— Superintendent of West Point —
Robert L. Eichelberger was born in Urbana on March 9, 1886, the
youngest of the five children of George Maley Eichelberger, an Urbana
lawyer, and Emma (Ring) Eichelberger. After graduating from Urbana
High School in 1903, he attended Ohio State University and then
was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Graduating in 1909, he was appointed a second lieutenant of infantry.
Four years later he married Emma Gudger, daughter of Judge H. A.
Gudger of Asheville, North Carolina. For several years, he saw service
in Panama and the Mexican border before joining the American
Expeditionary Forces in Siberia. From 1918 to 1920 Major Eichelberger
observed the Japanese incursion into Siberia and became aware
of Japanese methods. In 1940 he was appointed Superintendent of the
Military Academy at West Point where he established regular courses
to include flight training for Flying Army Officers.
with the beginning of World War II, Major General Eichelberger became
Commanding General of I Corps and left for Australia. While there
General MacArthur gave him orders, saying "Bob, I want you to take
Buna, or not come back alive." Eichelberger defeated the Japanese
on Buna as well as Hollandis and Biak with his joint Australian
American Corps. As commanding General of the Eighth Army, he led
the invasion of the Philippines. In August 1945 Eichelberger's Eighth
Army occupied Japan to rebuild the nation. During his career he was
awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster,
Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the
Navy Distinguished Service Medal. Retiring in 1948, Congress, in
recognition of his service, promoted Eichelberger to General in 1954.
General Eichelberger died on September 26, 1961 and is buried in
Arlington National Cemetery.