Dorn, Frank, BG

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Last Rank
Brigadier General
Last Service Branch
Field Artillery
Last Primary MOS
00GC-Commanding General
Last MOS Group
General Officer
Primary Unit
1949-1953, Department of the Army (DA)
Service Years
1923 - 1953
Foreign Language(s)

Field Artillery

Brigadier General

Eight Overseas Service Bars

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Dorn, Frank, BG USA(Ret).
Contact Info
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

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US Army Retired (Pre-2007)

 Unofficial Badges 

 Additional Information
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.‚??
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WWII - China-Burma-India Theater/China Defensive Campaign (1942-45)
From Month/Year
July / 1942
To Month/Year
May / 1945

(China Defensive Campaign 4 July 1942 to 4 May 1945) The China Theater of Operations more resembled the Soviet-German war on the Eastern Front than the war in the Pacific or the war in Western Europe. On the Asian continent, as on the Eastern Front, an Allied partner, China, carried the brunt of the fighting. China had been at war with Japan since 1937 and continued the fight until the Japanese surrender in 1945. The United States advised and supported China's ground war, while basing only a few of its own units in China for operations against Japanese forces in the region and Japan itself. The primary American goal was to keep the Chinese actively in the Allied war camp, thereby tying down Japanese forces that otherwise might be deployed against the Allies fighting in the Pacific.

The United States confronted two fundamental challenges in the China theater. The first challenge was political. Despite facing a common foe in Japan, Chinese society was polarized. Some Chinese were supporters of the Nationalist Kuomintang government; some supported one of the numerous former warlords nominally loyal to the Nationalists; and some supported the Communists, who were engaged in a guerrilla war against the military and political forces of the Nationalists. Continuing tensions, which sometimes broke out into pitched battles, precluded development of a truly unified Chinese war effort against the Japanese.

The second challenge in the China theater was logistical. Fighting a two-front war of its own, simultaneously having to supply other Allies, and facing enormous distances involved in moving anything from the United States to China, the U.S. military could not sustain the logistics effort required to build a modern Chinese army. Without sufficient arms, ammunition, and equipment, let alone doctrine and leadership training, the Chinese Nationalist Army was incapable of driving out the Japanese invaders. A "Europe-first" U.S. policy automatically lowered the priority of China for U.S.-manufactured arms behind the needs of U.S. forces, of other European Allies, and of the Soviet Union. The China theater was also the most remote from the United States. American supplies and equipment had to endure long sea passages to India for transshipment to China, primarily by airlift. But transports bringing supplies to China had to fly over the Himalayas the so-called Hump, whose treacherous air currents and rugged

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mountains claimed the lives of many American air crews. Despite a backbreaking effort, only a fraction of the supplies necessary to successfully wage a war ever reached southern China.

Regardless of these handicaps, the United States and Nationalist China succeeded in forging a coalition that withstood the tests of time. Indeed, Chinese leader Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the Allied Supreme Commander, China Theater, accepted, though reluctantly, U.S. Army generals as his chiefs of staff. This command relationship also endured differences in national war aims and cultures, as well as personalities, until the end of the war. The original policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall succeeded, China stayed in the war and prevented sizable numbers of Japanese troops from deploying to the Pacific.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
July / 1942
To Month/Year
December / 1944
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
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  37 Also There at This Battle:
  • Maddocks, Ray, MG, (1917-1951)
  • Middleton, John, BG, (1918-1954)
  • Timberman, Thomas, MG, (1923-1960)
  • Young, Phillip, 1LT, (1942-1945)
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