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Creighton Abrams

Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army during the late years of the Vietnam War

Creighton Williams Abrams, Jr. was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on September 15, 1914. He attended high school in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts, and subsequently entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he ranked 185th in his 1936 class of 276.

Creighton Williams Abrams, Jr.

Timeline of His Career

1936 Commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry Division.
June 1939 Promoted to First Lieutenant.
September 1940 Promoted to temporary Captain.

World War II
Tank company commander in the 1st Armored Division.
1942-1943 Battalion commander in the 37th Armored Regiment.
February 1943 Promoted to temporary Major.
September 1943 Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
1943-1945 Commanded the 37th Tank Battalion and Combat Command B, 4th Armored Division, in Allied operations across Europe, under General George S. Patton.
April 1945 Promoted to temporary Colonel.

1945 Served on the Army General Staff.
1945-1946 Served in the War Plans section of the Army Ground Forces headquarters.
1946-1948 Director of Tactics of the Armored School at Fort Knox.
June 1946 Promoted to permanent rank of Captain.
July 1948 Promoted to permanent rank of Major.
1949 Graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.
1949-1951 Commanded the 63rd Tank Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, United States Army, Europe.
June 1951 Promoted to temporary Colonel
1951-1952 Commanded the 2nd Armored Cavalry, United States Army, Europe.
1953 Graduated from the Army War College.

Korean War
1953-1954 Was successively Chief of Staff of the I, X, and IX Corps, United States Army Air Forces, Far East, Korea.

1954-1956 Chief of Staff of the Armor Center at Fort Knox.
February 1956 Promoted to temporary Brigadier General.
1956-1959 Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Reserve Components.
1959-1960 Assistant Division Commander of the 3rd Armored Division.
1960 Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations, United States Army, Europe.
June 1960 Promoted to temporary Major General.
1960-1962 Commander of the 3rd Armored Division.
June 1961 Promoted to permanent Colonel.
1962-1963 Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Operations, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
1963 Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development.
1963-1964 Commanded V Corps in Germany.
February 1963 Promoted to permanent Brigadier General.
August 1963 Promoted to temporary Lieutenant General.
August 1964-April 1967 Acting Vice Chief of Staff and Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
September 1964 Promoted to General.
August 1965 Promoted to Major General.

Vietnam War
1967-1972 Deputy Commander and then Commander of United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.

Chief of Staff of the United States Army, October 12, 1972-September 4, 1974
Supervised the withdrawal of American troops from the Vietnam war zone, overall reductions in Army strength, elimination of the draft, and execution of a major reorganization.

General Creighton Abrams died of cancer in Washington, D.C., on September 4, 1974. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Other Information

During World War II, Abrams was well known as an aggressive armor commander who consistently exploited the speed and reliability of his vehicles to defeat German forces who had superior armor, guns, and troops. He was twice decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, for actions of September 9, 1944 and December 26, 1944.

Abrams and his wife, Julia, had three daughters and three sons. All three sons became Army officers, and all three daughters married Army officers. Julia is buried next to him at Arlington National Cemetery.

On April 23, 1945, Will Lang, Jr., wrote a biography called "Colonel Abe" for Life magazine. He also graced the covers of three issues of Time magazine -- October 13, 1961, April 19, 1968 and February 15, 1971.

The Army's M1 Abrams Tank was named in his honor.


Arlington National Cemetery

See Also

United States Military Academy
George S. Patton
World War II

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The Robinson Library >> United States >> Early 20th Century >> Military History

This page was last updated on September 04, 2018.