Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
"He was one of the kindest people I ever knew," said Elton F. Hammond, retired brigadier general, West Point class of 1919. Patton's signal officer. Hammond, white-haired, leaning on a cane, was talking about MacArthur.
So were practically all 400 who attended a black-tie buffet given Thursday evening at Fort Myer by the West Point Society of D.C. After food, drink and many reminiscences, the group was transported in a caravan of Metro buses to the Jenifer theater for a preview showing of "MacArthur."
"We were aboard the old Thomas in 1923 in the Pacific heading for the Philippines." Hammond continued. "The ship stopped in Honolulu and a classmate of mine got on. He was a recent bridegroom and he had his bride with him. Well, MacArthur had the best cabin but he told my friend he could have his cabin from 3 to 5 every afternoon until we got to the Philippines.
"Do you need any more indication of the kindness of the man? It might have been 2 to 4, but it was two hours every afternoon."
Gen. Jacob Devers, class of '09, who will be 90 next month, sat on a straight-backed chair near a wall in the ballroom. He said that MacArthuur sent for him in 1919, shortly after MacArthur took command at West Point. "He told me, 'Sit down in that chair.' It was a big leather chair, hard to get out of. But when he got up, I got up. He said, 'Sit down.' He gave me a cigarette.I said 'I don't smoke.' He said, 'Smoke it.' He lit it. Then he paced the room and talked. He had me look over a letter. It was about athletics. I said, 'Well, General, that's a little too tough.' 'Jake,' he said, 'its's the truth isn't it?' He always used to say, from the truth you can attack.
"Before I left the room, he turned to me and said, 'You're in charge of the baseball team and your job is to win the Navy game . . . You're in charge.' He said, 'Don't stop at the adjutant in the future. Come on in and if that seat's occupied just wait. You may learn something.
"That was all wrong." said Devers of MacArthur's removal as Supreme Commander by President Truman. "That was a great loss."
A couple of generals said MacArthur was "egotistical." but said they didn't want to be quoted on that. One allowed, "He had a lot to be egotistical about."
Julie Abrams, widow of Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams, said she had tapes of MacArthur's "Old soldiers never die" and "Duty, honor, country" speeches. "Obviously, I'll never forget that day," said a retired colonel. Phelps Jones, of the day in 1962 when MacArthur spoke of "duty, honor, and country" at West Point.
"Some people thought he wanted to die on the battelfield. I always thought so," said another general who did not want to be identified. "When we were in the Admiralty Islands, MacArthur came in and walked over this air field. There was not a shot. The Japanese attacked that night. They could have killed him. Our interrogations revealed that they had seen him."
Gen. Clyde Eddleman, former vice chief of staff of the Army, recalled, "We were down in Brisbane, Australia, and he called me in. He was standing by the window with his corncob pipe. He turned suddenly and knocked the pipe out of his mouth. "Sit down," he said." And MacArthur outlined his plan for conquering the Japanese concluding with: "When I get back to the Philippines I'm going to meet them on the battelfield and I am going to destroy them." Eddleman added. I'll never forget that as long as I live.