.

In Retirement

Davidson resumed his connection with West Point from 1983-85 when he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to a two-year term to the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant General Garrison Holt Davidson died on 25 December 1992 in Oakland, CA. He is buried at the U.S. Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, NY.

The inscription on his gravestone reads: "Soldier, Coach, Educator and His Best Teammate," the latter referring to his wife of 58 years, Verone Gruenther Davidson who died in 1996 and was the sister of a former NATO commander, U.S. Army General Alfred M. Gruenther.

At the time of his death, Garrison was survived by three sons, Garrison Holt Jr., of Los Angeles, CA; Thomas M., of Darien, CT, and Alan R., of Sarasota, FL; three daughters, Linda L. Hurst, of San Luis Obispo, CA; Bonnie Elaine Bardellini and Gail Marie Davidson, both of Martinez, CA.

Honoree ID: 2410   Created by: MHOH




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