America's Greatest Maverick Leader
Probably in the entire history of warfare only one man had the leadership skills, the armies and the know-how to save the beleaguered Yanks from being massacred at Bastogne and turn back the German charge.
That man was 70 miles away.
His name was Lt. General George S. Patton Jr.
A Leader Like No Other
George Patton's family owned many thousands of acres in Southern California, making him one of the richest officers in the United States Army. It took him five years to graduate from West Point, because he was so severely dyslexic that he often could not read orders on the bulletin board.
A brilliant horseman, Patton competed in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. His event was the pentathlon—swimming, riding, shooting, fencing and running.
In 1916 he went into Mexico with General John J. Pershing to pursue the notorious bandit Pancho Villa. The following year he was aide-de-camp to General Pershing in France where he was wounded and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Between the wars he wrote a book on tank warfare. In World War II—as a prelude to the Battle of the Bulge—Patton served in North Africa and Sicily and came close to being sent home in disgrace for slapping a couple of GIs who had battle fatigue.
My father once asked Eisenhower why he saved Patton's bacon. "I needed him," the former Supreme Commander replied. "What was Patton's greatest strength my father asked." The general replied, "Patton was the best in the world on a wheeling flank."
When Bradley, Eisenhower and Patton met in an unheated French barrack in Verdun on December 19, 1944, the mood was grim. Unless relief was sent immediately, the "Battling Bastards of Bastogne"—the 101st Airborne under McAuliffe—would be wiped out and war effort would suffer a huge setback.