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John E. Dahlquist
General John E. Dahlquist
Born (1896-03-12)March 12, 1896
Died July 30, 1975(1975-07-30) (aged 79)
Place of birth Minneapolis, Minnesota
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United StatesUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1917-1956
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Army Field Forces
U.S. Continental Army Command
4th Army
V Corps
70th Infantry Division
36th Infantry Division
1st Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Cold War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal (2)

John Ernest Dahlquist (March 12, 1896 — July 30, 1975) was a United States Army general and World War II division commander. In the course of his career, he commanded three different army divisions, commanded at the corps and field army level, and rose to the rank of four-star general.


Dahlquist was born on March 12, 1896 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His parents were immigrants from Dalsland, Sweden. He graduated from the University of Minnesota and served in the occupation forces in Germany after World War I. He received a direct commission in 1917. He served as an instructor at the U.S. Army Infantry School from 1924 to 1928. After graduating from Command and General Staff School in 1931, he was assigned to the Philippines. From 1935 to 1936 he was a student at the Army War College, serving on the Army General Staff, Personnel Division after graduation.

World War II

With America's entry into World War II, Dahlquist was assigned as Assistant Chief of Staff, European Theater of Operations in 1942, and later that year became Assistant Division Commander of the 76th Infantry Division. In 1943 he became the first commander of the 70th Infantry Division, and the next year he took command of the 36th Infantry Division.

It was for his command of the 36th Division that Dahlquist received his greatest criticism for his over-utilization of the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Arguably, his decisions would result in the 442nd becoming the most highly decorated unit in the history of the United States military. And in fact it was not the Nisei soldiers who manned the 442nd, but the officers, none of them Japanese American, who led the 442nd, that are often quoted in criticism of General Dahlquist.[1][2]

On 24 October 1944, 1st and 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry moved to secure the right flank of the 3rd Division, near the French town of St-Die. When the German forces counterattacked, 1st Battalion was separated and cut off. After two days of attempted rescue by 2nd and 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry, Dahlquist resorted to send in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which had born the brunt of the Division's fighting for the previous eight days.[3] The 442nd would suffer 800 casualties, including 121 dead during the five days it took to rescue 211 men of the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry.[4]

On November 12, General Dahlquist announced he wanted to review the 442nd, to thank them for what they had done. When the battered unit appeared, Dahlquist grew irritated at their sparse numbers, ignorant at how much they had sacrificed.

— Christopher C. Meyers, The War: Vosges Mountains (The Lost Battalion),

On 8 May 1945, Hermann Göring surrendered to the 36th Infantry assistant division commander after a ceasefire was declared between the German Army Group G and the U.S. 7th Army.[5] The assistant division commander, Brigadier General Stack, transported Göring to the division command post. Because he also spoke German, Dahlquist dismissed his translator, and so it was Dahlquist who became the first person to question Göring.[6] Press photos of Dahlquist and Stack, in seemingly casual conversation with Göring, were released for publication back in the United States and resulted in criticism of Dahlquist from the American public.[7]

Following the war, Dahlquist returned to the United States, serving in various administrative and personnel jobs. He took command of his third division, the 1st Infantry Division in 1949. This was followed by command of V Corps (1952–1953) and Fourth United States Army (1953). He then served as Chief of Army Field Forces from 1953 to 1955, during which he was promoted to 4 star rank on August 18, 1954. He finished his career as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army Command, retiring in 1956. He died on June 30, 1975 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[1]


Dahlquist was married to Ruth D. Dahlquist, who coincidentally was born 17 days after him, and died 17 days after him. She was buried next to him in Arlington. They had a son called Donald John, born on December 24, 1923 and died on July 27,2006, buried on Leavenworth National Cemetery, Kansas. Also General Dahlquist has several grandchildren who live even today. One of them lives in Germany.

Awards and decorations

Dahlquist's awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star . In 1954 he received an honorary Master of Arts from the University of Minnesota.[8]

See also


  1. Sterner 2007, p. 91.
  2. Sterner 2007, p. 95.
  3. Sterner 2007, pp. 70-75.
  4. Meyers, Christopher C. "Vosges Mountains (The Lost Battalion)." The War. September 2007. Retrieved on 1 October 2009.
  5. Alford 2003, pp. 43-46
  6. Time magazine article
  7. Alford 2003, p. 46
  8. University of Minnesota Alumni Association
  • Alford, Kenneth D. Nazi Plunder: Great Treasure Stories of World War II. [New York]: Da Capo Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-306-81241-5
  • Sterner, C. Douglas. Go for Broke: The Nisei Warriors of World War II Who Conquered Germany, Japan, and American Bigotry. Clearfield, Utah: American Legacy Historical Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9796896-1-1

External links

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