A headline on the May 18 obituary for Gen. George S. Blanchard incorrectly stated that he served in three wars. Gen. Blanchard served in World War II and the Vietnam War. He was in the Army during the Korean War, but his tour of duty in Korea came after the war there.
Gen. George Blanchard; Served in Three Wars
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Gen. George S. Blanchard, 86, a four-star general who headed the U.S. Army in Europe as the military came to depend more on volunteers than draftees, died of pneumonia May 3 at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. He lived in Fort Belvoir.
In a career that spanned three wars and 41 years, Gen. Blanchard advanced from private in the D.C. National Guard to commander in chief of the U. S. Army in Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces of the Central Army Group. He served as a unit commander at every level and was an aviator and a paratrooper.
Gen. Blanchard, who was commander of the Army's VII Corps in Europe in the early 1970s, was credited with being a creative operational leader who cared about the individual soldier.
While in Europe, Gen. Blanchard established innovative host-nation support agreements and advanced the ability of military partners in NATO to work together. He instituted the use of television to broadcast command information.
With a focus on improving life for soldiers and their families, he began a comprehensive off-duty education program. In 1973, he created the Sergeant Morales competition, a leadership program to help improve the morale and performance of the noncommissioned officer corps.
Gen. Blanchard, concerned about alcoholism among officers and enlisted men in Europe, banned cut-rate drinks during happy hours in military clubs and prohibited military units from holding drinking contests.
"The age-old practices of ignoring and covering up for problem drinkers has to stop," Gen. Blanchard said in 1978 at the opening of the first alcoholism treatment center for officers and senior enlisted men in Europe.
Gen. Blanchard's honors included the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Air Medal. He retired in 1979.
George Samuel Blanchard was born in Washington on April 3, 1920, and graduated from Eastern High School in 1938. He attended American University from 1938 to 1940 before enlisting in the D.C. National Guard. He received a National Guard appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
He participated in two campaigns in Western Europe with the 70th Infantry Division as a platoon leader and company commander in France and Germany. After World War II, he attended the Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where he received his master's degree in 1949.
He soon began his rise through the ranks, serving on the Department of the Army general staff and as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Omar Bradley. Other assignments and specialized schooling followed, including service as a Military Assistance Advisory Group adviser on Taiwan from 1955 to 1957.
In the 1960s, he did a tour in Korea and served as executive to two secretaries of the Army.
Gen. Blanchard also served in Vietnam, first as assistant division commander, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), and then as the chief of staff, I Field Forces. From 1970 to 1972, he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.
After retiring from the Army in 1979, Gen. Blanchard and his wife settled in McLean. He formed General Analysis Inc., a consulting firm specializing in research and studies in national defense.
He was a member of the Atlantic Council Board, the Army Science Board and the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs. He also was a board member and president of the Retired Officers Association and was president of the United Service Organizations in the mid-1980s.
In 1990, he and his wife moved to North Carolina. Twelve years later, they returned to the Washington area to live at The Fairfax in Fort Belvoir.
Survivors include his wife of almost 62 years, Beth H. Blanchard of Fort Belvoir; four daughters, Kate B. Hausner of Gambrills, Marylou B. Hennessey and Blythe B. Watkins, both of Norfolk, and Deborah E. Roell of Boulder, Colo.; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.