Career in the Military
Upon graduating from West Point, Eisenhower was assigned to be a second lieutenant in the infantry. During World War I, he was a training instructor and commander of a training center before joining General MacArthur's staff. He took part in the removal of the Bonus Marchers from Washington, D.C. These World War I veterans had marched on Washington during the Great Depression to ask the government to pay off their awarded insurance payments early. When they were denied, they had no place to go and set up shantytowns. The military was sent in and forcibly ejected the veterans.
Amazingly, Eisenhower never once saw active combat during his thirty-five years in the military. He was stuck in lower level positions until General George C. Marshall recognized his superior organizational skills and helped him move up the ranks until he eventually became the supreme commander during the war.
In 1935, Eisenhower was sent to the Philippines with General MacArthur. Eisenhower served as the assistant military adviser to the Philippine government. He returned to America in 1939 when Europe had become embroiled in war. By June 1941, he was appointed to be General Walter Krueger's chief of staff.
World War II
Three months before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Eisenhower was made a brigadier general. He continued in positions within the general staff in the United States before being appointed to senior command positions.
In June 1942, Eisenhower was appointed commander of all U.S. forces in Europe. He commanded the troops as they invaded North Africa, landed in Sicily, and retook Italy from the German occupiers. To reward his valor and leadership, he was named supreme allied commander in February 1944. In this position, he was responsible for the successful D-Day Invasion at Normandy with Operation Overlord.
By December 1944, he had been made a five-star general due to his successes. He went on to lead the Allies in their liberation of Europe and invasion of Germany, accepting that country's surrender on May 7, 1945.
Supreme Commander of NATO
Eisenhower served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army until 1948, when he became the president of Columbia University. Eisenhower returned to active military duty when he was appointed by Truman to be the supreme commander of NATO. NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was established in 1949. The purpose of this organization was for allies to join together so that if the USSR or its allies launched an attack on any one NATO member, then all of the other members would come to that country's defense. Eisenhower served as the supreme commander until 1952 when he began his political career.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS…
Eisenhower made this statement before the storming of the beaches in Normandy: “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. … I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!”