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George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a general of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean theater of World War II, and the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
Born in 1885, Patton attended the Virginia Military Institute and the U.S. Military Academyat West Point. He studied fencing and designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber, more commonly known as the "Patton Saber", and competed in modern pentathlon in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.
Patton first saw combat during 1916's Pancho Villa Expedition, America's first military action using motor vehicles. He saw action in World War I as part of the new United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces: he commanded the U.S. tank school in France, then led tanks into combat and was wounded near the end of the war. In the interwar period, Patton became a central figure in the development of the Army's armored warfare doctrine, serving in numerous staff positions throughout the country. At the American entry into World War II, he commanded the 2nd Armored Division.
Patton led U.S. troops into the Mediterranean theater with an invasion of Casablancaduring Operation Torch in 1942, and soon established himself as an effective commander by rapidly rehabilitating the demoralized U.S. II Corps. He commanded the U.S. Seventh Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily, where he was the first Allied commander to reach Messina. There he was embroiled in controversy after he slapped two shell-shocked soldiers, and was temporarily removed from battlefield command. He then was assigned a key role in Operation Fortitude, the Allies' disinformation campaign for Operation Overlord. At the start of the Western Allied invasion of France, Patton was given command of the Third Army, which conducted a highly successful rapid armored drive across France. Under his decisive leadership, the Third Army took the lead in relieving beleaguered American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, after which his forces drove deep into Nazi Germany by the end of the war.
During the Allied occupation of Germany, Patton was named military governor of Bavaria, but was relieved for making aggressive statements towards the Soviet Union and trivializing denazification. He commanded the United States Fifteenth Army, concurrently as Commanding Officer, U.S. Army Europe (interim), from November 11, 1945 until his death.
Severely injured in an auto accident, he died in Germany on December 21, 1945.