James H. Polk


Jesse Stiller and Rebecca Craver

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Born December 13, 1911 in Philippines and died February 18, 1992 in El Paso. Graduated West Point 1933; assigned to Ft. Bliss as mounted horse cavalry officer; met and married Josephine Leavell of El Paso 1937; tactical officer West Point until European campaign of World War II; took part in D Day 1944; spearheaded General Patton's 3rd Army advances through France, Germany, Czechoslovakia; fought in 3 Korean War campaigns. In 1961 commanded 4th Armored Division guarding border of East and West Germany during Cold War; U. S. Commandant of Berlin in 1963 when Berlin Wall was built; commanded U. S. Army in Europe from 1967 to 1971 when he retired as 4 star general. Decorations include Silver Star, French Legion of Honor, Croix de Guerre, American Defense Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and U. N. Service Medal.

Summary of Interview

Influence of parents, strong military tradition of family, West Point days 1929-1933, Fort Bliss in 1930s with trips to Juarez and polo games, cavalry school at Fort Riley, marriage and in-laws. Service in Europe in 3rd Cavalry under Gen. George Patton, battle tactics during European campaigns, comments about Patton, treatment of those released from concentration camps, comments about Douglas MacArthur, Korean campaigns, Berlin and political involvement required of military, comments on changes in the army between 1930s and 40s and 1970s, effects of Vietnam on the military, experiences during retirement years.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

10 hours

Tape Number

No. 771

Transcript Number

No. 771

Length of Transcript

107 pages


Rebecca Craver

Interview Number

No. 771

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