Creighton W. Abrams

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General Abrams (1965)

Creighton Williams Abrams junior (born September 15, 1914 in Springfield , Massachusetts , † September 4, 1974 in Washington, DC ) was a general in the US Army , commanding general of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam , and thus commander in chief of US forces in the Vietnam War between 1968 and 1972. During this time the US troop strength in Vietnam fell from 530,000 to 30,000. From 1972 until his death in 1974 he was the 26th Chief of Staff of the Army . From 1975 to 1996 the IG-Farben-Haus in Frankfurt am Main with the headquarters of the 5th US Corps was known as the General Creighton W. Abrams Building . The US Army main battle tank currently in use , the M1 Abrams, is named after him .

Military career

Abrams graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1936 and then served in the US 1st Cavalry Division from 1936 to 1940 . In 1939 he was promoted to first lieutenant and in 1940 provisionally to captain .

In the early phase of the new arm of the armored troops , he became a tank officer and in 1940 commanded a tank company of the 1st US Armored Division .

Second World War

During World War II served Abrams June 1941 to June 1942 in the 4th Armored Division as a regiment - adjutant . From July 1942 to March 1943 he was battalion commander and from March 1943 to September 1943 first officer (XO) of the 37th US tank regiment.

Then the division was reorganized and a new battalion, the 37th US Tank Battalion, was created, which he commanded until March 1945. After he was provisionally promoted to Major in March 1943 and Lieutenant Colonel in September 1943 , he commanded Combat Command B of the division after 1945.

During this time his unit was used as a spearhead of the 4th US Armored Division and the 3rd US Army . For his actions as a commander in the fight against the Wehrmacht , he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on September 9 and December 26, 1944 .

Abrams became known as an aggressive and successful tank commander. General Patton said of him: I'm supposed to be the best tank commander in the Army, but I have one peer: Abe Abrams. (Eng. "They say I am the best tank commander in the US Army, but I have an equal: Abe Abrams."). Abrams was one of the commanders who liberated the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne from the encirclement of the Wehrmacht during the Battle of the Bulge .

Interwar years

After the war he served on the US Army General Staff until 1946 , from 1946 to 1948 as director of the Tactics Department at the Tank School at Fort Knox and graduated from Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in 1949 . In 1945 he was provisionally promoted to colonel , but due to demobilization after the war, he was downgraded to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

From 1949 to 1951 he commanded the 63rd US Tank Battalion of the 1st US Infantry Division in Europe. He was promoted to Colonel again and took command of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from 1951 to 1952. These units were intended for defense in the event of an invasion of Western Europe by the Soviet Union during the Cold War . In 1953 he graduated from Army War College .

Korean War

Because of his service in Europe and his training at Army War College , he took part in the Korean War late . From 1953 to 1954 he served as chief of staff of the I. , IX. and X Corps .

Staff assignments

After the Korean War, Abrams served as chief of staff at the Armored Center at Fort Knox from 1954 to 1956 . Promoted to Brigadier General , he took up the post of Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist Affairs in the United States Department of Defense in 1956 , which he held until 1959. From 1959 to 1960 he was assistant division commander of the 3rd US Armored Division and then until 1962 commander of the division , after he had been promoted to major general .

In 1962 he was transferred to the Pentagon to serve as deputy chief of staff for operations. He was then promoted to Lieutenant General and in 1963 took command of the V US Corps in Europe.

Vietnam War

In 1964 he was promoted to general and appointed deputy chief of staff in the US Army . As the Vietnam War escalated, he was appointed Deputy General Westmoreland in May 1967 , who was in command of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam and thus the supreme command of all US troops in Vietnam.

On June 10, 1968, he succeeded Westmoreland as commander. In contrast to his predecessors, who tended to give press conferences, his time as commander was not shaped by public optimism.

After Richard Nixon was elected US President , Abrams implemented the Nixon Doctrine . This doctrine, also known as the "Vietnamization" of the war, meant the reduction of US troops in Vietnam and the assumption of the main burden of war by the ARVN .

While 530,000 soldiers served under Abrams in December 1968, there were only 140,000 in December 1971 and only 30,000 at the end of 1972.

Abrams (2nd from left) with the Joint Chiefs of Staff : Moorer , Zumwalt , Cushman , Ryan and US Secretary of Defense Laird , 1973.

In June 1972 Abrams was nominated as the 26th Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), but was not confirmed by the US Senate until October . This delay arose because of the political aftermath of the disobedience of one of his subordinate commanders. He remained in this post until his death. He died of lung cancer in Washington DC on September 4, 1974 . He was the first CSA to die in office. During his service as CSA, he began the transformation of the US Army into a professional army .

Abrams was married to the Canadian Julia Bertha Abrams (1915-2003) since 1936 . Julia Abrams founded the Arlington Ladies Army Group . They had three daughters and three sons. The sons all became officers in the US Army and the daughters married all officers in the US Army. Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. is buried next to his wife in Arlington National Cemetery.


Selection of decorations, sorted based on the Order of Precedence of the Military Awards:


  • Lewis Sorley: Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the army of his time . Simon and Schuster, New York 1992, ISBN 0-671-70115-0

Web links

Commons : Creighton W. Abrams  - Collection of images, videos and audio files