Gen. Andrew Jackson Goodpaster, Jr. was a combat veteran of World War II and a staff aide to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower after the war as well as an adviser to President Eisenhower when he was in The White House. In the 1960s, Goodpaster was a deputy commander of U.S. forces in Viet Nam. He later stepped into Ike's former post of commander of NATO and Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) from 1969 to 1974. A winner of the Medal of Freedom, he came out of retirement in 1977 at the request of President Carter to return to active duty as the 51st Commandant of his alma mater, West Point.
Goodpaster was born on Feb. 12, 1915 in Granite City, Illinois. Granite City is in southwest Madison County near the Mississippi River and north of East St. Louis. His father worked for the railroad. Goodpaster graduated from Granite City High School with the class of 1931 when he was only 16. He wanted to be a math teacher and began studies at McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois in the fall of 1931. McKendree is a beautiful campus of 100 acres and is the oldest college in Illinois having been founded in 1828 by the United Methodist Church. But Goodpaster had to drop out of college due to financial hard times during the Depression.
In 1935 at the age of 20, Goodpaster won an appointment to West Point and he graduated with the Class of 1939. Among some of his major assignments and decorations as a soldier the following were included according to the web site of Arlington National Cemetery:
"In World War II he was twice wounded while leading a combat engineer battalion in North Africa and Italy. In addition to two Purple Hearts, he was awarded the Army's second-highest decoration for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for making a reconnaissance under heavy fire through a minefield, and a Silver Star."
"In the late 1940's, he studied at Princeton University, earning a master's in engineering and a doctorate in international relations. In the early 1950's he was attached to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, then served with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe."
"From 1954 to 1961, he was an adviser to President Eisenhower. He then served as assistant commander of the Third Infantry Division and, later, as commander of the Eighth Infantry Division. He held several Pentagon posts and served as commandant of the National War College before becoming deputy commander of American forces in Vietnam."
"When he came out of retirement to become West Point's superintendent, the academy was reeling from a cheating scandal that involved 151 cadets. In his four-year tenure there, the general sought to substitute "positive leadership" for hazing and personal abuse, to bolster the academy's courses in humanities and public policy, and to ease the admission of women to the academy."
General Goodpaster was a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Eisenhower Institute, which studies foreign and domestic policy issues.
A West Point classmate, Lieutenant General Gen. Edward L. Rowny, retired, said General Goodpaster was working on his memoirs until a week before is death in May 2005. He was survived by his wife; two daughters, Susan Sullivan of Alexandria, Virginia, and Anne Batte of Salisbury, North Carolina; and seven grandchildren.
For more information on the life of this Illinois-native soldier, here is the obtituary for Gen. Goodpaster that appeared in The Washington Post on May 17, 2005.
By Adam Bernstein
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
General Andrew Goodpaster, Presidential Adviser, Dies
Army Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster, 90, the self-effacing presidential adviser and commander of NATO who was summoned from retirement to lead the scandal-tainted U.S. Military Academy at West Point, died May 16, 2005, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He had prostate cancer.
General Goodpaster spent more than four decades as a soldier and statesman, in which time he saw combat in World War II, was deputy commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam and served four presidents. Having retired as commander of NATO forces in 1974, he returned to active service three years later to become the 51st commandant of West Point, his alma mater.
The school had been pummeled by a cheating scandal in which 152 cadets were dismissed, and it also had admitted its first class of women to some controversy.
With his avuncular looks and measured manner, he was said to have helped rebuild the academy's reputation by his mere presence after the cheating episode. He also eased the women's transition to the school, telling staff members he would "escort them to the door with a handshake" should they fail to make the women feel welcome.
He stepped down in 1981 and three years later received the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Andrew Jackson Goodpaster Jr. was born February 12, 1915, in Granite City, Illinois, where his father worked for the railroad. Hoping to pursue a career as a math teacher, he enrolled at McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois, but he withdrew during the Depression when money was scant. To continue his education, he sought a West Point appointment and entered the Class of 1939.
During World War II, he led an engineering battalion over a minefield and under hostile fire, actions for which he received the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest military award for valor after the Medal of Honor. His other decorations included the Silver Star, two awards of the Legion of Merit and two awards of the Purple Heart.
After doing war planning for the general staff in Washington, he entered Princeton University, where he received a master's degree in engineering as well as a master's degree and a doctorate in international relations.
His battlefield and academic credentials -- along with a regard for anonymity -- impressed a number of ranking officials. He became special assistant to the chief of staff of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe from 1950 to 1954 and a favorite of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the NATO commander for part of that time. He assisted Eisenhower in forming political and military guidelines for the new treaty organization and was Eisenhower's liaison among such diplomats and politicians as W. Averell Harriman of the United States, Jean Monnet of France and Hugh Gaitskell of the United Kingdom.
Later, President Eisenhower asked General Goodpaster to serve as staff secretary in the White House. He became known as the president's alter ego for his ability to carry out orders in his wide-ranging national security portfolio with minimal need for instruction. His mandate included work on the so-called Solarium Conference to plan for the American role in a post-Stalin Soviet Union.
Some called him "the man with the briefcase" for his silent but essential backstage role in practically all military matters. General Goodpaster, wrote one reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, "looks like a business executive and hides his White House importance behind a quiet facade that lends itself neither to anecdotes nor stuffiness."
In later years, General Goodpaster related a rare scene of White House tensions. He told an interviewer that Eisenhower had trouble understanding why the Americans could not reduce their forces in Europe, as he had stated publicly and on which he now wanted action. The general said the matter depended on "the ability of the Europeans to fill the gap that's there, the gap we created."
Eisenhower got madder, and General Goodpaster decided he needed Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to confirm his analysis, to which the president replied, "Foster, I've lost my last friend."
On reflection, General Goodpaster added: "But I think we both knew that that was our duty, and the president knew it perfectly well. He just was sounding off, and that was part of our role in life, to let him relieve some of the pressure but to make sure that he didn't make that kind of a mistake."
He remained a key adviser through the Suez crisis, the launching of Sputnik and the 1960 Soviet downing of the U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers.
General Goodpaster advanced through a series of sensitive positions in the 1960s on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Lyndon B. Johnson used him as an intermediary with Eisenhower for military suggestions in the escalating Vietnam War. "President Johnson asked the question: Can we win in Vietnam and what do we have to do?" General Goodpaster told U.S. News & World Report decades later. "That question came to me."
He advocated a stronger military role to win the war and became frustrated that the political will never materialized. He served as military adviser to the six-man U.S. team involved in the Paris peace talks with the North Vietnamese in summer 1968 and spent the rest of the year as deputy to Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr., commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam.
From 1969 to 1974, he was NATO supreme allied commander and was said to have been greatly displeased when General Alexander M. Haig Jr., the Nixon White House chief of staff, was tapped to replace him. He retired quietly and did not show up for Haig's ceremony, a rare public snub.
In later years, General Goodpaster took special assignments from presidents and held a variety of academic and research center appointments, among them at the Eisenhower Institute in Washington, the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria and St. Mary's College of Maryland. Otherwise, he allowed himself the luxury of salmon fishing in Labrador with his wife.
She had been the prize of one of his bravest military maneuvers, having courted her at a time when her father was West Point's No. 2 official and he a mere cadet.
Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Dorothy Anderson Goodpaster of Washington; two daughters, Susan Sullivan of Alexandria and Anne Batte of Salisbury, N.C.; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.