General Jonathan Mayhew
Born: Walla Walla, Washington - August 23, 1883
Died: San Antonio, Texas - September 3, 1953
Jonathan Wainwright was born the son of a cavalry officer and a
descendant in a line of distinguished U. S. Naval officers on August
23, 1883 at Fort Walla Walla, Washington Territory.
His father, Robert, commanded a squadron in the Battle of Santiago
during the Spanish American War and died in 1901 while serving in
the suppression of the Philippine Insurrection. A year later,
Jonathan was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Wainwright received his commission in 1906 and began his career with
the 1st Cavalry Regiment in Texas. The 1st was sent to the
Philippines in 1908 as part of an expedition sent to quell the Moro
uprising on the island of Jolo. Wainwright participated in the
St.Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives towards the end of World War
I. Following the Armistice, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff
with the Army of Occupation in Koblenz, Germany and was awarded the
Distinguished Service Medal for his work in that capacity. The years
between the wars were spent in postgraduate studies and training
graduated from the Mounted Service School, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1916.
Promoted to Captain, and in 1917 was on staff of the first officers
training camp at Plattsburg, New York. In February 1918 he was
ordered to France. In June he became Assistant Chief-of-Staff of the
82nd Infantry Division, with which he took part in Saint Mihiel and
Meuse-Argonne offensives. Promoted to temporary Lieutenant Colonel
in October he was assigned to occupation duty in Germany with the
3rd Army until 1920, in which year, having reverted to Captain, he
was promoted to Major.
year as an instructor at the renamed Cavalry School at Fort Riley,
he was attached to the General Staff during 1921-23 and assigned to
the 3rd Cavalry, Fort Myer, Virginia, 1923-25. He was promoted to
Lieutenant Colonel in 1929 and graduated from the Command and
General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 1931, and the Army
War College in 1934. He was promoted to Colonel in 1935, and
commanded the 3rd Cavalry until 1938, when he was advanced to
Brigadier General in command of the 1st Cavalry Brigade at Fort
Clark, Texas. In September 1940, he was promoted to temporary Major
General and returned to the Philippines to take command of the
Philippine Division. that began in late December 1941.
Wainwright had little inkling of what future held. The war in Europe
was already raging and he feared "that something might break over
here and there he would be stuck in the Philippines missing
everything." He was commanding American and Filipino troops in
northern Luzon when the Japanese attacked on December 8,
1941. Wainwright commanded from the front and his skillful series of
holding actions helped to make the American stand on Bataan
On February 7, 1942 General MacArthur decorated him with the
Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism.
MacArthur was ordered to leave for Australia on March 11, 1942.
Wainwright succeeded him as commander of all American and Filipino
forces on Bataan and was promoted to lieutenant general. As the
senior field commander of US and Filipino forces, he had tactical
responsibility for resisting the Japanese invasion. Pushed back from
beachheads in Lingayen Gulf, his Philippine forces withdrew onto the
Bataan Peninsula, where they occupied well prepared defensive
positions and commanded the entrance to Manila Bay. In throwing back
a major Japanese assault in January, the defenders earned name of
"battling bastards of Bataan." When MacArthur was ordered off Bataan
in March 1942, Wainwright, promoted to temporary Lieutenant General,
succeeded to command of US Army Forces in the Far East, a command
immediately afterward reassigned US Forces in the Philippines. The
Japanese attacks resumed in earnest in April.
The Japanese high command issued an ultimatum on March 22nd urging
the defenders of Bataan to surrender in the name of humanity.
Continuous air bombardment was followed by two human wave assaults
which were repulsed but the defenders were running low on supplies
Bataan fell on April 9, 1942. President Roosevelt authorized
Wainwright to continue the fight or make terms as he saw fit.
Wainwright chose to continue the battle from Corregidor despite the
urgings of some that he leave. "I have been one of the battling
bastards of Bataan and I�ll play the same role on the rock as long
as it is humanly possible. I have been with my men from the start,
and if captured I will share their lot. We have been through so much
together that my conscience would not let me leave before the final
Wainwright and 11,000 survivors held on in the tunnels
beneath the rock for another month deprived of food,
sleep or hope of relief.
5th Wainwright wrote MacArthur, "As I write this we are
being subjected to terrific air and artillery
bombardment and it is unreasonable to expect that we can
hold out for long. We have done
our best, both here and on Bataan, and although we are beaten we are
still unashamed." The Japanese began landing on the island that
night and at noon the next day Wainwright called for terms. General
Homma insisted that Wainwright surrender all remaining American and
Filipino forces or risk the annihilation of his troops on
Corregidor. Wainwright complied. MacArthur countermanded the order
but was ignored.
MacArthur was livid and later refused to sign General Marshall's
recommendation of Wainwright for a Medal of Honor.
Wainwright spent the next three years in Japanese prison camps in
the Philippines, China and Formosa (Taiwan). The man who was known
to his friends as Skinny emerged from captivity little more than a
skeleton. He was liberated on August 25, 1945 in time to attend the
surrender ceremonies aboard USS Missouri (left) in Tokyo Bay on
September 2, 1945, after which he returned to the Philippines to
receive the surrender of the local Japanese commander. A hero's
welcome in the US was accompanied by promotion to General and the
awarding of the Medal of Honor. "Memoir, General Wainwright's
Story," was published in 1945. In January 1946 he took command of
the 4th Army, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He retired from the army in
1947 and died on September 3, 1953.
Wainwright was the son of Robert Powell Page Wainwright,
a career Cavalry officer who died in service in the
Philippines. He is buried next to his father in Section
1 of Arlington National Cemetery. He is one of only a
few people in history whose funeral was held in lower
level of the Memorial Amphitheater. Others were Sir
Moses Ezekiel, creator of Confederate Memorial, March
30, 1921; Colonel Charles Young, an early black graduate
of West Point, June 1, 1923; Ignace Jan Paderewski,
exiled President of Poland, July 5, 1941; General of the
Armies John J. Pershing, July 19, 1948; Secretary of
Defense James V. Forrestal, May 25, 1949; and General
Henry "Hap" Arnold, January 18, 1950.
His wife, Adele
Holley Wainwright (1887-1979) is buried with him.