Leonard Townsend Gerow – General, United States Army

Leonard Townsend Gerow July 13, 1888 – October 12, 1972 was born in Petersburg, Virginia. The name Gerow derives from the French name “Giraud”. Gerow attended high school in Petersburg and then attended the Virginia Military Institute. He was three times elected class president. He graduated as recipient of the “Honor Appointment” which permits one man in each VMI graduating class to become a Regular Army Second Lieutenant without further examination. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army 29 September 1911.


Prior to World War I, General Gerow served in a series of assignements as a company grade officer in the Infantry. In 1915 he won commendation for his work in 1915 hurrican that struck Galveston, Texas. He served in Vera Cruz in the Mexican Campaign. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 1 July 1916 and later to Captain on 15 May 1917.

From 16 January 1918 to 30 June 1920 and during World War 1 he served on the Signal Corps staff in France. He was Colonel (temporary) in charge of purchasing all the radio equipment for the AEF. For his service he earned the Distinguished Service Medal and French Legion of Honor.

After returning to America, he was promoted to permanent rank of Major on 1 July, 1920. He was ordered to attend the advanced course at the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in the fall of 1924. He graduated first in the class in 1925 from the Advanced Course at Infantry school. Of note was Omar Bradley graduated second. Gerow attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff school, where Eisenhower was his study partner, and graduated in 1926, ranking 11th in the class of 245. In 1931 he completed the Field Officer's Course in Chemical Warfare and Tanks and took a course at Army War College.

General Gerow served in China in 1932 in the Shanghai sector. On 1 August 1935 he was promoted to the permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel. On 1 September 1940 he became a Colonel in permanent grade and a month later, on 1 October, 1940 became a temporary Brigadier General.

Some historians report that Gerow was one of several high ranking military officers and members of the President's staff, including the President, who received several messages warning them of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Gerow has been accused of failing to warn the Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department and in failing to implemment joint Army and Navy agreements to insure proper function.

He was promoted to Major General on 14 February 1942 and became Commanding General of 29th Infantry Division 16 February 1942. He received the Legion of Merit on 27 September, 1943 for his work as a Division Commander and as Assistant Chief of Staff of the War Plans Division. He continued as commander of the division until 17 July 1943.

 Gerow (seated, rightmost) with other American military officials, 1945.He was became commander of V Corps on 17 July, 1943. This was the largest unit of troops in the European Theater of Operations. He played a major part in the planning of the invasion of continental Europe. He was the first corps commander ashor on D-Day assault on Normandy on June 6, 1944. The V Corps was comprised of two infantry divisions: the U.S. 29th Infantry Division and the U.S. 1st Infantry Division. His tenure as commander of V Corps was from 17 July 1943 to 17 September 1944 and again 5 October 1944 to 14 January 1945. General Gerow kept close to his advancing troops in V Corps. He was the first American offcer of the rank of Major General to enter Paris after it's liberation by the 2nd French Armored and U.S. 4th Infantry. For his part in this campaign he was awarded the Silver Star.

Corps commanders could leave their posts by being promoted to a higher command (or being relieved of command). In a February memo prepared by Dwight D. Eisenhower he listed officers in order of merit based on the value of their service during the war. Gerow was listed 8th.

Gerow was given command of U.S. Fifteenth Army 15 January, 1945. He was promoted to Lieutenant General on 6 February 1945, with the promotion being effective 1 January 1945.

After the war Lt. Gen. Gerow was appointed commandant of the Army’s Command and General Staff School. Gerow was placed in charge of a board which studied and proposed how Army colleges ought to be organized, post war. In February 1946 the Gerow Board recommended five separate colleges.

In January 1948 he was appointed Commanding General, U.S. Second Army. This was his last post; he retired July, 1950.

Gerow was appointed General on July 19, 1954 by special Act of Congress (Public Law 83-508).

General Gerow's brother, Lee S. Gerow graduated from VMI in 1913 and rose to the rank of Brigadier General.

Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster
World War II Victory Medal



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/13/1888
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/12/1972


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 08/26/1901
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/29/1970

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