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Alfred Gruenther

Alfred Gruenther
Gen Alfred Gruenther, SACEUR   (NATO Photo 1251)
Birth name Alfred Maximilian Gruenther
Born (1899-03-03)March 3, 1899
Platte Center, Nebraska
Died May 30, 1983(1983-05-30) (aged 84)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1919 - 1956
Rank General
Commands held Supreme Allied Commander Europe (1953-1956)
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Other work American Red Cross president (1957-1964)

Alfred Maximilian Gruenther (March 3, 1899 – May 30, 1983) as a four-star General after World War II, served as the Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) in Europe from 1953 to 1956.


  • Life and Military career 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5

Life and Military career

Gruenther was born in Platte Center, Nebraska, the son of Mary (née Shea) and Christian Gruenther.[1] He attended St. Thomas Academy in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 1918, he graduated fourth in his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 1952, he was the youngest four-star general in U.S. history[2] and an adviser and planner to top generals in World War II. He was chief of staff of the Third Army, Fifth Army, and the 15th Army Group; and was the principal American planner of the allied invasions of North Africa in 1942 and Italy in 1943. He is sometimes credited to be the youngest major general in the U.S. Army in World War II, but that distinction belongs to James M. Gavin, who, as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, was promoted to major general at the age of 37. Gruenther was promoted to the temporary rank of major general at the age of 43 or 44.

After the end of World War II in 1945, he was deputy commander of U.S. forces in Austria. From 1953 to December 31, 1956, when he retired, he was supreme allied commander in Europe/commander-in-chief of the U.S. European Command. He appeared on the February 6, 1956 cover of Time.

From January 1 1957 to March 1964, he was president of the American Red Cross. He was a member of the Draper Committee and appeared as a guest on February 10, 1957 on the successful TV quiz show What's My Line.

In 1958, General Gruenther received a Litt.D. from Bates College.

Gruenther was the recipient of many national medals, including the Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters[3], and honorary degrees from American universities.

His great-grandson, Captain Lucas Gruenther, also was a distinguished member of the military before passing away on January 28, 2013, during a training mission over the Adriatic Sea in an F-16 jet fighter at the age of 32.[3]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Pace, Eric. "Alfred M. Gruenther, 84, Is Dead; Ex-Military Commander of NATO," New York Times, 31 May 1983
  3. ^ [4]
  • Alfred Maximiliam Gruenter, General, Arlington National Cemetery biography.
  • Biography, Nebraska State Historical Society.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower - American Presidency Project: Citation Accompanying the Distinguished Service Medal Presented to General Gruenther

Further reading

  • "Men, Missiles and Misunderstandings", address by Alfred Gruenther, Red Cross president, to the Empire Club of Canada, 25 Feb 1960.

External links

  • Appointment of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Alfred B. Gruenther (US), July 1, 1953, NATO.
  • Papers of Alfred M. Gruenther, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
  • Finding aid for Alfred M. Gruenther Oral History, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Matthew Ridgway
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO)
Succeeded by
Gen. Lauris Norstad
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