Courtney Hicks Hodges (January 5, 1887 – January 16, 1966) was an American military officer, most prominent for his role in World War II, in which he commanded the U.S. First Army in Northwest Europe.
Hodges's father published a small-town newspaper in Perry, Georgia where he was born. He attended West Point but was forced to leave after a year, along with George S. Patton Jr., because of poor test scores (“found deficient” in mathematics). In 1906, however, he entered the United States Army as a Private, and became a commissioned officer three years later. He served with George Marshall in the Philippines and Patton (who reentered to graduate in 1909) in Mexico.
He earned the Distinguished Service Cross (second only in precedence to the Medal of Honor), during the closing days of World War I while leading an attack across the Marne River. After the war he was so well thought of that he became an instructor at West Point, even though he had not graduated from that institution.
In 1938, he became an Assistant Commandant of the Infantry School, and in 1941, he became full Commandant.
In May 1941, he was promoted to Major General and was given various commands,including Chief of Infantry until he finally received a frontline command, that of the X Corps, which he received in 1942. In 1943, while commanding both X Corps and then the US Third Army, he was sent to Britain, where he served under General Omar Bradley. During Operation Overlord, he was subordinate to Bradley as Deputy Commander of the U.S. First Army, but in August 1944, he succeeded Bradley, as the latter went to command 12th Army Group and took command of the Army.
Hodges's troops were the first to reach Paris, France, and he led them through Germany. His troops fought the Battle of Hurtgen Forest and had a major role in the Ardennes Offensive, otherwise known as the Battle of the Bulge. The First Army was the first unit to cross the Rhine River, by using the still standing Ludendorff bridge at Remagen, and to meet with the Soviet Red Army near Torgau, on the river Elbe. Hodges was promoted to General on April 15, 1945 making him the first man to rise to full General from enlisted private.
In May 1945, after the German surrender, Hodges and his troops were ordered to prepare for the invasion of Japan; that became unnecessary, however, when the atomic bomb caused Japan's surrender later that year. Hodges was present at the surrenders of both Germany and Japan.
After World War II, he served First Army Commandant stationed at Governors Island, New York until his retirement in March 1949.
Hodges died in San Antonio, Texas in 1966. His extreme personal modesty prevented him from receiving the credit due his efforts.
Courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs:
Biographical Dictionary of World War II Generals and Flag Officers
by R. Manning Ancell with Christine M. Miller (c) 1996
Hodges, Courtney Hicks (1887 – 1966) Born in Perry, Georgia, on January 5, 1887. Attended West Point 1904 – 1905. Enlisted service 1906 – 1909. Commissioned in the Infantry in 1909. Served with the Punitive Expedition into Mexico 1916 – 1917. Saw action with the 6th Infantry, AEF in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives.
Graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1925. Member of the Infantry Board at Fort Benning 1929 – 1933. Graduated from the Army War College in 1934.
Assistant Commandant, then Commandant of the Infantry School 1938 – 1941. Brigadier General in May 1940. Major General in May 1941 as Chief of Infantry until March 1942.
Commander of X Corps 1942 – 1943. Lieutenant General in February 1943. Commanding General of Third Army 1943 – 1944. Deputy Commander, then Commanding General of First Army 1944 – 1949. As an element of Bradley's Twelfth Army Group, First Army liberated Paris, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, reached the Rhine River and captured the Remagen Bridge intact, and was the first American force to link up with the Russians.
Promoted to General in April 1945. Retired in March 1949. Decorations included three Distinguished Service Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. Died on January 16, 1966.
HODGES, COURTNEY H.
- Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
- 6th Infantry Regiment, 5th Division, A.E.F.
- Date of Action: November 2 – 4, 1918
- General Orders No. 3, W.D., 1919
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Courtney H. Hodges, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Breulles, France, November 2 – 4, 1918.
Lieutenant Colonel Hodges personally conducted a reconnaissance of the Meuse River, to determine the most advantageous location for a crossing, and for a bridge site. Having organized a storming party, he attacked the enemy not 100 paces distant, and, although failing, he managed to effect the crossing of the canal after 20 hours of ceaseless struggling. His fearlessness and courage were mainly responsible for the advance of his brigade to the heights east of the Meuse.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
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