When Admiral William Leahy retired as Chief of Naval Operations in August 1939, President Roosevelt personally awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal. Following the death of his close friend President Roosevelt and the end of WWII, Admiral Leahy continued to be highly influential in the Truman administration and played a major role in many critical postwar questions. Admiral Leahy chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff during World War II (and afterward) and also participated in major strategic conferences of the war, such as at Yalta and Potsdam. Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy (May 6, 1875 – July 20, 1959) was an American naval officer who served as the senior-most United States military officer on active duty during World War II.He held multiple titles and was at the center of all the major military decisions the United States made in World War II. Huge collection, amazing choice, 100+ million high quality, affordable RF and RM images. The two men also shared a similar strategic outlook. Admiral Leahy was the Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and the unofficial coordinator of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He took an open stance of not intervening directly in local politics, attempted to understand and respect local customs, and initiated various major public works projects in the island. Washington, D.C., June 14. By this point he was both the president’s chief of staff (the closest modern equivalent would be the National Security Adviser) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As chairman or “senior member,” which was what he normally referred to himself as during the war, Leahy would usually let the other chiefs such as Marshall and King go on at great length with discussing their ideas and plans. (both standing behind Churchill); and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, (standing behind Roosevelt). Great Britain, on the other hand, believed the Allies should have a Germany-first policy. In 1942 the U.S. fought, if anything, a Japan-First war. Standing before an audience of eager graduates and their families at Cornell College, as well as newspaper photographers, the four-star admiral—by the end of the year he would become the first officer of the war to receive his fifth star, making him forever outrank his more-famous counterparts such as Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall—spoke of the heavy price of freedom. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. 0:29 [PDF] The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea. They were committed believers in the importance of a strong American navy and both had been strongly influenced by the ideas of Alfred Thayer Mahan. When you combine this with his lack of interest in personal publicity, it was a powerful cocktail and made him stand out in a Washington DC populated by people who were always on the lookout for personal glory. He tried to change the president’s mind, but to no avail. Franklin Roosevelt’s death led to a significant change in Leahy’s influence. From the description of Speech, [n.d.] (Naval War College). Find the perfect nimitz macarthur stock photo. “The following week on Sept. 12 th, Knutson accused the President of sending a plane to pick up Fala. On the other hand, someone like the left-wing Wallace, about whom Leahy was intensely skeptical, seemed to think that the admiral was a friend or at least thought well of him when that was certainly not the case. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Two decades later, Roosevelt was in the White House, and Leahy had risen to the top position in the Navy. At one point, after the British had objected once again to D-Day, arguing that any invasion needed to wait until the Germans were so weak that Allied casualties would be low, Leahy attacked, asking whether the British believed “that the conditions laid down for Overlord would ever arise unless the Germans had collapsed beforehand.”. The Kyushu operation, in effect, contemplated the taking of another island from which to bring increased air power against Japan. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Soon after the U.S. entered WWII, it was confronted with a major strategic decision on how it should define specific war production priorities for its tremendous industrial might, a decision you described in the book as perhaps one of the most strategic decisions of the war for the U.S. What was Admiral Leahy’s role in these deliberations? By the time Truman took over, Leahy had met with Stalin twice, at Tehran in 1943 and Yalta in 1945, and had discussed U.S.-Soviet relations with Roosevelt countless times. Truman also had a very high opinion of people such as George Marshall and James Byrnes and he started taking their advice more than Roosevelt did. Leahy actually retired formally in 1939, having reached mandatory retirement age. From September 1939 to November 1940, Leahy served as Governor of Puerto Rico after Roosevelt removed Blanton Winship over his role in the Ponce massacre. Secretary of State Byrnes and Chief of Staff Admiral Leahy both read the speech and provided their input, and both overwhelmingly approved it. Leahy once addressed graduating midshipmen, “all have to a greater or lesser degree something else that is intangible…a combination of loyalty to ideals, tradition, courage, devotion, clean living, and clear thinking…it reaches far beyond the corps and comradeship.” In this, Leahy walked arm-in-arm with Chief of Naval Operations Ernest King. Born in Hampton, Iowa, where his father, Michael Leahy … Archive for the ‘Admiral Leahy’ Tag Seventy-Five Years Ago – World War II in Europe, East & West; January – February 1945: The Berlin Bunker, Yalta Conference & Dresden Bombing. Understanding Leahy’s strong support for Torch helps explain why Roosevelt backed the operation over the strong opposition of Marshall and King almost immediately after Leahy became Chief of Staff. It would, he feared, take many extra years and a great deal of American blood to take the fight to Tokyo. When news of the landing broke the next morning, June 6, 1944, Leahy’s mission at hand was complete—America’s top military man was seen out on a photo op in an Iowa corn field, distracting attention away from the invasion. Present are (from left to right): General Henry H. Arnold, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Air Forces; Admiral William D. Leahy, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral Ernest J. Those seated are (from left to right): Prime Minister Winston Churchill (UK); President Franklin D. Roosevelt (USA); and Premier Josef Stalin (USSR). Cookie Policy He wanted the United States to fight a balanced war between Europe and Asia, believing that the fate of China, also at war with Japan, was at least as important for the future of the world as anything happening in Europe. Looking at the war from an overall perspective, Leahy did not want the United States to fight a Germany-First war, which Marshall and many others, including Winston Churchill, strongly supported. The United States sent more overall equipment to the Pacific over Europe or North Africa. At the end of World War II the United States dominated world politics. “Everybody may have peace if they are willing to pay any price for it,” he said. Leahy's influence declined precipitously upon the death of FDR but then quickly revived as Truman found that he, too, needed the (now) five-star admiral's sage advice. Though not the most deeply intellectual, Leahy had a way of getting a job done that was invaluable. Even within the American ranks, the premise of an invasion was hotly debated. Aside from FDR, no American did more to shape World War II than Admiral William D. Leahy--not Douglas MacArthur, not Dwight Eisenhower, and not even the legendary George Marshall. When dealing with the higher-ups such as Churchill and Stalin, Leahy normally said as little as possible, and when he did speak it was to support the position of the president. 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