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To Captain Charles T. Lanham
September 15, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
I enjoyed your letter of September 9th, and appreciate the pleasant things you had to say about me.1 I look back on my year at Screven as one of the finest in my Army career, and in many ways it was very instructive. The most gratifying phase of the period was contact with an unusual group of noncommissioned officers. I think we had the finest collection of first Sergeants there I have ever seen together. I had them doing Officer of the Day duty and all close order drilling. Then, too, we found charming people in Savannah and out at Tybee.
I have passed your name on to the G-2 Section to include in their list for possible Military Observers.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Having recently completed the 1938-39 academic year as a student officer at the Command and General Staff School, Lanham had been a company commander of the Eighth Infantry at Fort Screven, Georgia, since June 24, 1939. He wrote to Marshall: “Your old friends—the first sergeants down here—never tire of talking of you. . . . You certainly left an enduring impression on this little post.” (Lanham to Marshall, September 9, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
2. In his letter, Lanham recalled Marshall’s October 1934 advice that he not allow low rank and infrequent promotion to ruin his morale. “Keep your wits about you and your eyes open; keep on working hard; sooner or later the opportunity will present itself, and then you must be prepared both tactically and temperamentally to profit by it.” (See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-357 [1: 439].) Lanham wrote that he had “followed that advice up to the hilt,” and that he had asked the Adjutant General’s Department to consider him for a detail as military observer abroad. “My temerity in writing to you about my small affairs is great but I do it for two reasons: first, because you have always been the friend of the junior officer, and second, because the detail I desire is so potentially rich in professional values that I am willing to make any personal sacrifice involved and even, sir, to run the grave risk of your displeasure by troubling you at this serious time by a personal letter.” (Lanham to Marshall, September 9, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) At the top of Lanham’s letter in Marshall’s hand is: “G-2: To note and return. A very aggressive and highly educated man. GCM” Lanham remained with the Eighth Infantry for a two-year tour of duty.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 58.