Corley, John Thomas, BG

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Last Rank
Brigadier General
Last Primary MOS
00GD-Commanding General (Deputy)
Last MOS Group
General Officer
Primary Unit
1966-1966, 00GD, Army Garrison Fort Jackson, SC
Service Years
1938 - 1966

Brigadier General

Five Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MAJ Mark E Cooper to remember Corley, John Thomas (DSCwOLC, SSw7OLC), BG USA(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
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Last Address
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Date of Passing
Apr 16, 1977
Location of Interment
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Brigadier General John T. Corley

(August 4, 1914 - April 16, 1977)

Early life

Born to Irish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York. He attended high school at St. Francis Preparatory High School, in Brooklyn and graduated from the class of 1932 and he is also a member of that High School's Hall of Fame. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1938, where he also was an accomplished boxer prior to his active duty service. One story states that after his graduation from West Point he was assigned to the Army Air Corps; where he then flew an airplane under the Brooklyn Bridge and was then reassigned to the infantry.

World War II

He fought in World War II with the 1st Infantry Division. As a major, he landed with the Big Red One in North Africa and two days later earned a Silver Star, America's third highest award for valor, for action in Oran, Algeria. In March 1943, during fighting at El Guettar, Tunisia, he destroyed an enemy machine gun nest, allowing his troops to take the hilltop. This action earned Corley the Distinguished Service Cross, America's second highest award for valor. In May 1943 Corley was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, just five years after graduating from West Point.

While commanding the 3rd Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in Mateur, Tunisia, Corley was wounded. He recovered and went on to fight at the front in Sicily. He landed at Normandy during D-Day and fought at the Hurtgen Forest during late 1944. He also accepted the first unconditional surrender of a German city during the war, when he accepted the surrender of Aachen by Col. Gerhard Wilck.

Corley would add 4 oak leaf clusters to his Silver Star for a total of five Silver Stars earned in WWII. After the war, Corley served in a supporting role at the Nuremberg trials. He then returned to West Point to teach as a tactical officer, followed by staff positions with the 1st Army, and graduation from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

 Korean War

General Corley was one of 21 commanders personally requested by General Douglas Macarthur for duty in the Far East shortly after the invasion of South Korea by North Korea.

He served as battalion commander of the 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, a segregated regiment composed of black enlisted men and mostly white officers. Corley led his troops in close combat and earned an oak leaf cluster for his Distinguished Service Cross. After Korea Corley served as Chief of the Infantry Branch. Following that tour, he graduated from the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania in 1954. He would later serve as director of the Infantry School's Ranger Department at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2003.

Corley would pin on the star of a Brigadier General in July 1962. His last assignment would be as Deputy Commanding General, Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He retired September 30, 1966 and died at the age of 62 on 16 April 1977.

 He and his wife, Mrs. Mary Buckley Corley, would have 4 sons and 3 daughters. One son, 1LT John Thomas Corley, Jr., USMA 1967, would be killed in Vietnam. Another son made full Colonel in the Army, and a daughter would serve and retire from the Army Nurse Corps also as a Colonel.

Other Comments:
His 2nd Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to John Thomas Corley (0-21325), Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of the 3d Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Lieutenant Colonel Corley distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces near Haman, Korea, during the period 21 through 23 August 1950. Two of Colonel Corley's companies had as their objective the key hill to the regimental sector, Battle Mountain. Company L led off the attack, gained the objective and while attempting to secure the position was driven back by a counterattack. Quickly estimating the situation, Colonel Corley moved from his forward command post under small-arms, machine-gun and mortar fire to a position about two hundred yards from the summit of Battle Mountain to reorganize Company L. He stopped the retreat and reorganized the position. The counterattack was checked, Colonel Corley stayed on this position until the enemy attack had been repelled. He called for artillery fire, but the liaison officer was unable to communicate with his guns. Colonel Corley returned to his command post and obtained communications through Regiment to the guns. He then directed fire on the right flank of Battle Mountain where the enemy was in the process of regrouping. This fire was effective. He then ordered Company L to retake Battle Mountain. Colonel Corley moved from his command post to Company L, where he coordinated small- arms, mortar, and artillery fire. When the attack of Company L was stopped, he directed Company I to move through Company L. Company I gained the approach ridge but later was forced to withdraw. Again Colonel Corley reorganized the men and placed Company I in reserve behind Company L. On 23 August 1950, the companies completed the mission of capturing Battle Mountain. The extraordinary heroism and inspirational leadership displayed by Colonel Corley reflects the highest credit upon himself and the military service.
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 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 2nd Award

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Army Air Corps3rd Battalion, 26th Infantry Basic Airborne Course (BAC) Airborne School24th Infantry
Department of the Army (DA)Army War College (Staff)HQ, 7th ArmyArmy Ranger School
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)2nd Infantry DivisionFirst Army (1st Army)Army Garrison Fort Jackson, SC
  1938-1939, AAF 1056, Army Air Corps
  1942-1945, 1542, HHC, 3rd Battalion, 26th Infantry
  1947-1950, 2715, Basic Airborne Course (BAC) Airborne School
  1950-1951, 1542, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry (African-American), 24th Infantry
  1951-1953, 2260, Department of the Army (DA)
  1953-1954, Army War College (Staff)
  1954-1957, HQ, 7th Army
  1957-1960, 2500, Army Ranger School
  1960-1962, 2010, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)
  1962-1964, 00GD, 2nd Infantry Division
  1964-1965, 2010, First Army (1st Army)
  1966-1966, 00GD, Army Garrison Fort Jackson, SC
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II
  1943-1943 WWII - Africa Theater of Operations/Tunisia Campaign (1942-43)/Battle of Kasserine Pass
  1943-1943 WWII - Africa Theater of Operations/Tunisia Campaign (1942-43)/Battle of El Guettar
  1943-1943 WWII - European Theater of Operations/Sicily Campaign (1943)
  1944-1944 WWII - European Theater of Operations/Anzio Campaign (1944)
  1944-1944 WWII - European Theater of Operations/Normandy Campaign (1944)/Operation Overlord/D-Day Beach Landings - Operation Neptune
  1950-1950 Korean War/UN Defensive (1950)/Battle of Pusan Perimeter
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1934-1938, United States Military Academy
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