George C. Marshall, a World War II leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born on this day in history, Dec. 31, 1880.
George Catlett Marshall was best known for his service as chief of staff to two different presidents from 1939 to 1945.
Marshall (1880-1959) is credited with building and directing the largest army in history during World War II, according to nobelprize.org.
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He served as secretary of state from 1947 to 1949, devising the Marshall Plan — which provided post-war economic and military aid to European nations.
The Marshall Plan offered more than $15 billion to help reconstruct cities, industries and damaged infrastructure across Europe, History.com reports.
Marshall grew up in Pennsylvania. His father owned a coal business.
Though his father was prosperous, the young boy decided to pave his own way — and join the military.
Marshall enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute, He graduated in 1901 as the senior first captain of the Corps of Cadets.
After graduating with honors from the Infantry-Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth in 1907 and the Army Staff College in 1908, Marshall on various posts for the next nine years.
Before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Marshall preached military readiness.
Marshall earned an appointment to general staff in World War I and sailed to France with the First Division.
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Marshall climbed the ranks following the Great War — and after served in China in the 1920s.
Among several military posts, Marshall went on to act as commander of the Eighth Infantry in 1933 and as senior instructor to the Illinois National Guard from 1933 to 1936.
From 1936 to 1938, Marshall served as commander, with the rank of brigadier general, of the Fifth Infantry Brigade.
Marshall accepted the position with the General Staff in Washington, D.C., in July 1938.
Franklin D. Roosevelt in September 1939 named him chief of staff, with the rank of general, in 1939.
In 1944, Marshall became Army general — the same year Congress created the five-star rank, according to nobelprize.org.
Before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Marshall preached military readiness. Later, he was partially responsible for building, supplying and deploying more than eight million soldiers.
Marshall resigned from his post in 1945 once World War II had ended.
But his career didn’t end there.
In January 1947, Marshall joined President Harry Truman’s cabinet as secretary of state. He remained in that post for two years.
Marshall officially resigned from public service in September 1951 at almost 71 years old, after spending a year as secretary of defense during the Korean War.
Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for “proposing and supervising the plan for the economic recovery of Europe,” as nobelprize.org noted.