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Gen. Herron Nichols Maples; Helped Establish DIA

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By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Herron Nichols Maples, 87, an Army lieutenant general who helped establish the Defense Intelligence Agency in the early 1960s and later was the Army's inspector general, died of pneumonia and respiratory arrest Sept. 1 at his home in Fort Belvoir.

Gen. Maples fought in two wars but described his two most difficult tasks as setting up the DIA's Intelligence Production Center and overseeing the return of the Ryukyu Islands to Japan after 27 years of U.S. rule.

He was the Army's top investigator and auditor general from 1974 to 1976, which he called "a tough and challenging job, especially at this period of time of the Watergate investigations. Allegations of wrongdoing were rampant. Gen. [Creighton] Abrams and Secretary of the Army [Howard H.] Callaway insisted that every such allegation be investigated, no matter how minor. Needless to say, the platter was full."

Gen. Maples was born in Celina, Tex., graduated from Texas A&M University in 1940 and accepted a reserve commission as a second lieutenant in the artillery. He served with the 2nd Division through World War II.

Gen. Maples was the operations officer of the 15th Field Artillery Regiment when it landed on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944, the day after D-Day, while German artillery was still shelling the beach. The regiment fought for 71 consecutive days, working its way through France by way of Brest and Paris, and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge from Elsenborn Ridge. He participated in five European campaigns and was in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, at the end of World War II.

He accepted a commission into the regular Army and after a year in the United States returned to Europe as part of the occupation forces. He served at the Pentagon, in the Philippines and at the Field Artillery School in Oklahoma.

In 1963, Gen. Maples set up the Intelligence Production Center for the DIA, an agency that his son, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, now directs. His job was to "consolidate, relocate and integrate" the personnel from all the services into one agency and produce military intelligence for all the services.

"The Navy was bitterly opposed to the concept, the Army opposed and the Air Force a reluctant supporter. The Marines could have cared less. To finish this off, the Army refused a brevet promotion" to him, he wrote in a family memoir. "By 1965, the Center was one of the highly respected elements of the national intelligence community. The number one supporter was the Navy, followed closely by the Army and reluctantly in third place was the Air Force -- the Marines could have cared less."

He earned his first Distinguished Service Medal for his work there.

After two years in Europe, revising an antiquated support command system and earning another Distinguished Service Medal, he was called back to the Pentagon in 1970. There the secretary of the Army gave him a page of handwritten notes that ordered him to Vietnam to handle logistics for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. "This was a real shocker," Gen. Maples wrote, because of his lack of background in logistics. And when, upon arrival in Saigon, he handed the note to Abrams, "To say he was surprised puts it mildly."

After two years there, Gen. Maples received a third award of the Distinguished Service Medal and then was sent to Okinawa to oversee the return of the Ryukyu Islands to Japan. The job, he said, was "a nightmare. . . . Currency changed from dollars to yen, salaries were much greater under Japanese law, severance four times greater than under U.S. . . . Japanese drive on the left side of the street where the U.S. drive on the right."

The Okinawans, he said, didn't like the Japanese and refused to let the Japanese security forces land, requiring Gen. Maples to send the Japanese back to sea, bring them into an Army port and transport them to Army barracks for their security.

In 1974, he became the Army's inspector general. After that assignment, he was awarded his final Distinguished Service Medal. After retiring in 1977, Gen. Maples returned to Texas, where he and his wife raised orchids, Hereford cattle and miniature horses. In 1993, the couple moved to San Antonio and in 2000 to Fort Belvoir.

His wife of 59 years, Mary Leatherwood Maples, died in 2004.

Survivors, in addition to his son, include a daughter, Patricia Maples Marriott of Springfield; six grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.


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