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To Major General Hugh A. Drum1
November 7, 1934 [Chicago, Illinois]
I wish to take up with you, very confidentially, a matter that I think is of some importance. Major General Roy D. Keehn of Chicago, commanding the 33d Division, was recently elected President of the National Guard Association, and as such is duty bound to represent the interests of that Association before the War Department and Congress, as expressed in a number of directive resolutions passed at the Nashville Convention in October.
General Keehn has had little part in the Association and is comparatively unfamiliar with the methods which have been pursued by the legislative committees of the Association in the past, and with the leading actors in the Association. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the latter regard him in a particularly friendly light, though they accepted him as President for this year.
General Keehn makes no pretense of knowing much about the technical business of soldiering. He professes to know nothing, and is too modest and self effacing in these matters, if anything. But as a leader of men, a driver, a man who gets things done, of large vision, and of great influence, he is a very strong character. He has only participated once in National Guard affairs in Washington, and that was in connection with the limitations on Armory Drills, in which I believe he played the dominant part after it became evident that the committee was without ideas or means to get action.
Knowing the misunderstandings and difficulties that often blossom between the War Department’s necessities and the National Guard desires, and the capital which some usually make of these incidents, I am particularly anxious for General Keehn to have a direct personal contact with some one in a key position on the War Department General Staff. I do not want him to have to depend solely on information and views filtering out through the National Guard Bureau. I want him to know some one in the War Department of position and power, with whom he can talk things over informally, get the War Department’s position straight in his own mind and make clear the practical aspect of the National Guard situation.
For these reasons, I hope you will take the time to meet General Keehn when he is in Washington, and let him know you. He probably goes to Washington the week of November 19th, and I would like to have him call you up and have you lunch with him.
General Keehn knows General MacArthur and will undoubtedly call on him, but I am concerned to have you meet him, and have him meet you. He is a fighter, but he is frank and straightforward and without guile. His interest is purely impersonal and entirely directed to the improvement of the Guard. He has no irons in the fire. The one positive view he put forward at Nashville, in his only and exceedingly brief impromptu speech, was to the effect that the Regular Army, the National Guard and the Reserves should get together in a genuine spirit of harmony and cooperation for the common good of the Army. You and he together can do much to bring this about.
Please let me know if a meeting such as I suggest is agreeable to you.
P.S. The sub-marginal land business has gone through many adjustments, and General Keehn has succeeded in getting the Government land experts to locate a new tract, suitable for an artillery range, and submit a full report on it. He has arranged with Farley to get some action on this report while he is in Washington.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Illinois National Guard, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. At this time Drum was army deputy chief of staff.
2. James A. Farley had managed President Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign and was at this time the postmaster general of the United States and the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
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. 444-445.