Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert C. Macon, 90, commander of the 83rd Infantry Division, the "Rag-Tag Circus" during the drive toward Berlin in World War II, died of pneumonia Monday at the hospital at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.
He was deputy commander of the 83rd before being promoted to major general and named commanding general of the dividion in 1944.
Cornelius Ryan wrote of the 83rd Division's drive from the Rhine River toward Berlin in his best-selling book,"The Last Battle." He said the division was nicknamed the "Rag-Tag Circus" by war correspondents because Gen. Macon "had given orders to supplement the division's transport with anything that moved -- 'no questions asked.'" The Rag-Tag Circus "was going flat out in a weird assortment of hurriedly repainted captured German vehicles: Whermacht jeeps, staff cars, ammunition trucks, Mark V and Tiger panzers, motor bikes, buses and two cherished fire engines. Out in front, with infantrymen hanging all over it, was one of the fire trucks. On its rear bumper was a large, flapping banner. It read, 'Next Stop: Berlin.'"
Gen. Macon's division had a bridgehead across the Elbe River when he was ordered to halt the advance on April 12, 1945, as he made contact with Russian Army units.
Born in Washington, Gen. Macon earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry in 1916 and subsequently served in China, the Panama Canal Zone and at staff and command posts in this country before becoming commanding officer of the 7th Infantry Regiment in 1942. He commanded the 7th Infantry Regiment in the 1942 invasion of North Africa, including the seizure and occupation of Casablanca.
Gen. Macon's last assignment before his retirement was as deputy chief of the Army Field Forces at Fort Monroe, Va., from 1949 to 1952.
After retiring, he moved to California, Md., where he established a marina, which he operated with a niece, Mary Macon Prior.
Gen. Macon's military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the French Croix de Guerre with palm and Legion of Honor, the Netherlands Order of Orange-Nassau and the Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm.
His wife of 43 years, the former Lucy H. Johnson, died in 1961. A daughter, Elizabeth M. Prior, died in 1978.
Survivors include three grandsons.