George Washington Putnam – Major General, United States Army

George W. Putnam, 89, a retired Army Major General who was a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and who held command positions with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and with a cavalry unit in Vietnam, died August 6, 2009, at his home in Arlington County, Virginia. He had congestive heart failure and cancer.


General Putnam served in the Army for 46 years, beginning as a draftee in 1941 during World War II. He retired in 1987 as a two-star general, based in southern Europe for NATO. He received his officer's commission early in World War II and served as operations officer for a howitzer battalion in France and Germany. After the war, he was a part of the occupation force in Japan. He later served a tour in Korea and did three tours in Vietnam, the final one as commander of the 1st Air Cavalry Division during the Tet Offensive in 1968.

In his career, he also oversaw the Army Aviation School in Fort Rucker, Alabama, and helped develop plans for using helicopters to go behind enemy lines in Vietnam and retrieve injured troops.

After his retirement, General Putnam returned to the Pentagon to work as a civilian adviser until 1991.

George Washington Putnam was born in Fort Fairfield, Maine, and began his military service as a member of the Maine National Guard in 1936. In Japan after World War II, he met and married his first wife, Elaine Anderson Putnam, who died in 1973. In 1995, General Putnam married Helen Guerin, the widow of a close friend, Army Colonel Vince Guerin, who had died in 1976.

General Putnam was a member of the Army Aviation Historical Society and Army Aviation Association of America, where he worked in the association's scholarship programs. A member of the Army Aviation Hall of Fame, with more than 1,600 hours flown in combat, General Putnam was a judge in helicopter and aviation competitions around the world.

A son from his first marriage, Dr. James M. Putnam, died in 2005. Survivors include his wife, of Arlington; a son from his first marriage, J. Glenn Putnam of Yardley, Pennsylvaia; four stepchildren, Leslie MacCallum of Alexandria, Philip Mahine of New York, Jeanne Duffie of Lovettsville and Vincent A. Guerin of Richmond; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. NOTE: The Aug. 25 obituary for retired Army Major General George W. Putnam omitted his second marriage, to Claudine Mahin, which ended in divorce. The obituary misspelled the last name of a surviving stepchild, Philip Mahin.

General Putnam will be laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 29 October 2009 following servinces at the Post Chapel at Fort Myer, Virginia, at 9:00

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