General Omar Bradley, commander of the 12th Army Group who ensured Allied victory over Germany, dies on this day in 1981.
Born on February 12, 1893, Bradley was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (Dwight Eisenhower was a classmate). During the opening days of World War II, he commanded the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was later placed at the head of the II Corps for the North African campaign, proving instrumental in the fall of Tunisia and the surrender of over 250,000 Axis soldiers.
He led forces in the invasion and capture of Sicily and joined his troops in the Normandy invasion, which culminated in the symbolic liberation of Paris by Bradley’s troops. He was promoted to commander of the U.S. 12th Army Group, the largest force ever placed under an American group commander, and led successful operations in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Czechoslovakia.
After the war, Bradley was chosen as the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and ultimately promoted to the position of General of the Army in 1950. In 1951, he published his reminiscences of the war in A Soldier’s Story. He retired in 1953.
Karl Malden portrayed him in the 1970 film Patton.