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James M. Gavin
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Military Personnel
    (March 22, 1907-February 23, 1990)
    Born in Baltimore, Maryland
    Birth name was James Nally Ryan
    Commanded the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II
    Nicknamed 'the Jumping General' and 'Slim Jim'
    US ambassador to France (1961-62)
    Wrote 'Airborne Warfare' (1947), 'War and Peace in the Space Age' (1958), 'Crisis Now' (1968) and 'On To Berlin' (1976)
    He ran away from his adoptive parents at age 17 and told the army he was an orphan to avoid the problem of getting parental consent.
    After suffering a detached retina in a sporting match, he ignored the doctor's recommendation to wear an eye patch for 90 days, since he was worried he might be discharged if the army discovered the injury (1938).
    Before a scheduled promotion to four-star general, he resigned to protest what he considered the Eisenhower administration's neglect of conventional forces and excessive reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent (1958).
    His superior at West Point called him 'a natural instructor.'
    In combat, he was the first of his men to jump.
    He was a vocal advocate for desegregating the armed forces.
    After touring the battlefields of Vietnam (1967), he declared 'we are in a tragedy' and urged negotiations 'by every means available.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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