Joseph May Swing – Lieutenant General, Unied States Army

Courtesy of Michael T. Stein:

Lieutenant General Joseph May Swing

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, February 28, 1894
Died December 9, 1984

Cadet U.S. Military Academy 1911-15
Graduated as No. 5350, Class of 1915

  • Second Lieutenant 1915
  • First Lieutenant 1916
  • Captain 1917
  • Major (National Army) 1918
  • Major 1924
  • Lieutenant Colonel 1936
  • Colonel (Army of the United States) 1941
  • Brigadier General (Army of the United States) 1942
  • Major General (Army of the United States) 1943
  • Colonel 1943
  • Brigadier General 1947
  • Major General 1948
  • Lieutenant General 1951

Served with 4th Field Artillery 1915-16
Served with 8th Field Artillery 1916-17
Aide-de-Camp to General March 1917-18
Aide to Army Chief of Staff 1918-21
Served with 1st Field Artillery 1921-25
Student Command & General Staff School 1926-27
Instructor, Field Artillery School 1927-31
Served with Office of Chief of Field Artillery 1931-34
Student, Army War College 1934-35
Executive Officer, 6th Field Artillery 1935-38
Assistant Chief of Staff G-2 (Intelligence), 2d Division 1938-40
Chief of Staff, 2d Division 1940
Artillery Commander, 1st Cavalry Division 1941-42
Artillery Commander, 82d Infantry Division 1942
Artillery Commander, 82d Airborne Division 1942
Temporary duty with War Department 1942-43
Commanding General, 11th Airborne Division 1943-48
Commanding General, I Corps 1948-49
Commanding General, Artillery Center/Commandant, The Artillery School 1949-50
Commandant, Army War College 1950-51
Commanding General, 6th US.Army 1951-54
Retired 1954
Commissioner, Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization 1954-61.

  • Distinguished Service Cross
  • Distinguished Service Medal
  • Silver Star (3)
  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star Medal (3)
  • Air Medal (2)

A Personal Remembrance From Cleo M. Browne, 29 May 2004:

My Father served under General Swing in Sapporo, Japan in approximately 1946 – 1948.

My Father was his Provost Marshall and his name was Reneau S. McAlister.  My Mother and I joined my Father there and I was just a little 7 year old girl.  General and Mrs. Swing were always kind and thoughtful to us. My Father delighted in serving under the General, because he was quite a character and had a good sense of humor.

It was Japan just after the war and we were on Hokkaido, supplies were limited and I had a little birthday party my Mother gave for me and their were no balloons so my Mother and her lady friends improvised (I’ll leave to your imagination what can be blown up as balloons…that little children (at least in that day and age) would not know the difference. Anyway that afternoon General Swing said to my Dad that he was aware of the little party in the hotel for me (we lived in the hotel before the camp was built) and why didn’t they walk over and surprise us. Well, it was quite the surprise, and my Father thought he would pass out when they got there and saw the “balloons”  being batted around. General Swing had a good laugh. He and his wife were good people.

My Father passed away in May of 1986 and my Mother, whose name was Nelle died in June of 1992.  I can’t close without mentioning that I have this great photo of me, my Mother and Maryann Swing riding in a jeep in Japan.  My parents were very fond of Maryann also.

Cleo M. Browne, Sarasota, Florida

A 1915 graduate of the United States Military Academy, General Swing served in World War I, was an airborne pioneer in World War and help top commands in the Korean War.  He later commander the Army War College.

NOTE: The General’s Father-in-Law, Peyton C. March, General, United States Army, is  also buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Department of the Army, General Orders No. 2
(September 26, 1947)

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Joseph May Swing (0-3801), Major General, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Commanding General, 11th Airborne Division, in action against enemy forces from 15 to 17 April 1945, at Luzon, Philippine Islands.

Major General Swing displayed superior tactical knowledge and inspiring leadership while personally leading repeated attacks against the strong Japanese defense position at Mt. Macolod, Batangas, Luzon.

He flew many dangerous flights in liaison airplanes at low altitudes over the heavily defended ridges in order to make a thorough estimate of the enemy positions and of the terrain.

Despite the protest of subordinates, he personally, and on foot, led tank destroyers forward through intense enemy machine-gun and mortar fire to place them in more advantageous positions, and directed their fire so effectively that the enemy-held ridge was taken without further delay. He then moved to the south flank where he found the front lines stalemated and weapons unmanned because of heavy enemy fire.

With heroic disregard for his personal safety, General Swing strode fearlessly between tanks and machine guns, calling upon his troops to man their weapons and attack. Inspired by his fearlessness and heroic action, the troops attacked, silenced the Japanese fire, and seized and held the main enemy positions.

Through his inspiring courage and valiant leadership, General Swing made a distinguished contribution to the liberation of the Philippine Islands. His gallant leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 11th Airborne Division, and the United States Army.


U.S Army Photo



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 11/28/1895
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/04/1972


Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment