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First Name: Ira

Last Name: Wyche

Birthplace: Oracoke Island, NC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Thomas

Date of Birth: 16 October 1887

Date of Death: 08 July 1981

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
Ira Thomas Wyche

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1911

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


Ira Thomas Wyche
Major General, U.S. Army

Ira Thomas Wyche was born on 16 October 1887 on Ocracoke Island, NC, the son of Lawrence Olin and Lorena Howard Wyche. His father, Lawrence, was pastor of the Methodist church on Ocracoke. Ira was the second of three children; his older sister, Elsie, was born in 1886 and his younger sister, Martha Mott, was born in 1893. In 1897, Lorena Wyche died at the age of 31 and Lawrence died in 1900.

After completing grade school on Ocracoke Island, Ira's uncle, Franklin Pierce Wyche, invited him to attend the Quackenbush School in Laurinburg, Scotland County, NC, where Mr. Wyche was Director. For a time Ira also attended the Trinity Park School in Durham, NC, under the administration of a young Methodist minister, Rev. W. W. Peele.

Upon graduation from high school, Ira received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated on 13 June 1911 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. From 1911-18, Wyche served in a half dozen western Army camps, including tours of duty in California, Alaska, and with the Texas Border Patrol from 1916-18. He also graduated from the Mounted Service School in 1916.

In 1917, Wyche was married to Mary Louise Dunn, daughter of Colonel and Mrs. George M. Dunn.

Wyche served with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I where he was transferred to the Field Artillery and served with the 60th Field Artillery as a Captain in the St. Die sector of France. While in France, he also held the temporary ranks of Major and Lieutenant Colonel. After his return to the U.S. following WW I, he first served as a regimental commander at Camp Jackson, SC, and was then assigned to duty in Washington, DC, in 1919. While serving in Washington, Ira and Mary's daughter, Elizabeth, was born on 15 November 1919. (Elizabeth later married Henry C. Flory who served as a Captain in the Royal Air Force during WW II.)

Wyche graduated from the Field Artillery School in 1924; from the Command and General Staff School in 1925; and from the Army War College in 1934.

From 1934-35, he was Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery Regiment; from 1938-40 he was Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment; and, from 1940-41 he was Chief of Training Section, Office of the Chief of Field Artillery. In 1941, he was promoted to Brigadier General and made Commanding General of the 74th Field Artillery Brigade, 4th Army Corps, at Camp Blanding, FL.

On 3 May 1941, Wyche was sent to Camp Pickett, VA, to organize the 79th Infantry Division and, on 15 June 1941, he assumed command of the Division. A Brigadier General when World War II began, he was promoted to Major General on 17 April 1942.

Under Wyche's command, the 79th Infantry Division (nicknamed the "Cross of Lorraine Division") landed on Normandy's Utah Beach on 12 June 1944, spearheading the assault on Fort Du Roule, and helping to clear the Cherbourg area of Germans by 28 June. In July and August 1944, the 79th marched across Western Europe, fighting some of the Third Reich's finest panzer and parachute divisions, as it made its way through France, and into the Belgian frontier.

By 7 September, the 79th entered the Alsace-Lorraine Region, and became embroiled in 128 days of bitter, almost continuous combat. By the middle of December they had fought their way into Germany, but were unable to penetrate the Siegfried Line. During this time Major General Wyche worked closely with Field Marshall Montgomery, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton.

In January of 1945, two regiments of the 79th met a formidable German offensive, and though the Division lost ground, they inflicted so many casualties on the Germans that the offensive was halted. In late February the 79th continued its advance, moving through Belgium and southern Holland, returning to Germany in the first week of March. On 24 March 1945 the Cross of Lorraine Division, in an endeavor codenamed "Operation Flashpoint," crossed the Rhine River. By 11 April, the 79th was in the Ruhr area, occupying Essen. The 79th Infantry Division was still occupying Essen when Germany surrendered on V-E Day, 8 May 1945.

After the surrender, General Wyche threw a farewell party for all 79th Infantry Division unit commanders, down to battalion level, at Neheim, Germany.

Following Germany's surrender, Major General Wyche was transferred to command the VIII Corps (Camp Gruber, OK) in Germany, a position he held until December 1945.

During 1946, General Wyche served as President on the Officer Interview Board; was Commanding General of III Corps at Camp Polk, LA; and then became Commanding General of the 1st Service Command at Boston, MA.

In January 1947, President Harry Truman appointed Wyche Inspector General of the Army, the position he held until he retired from active duty in September 1948. He was 61 years old.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal (2 Awards)
Army Commendation Ribbon
French Order of the Legion of Honor, Grade of Officer
Croiz-de-Guerre Avec with Palm


Following his retirement, Ira and Mary Wyche moved to Pinehurst, NC.

Insights into Wyche's character and personality were gleaned from public records and various press reports:

One newspaper reported that "Maj. Gen. Ira T. Wyche…is a small, wiry, intense, red-faced man, and 'very aggressive.' " The account goes on to say that "General Wyche is a reticent man; his modesty does honor to the soldiers in his command. He would say nothing about himself; instead he recognizes his troops on every occasion."

In spite of his "aggressive" nature, another press report says "General Wyche is one of the most popular officers in the Army, and his coming to the post [Fort Bragg] is always the signal for a round of social festivities."

Death and Burial

Major General Ira Thomas Wyche died on 8 July 1981 in Moore General Hospital following a stroke. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Louise, on 3 May 1979, and they are buried together at the Fort Bragg Main Post Cemetery at Fort Bragg, NC.

Honoree ID: 3369   Created by: MHOH




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