Donovan, William Joseph, MG

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Major General
Last Service Branch
US
Last Primary MOS
00G2-Army General Officer (G2)
Last MOS Group
General Officer
Primary Unit
1945-1946, U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunal (NMT)
Service Years
1912 - 1946

US

Major General



Eight Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
1883
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Donovan, William Joseph (Wild Bill), MG USA(Ret).
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Buffalo, NY
Last Address
Buffalo, NY

Date of Passing
Feb 08, 1959
 
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

US Army Retired Army Staff Identification Belgian Fourragere Wound Chevron (1917-1932)

Netherlands Orange Lanyard US Army Retired (Pre-2007) French Fourragere WWI Discharge Pin (Wounded)




 Unofficial Badges 




 Military Association Memberships
Congressional Medal Of Honor Society
  1918, Congressional Medal Of Honor Society [Verified]


 Additional Information
Last Known Activity


Major General William Joseph Donovan, KBE USA (January 1, 1883 – February 8, 1959) was an American soldier, lawyer and intelligence officer, best remembered as wartime head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He is also widely known as the "father" of today's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
 

Early life

 

Donovan was born in Buffalo, New York and attended St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Niagara University before starring on the football team at Columbia University. On the field, he got the nickname that would stick with him for the rest of his life, Wild Bill Donovan Donovan was also a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and he graduated from Columbia in 1905.
 

Donovan was a member of the New York City "Establishment", a powerful Wall Street lawyer and a Columbia Law School classmate (1908) (but credited to 1907) of Franklin D. Roosevelt, although they were not close at the time.
 

In 1912, Donovan formed and led a troop of cavalry of the New York State Militia, that in 1916 served on the U.S.-Mexico border in the Pancho Villa campaign.


World War I
 

During World War I, Donovan organized and led a battalion of the United States Army, designated the 165th Regiment of the 42nd Division, the federalized designation of the famed 69th New York Volunteers, (the "Fighting 69th"). In France one of his charges was poet Joyce Kilmer. For his service near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, on 14 and 15 October 1918, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. By the end of the war he received a promotion to colonel, the Distinguished Service Cross and three Purple Hearts (the full text of his Medal of Honor Citation can be found further below).


Between the wars
 

After the war, he was the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, famous for his energetic enforcement of Prohibition. President Calvin Coolidge named him to the United States Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for Governor of New York in 1932 and was soundly defeated by Democrat Herbert H. Lehman.


World War II
 

During the inter-war years, Donovan travelled extensively in Europe and met with foreign leaders including Adolf Hitler of Germany. Donovan openly believed during this time that a second major European war was all but inevitable. His foreign experience and realism earned him the attention and friendship of Columbia-classmate President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The two men were from opposing politicals parties, but they were similar in personality and Roosevelt came to highly value Donovan's insights. Following Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939 and the start of World War II in Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began to put the United States on a war footing. This was a crisis of the sort that Donovan had predicted, and he sought out a place in the war infrastructure. On the recommendation of Donovan's friend United States Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Roosevelt gave Donovan a number of increasingly important assignments. In 1940 and 1941, Donovan travelled as an informal emissary to Britain, urged by Knox and Roosevelt to gauge Britain's ability to withstand Germany. Donovan during these trips met with key officials in the British war effort, including Winston Churchill himself and the directors of Britain's intelligence services. Donovan returned to the US confident of Britain's chances and enamored with the possibility of founding an American intelligence service modeled on that of the British.


OSS
 

In June 1941, Donovan received his most important assignment to date when Roosevelt named him Coordinator of Information (COI). American foreign intelligence at the time was a fragmented system. The Army, Navy, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Department of State, and other interests each ran in-house operations the results of which they were reluctant to share with the other departments. Donovan was now the nominal director of this unwieldy system, but he was plagued over the course of the next year with brutal jurisdictional battles. Few of the leaders in the intelligence community were willing to part with any of the power that the current ad hoc system awarded them. The FBI, for example, under the control of Donovan's bitter rival J. Edgar Hoover, insisted on retaining its autonomy in South America.
 

Donovan forged ahead, though, and began to lay the groundwork for a centralized intelligence program. It was he who organized the COI's New York headquarters in Room 3603 of Rockefeller Center in October, 1941 and asked Allen Dulles to head it; the offices Dulles took over had been the location of the operations of Britain's MI6.
 

In 1942, the COI became the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Donovan was returned to active duty in his World War I rank of colonel (by war's end, he would be promoted to major general). The OSS gradually earned responsibility for espionage and sabotage in Europe and in parts of Asia. The OSS continued to be kept out of South America by Hoover's hostility to Donovan, and it was blocked out of the Philippines by the antipathy of Douglas MacArthur.
 

For many years, the exploits of the OSS remained secret, but in the 1970s and 1980s, significant parts of the OSS history were declassified, and the exploits of Donovan's service became public record.
 

As World War II began to wind to a close in 1944, Donovan began to focus on preserving the OSS beyond the end of the war. After President Roosevelt's death in 1945, however, Donovan's political position, which had thrived on his personal connection to the President, was substantially weakened. Although he argued forcefully for the OSS' retention, he now found himself opposed by numerous powerful opponents, including President Harry S Truman, who personally disliked Donovan. Public opinion turned against Donovan's efforts when conservative critics rallied against the intelligence service that they called an 'American gestapo.' Truman disbanded the OSS, effective September 1945, and Donovan was returned to civilian life. Various departments of the OSS survived the agency's dissolution, however, and less than two years later, the Central Intelligence Agency was founded, a realization of Donovan's hopes for a centralized peacetime intelligence agency.


Post-war era
 

When the war had finished, Donovan reverted to his lifelong role as a lawyer to perform one last duty: he served as special assistant to chief prosecutor Telford Taylor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.
 

There, he had the personal satisfaction of seeing Nazi leaders responsible for the torture and murder of captured OSS agents brought to justice. For his World War II service, Donovan received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the United States military gives for service (rather than valor). He also received an honorary British knighthood.
 

At the conclusion of the trial, he returned to Wall Street where his law firm, Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine, was a powerhouse. He remained always available to the postwar Presidents who needed his counsel — or his intelligence management experience.

In 1949, he became chairman of the newly-founded American Committee on United Europe, which worked to counter the new Communist threat to Europe by promoting European political unity.
 

Donovan's son, David Rumsey Donovan, was a naval officer who served with distinction in World War II. His grandson William James Donovan served as an enlisted soldier in Vietnam and is also buried at Arlington.
 

Donovan died on February 8, 1959, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. at the age of 76, and is buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
 

President Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to him as "the Last Hero", which later became the title of a biography of him. After his death, Donovan was awarded the Freedom Award of the International Rescue Committee (not, as some biographies state, the "Medal of Freedom", a different award).
 

The law firm he founded, Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine was dissolved in 1998.
 

Major General Donovan is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

List of honors and decorations
 

American Awards

  • Medal of Honor
  • Distinguished Service Cross
  • Distinguished Service Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Purple Heart with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • National Security Medal
  • Mexican Service Medal
  • Mexican Border Service Medal
  • World War I Victory Medal with 5 Battle Clasps
  • Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
  • American Defense Service Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Arrowhead and 2 Bronze Service Stars
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Arrowheads, 2 Silver Service Stars, and 2 Bronze Service Stars
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal with one ten-year hourglass device

Foreign Awards

  • Légion d'honneur (France) (World War I)
  • Commandant de la Légion d'honneur (France) (World War II)
  • Croix de guerre with Palm and Silver Star (France) (World War I)
  • Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
  • Lateran Medal (Vatican)
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Sylvester (Vatican)
  • Grand Officer of the Order of Léopold of Belgium with Palm
  • Czechoslovakian War Cross (1939)
  • Grand Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau (Netherlands)
 


Order of the British Empire


 Medal of the Order of Saint Sylvester and the Golden Militia, 1841.
 
Grand Officer of the Order of Léopold of Belgium with Palm 



Czech War cross
Order of Orange-Nassau
Orde van Oranje-Nassau


Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, 165th Infantry, 42d Division. Place and date: Near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, 14-15 October 1918. Entered service at: Buffalo, N.Y. Born: 1 January 1883, Buffalo, N.Y. G.O., No.: 56, W.D., 1922.
 

Citation:
 

Lt. Col. Donovan personally led the assaulting wave in an attack upon a very strongly organized position, and when our troops were suffering heavy casualties he encouraged all near him by his example, moving among his men in exposed positions, reorganizing decimated platoons, and accompanying them forward in attacks. When he was wounded in the leg by machine-gun bullets, he refused to be evacuated and continued with his unit until it withdrew to a less exposed position
   
Other Comments:
Nickname "Wild Bill"
Place of birth Buffalo, New York
Place of death Washington, D.C.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1912-1918
1941-1946
Rank Major General
Commands held 69th Infantry Regiment (World War I)
Office of Strategic Services (World War II)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Purple Heart (3)
Other work U.S. Attorney
Wall Street


The 165th Infantry in WW I was actually renumbered from the 69th Infantry Regiment:  The outbreak of World War I saw a resurrection of the old spirit of the 69th. Its ranks were filled with many Irish-Americans and other New Yorkers, and it was sent over to France in 1918 as part of the American Expeditionary Force at the start of the German Spring Offensive. All National Guard regiments received new "100 series" regimental numbers at that time. The 69th was renumbered the 165th Infantry Regiment, but retained its Irish symbolism and spirit. It saw heavy combat with the 42nd "Rainbow" Division. Three of its members won the Medal of Honor, including its famed commander, William Joseph Donovan.

It also produced Father Francis Duffy, "The Fighting Chaplain". In heavy fighting during the Hundred Days Offensive, it looked as if the regiment was to be overrun in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Donovan gave Duffy grenades lest he be killed. Duffy refused, and unarmed, he continued to give last rites and help the wounded. Poet Joyce Kilmer was killed in the Second Battle of the Marne while a member of the regiment. One member of the Regiment killed in World War I was Daniel Buckley who survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912.
 

The actual World War I exploits of the regiment formed the backdrop to the 1940 fictional movie The Fighting 69th. Father Duffy is memorialized in a statue at the north end of Times Square, which is technically "Duffy Square". World War II's Camp Kilmer was named for Joyce Kilmer and William Joseph Donovan went on to organize the OSS.


Born at Buffalo, New York, January 1, 1883, he earned the Medal of Honor for service in World War I, where he earned the nickname "Wild Bill."
 

He is the ONLY American to have received our nation's FOUR highest awards, The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the National Security Medal.
 

During World War II, he founded, and then led, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services - the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
 

Following the war, he served as an Assistant to Robert Jackson, Chief American Prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. He also served as United States Ambassador to Thailand in 1953.
 

He died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. on February 8, 1959 and was buried among other family members in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
 

Faithful to the end, Ruth was at his bedside in the Pershing Suite when Donovan was "born into eternity" -- in the phrase of the priest -- at 1:55 PM on Sunday, February 8, 1959.  His brother, Vincent, in the robes of a Dominican, gave Donovan the last rites.  When he heard the news, President Eisenhower remarked: "What a man!  We have lost the last hero."

 

Dressed in his General's uniform, Donovan was buried three days later beside Patricia in Arlington National Cemetery amid a thunder of guns, trumpet calls and hymns.  Many of those at the graveside would remember thinking: "We shall not see his like again."

WJ Donovan PHOTO

 


DONOVAN, WILLIAM JOSEPH
 

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, 165th Infantry, 42d Division. Place and date: Near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, 14-15 October 1918. Entered service at: Buffalo, New York. Born: 1 January 1883, Buffalo, New York. G.O., No.: 56, W.D., 1922. 
 

Citation:
 

Lieutenant Colonel Donovan personally led the assaulting wave in an attack upon a very strongly organized position, and when our troops were suffering heavy casualties he encouraged all near him by his example, moving among his men in exposed positions, reorganizing decimated platoons, and accompanying them forward in attacks. When he was wounded in the leg by machine-gun bullets, he refused to be evacuated and continued with his unit until it withdrew to a less exposed position.


William Joseph Donovan Gravesite PHOTO

   
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World War I
From Month/Year
April / 1917
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Description
The United States of America declared war on the German Empire on April 6, 1917. The U.S. was an independent power and did not officially join the Allies. It closely cooperated with them militarily but acted alone in diplomacy. The U.S. made its major contributions in terms of supplies, raw material and money, starting in 1917. American soldiers under General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), arrived in large numbers on the Western Front in the summer of 1918. They played a major role until victory was achieved on November 11, 1918. Before entering the war, the U.S had remained neutral, though it had been an important supplier to Great Britain and the other Allied powers. During the war, the U.S mobilized over 4 million military personnel and suffered 110,000 deaths, including 43,000 due to the influenza pandemic. The war saw a dramatic expansion of the United States government in an effort to harness the war effort and a significant increase in the size of the U.S. military. After a slow start in mobilising the economy and labour force, by spring 1918 the nation was poised to play a role in the conflict. Under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, the war represented the climax of the Progressive Era as it sought to bring reform and democracy to the world,[citation needed] although there was substantial public opposition to United States entry into the war.

Although the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, it did not initially declare war on the other Central Powers, a state of affairs that Woodrow Wilson described as an "embarrassing obstacle" in his State of the Union speech.[26] Congress declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire on December 17, 1917, but never made declarations of war against the other Central Powers, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire or the various Co-belligerents allied with the central powers, thus the United States remained uninvolved in the military campaigns in central, eastern and southern Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

The United States as late as 1917 maintained only a small army, smaller than thirteen of the nations and empires already active in the war. After the passage of the Selective Service Act in 1917, it drafted 2.8 million men into military service. By the summer of 1918 about a million U.S. soldiers had arrived in France, about half of whom eventually saw front-line service; by the Armistice of November 11 approximately 10,000 fresh soldiers were arriving in France daily. In 1917 Congress gave U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans when they were drafted to participate in World War I, as part of the Jones Act. In the end Germany miscalculated the United States' influence on the outcome of the conflict, believing it would be many more months before U.S. troops would arrive and overestimating the effectiveness of U-boats in slowing the American buildup.

The United States Navy sent a battleship group to Scapa Flow to join with the British Grand Fleet, destroyers to Queenstown, Ireland and submarines to help guard convoys. Several regiments of Marines were also dispatched to France. The British and French wanted U.S. units used to reinforce their troops already on the battle lines and not to waste scarce shipping on bringing over supplies. The U.S. rejected the first proposition and accepted the second. General John J. Pershing, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) commander, refused to break up U.S. units to serve as mere reinforcements for British Empire and French units. As an exception, he did allow African-American combat regiments to fight in French divisions. The Harlem Hellfighters fought as part of the French 16th Division, earning a unit Croix de Guerre for their actions at Château-Thierry, Belleau Wood, and Séchault.
Impact of US forces on the war

On the battlefields of France in spring 1918, the war-weary Allied armies enthusiastically welcomed the fresh American troops. They arrived at the rate of 10,000 a day, at a time when the Germans were unable to replace their losses. After British Empire, French and Portuguese forces had defeated and turned back the powerful final German offensive (Spring Offensive of March to July, 1918), the Americans played a role in the Allied final offensive (Hundred Days Offensive of August to November). However, many American commanders used the same flawed tactics which the British, French, Germans and others had abandoned early in the war, and so many American offensives were not particularly effective. Pershing continued to commit troops to these full- frontal attacks, resulting in high casualties against experienced veteran German and Austrian-Hungarian units. Nevertheless, the infusion of new and fresh U.S. troops greatly strengthened the Allies' strategic position and boosted morale. The Allies achieved victory over Germany on November 11, 1918 after German morale had collapsed both at home and on the battlefield.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
April / 1917
To Month/Year
November / 1918
 
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
   
Personal Memories
   
Units Participated in Operation

4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment

 
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  1483 Also There at This Battle:
  • Adkison (MOH), Joseph Bernard, Sgt, (1917-1921)
  • Agee, Alfred, PFC, (1918-1919)
  • Agee, Joseph, Cpl, (1917-1919)
  • Alcorn, Floyd R., SFC, (1912-1918)
  • Alexander, Upton, 1st Sgt, (1898-1933)
  • Allen, Ernest Lieu, Pvt, (1918-1919)
  • Anderson, Howard, WAG, (1917-1919)
  • Arch, Alexander Louis, Sgt, (1913-1920)
  • Arnold, Clifford Hood, COL, (1910-1945)
  • Baesel, Albert (MOH), 2LT, (1917-1918)
  • Balentine, Herman Dwight, Cpl, (1918-1919)
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