General Walter Krueger

Unsung Hero of the Pacific War

Kevin C. Holzimmer

He made his name in the jungles of the Pacific theater, was featured on the cover of Time magazine, was tapped by Douglas MacArthur to lead the invasion of Japan, and made crucial contributions to the army's tactical and operational doctrine. Yet General Walter Krueger is still one of the least-known army commanders of World War II. Kevin Holzimmer's book resurrects the brilliant career of this great military leader while deepening our understanding of the Pacific War.

As head of the Sixth U.S. Army, Krueger exemplified the art of command at the operational level of war and played a pivotal role in the defeat of Japan that until now has not been fully recognized. To the public he was a "mystery man," and his abrasive personality may have sometimes caused problems for MacArthur, but his commander credited him as "swift and sure in attack, tenacious and determined in defense, modest and restrained in victory." And although Krueger left no diaries or memoirs—and stubbornly refused to record many of his personal views—Kevin Holzimmer has mined military archives on Krueger and his Sixth Army to produce a compelling biography that finally acknowledges his importance.

“Holzimmer’s goal was to ‘demonstrate that Krueger’s role in World War II was larger and more important than is usually acknowledged.’ He has done this and more, bringing to the forefront an outstanding soldier, a fascinating man, and an important part of the Allied victory in the Pacific in World War II.

—Armor

“Holzimmer’s account is succinct, fact based, and well documented. . . . Holzimmer weaves the story of Krueger's growth as a Soldier and a man, effectively capturing Krueger's character, concern for troops, meticulous approach, and conviction about the necessity of education and learning. . . . A fine biography.

—Military Review
See all reviews...

Holzimmer first analyzes the experiences of Krueger's prewar career: testing the triangular infantry division in the late 1930s, serving in the War Plans Division, and participating in peacetime maneuvers. This training prepared him for the challenges of command in the Pacific, where he successfully forged and led a large combined-arms effort that effectively integrated infantry, armor, artillery, naval, and air forces. Holzimmer then details Krueger's remarkable leadership in the military campaigns against the Japanese. By placing Krueger's philosophy of command within the context of evolving military doctrine, Holzimmer shows how he produced tough victories against a determined enemy in an enormously difficult war zone.

Unlike some overly cautious commanders of the war, Krueger was aggressive when the situated dictated, and even MacArthur admitted that "history has not given him due credit for his greatness." By showing how he breathed life into Pacific war strategy and made sure it was executed successfully, this book gives him that credit and fills a glaring gap in American military history.

About the Author

Kevin C. Holzimmer is associate professor of comparative military studies and vice dean for academic affairs at the U.S. Air Command and Staff College.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series