MacArthur 5 Star General, ctsy Life mag.

As early as 1944 MacArthur had put out feelers to determine interest in his presidential nomination. Apparently receiving little interest his time was mostly spent entertaining, promoting his past accomplishments, and discussing politics. In 1947 he was designated Commander in Chief Far East Command. Upon the North Korean invasion of South Korea he was designated Commander, UN Command in the Far East, July, 1950. He had arrived in Japan in 1945 and operated out of the top floor of the Dai Ichi building where he ruled the reconstruction of bombed out Japan.

The UN flag joins the American flag atop the Dai Ichi Building, July 14, 1950.
Across the moat behind the viewer is the Imperial Palace area. On the top floor of the Dai Ichi is MacArthur's office, overlooking the palace grounds. (Army photo)

The Japanese crowds lined the streets to get a glimpse of him as he arrived at his office. Showing great humility, they were in awe of him since he arrived in 1945 as Viceroy. The Japanese press loved him, and life was good. He liked the preferential treatment and God like respect he received. It was inconceivable that another war was about to start in Korea, of all places. There had been skirmishes along the 38th parallel. MacArthur once again miscalculated the capability of another countries military.The Korean peninsula was divided, with a Russian -Allied communist government in the North, and a pro-Western government in the South. On June 24, 1950, the South was viciously attacked as North Korean armies swarmed across the dividing line. General MacArthur, in charge of the Allied occupation of Japan, assumed command of the United Nations troops.

It is difficult to realize any humor concerning the military development. When the North attacked the South President Syngman Rhee phoned MacArthur in Japan. It was before dawn, and the now hysterical Rhee demanded to speak to the General. MacArthur's aide told him to call back later as the general was sleeping. The 75 year old Rhee exploded "American citizens in Korea will die while you let the General sleep in peace". Madame Rhee, in an attempt to cover his shocking discourtesy, put her hand over the mouthpiece, but he yelled" Our people are dying and they don't want to wake up the General".

MacArthur downplayed the emergency and sent 10 airplanes to help the South, still not aware of the urgency of the situation. He assured Dulles he would "get something started", and would send some LSTs to evacuate any nervous Americans. He told Dulles, "If things get worse I'll take care of it". Although Truman had no confidence in Rhee, he committed the U.S. to support South Korea. He preferred to see no public reference of American troops in Korea. Truman did not want to start telling MacArthur what to do, so it became obvious that this had become "MacArthur's War".

Distinguished Service Medal
ctsy. Army Archives
Douglas MacArthur
ctsy. Army Archives

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