A Lifetime of Service - An Oral History by General Frederick J. Kroesen
By American Security Council Foundation ASCF February 23, 2017
Region: North America
General Kroesen was born to a modest family in New Jersey. His father was an Army officer who fought in WWI, in the Siberian campaign.
He grew up in Lawrenceville NJ, near the NJ Army Reserve base that had a Calvary battalion, where his father served as a reservist. He grew up riding horses and learning the ways of the military from a very young age.
When World War II, broke out General Kroesen was finishing up his education at Rutgers University. He was in the ROTC program when the Congress declared war on the Japanese.
He was placed into OCS and upon graduation was assigned to the 63rd U.S. Infantry where he served as a lieutenant in a combat company. He was the only officer to stay with the company through the entire war; there were 15 officers’ positions in his company. By war’s end the Gen. was a captain and commander of the company. Through the war his company had 660 men come through its ranks, of 220 combat positions, that is a 300% turn over in his ranks. His company fought from the French country side into the heart of Germany taking part in every major conflict in that theater. General Kroesen never left his unit the entire war. He led his men into some of the worst fighting of the war.
In 2007, the Association of Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy presents General Kroesen with the Col. Sylvanus Thayer Award. Thayer the father of USMA, has the award named for him because of his vision and focus for the USMA at West Point. The Award is given “to outstanding citizens whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify the military academy motto ‘duty, honor, country.’ The organization has given the award out annually since 1958. Other notable recipients of the Award are Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George H.W. Bush, Colin Powell, and Henry Kissinger.
General Kroesen has the unfortunate honor of being wounded in each of the four wars he fought in, WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War. The last incident was at the hands of the Red Army Faction in Germany when he commanded VII Corps. He was on his way to work with his wife when a rocket propelled grenade slammed into the trunk compartment of the armored limousine he was in. A second round missed the car but blew up debris. The car was severely damaged; glass had shattered and cut the Generals scalp open. Mrs. Kroesen being the smart and strong woman she was demanded the driver move the car out of the range of fire.
Since General Kroesen’s retirement from the military he has worked tirelessly to serve his country and family; becoming a voice for a strong U.S. military, promoting “peace through strength” in his work with the American Security Council Foundation. His involvement in the continuing to promote better training for NCO’s and Officers, as well as the individual infantryman has lead to better prepared and equipment soldiers in combat. He is also a supporter of military preparedness and ensures our military is never left ill-prepared for any conflict.