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George Catlett Marshall Jr.

Dubbed the "organizer of victory" by Winston Churchill for his World War II leadership, George Marshall is perhaps best known for the postwar plan to rebuild Europe that bears his name.

Graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1901, Marshall received a commission in 1902 and rose through the ranks in a series of staff officer positions until World War I.

In 1938, he became chief of the Department of War's Plans Division. He was nominated Army chief of staff by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and sworn in on September 1, 1939. He directed the American military buildup for World War II by raising new divisions, training troops, procuring weapons and equipment and selecting top commanders. The Army grew from fewer than 200,000 men to a fighting force of more than 8 million men by 1942. Winston Churchill called him the "organizer of victory."

Marshall resigned on November 21, 1945, at age 65 but was asked by the president that year to go to China as his special envoy with the rank of ambassador to negotiate a settlement in the Chinese civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists. He failed in his efforts but was nominated by President Harry Truman as secretary of state. On January 8, 1947, the U.S. Senate disregarded precedent and unanimously approved the nomination without a hearing, making Marshall the first military commander ever to lead the U.S. Department of State.

In a famous Harvard commencement address on June 5, 1947, Marshall outlined American ideas for European recovery that became known as the Marshall Plan. As secretary of state he oversaw the provision of aid to Greece and Turkey, the recognition of Israel and the initial discussions that led to NATO.

In 1949, Marshall resigned because of ill health. However, in 1950, Truman requested that he take the position of secretary of defense to prepare the armed forces for the Korean War. Marshall did so until 1951 and remained the highest-ranking general of the Army on the active-duty list available for government consultation. In 1953 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1959 at age 78 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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