Lucian K. Truscott IV: The Unsentimental Warrior





[Lucian K. Truscott IV, a journalist, is the author of “Dress Gray.”]

...General McChrystal got it entirely backward: generals definitely don’t die for their soldiers, and soldiers don’t die for generals. They die because generals order them into battle to accomplish a mission, and some are killed carrying out those orders. General McChrystal’s statement is that of a man who is sentimental about his job, and who has confused sentimentality with command....

I’ll tell you how I know this. In 1967, when I was a cadet at West Point, I met entirely by chance the journalist Will Lang, who had written a Life magazine cover story about my grandfather, Gen. Lucian K. Truscott Jr., during World War II....

After more than a few drinks that night, Will Lang told me a story. Grandpa had once allowed him to attend his early morning meeting with his division commanders; Lang watched, a little bewildered, as Grandpa moved pins on a map and ordered his commanders to advance up this road or take this town or destroy that German brigade....

He pointed to a pin on the map and asked Lang if he knew what it meant when he moved that pin an inch or two forward. Lang admitted that he didn’t. “It means by nine o’clock, 25 of my men will be dead, and a few hours later, 25 more of them will die, and more of them will die until that unit accomplishes the mission I gave them,” Grandpa said....


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