• Lee, Holder inducted in Hall of Fame

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  • An Army engineer and and armor officer joined 106 honored service members inducted into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame during a ceremony April 17 at the Lewis and Clark Center.
    Retired Lieutenant Generals John Clifford Hodges Lee and L. Don Holder were both familiar with Fort Leavenworth.
    Lee served at Fort Leavenworth from 1911 to 1913 with Company M, 3rd Engineers.
    Holder served at Fort Leavenworth as a student of the Command and General Staff College from 1976 to 1977, as a doctrine author at CGSC from 1980 to 1982 and as a student at the School of Advanced Military Studies from 1984 to 1985. He was director of SAMS from 1987 to 1989 and commanding general of the Combined Arms Center from 1995 to 1997.
    Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, helped reveal the Hall of Fame shadowboxes of the two inductees.
    “We’re here to recognize and honor the accomplishments and contributions of these two men as they join the ranks of those who have distinguished themselves with names like Sheridan, Patton, Marshall, Eisenhower, MacArthur and Abrams,” Brown said. “(That’s) a pretty good group of individuals. You walk by them in the hallway of (the) Lewis and Clark (Center) quite frequently, but everybody is usually a little bit too busy to notice the heroes that are out there. Their lives are a testimony to duty, honor, sacrifice and selfless service to their nation, to the Army and the community.”
    Thomas Lee, grandson of the late lieutenant general, represented the Lee family at the ceremony. He used information and photos during his presentation on his grandfather that he compiled while assembling a book he’s developing about him.
    John C.H. Lee was born in Junction City, Kan., in 1887. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1909 and commissioned into the Corps of Engineers, posting to the 3rd Engineers serving at Fort Leavenworth. In 1913, he was assigned to the Department of the Philippines at Guam. In 1916, he served as district engineer on the Ohio River at Wheeling, W.Va.
    During WWI, Lee graduated from the Army General Staff College at Langres, France, and served as G-2 for the 82nd Division and G-3 for the 89th Division. In 1942, he was hand-picked by Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall to establish the European Theater Services of Supply. Simultaneously, he served as deputy theater commander from January 1943 to September 1944. After D-Day, ETO-SOS became the U.S. Communications Zone, the largest American command in the ETO through 1945. He then served as commanding general, Mediterranean Theater of Operations from January 1946 to September 1947 before retiring after nearly 39 years in uniform.
    Thomas Lee said that after arriving in England in 1942, John Lee began building airfields, depots and bases that eventually received more than 3 million men and women and 37 million tons of their belongings — most of which were sorted, stored and later reshipped.
    Page 2 of 3 - “Remember, none of this was by computer,” Thomas Lee said
    Thomas Lee said that John Lee’s inspection tours of facilities in the United Kingdom were endless.
    “He … simply never entered a car, vehicle, plane or train without inspecting it,” Thomas Lee said.
    At the time, the U.S. Armed Forces were still strictly segregated. Black soldiers were mostly limited to service specialties. Thomas Lee said his grandfather sought to expand opportunities for African-Americans to serve. Thomas Lee quoted one of his grandfather’s academy classmates and commanding general of the European Theater of Operations in 1943, Gen. Jacob Devers’ wartime diary.
    “‘Johnny Lee is trying to involve us in the colored question again and apparently has, however, we will solve that, too,’” Thomas Lee read. “‘I cannot understand a man of his experience creating issues that are so far reaching.’ For Lee there was no dilemma; the principle came first.”
    Thomas Lee said that the boldest statement he would make was that the U.S. Armed Forces would not look like they do today without the dogged efforts of John Lee to desegregate combat units.
    “He lobbied for this for over two years. Circumstance forced his peers and superiors to give in,” Thomas Lee said. He designed and signed a Dec. 26, 1944, order that stated: “This opportunity to volunteer will be extended to all soldiers without regard to color or race but preference will normally be given to individuals who have had some basic training in infantry. In the event that the suitable Negro volunteers exceeds the replacement needs of Negro combat units, these men will be suitably incorporated into other organizations so that their service and their fighting spirit will be efficient and utilized.”
    The other inductee, Holder graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in history in 1966, was commissioned into the Armor branch and assigned to 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany. He deployed to Vietnam and commanded the 1st Infantry Division cavalry troop. After earning a master’s degree in history at Harvard, he taught at West Point and graduated from CGSC in 1977. He had a few stints at Fort Leavenworth where he revised the AirLand Battle doctrine and became the third director of SAMS, which is when he added U.S. Air Force and international officers as students and created a separate fellows’ curriculum.
    Holder deployed the 2nd ACR to Saudi Arabia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After a tour as deputy chief of staff (support) for NATO’s Central Army Group, Allied Forces Europe, he commanded the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized).
    He later returned as the commanding general of CAC and Fort Leavenworth before retiring from active duty. After retirement, Holder continues to support Fort Leavenworth.
    Page 3 of 3 - “He’s not only given so much to the Army but really understands Fort Leavenworth and what it’s all about,” Brown said. “Even after military retirement, he continued to support us. You had a profound impact on my generation. We appreciate your leadership, mentorship and service to our nation.”
    Holder said that he once became emotional thinking about the number of people who have come through Fort Leavenworth and went on to do great things.
    “Leavenworth is special in that regard,” Holder said. “If you are a student, you don’t feel that way about Leavenworth yet. Close to graduation, when I was in your seat, I was looking forward to my next assignment... My feelings changed over the years, yours probably will too. Leavenworth equips you to do things that you don’t even recognize today. I found that to be the case when I was a staff officer at my next assignment.”
    Holder said that Fort Leavenworth has a huge impact beyond its gates by touching the affairs of the nation, the world and the people who go through. He said besides CGSC, the post offers training and training support, combat analysis, research and history writing and relationships formed that are invaluable to the force.
    “Those types of things — the training, the doctrine, the education and the potential contribution of regiments and college — are overall why I get misty eyed about it when I talk about it,” he said. “The Hall of Fame offers a different perspective on the same thing. It recognizes the effect over generations. I’m very fortunate to be included in that group, but it’s really representative of what’s happened here for six generations.”
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