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1951: MacArthur fired - Ridgway takes over
US President Harry S Truman has dismissed General Douglas MacArthur as commander of United Nations and US forces in the Far East after disagreements over foreign policy in Korea.

General MacArthur will be replaced by Lieutenant-General Matthew Ridgway, appointed as head of the 8th Army in Korea by General MacArthur himself last December.

At 0100 local time, Washington issued the official announcement of the general's dismissal along with several documents showing he had ignored orders to refrain from making political statements.

The move has shocked the American public and angered Republican politicians who revere General MacArthur as a distinguished soldier and leader.

In a broadcast to the nation tonight, the president acknowledged the general was one of America's greatest military commanders. But he added: "The cause of world peace is more important than any individual."

The cause of world peace is more important than any individual.
President Harry S Truman
Last month, General MacArthur called for an attack on China itself unless Communist forces laid down their arms in Korea.

Tonight President Truman re-affirmed his belief that extending the battle beyond Korea could lead to a third world war if the Soviet Union decided to enter the fray.

"A number of events have made it evident that General MacArthur did not agree with that policy," he said. "I have therefore considered it essential to relieve General MacArthur so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy."

He also made it clear he was ready to negotiate with the North Koreans on a peace settlement as long as fighting stopped.

Republican leaders in Congress and the Senate expressed their anger saying the dismissal had endangered national unity and they called for Congress to investigate foreign policy in Korea.

General MacArthur's successor, Lt-General Ridgway, is a highly respected paratrooper commander who jumped with his men in World War II during the invasion of Sicily and on D-Day.

He earned many awards for bravery along with the nickname "the fighting and jumping general".

Since his arrival in Korea last year, Lt-Gen Ridgway has regrouped retreating allied forces, boosted army morale and hit back at the enemy in what he calls a "limited offensive" pushing the Communists back north across the 38th parallel.

British troops have compared him to General Montgomery in the way he inspires his men on the battlefield.

His habit of wearing a hand grenade at his shoulder is as familiar to the troops as Montgomery's beret.

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General Matthew Ridgway - courtesy USA Korean War Commemoration
Paratrooper general Matthew Ridgway is renowned for wearing a hand-grenade

In Context
When General MacArthur returned to the US he received a hero's welcome, and told Congress, "Old soldiers never die; they only fade away."

He had been sent to Korea to stop North Koreans under Kim Il-Sung taking over the South.

He succeeded in driving back the enemy beyond the 38th parallel but UN and US troops were pushed back south when Chinese Communist forces joined the war.

General Ridgway agreed to ceasefire talks in July 1951 but they broke down.

In 1952, some Republicans tried but failed to nominate General MacArthur for the US presidency after which he retired from public life.

It was General Dwight D Eisenhower who was elected US President that year and General Ridgway took over his job as supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe (Nato).

Fighting did not stop until 1953 with the signing of the armistice on 27 July.

But a peace deal has never been reached. American troops remain stationed in the de-militarized zone on and around the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea.

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