Ward, Orlando, born 04-11-1891, Macon, Missouri , the son of Etthelbert Ward (1861–1938) and his wife Ada, born Smith Ward (1861–1927), a 1914 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, The U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s mission is “to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.”
Ward received a commission to the rank of Lieutenant and was assigned to the 9th United States Cavalry serving on the Mexican border. Orlando Ward received his first assignment out of West Point in 1914 as a lieutenant in command of U.S. Cavalry troops patrolling the Mexican border. The Mexican War was fought between the United States and Mexico (1846-48), a conflict that began with a dispute over the annexation of Texas by the U.S. in 1845.
During an illustrious forty-year career he pursued Pancho Villa led American combat troops in two World Wars, and commanded occupation forces in an uneasy peace on the Korean Peninsula. Gugeler’s insights reveal General Ward both as a major American military figure and a man anchored by an unshakeable core of moral strength. Through eyewitness accounts, diary entries and family history, Gugeler tells the story of a man ruled by an unerring sense of duty–to his loved ones, his men and his country. With the entry of the United States into World War I, Ward, now an artillery officer, was sent to Europe where he would serve with distinction. After the war, Ward remained in the Army and served in numerous positions until 1939, when he was appointed secretary to Army Chief of Staff George Marshall, remaining as such until 1941. In 1942, Major General Ward was given command of the 1st Armored Division, nicknamed “Old Ironsides” and replaced Major General Bruce Magruder Magruder died age 70 on 23-02-1953, and would serve in Operation Torch, the Allied campaign in North Africa, Battle of the Kassarine Pass. The division’s casualties included: killed in action: 1.194, wounded in action: 5.168 and died of wounds: 234. After the rout at Kasserine, Patton at first counseled, then admonished Ward of the need for personal leadership of his division in order to keep German forces under pressure. Impatient with the progress of the 1st Armored, Georg Patto
n took the unusual step of ordering General Ward to personally lead a night assault on the Meknessy Heights, a series of stubbornly defended knolls in front of the 1st Armored’s lines.
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Ward obeyed the order, and the attack was initially successful. Wounded in the eye, he was awarded a Purple Heart, Silver Star , and later the Distinguished Service Cross. However, the stalemate east of Meknassy continued, and it appeared to Patton that Ward was still overcautious and too reluctant to incur casualties when conducting offensive operations. By 01-04-1943 the American offensive that had begun at El Guettar had bogged down against stiffened Axis defenses. With the concurrence of 18th Army Group commander General Harold Alexander
, Patton finally relieved Ward of duty. Patton’s actions were in keeping with Eisenhower‘s personal written instructions to him after General Lloyd Ralston Fredendall was sacked: “You must not retain for one instant any man in a responsible position where you have become doubtful of his ability to do his job.” Ward was replaced with General Ernest Harmon, who had successfully intervened to remedy General Fredendall’s Lloyd Ralston Fredendall inaction during the battles of Kasserine Pass. Ward was the only General relieved of his command by George Smith Patton during World War II. Returning to the United States, Ward was briefly Chief of Field Artillery before returning to a combat command late in the war with the U.S. 20th Armored Division, nickname Armoraiders” operating in Bavaria. This division crossed the Inn River at Wasserburg on 3 May, entered Traunstein, 4 May, and was moving toward Salzburg when it received word that hostilities would cease in Europe. The division is credited with only eight days in combat losing only 46 men killed in action and 134 wounded. The division returned to the U.S. in August 1945 and was slated to invade Japan, but after the atomic bombs were dropped it was inactivated 02-04-1946 at Camp Hood in Texas. Relieved from command in April 1943, he returned to the States until 1944 when he was assigned commander of the 20th Armored Division motto “Beware the Ides of March“ serving until the end of the war. In 1946, he took command of the 6th Infantry Division, Nickname: “Red Star” until 1949, when he was appointed Chief of Military History, serving until his retirement in 1953.
Death and burial ground of Ward, Orlando.
Retiring in Denver, Colorado Orlando Ward, who was married to Edith, born Hanington, Ward (1893–1991), died at the old age of 80 on 04-02-1972 and is buried on the Denver Cemetery , Denver County, Colorado. He had one daughter Ada Smith Ward Yates (1925–2012).
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