82. George S. Patton: World War II Hero

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One of the great American heroes during the darkest days in the country's history is General George S. Patton. Patton was a career army man who is best known as the head of the European Theater of Operations during World War II. Patton came from a military family. His ancestors can be traced back to involvement in several U.S. campaigns in the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, and the American Civil war. With this kind of background, Patton knew he wanted to be in the military from a young age. He was known as an eccentric field commander who was quick-tempered. He carried an ivory handled sidearm that he reportedly was quick to wield.

Patton was born November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California. His first exposure to military life came from his family. He was first involved in combat during an excursion into Mexico in 1915. He was a big advocate of tank warfare, and convinced the government to build an effective tank force following Germany's incursion into Poland at the start of World War II. He called tanks the "future of modern warfare." He was involved in creating tank training centers in the United States in preparation for U.S. involvement in the war. Patton was in North Africa when the U.S. entered the war following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was given command of the U.S. Seventh Army in Europe at that time.

Patton was involved in the most significant campaigns the country fought in the great war. His defining moment may have been his command of American forces during the infamous Battle of the Bulge. This battle was Adolf Hitler's last ditch attempt to turn the fortunes of war toward the Germans after a series of defeats at the hands of the Allied forces. It was an epic tank battle won by the United States that sealed his legacy as a field commander.

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