GEN John Abrams died a few days ago. His father was GEN Creighton Abrams, former Chief Of Staff of the Army and the guy they named the tank after.
There have been military families throughout history but how many generals have had their sons become as successful as in the Abrams family? The father Creighton, 4 stars. Creighton III, 1 star. John, 4 stars. Robert, 4 stars and still serving.
Is there any family that can beat that? Preferably from an era and military where commissions and rank were not purchased.
Both Douglas MacArthur and his father Arthur MacArthur Jr were awarded the Medal of Honor. Douglas MacArthur was of course a five-star general and Field Marshall of the Philippine Army, while his father was Governor-General of American-occupied Philippines.
Seeing the subject line I immediately thought of Abrams and all three of his sons.
The Roosevelt legacy is longer with quite a bit of distinguished service to include award of three Medals of Honor, a Navy Cross, 11 Silver Stars to it’s various members. Theodore III and his dad Teddy Jr are one of only two father-son combinations to be awarded the Medal of Honor. It took the very posthumous upgrade for San Juan Hill in 2001 for that to be true though. All four of his sons served in WWI with one of his two daughters going to Europe with the Red Cross during the war.
The Tudors only had two rulers who could be classified as military leaders, Henry VII and VIII. After Elizabeth the throne was assumed by the Stuarts and later other lineages, most of whom never led troops, or assumed high command in other than a ceremonial way.
I think it doesn’t really lie within the scope of the OP’s question, but it might be possible to identify “dynasties” of successful feudal military leaders in the Middle Ages–like maybe the Coucy family of what we now call France, though I’m not going to troll through the family history just now to determine how successful each generation was on the field of battle.
In Spain the Colones haven’t done too badly. I understand the current “young generation” (20s) isn’t going into the Navy, but previous ones found it kind of weird if the nameholder didn’t manage to add an actual Admiral job-title to the inherited one of Almirante de las Indias.
The General Mola (Spanish Army) who was the leader of the 1936 uprising until his plane crashed was the son of a General Mola (Guardia Civil, a police body whose officers get trained along with our military ones). I believe it was a multigenerational thing as well.
This might not be the kind of “sucess” the OP intends, in terms of high officer rank, but it’s nonetheless an example of maintaining a high standard of military excellence across multiple generations: I know (vaguely) a guy who is a former Navy SEAL, having spent nearly 20 years in Naval Special Warfare, retiring as a Senior Chief; his father was an F-102 fighter-interceptor pilot; his brother was an Army Ranger; and his son is also a Navy SEAL. None of them would be household names like others mentioned here, but if that isn’t an example of a successful military family, I don’t know what the hell is.
Father/son admirals and grandson a Captain. No multiple flag officers in one generation.
The son made 2 star rank before retiring. The link to the the Abrams family is that Creighton as a LTC led the tank battalion at the spearhead of the relief of Bastogne.
Between the MacArthurs and the Roosevelts in my opinion there was only one out of four MoH that were deserved. With the MacArthurs there were two generations with soliders reaching the highest rank but no multiple flag officers in a generation.
I won’t say stories like that are a dime a dozen but they kind of are. There are many families where some sort of military service is pretty much a requirement. I’ve served with quite a few. What is rare is reaching the highest rank obtainable. The pyramid is so steep near the top and there are so many obstacles that even with connections it is nearly impossible. There are only a handful of those positions available at any given time. Reaching retirement is a successful career. Reaching 4 star rank is well beyond successful.
I haven’t found confirmation yet but I seem to recall that there is at least one colonel in the next generation of Abrams.
Would you say a family with a long tradition of enlisted excellence (like say 5 generations of E-8/E-9s) to be less successful than a family with 2-3 generations of generals?
I mean, from the outside, flag rank seems to be as political as it is professional, and as such, the children of generals and admirals are probably better positioned to play that game when their time comes than the offspring of some nameless E-5. But I suspect that it’s probably just as impressive in its own way to have a long chain of high-ranking enlisted.
I get the impression that the government was more liberal about awarding the Medal of Honor in previous wars than it has been during the past couple of decades. I think only a handful of people have won it in the Middle East conflicts.
Is this really true? In my family, there are three O-10s who began their careers during WWII (related by their kids’ marriages, not a single generation descended from the same family). They had kids who went to the academies and were career officers - they all retired at O-6. Their grandkids who served were ROTC rather than academy grads and weren’t career officers, instead moving on around O-3 or O-4.
“As a Southerner I would say one of the main importances of the war is that Southerners have a sense of defeat which none of the rest of the country has. You see in the movie Patton, the actor who plays Patton saying, “We Americans have never lost a war.” That’s a rather amazing statement for him to make as Patton, because Patton’s grandfather was in Lee’s army of Northern Virginia and he certainly lost a war.”
-Shelby Foote. In PBSs “Civil War”.
Oddly, the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the thread title was the montage of Lieutenant Dan’s family fighting and dying in every American war, and how angry he was at Forest Gump for cheating him of his destiny.