Daniel Van Voorhis   [1878-1956]

Military Leader

Daniel Van Voorhis was a Lieutenant General in the United States Army and was known as one of the creators of the US Army’s modern armor branch. He was the son of Henry Clay Van Voorhis, US Congressman from Ohio. He rose to the high military rank despite the fact he never completed his college studies and was not a graduate of the Westpoint Military Academy.

Van Voorhis attended Ohio Wesleyan University and Pennsylvania’s Washington and Jefferson College. He left college to enlist in the US Army to serve in the Spanish-American War, and became a member of the Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment as a corporal. Van Voorhus attained the rank of captain before the end of the war and earned the Silver Star for heroism at Jaro in the Philippines.

After the Spanish American War, Van Voorhis was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the regular army and served primarily in the Philippines between 1900 and 1914. In 1909, he was appointed aide de camp to President William Howard Taft. Following his Philippines service, in 1914 he served on the Texas border during the Pancho Villa Expedition.

During the early years of the First World War Van voorhis was Chief of Staff at the Newport News, Virginia port of embarkation. In 1918 he went to France as a member of the American Expeditionary Force [AEF] staff. When the War ended he was assigned to the port of Brest, France for coordinating the AEF’s return to the United States.

Following World War I, Van Voorhis served in Texas as Commander of the 16th Cavalry Regiment. The Army recognized him as a future candidate for more responsible positions. So they sent him to the Army War College from where he graduated in 1929. The degree from the Army War College opened up his career for future promotions.

In 1930 Van Voorhis was appointed to the command of the Army’s first mechanized cavalry regiment and later to the 7th Cavalry Mechanized Brigade. With the second appointment came a promotion to Brigadier General.

From 1934 to 1936 General Van Voorhis served as Chief of Staff for the Hawaiian Division. Following that appointment, in 1938 he was named Commander of V Corps Area and promoted to Major General. In 1939, he was reassigned to head the Caribbean Defense command in Panama, and a year later, in 1940 he was promoted to Lieutenant General.

In 1941 Van Voorhis returned as Commander of the V Corps Area where he remained until reaching mandatory retirement age in 1942. He received the Legion of Merit at his retirement.

Van Voorhis is widely recognized as the creator of the organization and development of necessary tactics for the conversion of the Army into a modern, mobile armor and mechanized infantry force. That major reorganization proved vital to successful execution in the Second World War. Together with General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr. he is recognized as a founder of the US Army’s Armor Branch.

Van Voorhis was born in Zanesville, Ohio on October 28, 1878. Upon retirement in 1942 he resided in Zanesville, Ohio and Clearwater, Florida. He passed away in Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington, DC on January 9, 1956. He was 77 when he died and was buried in Zanesville’s Greenwood Cemetery.

The Daniel Van Voorhis Collection of Papers is part of the Patton Museum in Fort Knox, Kentucky. An elementary school and the largest residential housing area in Fort Knox are named after him.

During his illustrious military career he earned the following awards and decorations. The Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Spanish War Service Medal, the Philippine Campaign Medal, the Mexican Border Service Medal, the World War I Victory Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Daniel Van Voorhis served his country well over a time span of 44 years and during four wars, the Spanish American War, The Pancho Villa Expedition, the First World War and the Second World War. He deserves our gratitude for his service and needs to be commended for it.

REFERENCES

Daniel Van Voorhis, Wikipedia

Daniel Van Voorhis, U.S. Army web site 

 

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