This Military Service Page was created/owned by
the Site Administrator
Dorn, Frank, BG USA(Ret).
Home Town San Francisco, California
Last Address Washington, DC
Date of Passing Jul 26, 1981
Location of Interment Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates Section 5, Site 7019-1
Last Known Activity An officer who served his country with distinction in many important situations, but who was also blessed with distinctive characteristics, Frank (Pinky) Dorn died of cancer at the Walter Reed Medical Center on 26 July 1981. He was born and raised in San Francisco, the only son of Walter E. and Ellen (O‚??Reilly) Dorn; was appointed to West Point from the 4th District, California by the Honorable Julius Kahn; graduated 12 June 1923 and was commissioned second lieutenant in the Field Artillery, with first duty at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, 15th Field Artillery. This was followed by assignments in the Philippine Islands, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Peking, China; the latter leading into World War II years.
During over three years in the Philippines, Dorn, then a lieutenant, compiled an English-Negrito vocabulary working with the aboriginal negroid pygmies inhabiting parts of the Zambales Mountains. In addition, he wrote a definitive monogram on the life, customs and religious beliefs of these primitives. Both works were presented to the Department of Anthropology of the University of the Philippines, and resulted in an offer of an assistant professorship in order to pursue similar research in other mountain areas. While assigned to the Academic Division of the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Dorn, then a first lieutenant, wrote his first novel, based on the mountain people of the Philippines, which was published in England.
Meanwhile, having studied art at the San Francisco Institute of Art for two and a half years before entering West Point, Dorn continued to pour out landscape paintings, cartoons, pen and ink drawings and a series of pictorial maps, the last of which was that of the city of Peking.
As a language officer and assistant attache in Peking, he not only became fluent in a non-classical manner in the Chinese language, but with a small group became involved in intense research on the historical background of the Imperial Palace and the city. He also traveled extensively throughout China and Mongolia, particularly after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937. During his four years in China, he also found time to establish a rather noteworthy collection of the arts and crafts of both China and Japan. As a military observer of the hostilities, Dorn crossed from one side to the other on several occasions, once making the shift across the ‚??no-man‚??s-Iand‚?? between opposing trenches.
During many long meetings while acting as attache in the temporary capital at Hankow, Dorn grew to know and admire Premier Chou En-lai. It was in Peking that he first became closely associated with General Joseph W. Stilwell, then a colonel, and military attache. Many years later, Dorn‚??s historical research on Peking resulted in the publication of his book on the subject, ‚??The Forbidden City, The Biography of a Palace,‚?? Charles Scribner being the publisher.
After Stilwell returned from China, then a general officer, he met Dorn at the Presidio of San Francisco, California, and asked that he become his aide-de-camp. Dorn demurred, protesting that he was not the type, that he would not act right. Stilwell cut him short with: ‚??Okay, I‚??ll make a deal. You be a new kind of aide, and I‚??ll be a new kind of general.‚?? And that started off years of close association. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, they were ordered to China, Stilwell as the Chief of the Generalissimo‚??s non-existent allied staff. With the British change of plans for the Burma campaign, Dorn and Stilwell found themselves in the harrowing retreat, and eventual complete defeat, of the British and Chinese Armies. With a small group of about one hundred, they were forced to walk over the lower Himalayas to India with little food and little hope of finding any.
After a few months on the Theater Staff in Chunking, General Dorn was sent to Kunming, Yunnan province, to train and equip the Chinese Expeditionary Force for a counter offensive against the Japanese across the gorge of the Salween River into Burma, to link up with India-trained Chinese troops moving south from Assam, and thus re-establish the land route to China from the outside world.
During this period, General Dorn had to deal frequently with Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang. He was appointed an honorary general in the Chinese Army and awarded several Chinese decorations. Eventually, the Japanese were pushed back far enough to open the road, named the Stilwell Road, from India to China.
Subsequently, changes in command in the China, Burma, India Theater were made; General Stilwell was relieved, the new commander brought in his own staff officers, and Dorn returned to the states for several months, before being assigned to the Tenth Army on Okinawa for duty with the 11th Airborne Division with which he landed in the occupation of Japan.
Ordered back to the States in 1946, he became assistant, later acting commandant of the Army Information School at Carlisle Barracks, PA. Though he had dealt in public relations in California and in the China, Burma, India Theater, this assignment provided a far wider field on the subject. The school was organized to teach officers and enlisted men the principles and operation of both exterior public relations with the world at large, and interior public relations in the Army itself, by means of the information and education program, a broad vehicle to create better understanding. In 1949, General Dorn was assigned to the Information Division of the Department of the Army in Washington, becoming deputy chief of the world-wide operation. In this post he established numerous contacts with the news media and the motion picture industry.
In 1953, on the completion of thirty years service, General Dorn requested retirement from the Army and moved to Carmel, California, where he embarked on two new careers‚??painting and writing. His first one-man exhibit of paintings took place in the following year. More than half were sold. This was followed by one-man exhibits in Paris, Madrid, Mallorca, Mexico City, Washington, DC, and five more in California, the last being a joint exhibit of his and his wife‚??s paintings in 1975. General Dorn also acted as assistant to the directors, and technical consultant on several motion pictures which were produced in the United States and in Japan.
His first cookbook of international recipes was published shortly before his retirement from the Array. A second cookbook on the use of herbs and spices followed a few years later. Other books‚??‚??The Forbidden City,‚?? ‚??Walkout, with Silwell [sic] in Burma,‚?? and ‚??The Sino-Japanese War, 1937-41,‚?? a definitive work on that seldom chronicled period, was published in the 1970‚??s. One was also published in paperback, and the first cookbook was selected by the Cookbook Collectors‚?? Library for a special edition.
During his military career, General Dorn was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal. He was also the recipient of the Chinese Order of the Cloud and Banner, and the Order of the Sacred Vessel.
In 1974, General Dorn and Mrs. Phyllis Moore Gallagher, the widow of a well known Washington attorney, were married. They spent the summers in Carmel and Pebble Beach, California, but resided in Washington, DC, most of the year. Mrs. Dorn died on 5 July 1978.
General Dorn is survived by three sisters in California: Mrs. Philip S. Mathews of San Mateo, Mrs. M. E. Lortz of Ben Lomond, and Mrs. George Estcourt of Los Altos; and a fourth sister, Mrs. W.B. Langston of Austin, Texas.
Pinky will be remembered by classmates as a popular cadet with distinctive artistic qualities and a willingness to work; as a dedicated officer who served his country with distinction in a variety of difficult assignments; and in retirement as a loyal friend who participated in and shared his talents with others. With a deep feeling of regret we know that the Long Gray Line has been joined by a great and good man‚??we will miss you, Pinky. ‚??Grip Hands.‚??