Update Your Profile

Stay up to date with all West Point news and stay connected with fellow grads

Update your Register Entry

Cullum Files

historical records

Class Notes

login required, available to graduates & widows

1998 Distinguished Graduate Award

    MG Adrian St. John, II '43 Jan

Peace — A soldier’s ultimate goal. Fairness — A negotiator’s goal. Democracy — The equality and respect for the individual within the community. These were Major General Adrian St. John’s goals which he succeeded in accomplishing in a lifetime of distinguished service and extraordinary achievement. General St. John’s tireless efforts have exemplified the words in West Point’s motto: Duty, Honor, Country.
“What did this officer do best?” General Fillmore K. Mearns wrote simply, “Managed his people and his other resources.” General Cobb wrote that General St. John’s “. . . meticulous attention to detail, outstanding organizational ability and personal supervision resulted in an imaginative and unique resolution to complex problems . . .” General James Collins wrote that he was impressed with Lieutenant Colonel St. John’s ability to explain complex command arrangements and relationships into understandable thoughts and words.
Adrian St. John’s entire career as a military officer and as a statesman was defined by his intuitive ability to manage people and their resources. This talent for relating to people combined with his military training and discipline enabled him to enter areas and negotiations throughout his career that were often expressly forbidden to other U.S. officials.
His military service began with the war in Normandy and finished 54 years later with the combat in Broko, Bosnia. General St. John entered the United States Military Academy in 1939, weeks before Germany invaded Poland, and he graduated with the Class of January 1943.
Lieutenant St. John’s first assignment was company commander in the 15th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) in 1943 in the European Theater of Operations. By 1945, at the end of the war, he was the Intelligence Staff Officer working for General Clay at Headquarters, Berlin Command.
Adrian St. John returned to the U.S., where, in January 1951, he completed his Master of Arts degree in International Relations at the University of Virginia. He was then assigned as a G3 in Korea and was involved in operational matters and political military affairs affecting China and Southeast Asia.
His next mission, which would form the boilerplate for many of his succeeding assignments, was China desk officer, Army General Staff, Washington, D.C. from 1951–1953, where he was often sent to sensitive, restricted areas to assess or negotiate critical situations. The then Major St. John was sent to Formosa at the personal request of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar Bradley. He reported to the Kuomintang Chairman of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, General Chou Chihjou. On a secret visit arranged by the Chinese to the Nationalist guerrilla forces on the Chinese coastal islands, which was officially off-limits to U.S. personnel, Major St. John was severely injured during an explosion that killed several senior Chinese officials. Despite these injuries, he continued to report from his hospital bed in Formosa. His report contributed to a Joint Chiefs of Staff recommendation to the newly elected Republican administration that U.S. Military and Advisory support be extended to Nationalist-occupied off-shore islands, which ultimately became formal U.S. policy.
Lieutenant Colonel St. John graduated from the Command and General Staff College in 1954, asked for and was granted an Infantry detail, and went to Korea for one year as the battalion commander of the 3/31 Infantry, and later he commanded the 73rd Tank Battalion. He returned to Kansas and the Command and General Staff College as a member of the faculty where he taught in the Department of Infantry Operations, and was part of the group that revised the nuclear weapons doctrine. This included establishment of the Senior Officer’s Nuclear Weapons Employment course. The final portion of his CGSC tour was spent on a special mission to Iran as the faculty advisor at the Iranian Imperial War College. While in Iran, Lieutenant Colonel St. John gained the confidences of senior Iranian officers and as a result was invited to stay and visit Iranian defense forces in the border areas, normally restricted to U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group and Attaché personnel.
After graduating from the Army War College in 1960, Lieutenant Colonel St. John was assigned as the Southeast Asia Plans officer, G3, Headquarters, U.S. Army Pacific, where he was primarily responsible for unilateral and multilateral command relationships while working on Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Operations Plans.
Lieutenant Colonel St. John next held a two-year post at the Long Range Plans Branch, Plans Directorate, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had a major role in the rewrite and restructuring of the Joint Long Range Strategic Study — one of the three core papers of the JCS planning system.
From 1966 until 1967, Colonel St. John served as the Chief of the Surface Plans and Operations Division in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, J-3, Military Assistance Command-Vietnam. Colonel St. John had frequent contact with high-ranking officials of the Republic of Vietnam. Because of his unique knowledge and awareness of Joint Staff functioning, he coordinated plans that ensured Republic of Vietnam/U.S. cohesiveness and a smooth counter-insurgence effort.
In 1967, Colonel St. John returned to Europe to command the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Two years later, upon his promotion to brigadier general, he was named Assistant Division Commander of the 4th Armored Division.
In 1970–1971, he was Chief, Strategic Plans and Policy Division, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General St. John’s ability for effective communication again was directed toward special missions, this time on the home front. General St. John’s responsibility was not only Vietnam but, more important, he made significant contributions to improving United States military strategy in a time of significant change in political guidance. In 1971, he was assigned as Chief, Plans Directorate, Office, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, on the Army Staff.
In 1972, General St. John became the Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division in Germany. He left there in 1974 and assumed responsibility as the Vice Director of the Joint Staff, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He retired from active duty after 34 years at the rank of Major General in 1977.
General St. John continued to leverage his ability to work with people as a member of the advisory council on international security affairs on the Republican National Committee from 1977–1980. He was a delegate to the Virginia State Republican Convention in 1980 and 1981. In 1981, he also received his second master’s degree from American University.
Recalled to government service in 1982, Adrian St. John served for ten years as the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative to the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions negotiations, the Conventional Stability Talks, and the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe talks. In his capacity as senior Department of Defense advisor and primary military expert to six ambassadors over a period of ten years, his outstanding efforts made possible the achievement of United States Goals in these negotiations.
Commended by three presidents for his outstanding efforts on behalf of world peace, General St. John has been awarded the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Citizen Medal, and the Department of State Superior Honor Award.
In 1994, General St. John actively participated in the Conference on Middle East Arms Control and in 1995 chaired a 17-nation Arab-Israeli working group meeting in Jordan which developed a potential protocol on military provisions for a possible Middle East peace treaty.
General St. John’s most recent assignment was in 1997, fifty-four years after experiencing combat in Europe. He was appointed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. His task was to travel to Broko, Bosnia, a war-ravaged town that had no reliable food, water or electrical supplies, to expedite the preparations for municipal elections in compliance with the Dayton Accords.
Among his military decorations, General St. John has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal with Device, the Joint Services Commendation Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. His foreign decorations include the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm.
Throughout a long and distinguished career of military and public service, Adrian St. John was always the right man, in the right place, at the right time. His keen intelligence, exceptional devotion to duty, and his wide knowledge of world affairs and politics enabled him to play a pivotal role in advancing the concept of peace in Europe. General St. John’s long involvement in European negotiations established him as an architect of European security and a major influence on the size, composition, and disposition of the United States Army.
Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1998 Distinguished Graduate Award to Adrian St. John II, USMA Class of January 1943.

Chairman and CEO