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
Length of Transcript
Interview with James H. Polk by Jesse Stiller and Rebecca Craver, 1988, "Interview no. 771," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.