Gen. George Patton, who fought in both world wars, is considered one of the most successful military leaders in American history. In his years of service, he faced a critical moment in the battle between good and evil. Most of the world’s research on him centers around his combat tactics and leadership style, while his faith in God and conviction to fight for God’s will is often neglected.
Patton was famous for creating “miracles” by turning rookie soldiers without combat experience into excellent fighters within a short time. People generally praise his tactics and consider the Third Army under his command as the most powerful troops in World War II. The U.S. Army even adopted General Patton’s combat tactics into its military academy curriculum. Countless generals have been inspired by his military career, the success of which can be attributed to three of his key traits: strict discipline, grit, and faith in God.
Patton was highly disciplined. While attending the military academy, he pursued perfection in everything he did — from training and competition to making the bed. He worked tirelessly to be the best he could be.
Patton cared a great deal about personal appearance. He wore perfectly tailored uniforms and ordered every officer to wear a rank badge on the battlefield, even if it would make them the enemy’s target. He believed that identifying one’s rank was not only an honor but also a discipline.
Patton’s discipline was also shown in his leadership. Even as a high-ranking general, he believed in working on the front line alongside his soldiers. He helped out with carrying goods and directed traffic. He was shot and wounded on the front line numerous times. Patton trained his soldiers hard, but he also recognized and rewarded them for their accomplishments. All soldiers were proud of being in the Third Army and had admiration for Patton. According to some of them, every time Patton showed up, his energetic current could be felt by everyone present.
Deep faith in God
Patton’s two cousins were pastors and he also considered the priesthood in his early years before eventually deciding to become a soldier. Philip, his roommate at West Point Military Academy, recalled that Patton knelt by the bed and prayed every night for God’s guidance. He continued to pray during the wars. He often visited churches on the battlefield and brought the Bible with him.
When he commanded his first large-scale sea crossing and attack in North Africa without having any experience in amphibious operations, he wrote in his diary that God was with him and his men, 40 hours before they were set to enter battle. Patton was confident that divine aid would allow him to make the right decisions as a commander.
The last year of Patton’s life was 1945. The German army surrendered and the allied forces were looking forward to victory, but Patton was worried. He sensed an evil force wreaking havoc as the Soviet Red Army expanded during World War II. Patton discerned the communist superpower’s ambition to dominate the world, a goal that would cause large-scale conflict between liberty and communism in the future. He felt powerless.
In the later stages of the war, the Soviets robbed and looted across Eastern Europe. Still, the Allied powers were afraid of offending the Soviet Union and tolerated the Red Army’s trampling of the lands it had “liberated” as well as its moves to destroy democracy there. Patton had a plan for the Third Army to occupy Prague and Berlin, but the Allied leaders rejected his proposal, loathe to begin further campaigns after Nazi Germany had just been defeated.
The Allied Forces headquarters disregarded Patton’s warning and allowed the Soviet Union to do what it pleased in the countries it occupied. Patton was angered that seemingly no one took notice of the rising communist threat.
In his diary, Patton vented his disappointment, and expressed his fears that communism would only continue to spread in the face of appeasement-prone democratic leadership.
On Dec. 9 of that year, Patton was critically injured in a car accident near Speyer, Germany. Twelve days later, he died in his sleep from pulmonary edema and heart failure at the age of 60. According to his will, Patton chose to be buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery alongside his soldiers in the Third Army who died in the war.
On the day of his death, a Friday, all the service clubs in Heidelberg that hosted the U.S. military closed for business, and every family lowered the flag to half-staff to pay tribute to him.
Per Patton’s predictions, communism indeed continued to expand and grow in strength. The Soviet Union was eventually contained and collapsed in the 1990s, but the Chinese Communist Party, which in 1949 took power over the world’s most populous nation, has surpassed even the strength of the Soviet menace and even wields considerable influence in American business and politics.
Translated by Joseph Wu and edited by Angela M