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

2001 Distinguished Graduate Award

GEN George S. Blanchard '44

The long and distinguished career of General George S. Blanchard exemplifies “Duty, Honor, Country.” At home and abroad, he has been a consummate leader, serving the Nation, the Army, and his fellow man. His contributions to world peace and the quality of military life have been far-reaching and enduring.
George Blanchard rose to the rank of sergeant in the Coast Artillery before entering West Point with the Class of 1944. Upon graduation he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. Shortly thereafter, he was a platoon leader and company commander in the 70th and 78th Infantry Divisions during campaigns in France and Germany. During these assignments he made the first of his many contributions to restoring and stabilizing peace in Europe.
Following a tour on the general staff of the United States Forces, European Theater, then Captain Blanchard earned a Master of Science degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University in 1949. Over the next decade he served as Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar Bradley; as an instructor of regimental tactics at Fort Benning; and as an advisor with the Military Advisory Assistance Group on Taiwan. During this period he also attended the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Basic Airborne Course, Army Command and General Staff College and Armed Forces Staff College.
Promoted to Colonel in 1959, George Blanchard commanded the 2d Airborne Battle Group, 503d Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. He then served as the G-3 of I Corps (Group) in Korea. In 1966, he served as Assistant Division Commander, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam, where he later served as Chief of Staff, I Field Force. In Vietnam, this skilled and decorated aviator’s progressive thinking on combined arms operations dramatically advanced the Army’s use of helicopters in combat. Additionally, during the 1960s, he was assigned as Director of Special Warfare in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations; Director of Plans, Programs and Budget for two major Army General Staff organizations; and as executive officer to two Secretaries of the Army. In each of these positions he made lasting contributions to the Army.
In 1970, General Blanchard assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division. There, he provided inspirational, innovative, and timely leadership. At a time when morale had ebbed, he restored discipline, esprit de corps, and combat effectiveness.
General Blanchard then returned to Europe, commanding VII Corps and, subsequently, the United States Army, Europe and Seventh Army/Central Army Group. In these assignments his operational creativity established a flexible forward defense, the framework for the Army’s first attack helicopter battalion, and innovative host nation support agreements. His vision and leadership advanced interoperability with military partners in NATO, established a broad spectrum of community-based partnerships, instituted the use of television to disseminate command information, began a comprehensive off-duty education program for soldiers and dependents, and established progressive leadership programs such as the Sergeant Morales competition. Of special note was his steadfast commitment to the individual soldier, as well as the enduring bonds he forged between American and German forces and communities.
In 1979, General Blanchard completed his active duty. His service over the years had merited multiple awards of the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, and Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as the Air Medal and awards from foreign nations. Since his retirement, he has continued to serve. While a Director on the Atlantic Council Board, his statesmanship greatly enhanced cooperation and shaped international relations during the post-Cold War era. Later in the 1990s, he accepted appointments to the Army Science Board and the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs.
In civilian life, George Blanchard has spearheaded major initiatives to bolster the quality of military life. While President of The Retired Officers Association, he dramatically expanded membership and established a powerful military coalition, which protected military cost of living allowances and prompted repeal of a Medicare surtax that would have unfairly burdened military retirees. He also served with distinction as President of the United Services Organization, enhancing the USO’s services for families. His contributions to his fellow man continue today. In his community in North Carolina, he has organized a program whereby he and other retirees tutor the illiterate.
Through his lifetime of service to the Nation, General Blanchard has truly burnished the image of West Point and the Long Gray Line. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes pride in presenting the 2001 Distinguished Graduate Award to George S. Blanchard.

Chairman and CEO