20¢ George C. Marshall
Prominent Americans Series
Issue Date: October 24, 1967
City: Lexington, VA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Color: Deep olive
Prominent Americans Series
The Prominent Americans Series recognizes people who played important roles in U.S. history. Officials originally planned to honor 18 individuals, but later added seven others. The Prominent Americans Series began with the 4¢ Lincoln stamp, which was issued on November 10, 1965. During the course of the series, the 6¢ Eisenhower stamp was reissued with an 8¢ denomination and the 5¢ Washington was redrawn.
A number of technological changes developed during the course of producing the series, resulting in a number of varieties due to gum, luminescence, precancels and perforations plus sheet, coil and booklet formats. Additionally, seven rate changes occurred while the Prominent Americans Series was current, giving collectors who specialize in first and last day of issue covers an abundance of collecting opportunities.
George C. Marshall
Born on December 31, 1880, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, George C. Marshall was a distant relative of former Chief Justice John Marshall. Marshall decided early on to embark on a career in the military and attended the Virginia Military Institute. While there he was an All-Southern tackle for the VMI Keydets football team.
After graduating, Marshall served as Commandant of Students at the Danville Military Institute. He was then commissioned a second lieutenant and served in various commands in the U.S. and the Philippines. This included a stint as platoon leader and company commander during the Philippine-American War. Marshall also continued his education, becoming the Honor Graduate of his Infantry-Cavalry Class and graduating first in his Army Staff College class.
Following further service in the Philippines, Marshall was made aide-de-camp to Major General J. Franklin Bell, the commander of the army’s western department. When America declared war on Germany in April 1917, Marshall accompanied Bell to New York when the general was transferred to the Department of the East.
Marshall trained the 1st Division for service. He traveled with the unit to France and planned America’s first attack in the Battle at Cantigny, which ended in victory. Marshall was later assigned to the American Expeditionary Force headquarters in mid-1918. He worked closely with General John Pershing to help plan American operations. His coordination of the Meuse- Argonne Offensive contributed to the defeat of Germany and the end of the war. When the war was over, Marshall remained in France as Pershing’s aide-de-camp. The lessons Marshall learned from Pershing, and the experience he gained during World War I, served him well in later years.
Between wars, Marshall was a noted planner and writer within the War Department. He also commanded the 15th Infantry Regiment in China and instructed at the Army War College. In 1927 Marshall was made assistant commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning. While there, he made significant changes that ultimately proved positive during World War II. In the coming years, Marshall commanded at Fort Moultrie and Vancouver Barracks, as well as 35 Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Oregon and Washington. While working with the CCC, Marshall took strides to improve morale, established a CCC newspaper to share their successes, and created new programs to expand their skills and improve their health. Marshall once said that his time with the CCC was “the most instructive service I ever had and the most interesting.”
After that service, Marshall joined the War Plans Division in Washington, D.C., and was made Deputy Chief of Staff. In that role, he was the only person to speak out against President Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to provide aircraft to England. While many expected the move would mark the end of his career, it in fact led to his appointment to Army Chief of Staff. Marshall was officially sworn in as Chief of Staff on September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland.
During World War II, Marshall organized the largest military expansion in U.S. history – going from 189,000 men in 1941 to over eight million the following year. He picked or recommended a number of top commanders, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, Mark Clark, and Omar Bradley. He approved a shortened training schedule, aimed at establishing a 265-division Army, though he was pressured to reduce it to just 90 divisions.
Marshall also wrote the book used by U.S. Army and Air Forces in preparation for their operations in Europe. Some historians believe his proposed plan to launch Operation Overlord a year early might have ended the war a full year earlier. At one point, he was considered to serve as Supreme Commander of Operation Overlord, but President Roosevelt admitted that he couldn’t sleep at night if Marshall wasn’t in Washington. Time named him Man of the Year in 1943 and the following year he was the first American general to be promoted to the five-star rank, making him General of the Army.
Marshall resigned from his position as Chief of Staff in 1945. From 1947-49, he was the U.S. Secretary of State, the first professional soldier to hold this position. Marshall served briefly as president of the American Red Cross before becoming U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1950-51. As Secretary of State, Marshall introduced the European Recovery Program, also known as the “Marshall Plan,” in 1947. Under this plan, the U.S. spent billions of dollars rebuilding the devastated nations of Western Europe. Historians credit Marshall’s plan for checking the spread of Communism in Europe, and helping to create a more peaceful world. Marshall’s work earned him the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize.
Marshall retired in 1951 and spent his final years in Leesburg, Virginia where he enjoyed gardening and horseback riding. During his retirement, Marshall led the American delegation at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 and headed the American Battle Monuments Commission. He died on October 16, 1959, and was buried at Arlington, National Cemetery.
Formation Of WAAC
On May 15, 1942, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was established.
Prior to and at the start of World War II, women were generally only allowed on the battlefield as nurses or as volunteers as communications specialists or dieticians. Though they served with the Army, they didn’t have any official status, so they had to pay for their own food and lodging and didn’t receive any disability benefits or pensions when they returned home.
Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers knew all about this situation and was determined to get women the same protection and benefits as men if they were to be called on again. In early 1941, she met with General George C. Marshall the Army’s Chief of Staff, and told him of her plans to introduce a bill to create a women’s corps that was separate from the Nurse Corps.
Over time, the idea of a women’s corps gained support. However, while Rogers wanted to create an organization that was part of the army with equal pay, pension, and disability benefits, the Army was uneasy about accepting women right into its ranks. The resulting bill was a compromise. It would provide food, uniforms, living quarters, pay, and medical care for up to 150,000 women. However, the women would receive less pay than men of the same rank and didn’t receive overseas pay, government life insurance, veteran’s medical coverage, or protection if they were captured by enemy troops. Rogers had to give up some of her goals in order to get the bill onto the floor.
Rogers first introduced the bill in May 1941, but it didn’t receive much attention. It wasn’t until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that the bill was more seriously considered. General Marshall spoke out actively in favor of the bill. America was entering a two-front war and needed all the help it could get. The bill faced serious opposition, especially from southern congressmen, who asked “Who will then do the cooking, the washing, the mending, the humble homey tasks to which every woman has devoted herself; who will nurture the children?”
After significant debate, the House and Senate passed Rogers’ bill, which President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law on May 15, 1942. He initially set the recruitment goal at 25,000. That was met by November, after which time it was increased to 150,000.
The same day the bill was approved, Oveta Culp Hobby was made director of the WAAC. Hobby had worked as a newspaper editor and worked on the Texas legislature before speaking out in favor of the WAAC. Her first priority was recruiting women to serve as clerical workers, teachers, stenographers, and telephone operators. Every woman she recruited would “free a man for combat.” As Hobby explained, “The gaps our women will fill are in those noncombatant jobs where women’s hands and women’s hearts fit naturally. WAACs will do the same type of work which women do in civilian life. They will bear the same relation to men of the Army that they bear to the men of the civilian organizations in which they work.”
The first batch of officer recruits were an average age of 25 years old, most of whom attended college and worked in an office or as a teacher. One in five enlisted because a male family member was serving and they wanted to help him get home faster.
After extensive training, the first WAAC units were put to work with Aircraft Warning Service units. By October, there were 27 WAAC companies at these stations up and down the eastern seaboard. Soon other WAACs were assigned to the Army Air Forces, Army Ground Forces, or Army Services Forces. As time went on, the WAACs duties expanded significantly. By the last year of the war, only about half of the WAACs were performing traditional jobs. Other tasks included weather observers, cryptographers, repairs, parachute riggers, photograph analysts, control tower operations, electricians, and radio operators, among many other things.
As American military planners began looking toward another front in Europe, they realized a need for more manpower. Out of this need, talks began of creating the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), which would be a part of the Army, and not just serving with it. The WAC would also offer women equal pay, privileges and protection. The WAC was created in July 1943. By war’s end, over 18,000 WAAC and WAC women served over seas.
The success of the WAAC and WAC led to similar auxiliaries – the WAVES, SPARS, and the US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. The WAC was dissolved in 1978 when the female units were integrated with the men’s.