Gen. George S. Patton is one of the most enigmatic figures in the history of the United States military. He was deeply religious yet egregiously profane. He had a genuine love for his men yet drove them at times beyond endurance.
Most of the time, Patton appeared to be ego maniacal, but when the chips were down, the general could swallow his pride and exhibit magnanimous gestures of acceptance. An excellent example of this occurred when a longtime friend who had been his junior officer for years passed him up for promotion during World War II and became his boss.
Patton and his friend met in 1919 in Washington, D.C. They took to each other instantly, although Patton was six years his friend’s senior in the Army. The junior officer looked up to Patton and recognized that he was the leading mind in tank warfare.
Between 1935 and 1940 Patton and his friend became extremely close. Although he was the senior officer, Patton and his friend spent summer vacations together with their families. In 1938, Patton was promoted to full colonel, and his friend moved up to lieutenant colonel. The junior officer openly admitted that he saw Patton as a friend, superior officer, and mentor...