About Edward Mallory "Ned" Almond
Edward Mallory "Ned" Almond (December 12, 1892 – June 11, 1979) was a controversial United States Army general best known as the commander of the Army's X Corps during the Korean War.
Born in Luray, Virginia, Almond graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1915 and became an infantry officer in 1916, serving in France with the 4th Division during the final months of World War I. He graduated from the Command & General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 1930. After a tour of duty in Philippines he attended the Army War College in 1934. From 1934 to 1938 he was attached to intelligence Division of the General Staff. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in September 1938, he completed the course at Naval War College in 1940 and in January 1941 was assigned staff duty at VI Corps HQ, Providence, Rhode Island. Promoted to the temporary ranks of Colonel October 1941, Brigadier General March 1942, when was named assistant commander of the 92nd Infantry Division located in Arizona.
World War II and Postwar Occupation in Japan
Almond was for a time highly regarded by George Marshall, also a VMI graduate, who was Army Chief of Staff during World War II. This regard accounted in part for Almond's promotion to Major General ahead of most of his peers and subsequent command of the 92nd Infantry Division, made of almost exclusively African-American soldiers, a position he held from its formation in October 1942 until August 1945. He led the division in combat in the Italian campaign of 1944-1945. Although George Marshall picked Almond for this assignment because Marshall believed Almond would excel at this difficult assignment, the division performed poorly in combat. Almond blamed the division's poor performance on its largely African-American troops, echoing the widespread prejudice in the segregated Army that blacks made poor soldiers--and went on to advise the Army against ever again using African-Americans as combat troops. Almond told confidants that the division's poor combat record had cheated him of higher command.
In 1946 Almond was transferred to Tokyo as chief of personnel at General MacArthur's General Headquarters (GHQ). Normally a deadend job, Almond handled the sizable challenge of staffing the occupation forces in Japan as the American forces rapidly demobilized, standing out among MacArthur's lackluster staff officers. Having won MacArthur's confidence as a capable and loyal staff officer Almond was the logical choice to become GHQ Chief of Staff in January 1949, when the incumbent, Paul Mueller, rotated home.
Korean War and X Corps
In 1950, MacArthur split X Corps from the 8th Army then placed Almond, who had no experience with amphibious operations, in command of the main landing force just before the amphibious invasions of Inchon and Wonsan. Almond earned the scorn of Marine officers when, during the early phase of the Inchon landing, he asked if the amphibious tractors used to land the Marines could float. During this invasion Almond failed to capture most of the opposing North Korean Army as they retreated from the 38th parallel to defensive positions above Seoul.
During this time, Almond had many conflicts with Major General O. P. Smith, commander of the 1st Marine Division, which was part of X Corps (and therefore under Almond's overall command) from October until December 1950. Likewise Almond had a poor relationship with Lieutenant General Walton Walker, commander of the 8th Army. Historians have criticized Almond for the wide dispersal of his units during the X Corps invasion of the north-eastern part of North Korea, in November–December 1950. This dispersal contributed to the defeat of X Corps by Chinese troops, including the destruction of Task Force Faith, and the narrow escape of the Marines at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Almond was slow to recognize the scale of the Chinese attack on X Corps, urging Army and Marine units forward despite the huge Chinese forces arrayed against them. Displaying his usual boldness, he underestimated the strength and skill of the Chinese forces, at one point telling his subordinate officers "The enemy who is delaying you for the moment is nothing more than remnants of Chinese divisions fleeing north. We're still attacking and we're going all the way to the Yalu. Don't let a bunch of Chinese laundrymen stop you." As stated by a close associate: "When it paid to be aggressive, Ned was aggressive. When it paid to be cautious, Ned was aggressive"
Despite these mistakes and partly due to his close relationship with General MacArthur, the new Eighth Army commander Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway retained Almond as head of X Corps. Ridgway admired Almond aggressive attitude, but felt he needed close supervision to ensure his boldness did not jeopardize his command. Almond and X Corps later took part in the defeat of the Chinese offensives during February and March 1951, as well as the Eighth Army's counter-offensive, Operation Killer.Almond was promoted to Lieutenant General in February 1951.
In July 1951, Almond became head of the U.S. Army War College. He retired in 1953 and worked in insurance until his death in 1979.
Almond's decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster and the Purple Heart.