George Samuel Blanchard


By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, May 18, 2006

George Samuel Blanchard

Gen. George S. Blanchard, 86, a four-star general who headed the U.S. Army in Europe
as the military came to depend more on volunteers than draftees, died of pneumonia
May 3 at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. He lived in Fort Belvoir.

In a career that spanned three wars and 41 years, Gen. Blanchard advanced from
private in the D.C. National Guard to commander in chief of the U. S. Army in Europe
and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces of the Central Army Group. He served
as a unit commander at every level and was an aviator and a paratrooper. Gen.
Blanchard, who was commander of the Army's VII Corps in Europe in the early 1970s,
was credited with being a creative operational leader who cared about the individual

While in Europe, Gen. Blanchard established innovative host-nation support
agreements and advanced the ability of military partners in NATO to work together. He
instituted the use of television to broadcast command information. With a focus on
improving life for soldiers and their families, he began a comprehensive off-duty
education program. In 1973, he created the Sergeant Morales competition, a
leadership program to help improve the morale and performance of the
noncommissioned officer corps.

Gen. Blanchard, concerned about alcoholism among officers and enlisted men in
Europe, banned cut-rate drinks during happy hours in military clubs and prohibited
military units from holding drinking contests. The age-old practices of ignoring and
covering up for problem drinkers has to stop, Gen. Blanchard said in 1978 at the
opening of the first alcoholism treatment center for officers and senior enlisted men in

Gen. Blanchard's honors included the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion
of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Air Medal. He retired in 1979.

George Samuel Blanchard was born in Washington on April 3, 1920, and graduated
Eastern High School in 1938. He attended American University from 1938 to
1940 before enlisting in the D.C. National Guard. He received a National Guard
appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated on D-Day, June
6, 1944.

He participated in two campaigns in Western Europe with the 70th Infantry Division as a
platoon leader and company commander in France and Germany. After World War II,
he attended the Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse
University, where he received his master's degree in 1949. He soon began his rise
through the ranks, serving on the Department of the Army general staff and as assistant
to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Omar Bradley. Other assignments and
specialized schooling followed, including service as a Military Assistance Advisory
Group adviser on Taiwan from 1955 to 1957. In the 1960s, he did a tour in Korea and
served as executive to two secretaries of the Army.

Gen. Blanchard also served in Vietnam, first as assistant division commander, 1st
Cavalry Division (Airmobile), and then as the chief of staff, I Field Forces. From 1970 to
1972, he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

After retiring from the Army in 1979, Gen. Blanchard and his wife settled in McLean. He
formed General Analysis Inc., a consulting firm specializing in research and studies in
national defense. He was a member of the Atlantic Council Board, the Army Science
Board and the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs. He also was a board member
and president of the Retired Officers Association and was president of the United
Service Organizations in the mid-1980s.

In 1990, he and his wife moved to North Carolina. Twelve years later, they returned to
the Washington area to live at The Fairfax in Fort Belvoir.

Survivors include his wife of almost 62 years, Beth H. Blanchard of Fort Belvoir; four
daughters, Kate B. Hausner of Gambrills, Marylou B. Hennessey and Blythe B. Watkins,
both of Norfolk, and Deborah E. Roell of Boulder, Colo.; eight grandchildren; and
three great-grandchildren.