100th Birthday of the
Third United States Army
United States Army Central
November 7, 1918 to November 7, 2018
The Third Army Historical Society received an invitation from Lt.General Michael X. Garrett, Commanding (ARCENT) United States Army Central to participate in the 100th Birthday of the United States Third Army. This was a high honor for us to represent the Greatest Generation of WWII and portray General George S. Patton Jr., for the 100th Birthday of the establishment of the Third United States Army. It should be noted though they are formally called USACENT, they wear, with great pride, the Third Army Patch that has changed little in 100 years.
General Patton (Denny Hair) provided an “original Patton Sabre” to cut the cake. When George S. Patton Jr., was a young cavalry officer he designed the last Sabre carried by the United States Army Mounted Cavalry.
ARCENT (todays Third Army Headquarters) is located within the confines of Shaw Air Force base in South Carolina and is on a very high security active duty status. Preparations for our attendance was no small matter and was a year in preparation. Twenty of our Living Historians participated the 100th Birthday Celebration.
Inside, we presented the famous
Third Army War Room Presentation
“November- December 1944”
We have taken the exact transcripts of the Morning Briefing of Patton’s Third Army Headquarters and reproduced them into a theatrical presentation as it was presented in General Patton’s Third Army War Room in 1944-1945. We take specific day(s) and preform a scripted presentation and bring the audience back to that period of time so they can experience the Top Secret briefing of the time. After the presentation the audience becomes the Army Press Corps and ask questions of our historians and General Patton (Denny Hair). For this event, the audience were the Soldiers of ARCENT, the Men and Women who command today the active duty ARCENT (Third Army)
An honor afforded us was the blending of todays Third Army Command and Patton’s historical command, sitting side by side. Seated left is Active duty Brig.Gen. McCollum, General Patton, Active Duty Brig.Gen. Rhymer and Brig.Gen. Michael Maloney portraying Brig.Gen. Hobart Gay. The past is with the present having a briefing like no other.
The War Room presentation opens as it did in November of 1944 with the reports of the Third Army G1, G2 and G3. G1 presentation was given by General Hobart Gay (Michael Maloney). G3 Col Maddox presentation was delivered by (Dave Weekly.)
The Map is an exact reproduction of the map used in Patton War room in 1944-1945.
Our presentation was the War Room Briefings that took place on or before November 7, 1944 and events leading up to the “Battle of the Bulge.”
Brig. General Hobart Gay, Third Army Chief of Staff (portrayed by Michael Maloney) then gave an in-depth presentation of the German armed forces facing Third Army in “Operation Tink” and those German Forces that allied forces could be facing if the front moved to the Ardennes area. (General Bradley’s Area)
These presentations were based on the research done in the Patton Hidden in Plain Sight Series of books written by Denny Hair. The script was written by Third Army Historical Society’s Chris O’Connor and adapted to a stage play.
Some of the presentation has been secret since that day and has been uncovered in Denny Hair’s six volume set of books called “Patton Hidden in Plain Sight“
The book is also now available, world wide, through Amazon,
It was augmented with a special presentation of an interview with a captured German Lt. General Hans Schaefer, as he explain his reason for helping the Third Army Intelligence section (G2) break the Siegfried Line that he had help set up. This was delivered by Thomas Pachalos portraying him in a real presentation that really did happen as was revealed for the first time in history since WWII. General Schaefer would later brief the original Third Army Headquarters on where the best place to attack the Siegfried line and destroy the german defenses, since he help place them there. (His full biography can be found in Volume Five, Patton Hidden in Plain Sight.)
Lt.General Shaffer was escorted by two Third Army Historian portraying the 503rd Military Police assigned to Third Army Headquarters in WWII. General Patton used the 503rd MP Btn. to guard his most sensitive and secret areas within his headquarters. He called these M.P.s “Sentinels.” They stood guard, at all times, with fixed bayonets. He augured that “the fear of cold steal ripping through someone’s inners” would deter any aggression. No one ever challenged that concept at his headquarters. There are historical photos of several German Generals being escorted to an audience with General Patton under threat of fixed bayonetted sentinels. German General Schaefer was escorted by our sentinels, 503rd MP’s portrayed by Bill Bracewell and George Lindsey. The interview of General Shaffer was conducted in both in English and in German.
In addition there was a presentation from Col. Oscar Koch, Patton’s G2, outlining a growing concern of a secret build up of German forces in the Ardennes area in Belgium. (Portrayed by Wayne Coulter) Col. Koch actually predicted the Battle of the Bulge nine days before it occurred. He briefed General Patton who believed his G2 was absolutely correct and sent the intelligence information up his chain of command to General Bradley, 12th Army Group, General Montgomery 21st Army Group and SHAEF Headquarters, and it was totally ignored. Col. Koch never received the accolade and honors he deserved in his life time so quite a bit of time was devoted in Denny Hair’s books correcting this. This was the first time what he really said and did was presented. It was only fitting to do this in the real Third Army Headquarters. He would have loved to have been there.
A presentation was given by Third Army Chaplain, Col. James Hugh O’Neil, on a prayer for good weather, allowing individual prayer for the solders and a season greetings from General Patton. This was portrayed by Matthew Nethercutt. Matt was also our chaplain in the Third Army Historical Society.
Matthew Nethercutt passed away in July 17, 2019. In combat he was injured and his leg would later have to be amputated. He suffered pain for many years but never complained. It is believed a clot, many years from the injury, appeared unexpectedly and took his life, and he will be forever missed from our ranks of living historians.
The Signal Corps switchboard and message center was historically made operational by Third Army’s HQ Signal Corps chief, Col. Alton Hammond. We were able to duplicate what was in the original War Room in 1944 and our William “Mr. Wizard” Bill White portrayed Col. Hammond. He made our 75 year old equipment functional for our presentations. He also wired the Patton Van phone system and radio equipment to function as it would have in 1944.
Dave Weekly speaks with Chief of Staff Alan Jones. Coordination for the logistics of the public portion of events was provided by our Third Army Historical Society Chief of Staff, Col. Alan Jones. He was able to make sure we had a cohesive presentation that we presented thoughout the day and was coordinated with the HQ Staff of the Army. Sgt Brian Hart provided historical context to the Patton Hall exhibitions and answered the many questions that the equipment’s display brought.
A special Presentation Gift was our donation of a 1/35th scale model of General Patton’s Headquarters, as it existed in the field at Namur France in July of 1944. This model diorama was put together by and assembled, painted and built by our own master modeler Michael Maloney. One of our members, Dan Vreeland was unable to make it but he too assisted in building this diorama. We were pleased to donate the model and Lt.General Garrett excepted it for the command. It is now on permanent exhibition in the HQ outside of Patton Hall.
Michael Maloney and General Garrett had quite a time going over the model. It was like two kids in a sand box. I think they both enjoyed it. The model is now a permanent exhibit at Patton Hall next to General Patton’s painting.
This is not a very good image of Chris. He always stays in the background and helps every one. He seldom gets into the pictures so finding an image of him was difficult. A special note and commendation for this event goes to Lt. Col. Chis O’Connor. His behind the scenes logistical support was awesome. He worked the logistical support and concerns that were highly complicated as almost all governmental issue are when dealing with US Army regulations, security and rules and regulations. The behind the scenes logistical requirements required a huge amount of back and forth and Chris was able to navigate through it and provide a path for us to get it all done. He works hard at it and he is not seen in the images, but he did make in all happen, flawlessly.
We also had a great deal of support by Michael Clauss who had been part of ARCENT G2 and was now the tour guide and assistant to Lt. Col Powell. Since the event Michael Clauss is been elevated to the command historian for ARCENT. Lt.Col Powell has rotated out as is the Army’s ever changing assignments. We owe quite a bit to these two soldiers and thank them for helping us create an accurate presentation within the confines of Patton Hall.
General Pershing and General Patton were part of the tours. Both being away for quite sometime and not among us living, they enjoyed catching up with old times. George Patton was an Aide De Camp to Pershing in 1916. He came to France with him and was assigned to his HQ in WWI. Patton was transferred to establish the first Light Tanks under Pershing and rose to the rank of Colonel. See http://www.pattonthirdarmy.com/pattonww1.html
General Patton was able to tour the dignitaries, the General, and staff of ARCENT through the historical displays set up by the Third Army Historical Society. Most of this is from the personal collection of Denny Hair, who has been collecting for a lifetime. It was noted that the 3rd Army of 1944-1945 was superimposed into the 3rd Army of 2018. Though the equipment has changed the professionalism and the Esprit De Corps has remained the same as one generation after another takes up their positions as professional soldiers protecting our nation from harm.
We had quite a bit of logistical help to make this event happen from the men and women of the US Army ARCENT Hq. We took the time to thank each one of them while we were there. They were made honorary Colonels in the Third Army Historical Society. The one exception was Sarah Clauss. She hosted us at her home and provided refreshments in front of Patton Hall while we were there. She was given the honorary title of Captain, American Red Cross; Third Army Historical Clubmobile Commander.
On another note, we appreciated so much the hospitality given us my Lt.General Garrett that we inducted him as an honorary member of our Third Army Historical Society. We promoted him full general. It seems the real United States Army agrees with us and they have now promoted him to a four star general as well. As General Patton once said, “they have their schedule and I have mine.” Congratulations to General Garrett on his promotion to a four star general of the United States Army.
For a fully detailed look at Patton Van Headquarters, please download the PDF document below.
When we were ending our day and the presentation was over we gathered outside by the Patton tank to take a group picture. It was late in the day and it was to be the last picture of the day.
To our surprise, Retreat, through the base’s loud speaker, was played to mark the end of the duty day and precedes the playing of the national anthem. We snapped to attention, faced the flag of our United States, and were honored to salute it as the day ended. That was a fitting end of a great event.
The next set of images of the two days we were there in no particular order but were great fun.
General Pershing meets Chief of Staff Alan Jones.
In addition to our War Room Presentation we brought an 18 wheeler and two towed WWII vehicles with us for our display. Getting an 18 wheeler full of equipment, across the United States and back was no easy chore. We want to thank Jamie Key of Key Equipment Company. He went over and above all he promised to get it all up there and back safely.
Special thanks go to William “Bill” White and Charles Wallace who spent countless hours working out the logistical traveling arrangement for all of the equipment. In addition a huge thank you must go to Chris O’Connor, who handled he massive amount of Government paperwork associated with many aspects of this trip.
(All images associated with this web page have been screened and approved for release by security personnel of ARCENT)