Nixon’s General: Creighton W. Abrams, Jr
by Blaine Taylor
Photo: Gen. Crieghton W. Abrams, Jr., commander-in-chief Allied forces South Vietnam, painted here as US Army Chief of Staff. (US Army Combat Art Collection.)
“The Best Tank Commander In The Army” And Chief Of Staff Of The Us Army, 1972-74
According to Gen. George Smith Patton Jr., “I’m supposed to be the best tank commander in the Army, but I have one peer, Abe Abrams. He’s the world champion!” “Old Bloods and Guts” asserted of Creighton Williams Abrams, Jr. (1914-74), 59.
His glory days were in the Second World War when, as a tank battalion commander in the 4th Armored Division of Patton’s famed Third Army, then Col. Abrams fought in the Battle of the Bulge, as well as led the drive across Nazi Occupied France and into the Third Reich itself.
Born Sept. 15, 1914 at Springfield, MA, Gen. Abrams graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in the Class of 1936, and succeeded Gen. William C. Westmoreland as commander-in-chief in Vietnam during 1968-72, where he implemented the Nixon Adminstration’s “Vietnamization” program of withdrawing US forces from in-country and turning over the waging of the war to the South Vietnamese themselves.
In 1972, Gen. Abrams then succeeded “Westy” yet again, as Chief of Staff of the US Army at the Pentagon, becoming the first Chief to die in office when he passed away from cancer on Sept. 4, 1974.
According to the USMA, “One of the most difficult jobs he faced in his career was regenerating the Army in the wake of Vietnam. Abrams led the Army in a major
re-organization to accommodate the transition to an all volunteer force, and an overall reduction in troop strength. He reorganized the command structure, improved the combat to support ratio, and laid the foundation for three additional combat divisions without increased manpower.”
In addition, Gen. Abrams “Sought improved race relations, effective drug abuse controls, and continually sought to drive tasks to their lowest levels…The Army’s Abrams Series Main Battle tanks are named in his honor.”
During the course of his military career, Gen. Abrams served on the Army General Staff, was director of tactics at the Armored School at Ft. Knox, KY, and graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.
Following World War II, Abrams served in Korea, back to Europe, the US, and on to the Vietnam War. He married Julia Harvey Abrams on Aug. 30, 1936, and the couple had five children. Interested in both music and fishing, the general held 20 military awards, decorations and medals from the US, Korea, France, Great Britain, and the United Nations, including the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, French Legion of Honor, and the French Croix de Guerre.
Gen. Abrams was buried with full military honors in a special plot in Section 21 at Arlington National Cemetery.
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