John Howard Elder, Jr. – Lieutenant General, United States Army

General Elder was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers Reserve in 1941.  He was called to active duty August 1, 1941 where his first tour of duty in the Army was with the Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, from August 1, 1941 to March 1944 where he served successfully as a platoon leader, company commander, and weapons instructor at the Engineer Training Center.

In March 1944 he was assigned to and joined the 1271st and went with them to Southern France in October 1944.  The battalion served successively in the XV, XXI, and VI Corps in the 7th Army during the war, and was engaged in various construction projects in the Austrian Tyrol and in Bavaria following VE Day.  He returned to the United States in December 1945.

In March 1946 he returned to Southern Germany and remained there until June 1947. Assigned to several different units, his duties involved the establishment and construction of facilities for occupation forces and their dependents.

Upon returning to the United States in June 1947, he was assigned as Post Engineer for Rossford and Lordstown Ordinance Deports near Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio.

In July 1949 he was assigned to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to attend the Fourth Advanced Course at the US Army Engineer School where he graduated first in his class.

Following graduation, he was assigned to the US Army Engineer District in Okinawa but was diverted enroute at the outbreak of the Korean War to join the 19th Engineer Combat Group in Japan.  He participated in the amphibious landing at Inchon, Korea in September of that year, and served with the 19th Group throughout the length of the Korean peninsula during its successive assignments to X, I, and IX Corps in the Eighth Army.

He left Korea in November 1951 and returned to CONUS for service in the Engineer Section of the Office of Chief of the Army Field Forces, Fort Monroe, Virginia, participating in the development of engineer organizational and doctrinal concepts and materiel requirements, and travelling widely in supervising engineer training and troops readiness throughout the United States.

In July 1945 he attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and upon completion, in July 1955, assumed command of the 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion , 11th Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

When the 11th Airborne Division moved to Europe under Operation Gyroscope in March 1956, General Elder was stationed with his battalion in Munich, Germany, where he remained until August 1957.  He was awarded the Senior Parachutist Badge during this assignment.

He joined the 7th Army Engineer Section in Stuttgart, Germany, in August of 1957 as Engineer Plans Officer.  In July 1958 he went to the G-3 Section, 7th Army, as G-3 Plans Officer there.

Returning to the United States a year later, he attended the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks and graduated in June 1960.  Following graduation he was assigned to the War Plans Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Department of the Army.  In July 1962 he was transferred to the Operations Directorate (J-3) of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and served in the Strategic Operations Division of that office.

General Elder became Chief of Staff of the 7th Infantry Division at Camp Casey Korea in July 1964.

When he returned to CONUS in May 1965, he was assigned as the Army member of the Staff Group of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In October 1966 he became Executive Officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle G. Wheeler.

In December 1967, General Elder came to Vietnam to assume command of the 79th Engineer Group, 20th Engineer Brigade, and July 3, 1968 he joined the United States Army Engineer Construction Agency Vietnam as its Deputy Commander.

On September 21, 1968 General Elder assumed command of the 18th Engineer Brigade at Dong Ba Thiu, SVN, and was responsible for Army nondivisional Engineer support in the I and II Corps Tactical Zones.

When he returned to the United States in May 1969, he was initially assigned to the Holding Detachment, OCSA, and on June 23, 1969 became Chief of the Objectives Plans and Programs Division, Plans and Policy Directorate (J-5), Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On January 1, 1971, General Elder became Deputy Director (Regional), J-5 Directorate, OJCS.

In September 1972, General Elder left the Joint Staff to become the Director of Plans, ODCSOPS, DA.

On June 17, 1974 General Elder was assigned as the Director of Plans and Policy, J-5, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Personal Information:
Spouse's Name: Jane Harrold Elder; married June 10, 1941
Children:  John H. Elder, III, Douglas A. Elder, Bruce H. Elder, Lizabeth A. Elder
Grandchildren:  Six
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
Birthday: June 14, 1920

Other Information:

General Elder's principal hobbies are painting and golf.  He was also president of local country club (1978-1980), serves on various local committees, and participates in local study groups.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/14/1920
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/16/2001


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 12/16/1921
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/13/2004

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