Military Wiki
General of the Army
Omar Nelson Bradley
Nickname "Brad", "The G.I.'s General"
Born (1893-02-12)February 12, 1893
Died April 8, 1981(1981-04-08) (aged 88)
Place of birth Randolph County, Missouri
Place of death New York City, New York
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1915–1981[1]
Rank US-O11 insignia.svg General of the Army
Commands held Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
82nd Airborne Division 82nd Infantry Division
28th Infantry Division (United States) 28th Infantry Division
II Corps (United States) U.S. II Corps
First United States Army First Army
Twelfth United States Army Group 12th Army Group
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Mexican Border Service
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Order of Polonia Restituta
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Order of Suvorov
Order of Kutuzov
Signature Signature, "Omar N Bradley"

Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 – April 8, 1981) was a United States Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and a General of the Army. From the Normandy landings through the end of the war in Europe, Bradley had command of all U.S. ground forces invading Germany from the west; he ultimately commanded forty-three divisions and 1.3 million men, the largest body of American soldiers ever to serve under a U.S. field commander. After the war, Bradley headed the Veterans Administration and became Chief of Staff of the United States Army. In 1949, he was appointed the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the following year oversaw the policy-making for the Korean War, before retiring from active service in 1953.

General Bradley was the last of only nine people to hold five-star rank in the United States Armed Forces.

Early life and career

Bradley, the son of schoolteacher John Smith Bradley (1868–1908) and Mary Elizabeth Hubbard (1875–1931), was born into poverty in rural Randolph County, near Clark, Missouri. He attended country schools where his father taught. When Omar was 13 his father, with whom he credited passing on to him a love of books, baseball and shooting, died. His mother moved to Moberly and remarried. Bradley graduated from Moberly High School in 1910, an outstanding student and captain of both the baseball and football teams.

Bradley at West Point

Bradley was working as a boiler maker at the Wabash Railroad when he was encouraged by his Sunday school teacher at Central Christian Church in Moberly to take the entrance examination for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. Bradley had been planning on saving his money to enter the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he intended to study law. He finished second in the West Point placement exams at Jefferson Barracks Military Post in St. Louis. The first-place winner was unable to accept the Congressional appointment, deferring instead to Bradley. While at the academy, Bradley's focus on sports prevented him from excelling academically. He was a baseball star, though, and often played on semi-pro teams for no remuneration (to ensure his eligibility to represent the academy). He was considered one of the most outstanding college players in the nation his junior and senior seasons at West Point, noted as both a power hitter and an outfielder with one of the best arms in his day. While at West Point, Bradley joined the local Masonic Lodge in Highland Falls, New York.

Bradley's first wife, Mary Quayle, grew up across the street from him in Moberly. The pair attended Central Christian Church and Moberly High School together. Moberly called Bradley its favorite son and throughout his life Bradley called Moberly his hometown and his favorite city in the world. He was a frequent visitor to Moberly throughout his career, was a member of the Moberly Rotary Club, played near handicap golf regularly at the local course and had a "Bradley pew" at Central Christian Church. When a flag project opened in 2009 in the Moberly cemetery, General Bradley and his first son-in-law and West Point graduate, the late Major Henry Shaw Bukema, were memorialized with flags in their honor from grateful citizens.

U.S. Army

At West Point Bradley played three years of varsity baseball including the 1914 team, from which every player remaining in the army became a general. He graduated from West Point in 1915 as part of a class that contained many future generals, and which military historians have called "the class the stars fell on". There were ultimately 59 generals in that graduating class, with Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower attaining the rank of General of the Army.

Bradley was commissioned into the infantry and was first assigned to the 14th Infantry Regiment. He served on the U.S.-Mexico border in 1915. When war was declared, he was promoted to captain and sent to guard the Butte, Montana copper mines.

Bradley joined the 19th Infantry Division in August 1918, which was scheduled for European deployment, but the influenza pandemic and the armistice prevented it.

Between the wars, he taught and studied. From 1920 to 1924, he taught mathematics at West Point. He was promoted to major in 1924 and took the advanced infantry course at Fort Benning, Georgia. After brief duty in Hawaii, he studied at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth in 1928–29. Upon graduating from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he served as an instructor in tactics at the Infantry School. There the assistant commandant, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Marshall called him "quiet, unassuming, capable, with sound common sense. Absolute dependability. Give him a job and forget it."[2] From 1929, he taught at West Point again, taking a break to study at the Army War College in 1934. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1936 and worked at the War Department; after 1938 he was directly under Army Chief of Staff George Marshall. In February 1941, he was promoted to (wartime) temporary rank of brigadier general (bypassing the rank of colonel)[3] (this rank was made permanent in September, 1943). The temporary rank was conferred to allow him to command Fort Benning (he was the first from his class to become even a temporary general officer). In February 1942, he was made a temporary major general (a rank made permanent in September 1944) and took command of the 82nd Infantry Division before being switched to the 28th Infantry Division in June.

World War II

Bradley did not receive a front-line command until early 1943, after Operation Torch. He had been given VIII Corps, but instead was sent to North Africa to be Eisenhower's front-line troubleshooter. At Bradley's suggestion, II Corps, which had just suffered the devastating loss at the Kasserine Pass, was overhauled from top to bottom, and Eisenhower installed George S. Patton as corps commander. Patton requested Bradley as his deputy, but Bradley retained the right to represent Eisenhower as well.[4]

For the front-line command, Bradley was promoted to temporary lieutenant general in March 1943 and succeeded Patton as head of II Corps in April, directed it in the final Tunisian battles of April and May. Bradley continued to command the Second Corps in the invasion of Sicily.

Normandy 1944

Bradley moved to London as commander in chief of the American ground forces preparing to invade France in 1944. For D-Day, Bradley was chosen to command the US First Army, which alongside the British Second Army made up General Montgomery's 21st Army Group.

Lt Gen Omar Bradley (left), Commanding General, U.S. First Army, listens as Maj Gen J. Lawton Collins, Commanding General, US VII Corps, describes how the city of Cherbourg was taken. (c. June 1944)

On June 10, General Bradley and his staff debarked to establish a headquarters ashore. During Operation Overlord, he commanded three corps directed at the two American invasion targets, Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. Later in July, he planned Operation Cobra, the beginning of the breakout from the Normandy beachhead. Operation Cobra called for the use of strategic bombers using huge bomb loads to attack German defensive lines. After several postponements due to weather, the operation began on July 25, 1944, with a short, very intensive bombardment with lighter explosives, designed so as not to create greater rubble and craters that would slow Allied progress. Bradley was horrified when 77 planes bombed short and dropped bombs on their own troops, including General Lesley J. McNair:[5]

"The ground belched, shook and spewed dirt to the sky. Scores of our troops were hit, their bodies flung from slit trenches. Doughboys were dazed and frightened....A bomb landed squarely on McNair in a slit trench and threw his body sixty feet and mangled it beyond recognition except for the three stars on his collar."[6]

However, the bombing was successful in knocking out the German communication system, leading to their confusion and ineffectiveness, and opened the way for the ground offensive by attacking infantry. Bradley sent in three infantry divisions—the 9th, 4th and 30th—to move in close behind the bombing. The infantry succeeded in cracking the German defenses, opening the way for advances by armored forces commanded by General Patton to sweep around the German lines.

As the build-up continued in Normandy, the 3rd Army was formed under Patton, Bradley's former commander, while General Hodges succeeded Bradley in command of the 1st Army; together, they made up Bradley's new command, the 12th Army Group. By August, the 12th Army Group had swollen to over 900,000 men and ultimately consisted of four field armies. It was the largest group of American soldiers to ever serve under one field commander.

Falaise Pocket

Hitler's refusal to allow his army to flee the rapidly advancing Allied pincer movement created an opportunity to trap an entire German Army Group in northern France.[7] After the German attempt to split the US armies at Mortain (Operation Lüttich), Bradley's Army Group and XV Corps became the southern pincer in forming the Falaise Pocket, trapping the German Seventh Army and Fifth Panzer Army in Normandy. The northern pincer was formed of Canadian forces, part of British General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery's 21 Army Group. On August 13, 1944, concerned that American troops would clash with Canadian forces advancing from the north-west, Bradley overrode Patton's orders for a further push north towards Falaise, while ordering XV Corps to 'concentrate for operations in another direction'.[8] Any American troops in the vicinity of Argentan were ordered to be withdrawn.[9] This order effectively halted the southern pincer movement of General Haislip's XV Corps.[10] Though General Patton protested the order, he obeyed it, leaving an exit—a 'trap with a gap'—for the remaining German forces.[10] Around 20–50,000 German troops (leaving almost all of their heavy material)[11] escaped through the gap, avoiding encirclement and almost certain destruction.[10] They would later be reorganized and rearmed in time to slow the Allied advance into Holland and Germany.[10] Most of the blame for this outcome has been placed on Bradley.[12][13] Bradley had incorrectly assumed, based on Ultra decoding transcripts, that most of the Germans had already escaped encirclement, and he feared a German counterattack as well as possible friendly fire casualties.[14] Though admitting a mistake had been made, Bradley placed the blame on General Montgomery for moving the Commonwealth troops too slowly, though the latter were in direct contact with a large number of SS Panzer, Fallschirmjaeger, and other elite German forces.[15][16]


The American forces reached the 'Siegfried Line' or 'Westwall' in late September. The success of the advance had taken the Allied high command by surprise. They had expected the German Wehrmacht to make stands on the natural defensive lines provided by the French rivers, and had not prepared the logistics for the much deeper advance of the Allied armies, so fuel ran short.

File:Marshall arnold and bradley.jpg

Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall (center) and Army Air Forces Commander General Henry H. Arnold confer with Bradley on the beach at Normandy in 1944.

Eisenhower faced a decision on strategy. Bradley favored an advance into the Saarland, or possibly a two-thrust assault on both the Saarland and the Ruhr Area. Montgomery argued for a narrow thrust across the Lower Rhine, preferably with all Allied ground forces under his personal command as they had been in the early months of the Normandy campaign, into the open country beyond and then to the northern flank into the Ruhr, thus avoiding the Siegfried Line. Although Montgomery was not permitted to launch an offensive on the scale he had wanted, George Marshall and Hap Arnold were eager to use the First Allied Airborne Army to cross the Rhine, so Eisenhower agreed to Operation Market-Garden. Bradley opposed Operation Market Garden, and bitterly protested to Eisenhower the priority of supplies given to Montgomery, but Eisenhower, mindful of British public opinion regarding damage from V-1 missile launches in the north, refused to make any changes.

Bradley's Army Group now covered a very wide front in hilly country, from the Netherlands to Lorraine. Despite having the largest concentration of Allied army forces, Bradley faced difficulties in prosecuting a successful broad-front offensive in difficult country with a skilled enemy. General Bradley and his First Army commander, General Courtney Hodges eventually decided to attack through a corridor known as the Aachen Gap towards the German township of Schmidt. The only nearby military objectives were the Roer River flood control dams, but these were not mentioned in contemporary plans and documents.[17] Bradley and Hodges' original objective may have been to outflank German forces and prevent them from reinforcing their units further north in the Battle of Aachen. After the war, Bradley would cite the Roer dams as the objective.[18] Since the Germans held the dams, they could also unleash millions of gallons of water into the path of advance. The campaign's confused objectives, combined with poor intelligence[19] resulted in the costly series of battles known as the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, which cost some 33,000 American casualties.[20] At the end of the fighting in the Hurtgen, German forces remained in control of the Roer dams in what has been described as "the most ineptly fought series of battles of the war in the west."[20] Further south, Patton's Third Army, which had been advancing with great speed, was faced with last priority (behind the U.S. First and Ninth Armies) for supplies, gasoline and ammunition. As a result, the Third Army lost momentum as German resistance stiffened around the extensive defenses surrounding the city of Metz. While Bradley focused on these two campaigns, the Germans were in the process of assembling troops and materiel for a surprise winter offensive.

Battle of the Bulge

Bradley's command took the initial brunt of what would become the Battle of the Bulge. For logistical and command reasons, General Eisenhower decided to place Bradley's 1st and Ninth Armies under the temporary command of Field-Marshal Montgomery's 21st Army Group on the northern flank of the Bulge. Bradley was incensed, and began shouting at Eisenhower: "By God, Ike, I cannot be responsible to the American people if you do this. I resign."[21] Eisenhower turned red, took a breath and replied evenly "Brad, I—not you—am responsible to the American people. Your resignation therefore means absolutely nothing."[22] Bradley paused, made one more protest, then fell silent as Eisenhower concluded "Well, Brad, those are my orders."[22] At least one historian has attributed Eisenhower's support for Bradley's subsequent promotion to (temporary) four-star general (March, 1945, not made permanent until January, 1949) to, in part, a desire to compensate him for the way in which he had been sidelined during the Battle of the Bulge.[23] Others point out that both Secretary of War Stimson and General Eisenhower had desired to reward General Patton with a fourth star for his string of accomplishments in 1944, but that Eisenhower could not promote Patton over Bradley, Devers, and other senior commanders without upsetting the chain of command (as Bradley commanded these people in the theater).[24][25]


Bradley used the advantage gained in March 1945—after Eisenhower authorized a difficult but successful Allied offensive (Operation Veritable and Operation Grenade) in February 1945—to break the German defenses and cross the Rhine into the industrial heartland of the Ruhr. Aggressive pursuit of the disintegrating German troops by the Ninth Armored Division resulted in the capture of a bridge across the Rhine River at Remagen. Bradley quickly exploited the crossing, forming the southern arm of an enormous pincer movement encircling the German forces in the Ruhr from the north and south. Over 300,000 prisoners were taken. American forces then met up with the Soviet forces near the Elbe River in mid-April. By V-E Day, the 12th Army Group was a force of four armies (1st, 3rd, 9th, and 15th) that numbered over 1.3 million men.

Command style

Unlike some of the more colorful generals of World War II, Bradley was polite and courteous in his public appearances. A reticent man, Bradley was first favorably brought to public attention by war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who was urged by General Eisenhower to "go and discover Bradley".[26] Pyle subsequently wrote several dispatches in which he referred to Bradley as the GI's general, a title that would stay with Bradley throughout his remaining career.[27] Will Lang Jr. of Life magazine said "The thing I most admire about Omar Bradley is his gentleness. He was never known to issue an order to anybody of any rank without saying 'Please' first."

While the public at large never forgot the image created by newspaper correspondents, a different view of Bradley was offered by combat historian S.L.A. Marshall, who knew both Bradley and George Patton, and had interviewed officers and men under their commands. Marshall, who was also a critic of George S. Patton,[28] noted that Bradley's 'common man' image "was played up by Ernie Pyle...The GI's were not impressed with him. They scarcely knew him. He's not a flamboyant figure and he didn't get out much to troops. And the idea that he was idolized by the average soldier is just rot."[29]

While Bradley retained his reputation as the GI's general, he was criticized by some of his contemporaries for other aspects of his leadership style, sometimes described as 'managerial' in nature.[30] British General Bernard Montgomery's assessment of Bradley was that he was "dull, conscientious, dependable, and loyal".[31] He had a habit of peremptorily relieving senior commanders who he felt were too independent, or whose command style did not agree with his own, such as the colorful and aggressive General Terry Allen, commander of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division (who was relocated to a different command because Bradley felt that his continued command of the division was making it unmanagably elitist, a decision with which Eisenhower concurred).[32] While Patton is often viewed today as the prototype of the intolerant, impulsive commander, Bradley actually sacked far more generals and senior commanders during World War II, whereas Patton relieved only one general from his command—Orlando Ward—for cause during the entire war (and only after giving General Ward two warnings).[33]

Prior to the invasion, the British had offered a third of Hobart's Funnies, specialized armored vehicles developed for the beach assault, to the Americans, but take-up was minimal.[34] Eisenhower was in favor of the amphibious tanks but left the decision on the others to Bradley. None of the other designs were used, because it was thought that they required specialized training and an additional support organization. In the light of Omaha beach operations, Bradley's decision has been criticized as it was felt that use of the range of "funnies" would have saved American lives.[35]


General Omar Bradley, 1949

Veterans Administration

President Truman appointed Bradley to head the Veterans Administration for two years after the war. He is credited with doing much to improve its health care system and with helping veterans receive their educational benefits under the G. I. Bill of Rights. Bradley's influence on the VA is credited with helping shape it into the agency it is today. He was a regular visitor to Capitol Hill and lobbied on behalf of veterans' benefits in testimony before various congressional veteran affairs committees. Due to his numerous contributions to the Veterans Administration, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs' primary conference room at the headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs is named in Bradley's honor.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Bradley became the Army Chief of Staff in 1948. After assuming command, Bradley found a U.S. military establishment badly in need of reorganization, equipment, and training. As Bradley himself put it, "the Army of 1948 could not fight its way out of a paper bag."[36][37][38][39]

On August 11, 1949, President Harry S Truman appointed Bradley the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After his initial 1948 plan to expand the Army and modernize its equipment was rejected by the Truman Administration, Bradley reacted to the increasingly severe postwar defense department budget cutbacks imposed by Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson by publicly supporting Johnson's decisions, going so far as to tell Congress that he would be doing a "disservice to the nation" if he asked for a larger military force.[38][39][40][41] Bradley also suggested that official Navy protests of Secretary Johnson's canceling the supercarrier United States were due to improper personal or political, even mutinous motives, calling Navy admirals "fancy dans who won't hit the line with all they have on every play unless they can call the signals", and who were in "open rebellion against the civilian control."[42][43]

In his second memoir, Bradley would later state that not arguing more forcefully in 1948 and 1949 for a sufficient defense budget "was a mistake...perhaps the greatest mistake I made in my postwar years in Washington."[44][45]

On September 22, 1950,[46] he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army, the fifth—and last—man to achieve that rank. That same year, Bradley was made the first Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. He remained on the committee until August 1953, when he left active duty. During his service, Bradley visited the White House over 300 times and was frequently featured on the cover of TIME magazine.

In 1950 Bradley was elected as an honorary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati in recognition of his outstanding service to his country.


As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Bradley was the senior military commander at the outset of the Korean War. When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, Bradley was faced with re-organizing and deploying an American military force that was a shadow of its World War II counterpart.[47][48] The impact of the Truman administration's defense budget cutbacks were now keenly felt, as poorly equipped American troops, lacking sufficient tanks, anti-tank weapons, or artillery were driven down the Korean peninsula to Pusan in a series of costly rearguard actions.[49][50] In a postwar analysis of the unpreparedness of U.S. Army forces deployed to Korea during the summer and fall of 1950, Army Major General Floyd L. Parks stated that "Many who never lived to tell the tale had to fight the full range of ground warfare from offensive to delaying action, unit by unit, man by man...[T]hat we were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat...does not relieve us from the blame of having placed our own flesh and blood in such a predicament."[51]

Bradley was the chief military policy maker during the Korean War, and supported Truman's original plan of 'rolling back' Communist aggression by conquering all of North Korea. When Chinese Communists entered North Korea in late 1950 and again drove back American forces, Bradley agreed that rollback had to be dropped in favor of a containment strategy of North Korea. The containment strategy was subsequently adopted by the Truman administration for North Korea, and applied to communist expansion worldwide. Never an admirer of General Douglas MacArthur, Bradley was instrumental in convincing Truman to dismiss MacArthur as the overall commander in the Korean theatre[52] after MacArthur resisted administration attempts to scale back strategic objectives in the Korean War.

In testimony to Congress Bradley strongly rebuked MacArthur for his support of victory at all costs in Korea. Soon after Truman relieved MacArthur of command in April 1951, Bradley said in Congressional testimony, "Red China is not the powerful nation seeking to dominate the world. Frankly, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this strategy would involve us in the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy."


Portrait of Bradley

Bradley left active duty military service in August 1953. However, he chaired the Commission on Veterans' Pensions, commonly known as the "Bradley Commission," in 1955–1956.

In retirement, Bradley held a number of positions in commercial life including Chairman of the Bulova Watch Company from 1958 to 1973.[53]

His memoirs, A Soldier's Story (ghostwritten by aide de camp Chester B. Hansen who kept a day by day diary during the war[54]), appeared in 1951; a fuller autobiography A General's Life: An Autobiography (coauthored by Clay Blair) appeared in 1983. He took the opportunity to attack Field Marshal Montgomery's 1945 claims to have won the Battle of the Bulge.

On 1 December 1965, Bradley's wife, Mary, died of leukemia. He met Esther Dora "Kitty" Buhler and married her on September 12, 1966; they were married until his death.

As a horse racing fan, Bradley spent much of his leisure time at racetracks in California and often presented the winners trophies. He also was a lifetime sports fan, especially of college football. He was the 1948 Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses and attended several subsequent Rose Bowl games (his black limousine with personalized CA license plate "ONB" and a red plate with 5 gold stars was frequently seen driving through Pasadena streets with a police motorcycle escort to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day), and was prominent at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, and the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana in later years.

Bradley also served as a member of President Lyndon Johnson's Wise Men, a high-level advisory group considering policy for the Vietnam War in 1967–68. Bradley was a hawk and recommended against withdrawal from Vietnam.[55]

In 1970, Bradley served as a consultant for the film Patton, though the extent of his active participation is largely unknown. Screenwriters Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North wrote most of the film based on two biographies, Bradley's A Soldier's Story and Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago. As the film was made without access to General Patton's diaries or any information from his family, it largely relied upon observations by Bradley and other military contemporaries when attempting to reconstruct Patton's thoughts and motives.[56] In a review of the film Patton, S.L.A. Marshall, who knew both Patton and Bradley, stated that "The Bradley name gets heavy billing on a picture of [a] comrade that, while not caricature, is the likeness of a victorious, glory-seeking buffoon...Patton in the flesh was an enigma. He so stays in the film...Napoleon once said that the art of the general is not strategy but knowing how to mold human nature...Maybe that is all producer Frank McCarthy and Gen. Bradley, his chief advisor, are trying to say."[56] While Bradley knew Patton personally, it was also well known that the two men were polar opposites in personality, and that Bradley despised Patton both personally and professionally, though in the film they're portrayed as close friends.[57][58][59] Bradley's role in the film remains controversial to this day.

In 1971 Bradley was the subject of an episode of the TV show This is Your Life.

Bradley attended the 30th anniversary of D-Day at Normandy, France on June 6, 1974, participating in various parades.

On 10 January 1977, Bradley was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford.

Bradley was the keynote speaker at Point du Hoc, Normandy, France on June 6, 1979, for the 35th anniversary of D-Day where in a wheelchair he performed an open ranks inspection of the US representative army unit, the 84th Army Band from VII Corps HQ, Stuttgart, West Germany.

Bradley spent his last years in Texas at a special residence on the grounds of the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, part of the complex which supports Fort Bliss.

One of Bradley's last public appearances was at the festivities surrounding the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981.[60]

General Bradley's headstone in Arlington Cemetery

Omar Bradley died on 8 April 1981 in New York City of a cardiac arrhythmia, just a few minutes after receiving an award from the National Institute of Social Sciences. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, next to his two wives.[61]


Bradley's posthumous autobiography, A General's Life, was published in 1983; the book was begun by Bradley himself, who found writing difficult, and so Clay Blair was brought in to help shape the autobiography; after Bradley's death, Blair continued the writing, making the unusual choice of using Bradley's first-person voice. The resulting book is highly readable, and based on extremely thorough research, including extensive interviews with all concerned, and Bradley's own papers.[62]

Bradley is known for saying, "Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than about peace, more about killing than we know about living."[63]

The U.S. Army's M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle and M3 Bradley cavalry fighting vehicle are named after General Bradley.

Bradley's hometown, Moberly, Missouri, is planning a library and museum in his honor. Two recent Bradley Leadership Symposia in Moberly have honored his role as one of the American military's foremost teachers of young officers. On February 12, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Missouri Senate, the Missouri House, the County of Randolph and the City of Moberly all recognized Bradley's birthday as General Omar Nelson Bradley Day. The ceremony marking the day was held at his high school alma mater and featured addresses by the current Congressional representative, Blaine Luetkemeyer, and Moberly High School Principal Aaron Vitt.

On May 5, 2000, the United States Postal Service issued a series of Distinguished Soldiers stamps in which Bradley was honored.[64]

Summary of service

Dates of rank

No pin insignia in 1915 Second Lieutenant, United States Army: June 12, 1915
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lieutenant, United States Army: October 13, 1916
US-O3 insignia.svg Captain, United States Army: August 22, 1917
US-O4 insignia.svg Major, National Army: July 17, 1918
US-O3 insignia.svg Captain, Regular Army (reverted to permanent rank): November 4, 1922
US-O4 insignia.svg Major, Regular Army: June 27, 1924
US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army: July 22, 1936
US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel, Regular Army: November 13, 1943
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General, Army of the United States: February 24, 1941
US-O8 insignia.svg Major General, Army of the United States: February 18, 1942
US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General, Army of the United States: June 9, 1943
US-O10 insignia.svg General, Army of the United States: March 29, 1945
General rank made permanent in the Regular Army: January 31, 1949
US-O11 insignia.svg General of the Army, Regular Army: September 22, 1950

Orders, decorations and medals

Defense Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal (With three oak leaf clusters)
Navy Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit (w/oak leaf cluster)
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Mexican Border Service Medal ribbon.svg Mexican Border Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service ribbon.svg American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver and three campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Army of Occupation Medal with Germany clasp
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with star
Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png British Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Polonia Restituta Komandorski.jpg Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta
CdG45.gif French Croix de guerre with palm
Order kutuzov1 ribbon.jpg Order of Kutuzov (1st class)
Order of Suvorov 106x30.png Order of Suvorov (1st class)
LUX Croix de Guerre ribbon.svg Luxembourg War Cross
Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png Presidential Medal of Freedom

Assignment history

Omar Bradley, General of the Army

  • 1911: Cadet, United States Military Academy
  • 1915: 14th Infantry Regiment
  • 1919: ROTC professor, South Dakota State College
  • 1920: Instructor, United States Military Academy (West Point)
  • 1924: Infantry School Student, Fort Benning, Georgia
  • 1925: Commanding Officer, 19th and 27th Infantry Regiments
  • 1927: Office of National Guard and Reserve Affairs, Hawaiian Department
  • 1928: Student, Command and General Staff School
  • 1929: Instructor, Fort Benning, Infantry School
  • 1934: Plans and Training Office, USMA West Point
  • 1938: War Department General Staff, G-1 Chief of Operations Branch and Assistant Secretary of the General Staff
  • 1941: Commandant, Infantry School Fort Benning
  • 1942: Commanding General, 82nd Infantry Division and 28th Infantry Division
  • 1943: Commanding General, II Corps, North Africa and Sicily
  • 1943: Commanding General, Field Forces European Theater
  • 1944: Commanding General, First Army (Later 1st and 12th U.S. Army Groups)
  • 1945: Administrator of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Administration
  • 1948: United States Army Chief of Staff
  • 1949: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • 1953: Retired from active service


  1. U.S. officers holding five-star rank never retire; they draw full active duty pay for life.Spencer C. Tucker (2011). The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 1685. ISBN 978-1-85109-961-0. 
  2. The Reader's Companion to Military History. 
  3. Hollister, Jay. "General Omar Nelson Bradley". University of San Diego History Department. May 3, 2001. Retrieved on May 14, 2007.
  4. Weigley, p.81
  5. James Jay Carafano, After D-Day: Operation Cobra and the Normandy Breakout (2000); Cole C. Kingseed, "Operation Cobra: Prelude to breakout." Military Review; July 1994, Vol. 74 Issue 7, p64-67, online at EBSCO.
  6. Omar Bradley, A general's life: an autobiography (1983) p. 280
  7. Blumenson, Martin, General Bradley's decision at Argentan (13 August 1944), University of Michigan Press (1990), pp. 407-413
  8. Essame, Herbert, Patton: As Military Commander, Combined Publishing, Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-938289-99-3 (1998), p. 168
  9. Essame, Herbert, Patton: As Military Commander, p. 168: Bradley was supported in his decision by General Eisenhower.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Essame, Herbert, Patton: As Military Commander, p. 182
  11. Blumenson, Martin, General Bradley's decision at Argentan (13 August 1944), University of Michigan Press (1990), pp. 416-417: Blumenson concluded that while the failure to quickly complete the encirclement was mainly due to Bradley's actions in halting XV Corps, the result was still a victory, since the German armies that escaped had almost no equipment, tanks, or other weapons.
  12. Wilmot, Chester, and McDevitt, Christopher, The Struggle For Europe, London: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., ISBN 1-85326-677-9 (1952), p. 417
  13. Essame, Herbert, Patton: As Military Commander, Combined Publishing, Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-938289-99-3 (1998), p. 182: German General Hans Speidel, Chief of Staff of Army Group B, stated that all of Army Group B would have been completely eliminated if Patton's 5th Armored Division had been allowed to advance, sealing off German exit avenues.
  14. Blumenson, Martin, General Bradley's decision at Argentan (13 August 1944), University of Michigan Press (1990), pp. 410-411
  15. Blumenson, Martin, General Bradley's decision at Argentan (13 August 1944), University of Michigan Press (1990), p. 412
  16. Jarymowycz, Roman, Tank Tactics; from Normandy to Lorraine, Lynne Rienner, ISBN 1-55587-950-0 (2001), p. 196
  17. Whiting, Charles, The battle of Hurtgen Forest, p. 69
  18. Whiting, Charles, The battle of Hurten Forest, p. 44
  19. Whiting, Charles, The battle of Hurten Forest, p. 44: None of the senior commanders appear to have considered the potential danger to U.S. forces if the Germans released large amounts of water from the Roer dams, flooding the area and channeling U.S. forces into zones heavily defended by the German army.
  20. 20.0 20.1 D'Este, Carlo, Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life, p. 627
  21. Ambrose, Stephen, Eisenhower, soldier and president, New York: Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0-671-70107-9 (1990), p. 174.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Ambrose, Stephen, Eisenhower, soldier and president, p. 174.
  23. D'Este, Carlo, Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life, p.668
  24. Jordan, Jonathan W., Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership that drove the Allied Conquest in Europe , New York: Penguin Group, ISBN 9781101475249(2011)
  25. Patton, G.S. and Blumenson, M., The Patton Papers, 1940-1945, Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-80717-3 (1974) p. 655
  26. D'Este, Carlo, Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life, New York: Henry Holt & Co. (2002), p. 404
  27. Nichols, David, Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches, New York: Simon & Schuster Inc. (1986), p. 358
  28. Marshall, S.L.A., Great Georgie Redone, The Charleston Gazette, Vol. 4, 21 March 1970, p. 4: "My own view of him [Patton] was that he was touched by the sun, as were Orde Wingate and Stonewall Jackson."
  29. D'Este, Carlo. Patton: A Genius For War, New York: HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-016455-7 (1995), p. 467
  30. Lewis, Adrian R., Omaha Beach, A Flawed Victory, University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 0-8078-5469-7 (2001), p. 263
  31. Hamilton, Nigel, Master of the Battlefield: Monty's Wary Years, 1942-1944, New York: McGraw-Hill (1983), p. 658
  32. D'Este, Carlo, Patton, p. 467-468: Patton recorded that Bradley was "too prone to cut off heads. This will make division commanders lose their confidence."
  33. D'Este, Carlo, p. 467
  34. Haycock, D. J. (1 August 2004). Eisenhower and the art of warfare: a critical appraisal. McFarland. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-7864-1894-7. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  35. United States Army Center For Military History (26 March 2006). "Omar Nelson Bradley - General of the Army". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 8 Jun 2009. 
  36. Dunford, J.F. (Lt. Col.) The Strategic Implications of Defensive Operations at the Pusan Perimeter July–September 1950, Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College (7 April 1999) p. 6
  37. Bradley, Omar, and Blair, Clay, A General's Life: An AutoBiography by General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, p. 474
  38. 38.0 38.1 Blair, Clay, The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950-1953, Naval Institute Press (2003), p. 290
  39. 39.0 39.1 Hofmann, George F., Tanks and the Korean War: A case study of unpreparedness, Armor, Vol. 109 Issue 5 (Sep/Oct 2000), pp. 7-12
  40. Bradley, Omar, and Blair, Clay, A General's Life: An AutoBiography by General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, pp. 486-487
  41. Davis, Vincent, The Post-imperial Presidency, New Brunswick: Transaction Press ISBN 0-87855-747-4 (1980), p. 102
  42. Axlerod, Alan, Bradley, New York:Palgrave MacMillan, ISBN 978-0-230-60018-8 (2008), p. 174
  43. Blechman, Barry M., The American military in the twenty-first century, Henry L. Stimson Center, New York: St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-10369-5 (1993), p. 14
  44. Bradley, Omar, and Blair, Clay, A General's Life: An AutoBiography by General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, p. 487
  45. Testimony by Army Chief of Staff Omar N. Bradley before the Senate Armed Services Committee, 25 March 1948, Army Digest 3, No. 5 (May 1948), pp. 61-63
  46. "GENERAL OF THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES AND GENERAL OF THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES". Retrieved 2009-09-28. "General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, appointed Sep 22, 50. Deceased Apr 81. (General Bradley appointed pursuant to PL 957, on Sep 18, 1950.)" 
  47. Blair, Clay, The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950-1953, Naval Institute Press (2003), p. 290
  48. Hofmann, George F., Tanks and the Korean War: A case study of unpreparedness, Armor, Vol. 109 Issue 5 (Sep/Oct 2000), pp. 7-12: In 1948, the U.S. Army had to impose an 80 percent reduction in equipment requirements, deferring any equipment modernization. When the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted a $30 billion total defense budget for FY 1948, the administration capped the DOD budget at the $14.4 billion set in 1947 and progressively reduced in succeeding fiscal years until January 1950, when it was reduced again to $13.5 billion.
  49. Dunford, J.F. (Lt. Col.) The Strategic Implications of Defensive Operations at the Pusan Perimeter July–September 1950, Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College (7 April 1999) pp. 6-8, 12
  50. Zabecki, David T., Stand or Die - 1950 Defense of Korea's Pusan Perimeter, Military History (May 2009): The inability of U.S. forces to stop the 1950 North Korean summer offensive cost the Eighth Army 4,280 killed in action, 12,377 wounded, 2,107 missing and 401 confirmed captured between July 5 and September 16, 1950, in addition to the lives of tens of thousands of South Korean soldiers and civilians.
  51. Lewis, Adrian R., The American culture of war, New York: Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN 978-0-415-97975-7 (2007), p. 82
  52. MacArthur actually held several titles: he was the Allied Commander of United Nations Forces in the Far East, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Japan, and Commander, U.S. Army Forces Far East (USAFFE)
  53. "The History of Bulova". Bulova. Retrieved 14 May 2007. 
  54. A Soldier’s Story, pg v.
  55. Vandiver, Frank Everson (1997). Shadows of Vietnam: Lyndon Johnson's wars. p. 327 online. 
  56. 56.0 56.1 Marshall, S.L.A. (21 March 1970). "Great Georgie Redone". p. 4. 
  57. Bradley, Omar N.. A Soldier's Story. p. 109. 
  58. D'Este, Carlo (1995). Patton: A Genius For War. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 466–467. ISBN 0-06-016455-7. 
  59. D'Este, Carlo (2002). Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life. New York: Henry Holt & Co.. pp. 403–404. 
  60. "Statement of Ronald Reagan in memory of Omar Bradley". 9 April 1981. 
  61. "Omar Nelson Bradley, General of the Army". 
  62. Bradley, Omar; Clay Blair. A General's Life. ISBN 978-0-671-41024-7. 
  63. Omar Bradley (1948-11-11). "Quotation 8126". The Columbia World of Quotations. Copyright © 1996. Columbia University Press.. Retrieved 2008-06-25. "The Columbia World of Quotations. 1996. NUMBER: 8126 QUOTATION: We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.... The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. ATTRIBUTION: Omar Bradley (1893–1981), U.S. general. speech, November 11, 1948, Armistice Day. Collected Writings, vol. 1 (1967)." 
  64. "Distinguished Soldiers". United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 16, 2007.


  • Blair, Clay (2003). The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950-1953. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-075-7, ISBN 978-1-59114-075-7.
  • Blumenson, Martin (1990). General Bradley's Decision at Argentan (13 August 1944). University of Michigan Library Press.
  • Blumenson, Martin (1993). The Battle of the Generals: The Untold Story of the Falaise Pocket, The Campaign That Should Have Won World War II. William Morrow & Co. ISBN 0688118372.
  • Bradley, Omar N. and Blair, Clay (1983). A General's Life: An Autobiography. p. 752. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-41023-0.
  • Bradley, Omar N. (1951). A Soldier's Story. New York: Holt Publishing Co. ISBN 0-375-75421-0.
  • Cowley, Robert; Parker, Geoffrey (1996). The Reader's Companion to Military History. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 9780395669693.
  • D'Este, Carlo (1995). Patton: A Genius for War. Harper Perennial. ISBN 9780060927622.
  • Jordan, Jonathan W. (2011). Brothers Rivals Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe. NAL. ISBN 9780451232120.
  • Russell F. Weigley (1981). Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany 1944-1945. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-20608-1.
  • Whiting, Charles (2000). The Battle of Hurtgen Forest. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 1-58097-055-9.

Further reading

External links

  • Chester B. Hansen Collection Hansen was the aide of GEN (and GOA) Bradley during and after World War II. US Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Military offices
Preceded by
George Grunert
Commanding General of the First United States Army
Succeeded by
Courtney Hodges
Preceded by
Dwight Eisenhower
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
J. Lawton Collins
Preceded by
Adm. William D. Leahy
as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
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Adm. Arthur W. Radford
Preceded by
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
Succeeded by
Etienne Baele
Awards and achievements
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Billy Graham
Sylvanus Thayer Award recipient
Succeeded by
Robert Daniel Murphy

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