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Tommy Hart

March 7 2009 at 4:52 PM
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Tom Womack  (no login)
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Response to Bamboo Fleet


I agree with you that there's a lot more about MacArthur that will come out as the years go by. In my humble and very non-medical opinion, he was a first-class SOB and a passive-aggressive megalomaniac.

Although supreme commander of the Philippines military, MacArthur and President Manuel Quezon apparently did not get along very well. Hart's biographer surmised that the only reason Big Mac stayed on the job was to collect his rather substantial paycheck. He also suspected that the reason why MacArthur jumped so quickly at the chance to rejoin the US Army was because he knew that he was probably going to eventually be fired.

I also agree that Tommy Hart was a first-class gentleman and definitely Navy all the way. But although a fine officer, he was the product of a peace-time USN and was clearly not suited for front-line command in a war-zone. By his own admission, Hart was burnt out and ready to retire at the time of Pearl Harbor. He made constant references to his age (he was only 64 in 1941) and referred to himself as an "old man." These types of comments and his overall pessimistic (realistic?) attitude certainly didn't endear him to his Dutch or British allies.

In all honesty, I think Washington recognized Hart's short-comings and made a conscious decision to keep him in the Far East. They needed a "throw away" commander for a "throw away" fleet; i.e. they knew early on that the Asiatic Fleet would likely have to be sacrificed (thus no pre-war reinforcements) and needed a commander who could also be sacrificed. That...or they thought so highly of Hart that they could he could succeed with little or no support from home. I doubt the latter because Washington consistently left Hart without clear-cut direction on prewar policy and consistently tied his hands.

Either way, working with an ego-maniac like MacArthur certainly didn't help Hart or his cause.

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