George Grunert

George Grunert (July 21, 1881 – January 12, 1971) was a United States Army cavalry officer who worked his way up through the ranks from private to retirement as a lieutenant general. His 47-year career extended from the Spanish–American War to the end of World War II.

George Grunert
Lieutenant General George Grunert.jpg
Born(1881-07-21)July 21, 1881
White Haven, Pennsylvania
DiedJanuary 12, 1971(1971-01-12) (aged 89)
San Antonio, Texas
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1898–1945
RankLieutenant General
Commands heldEastern Defense Command
Second Service Corps Area
First United States Army
Sixth Service Corps Area
Philippine Department
26th Cavalry Regiment
10th Cavalry Regiment
Battles/warsSpanish–American War
World War I
World War II
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Purple Heart

Education and early careerEdit

Grunert, born of German immigrants on July 21, 1881, was a native of White Haven, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1898 during the Spanish–American War and served in the Philippines, Cuba and western posts in his early career. As a quartermaster sergeant in an artillery unit at Fort Monroe, Virginia he obtained a commission at second lieutenant in the cavalry in 1901. By 1908 he was stationed in Cuba and at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, a cavalry post in 1910.

World War I and the inter-war yearsEdit

Grunert was sent to France as an observer with British forces in 1917 during World War I. During the American build up, he served as assistant chief of staff for I Corps and was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal for his work during the United States offensives of 1918.

In 1919, Grunert attended the Army War College then at Washington Barracks, now Fort Lesley J. McNair, in Washington, D.C. He served with the 1st Infantry Division at Camp Dix, then to Washington, D.C. to serve in the office of the Army Chief of Staff. He returned to the field as a lieutenant colonel of the 10th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 1925.

After a second tour of duty in the office of the Army Chief of Staff, Grunert attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas from 1930 to 1932. In 1933, he was the director of military intelligence and espionage division course at the Army War College and in 1935, he became director of war plans division course.

In 1936, Grunert was posted to the Philippines as commanding officer of the 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts). He received his promotion to brigadier general in December 1936 in preparation for his command of the 23rd Brigade, a brigade of the Philippine Division composed of Philippine Scouts.

In November 1938 Grunert succeeded George C. Marshall in command of 5th Brigade at Vancouver Barracks, Washington. Grunert was promoted to major general in 1939 and, in October, returned to the Philippines to command the Philippine Division. From May 1940 to November 1941 Grunert commanded the Philippine Department, directing the United States Army supervision and control over the Philippine defense force until Douglas MacArthur came out of retirement to assume command in July 1941. MacArthur abolished the Philippine Department as a redundant command echelon in November 1941 and Grunert returned to the United States.

World War IIEdit

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred shortly after Grunert reached the United States, and he was shuffled between a number of assignments that included command of the Sixth Service Command at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, serving as the ranking military officer in the Chicago area, and two administrative posts with Army Service Forces as Deputy Chief of Staff for Service Commands (Service of Supply) overseeing the nine United States-based supply and logistics commands (formerly corps areas), under General Brehon B. Somervell.

In August 1943, Grunert was appointed deputy commander for both the Eastern Defense Command, a continental defense command for the eastern United States, and First United States Army at Fort Jay, Governors Island in New York City, taking the place of General Hugh A. Drum upon his mandatory retirement at age 64 in October 1943 and being promoted to lieutenant general at the same time.

Grunert held interim command over First Army until January 1944 while Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley completed assembling and staffing its new headquarters in England for the Normandy Invasion. Grunert continued command of Eastern Defense Command, which also assumed the duties of Central Defense Command, and Second Service Command for the New York area until his retirement in July 1945.

Pearl Harbor investigationEdit

In June 1944, Grunert was appointed by Secretary of War Henry Stimson as the presiding officer of a secret panel that investigated the army response to events prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Pearl Harbor Board report, released after the war, traced the entire military and diplomatic history prior to the attack finding much fault along the way, critical of break downs in communications between Secretary of State Cordell Hull, George C. Marshall and a failure of appropriate action by Hawaiian Department commander, Walter C. Short. The panel's method of investigation and conclusions are still subject to criticism today.


Grunert died at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, Texas on January 12, 1971 at age 89 and was buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Florence Reynolds, daughter Mary and son-in-law, then First United States Army commander, Lieutenant General Jonathan O. Seaman at Fort Meade, Maryland. His son, Colonel George R. Grunert (1908–1969), attended the United States Military Academy, graduating with the class of 1930 and played on the army polo team. He was a veteran of World War II and Korea and preceded his father in death.


Ribbon bar with the list of General George Grunert's decorations:[1]

1st row Army Distinguished Service Medal
with Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star Legion of Merit
2nd row Purple Heart Spanish Campaign Medal Army of Cuban Occupation Medal Philippine Campaign Medal
3rd row Army of Cuban Pacification Medal Mexican Border Service Medal World War I Victory Medal Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
4th row American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal Knight of the Legion of Honour

Dates of rankEdit

Various Enlisted, United States Army: September 29, 1898
No pin insignia in 1901 Second lieutenant, Regular Army: February 2, 1901
(Appointment accepted on April 29, 1901.)
  First lieutenant, United States Army: April 16, 1908
  Captain, Regular Army: July 1, 1916
  Major, National Army: August 5, 1917
  Lieutenant colonel, National Army: July 30, 1918
  Colonel, National Army: April 27, 1919
  Captain, Regular Army: August 31, 1919
(Reverted to permanent rank.)
  Major, Regular Army : July 1, 1920
  Lieutenant colonel, Regular Army: April 27, 1921
  Colonel, Regular Army: August 1, 1932
  Brigadier general, Regular Army: November 1, 1936
(Accepted December 24, 1936.)
  Major general, Regular Army: December 1, 1939
  Lieutenant General, Temporary: October 8, 1943
  Lieutenant general, Army of the United States: January 29, 1944
  Lieutenant General, Retired List: August 1, 1945


  1. ^ Official Register of Commissioned Officers of the United States Army. 1948. Vol. 2. pg. 2220.


  • "Who Was to Blame? [Pearl Harbor Inquiry]", Time Magazine, vol. XLVI no. 11, September 10, 1945
  • "The Judges [Pearl Harbor Inquiry]", Time Magazine, vol. XLVI no. 11, September 10, 1945
  • Biography of Sofia Adamson, Civilian, War Department, Fort Santiago, Philippines
  • "Army Orders and Assignments", New York Times, p. 54, April 11, 1930
  • "Promotes 2 Generals and Seven Colonels", New York Times, p. 14, December 23, 1936
  • "Roosevelt Appoints Six New Generals", New York Times, p. 7, August 3, 1939
  • "Gen. Drum Gets Washington Post In Addition to Command Here", New York Times, p. 1, August 24, 1943
  • "Grunert Takes Command", New York Times, p. 12, October 19, 1943
  • "Army Leader in East Retires After 47 Years", New York Times, p. 8, August 1, 1945
  • "Gen. George Grunert, 91, Dies; Led Inquiry on Pearl Harbor", New York Times, p. 40, January 14, 1971
  • Ray, Max (1980), The History of the First United States Army from 1918 to 1980, Fort Meade MD: First United States Army
  • A Patch of Pride: A History of the First Army, New York, New York: First United States Army, 1950, pp. 11–12