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First Name: Lyman

Last Name: Lemnitzer

Birthplace: Honesdale, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Louis

Date of Birth: 29 August 1899

Date of Death: 12 November 1988

Rank: General

Years Served: 1916-20 USMA; 1920-1969 Army
Lyman Louis Lemnitzer

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1920

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


Lyman Louis Lemnitzer
General, U.S. Army

Lyman Louis Lemnitzer was born on 29 August 1899 in Honesdale, PA. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy with the Class of 1920 and, at his request, was assigned to a Coast Artillery unit. Lemnitzer served in the Philippines, but soon began receiving the staff assignments that marked his military career.

World War II

Lemnitzer was promoted to Brigadier General in June 1942 and assigned to General Dwight D. Eisenhower's staff shortly thereafter. He helped form the plans for the invasions of North Africa and Sicily and was promoted to Major General in November 1944. Lemnitzer was one of the senior officers sent to negotiate the Italian fascist surrender during the secret Operation Sunrise and the German surrender in 1945.

Post- World War II

Following the end of World War II, Lemnitzer was assigned to the Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was later named Deputy Commandant of the National War College. In 1950, at the age of 51, he took parachute training and was subsequently placed in command of the 11th Airborne Division. He was assigned to Korea in command of the 7th Infantry Division in November 1951 and was promoted to Lieutenant General in August 1952.

Lemnitzer was promoted to the rank of General and named Commander of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East and of the 8th Army in March 1955. He was named Chief of Staff of the Army in July 1957 and appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 1960. As Chairman, Lemnitzer weathered the Bay of Pigs crisis and the early years of American involvement in Vietnam. He was also required to testify before the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee about his knowledge of the activities of Major General Edwin Walker, who had been dismissed from the Army over alleged attempts to promote his political beliefs in the military.

Lemnitzer approved the plans known as Operation Northwoods in 1962. This plan was proposed to discredit the Castro regime and create support for military action against Cuba by staging false-flag genuine acts of terrorism and developing "a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington." Lemnitzer presented the plans to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on 13 March 1962. It is unclear how McNamara reacted, but three days later President Kennedy told the general that there was no chance that America would take military action against Cuba. Within a few months, after the denial of Operation Northwoods, Lemnitzer was denied another term as JCS Chairman.

In November 1962, Lemnitzer was appointed as Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, and as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (the US European Command is the crown jewel of regional commands) in January 1963. This period encompassed the Cyprus crisis of 1963-64 and the withdrawal of NATO forces from France in 1966.

General Lemnitzer retired from the military in July 1969.


In 1975, President Ford appointed Lemnitzer to the Commission on CIA Activities within the U.S. (aka the Rockefeller Commission) to investigate whether the Central Intelligence Agency had committed acts that violated American laws. It also investigated the allegations that E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis (of Watergate fame) were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Medals and Awards

Lemnitzer was awarded numerous medals, awards and badges including, but not limited to:

Army Distinguished Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit (Officer) and (Legionnaire) Degrees
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 2 Campaign Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal with 2 Service Stars


Parachutist Badge

Foreign Medals and Awards

Honorary Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Great Britain)
Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Great Britain)
Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic (Italy)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown (Italy)
Military Order of Merit (Italy)
Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur (France)
Médaille militaire (France)
Croix de guerre with Palm (France)
Bundeswehr Cross of Honour in Gold (Germany)
Grand Officer of the Order of Boyaca (Columbia)
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan)
Medalha de Guerra (Brazil)
Grand Official of the Order of Military Merit (Brazil)
Order of Military Merit Teaguk (Korea)
Order of Military Merit Teaguk with Gold Star (Korea)
Gold Cross of Merit with Swords (Poland)
Knight Grand Cross of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant (Thailand)
Medal for Military Merit, First Class (Czechoslovakia)
Royal Order of the White Eagle, Class II (Yugoslavia)
Grand Star of Military Merit (Chile)
Order of Menelik II (Ethiopia)
United Nations Korea Medal
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

Civilian Medal

Presidential Medal of Freedom (Awarded by President Reagan on 23 June 1987)


Lemnitzer was played by John Seitz in the 1991 Oliver Stone film, 'JFK.'

Death and Burial

General Lyman Louis Lemnitzer died on 12 November 1988. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 30, Lot 430, Map Grid Z/AA 39 1/2. His wife, Katherine Tryon Lemnitzer (1901-1994), is buried with him.

Honoree ID: 271   Created by: MHOH




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