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To Major General George S. Simonds
February 10, 1938 Vancouver Barracks, Washington
My dear General:
An item in the morning paper announces your retirement. Whether this merely means that the order has been issued for your retirement at some later date or that you actually are retiring ahead of time, I do not know.1 But, I do want to comment on the fact before the day of your departure arrives.
I believe I remarked to you the other day that you and Heintzelman were the only two high-ranking officers I could recall, at the moment, whose advancement and whose entire careers had never been the subject of even envious criticism. I think I made an exception in the case of Heintzelman because I believe Bjornstad held some grudge regarding a Second Army matter. In your case, however, you have the unique and wonderful distinction of having run the race brilliantly, and with the unanimous good will and approval of every human being with whom you came in contact. That is a marvelous accomplishment, and I should think it would be a source of profound satisfaction to you, if your modesty permits you to admit the fact to yourself.
I am so glad I had this brief opportunity to serve under you, and am sorry that it could not have been in closer contact. In the War we were widely separated, and since then, except for this past year, I have never had the good fortune to be officially associated with you.
My admiration has been colored by the realization that you and I are such different types, and I heartily approve of yours. Frank McCoy and you are of the same stripe, and it is a very delightful thing to serve with you. Also, you add a great deal to the prestige of the army. I hope that you find an interesting life beyond the active list; in fact, I know you will, because no one with your experience and qualifications will be allowed to effect a complete retirement. I want you to know that I sincerely appreciate the consideration with which you have treated me.2
Please give my warmest regards to Mrs. Simonds, and believe me always,
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Vancouver Barracks, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Simonds, whose retirement became effective on March 31, was succeeded by Major General Albert J. Bowley (U.S.M.A., 1897). Bowley had commanded the Fifth corps Area (May, 1934-October, 1935) and the Third corps Area (October, 1935-February, 1938) before assuming command of the Ninth corps Area in March, 1938.
2. On February 14, Simonds wrote: “You have a record and reputation which will insure that you are one of those who will be considered in the selection of the next Chief of Staff. You probably feel that you are too junior in rank for such consideration. Don’t let that thought control you. If your selection for that office should not transpire you are certain to have assignments to high command and to positions carrying with them great responsibility. Of course I know that there is no need for me to give you that bit of advice for you have always been forward looking and keep yourself prepared for any duty that might come to you." (Simonds to Marshall, February 14, 1938, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Vancouver Barracks].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 581-582.