Thomas W. Herren

Last updated
Thomas Wade Herren
General Thomas Herren 1954.jpg
Born(1895-08-09)August 9, 1895
Dadeville, Alabama
Died June 4, 1985(1985-06-04) (aged 89)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant general
Unit 78th Field Artillery Regiment
3rd Cavalry Regiment
8th Cavalry Regiment (United States)
6th Cavalry Regiment (United States)
70th Infantry Division patch.svg 70th Infantry Division
US Fourth Army.png Fourth United States Army
Commands held 106th Cavalry Regiment (United States)
United States Army Cavalry School
70th Division (United States)
Northern Area Command - U.S. Army of Occupation, Germany
Korean Communications Zone
Chief of Special Services, Dept. of the Army
United States Army Military District of Washington CSIB.svg Military District of Washington
1st Army.svg First United States Army
U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Korean War
Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal

Thomas Wade Herren (August 9, 1895 June 4, 1985) was a U.S. Army officer and combat commander whose career spanned from World War I to the post-Korean War era.


Early years and World War I

Herren was born in Dadeville, Alabama, on August 9, 1895. He was graduated from Tallapoosa Country High School in 1914 and from the University of Alabama in 1917. After a few months as a high school teacher in Gadsden, Alabama, he enrolled as an officer candidate in the first officers training camp at Fort McPherson, Georgia in May 1917. He was commissioned a provisional second lieutenant in the Regular Army on August 15, 1917 and assigned to the 78th Field Artillery at Fort Bliss, Texas. After a brief course at the Field Artillery School, he accompanied his regiment to France as a battery executive officer and then commander until it was demobilized.

Dadeville, Alabama City in Alabama, United States

Dadeville is a city in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 3,230, up from 3,212 in 2000. The city is the county seat of Tallapoosa County.

University of Alabama public university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States

The University of Alabama is a public research university in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It is the flagship of the University of Alabama System. Established in 1820, the University of Alabama (UA) is the oldest and largest of the public universities in Alabama. The university offers programs of study in 13 academic divisions leading to bachelor's, master's, Education Specialist, and doctoral degrees. The only publicly supported law school in the state is at UA. Other academic programs unavailable elsewhere in Alabama include doctoral programs in anthropology, communication and information sciences, metallurgical engineering, music, Romance languages, and social work.

Gadsden, Alabama City in Alabama, United States

Gadsden is a city in and the county seat of Etowah County in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is located on the Coosa River about 56 miles (90 km) northeast of Birmingham and 90 miles (140 km) southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is the primary city of the Gadsden Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 103,931. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 36,856, with an estimated population of 35,837 in 2016. Gadsden and Rome, Georgia, are the largest cities in the triangular area now defined by the interstate highways between Atlanta, Birmingham, and Chattanooga.

Inter-war years

After World War I, he was troop commander (Troop A) in the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and then a recruiting officer in Springfield, Massachusetts. His area included all of New England within the First Corps Area, headquartered in Boston.

Herren attended the Troop Officer Course at the United States Army Cavalry School in 1926-27. After graduation he returned to Fort Bliss, assigned to the 8th Cavalry Regiment, serving as a troop commander and regimental adjutant. Additionally, he was captain of the horse show team and a noted member of the post's pre-war polo team. He participated in maneuvers in the Big Bend area of Texas, trained remounts and cavalry recruits and assisted in the care and feeding of thousands of Mexicans whose homes has been inundated in the 1927 flood of the Rio Grande. It was while serving here that he met and married his wife, Lillian Hague Corcoran, the daughter of a cavalry officer.

The United States Army Cavalry School was part of a series of training programs and centers for its horse mounted troops or cavalry branch.

Rio Grande river forming part of the US-Mexico border

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.

From 1930 to 1935 he was assigned to the 6th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, again as a troop commander (Troop F) and regimental adjutant. He continued his participation in this regiment’s horse show team (as its captain) and polo team. He participated with his troop in annual maneuvers with the United States Army Infantry School students at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia City in Georgia, United States

Fort Oglethorpe is a city predominantly in Catoosa County with some portions in Walker County in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 9,263. It is part of the Chattanooga, TN–GA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is home to Lakeview – Fort Oglethorpe High School.

United States Army Infantry School

The United States Army Infantry School is located at Fort Benning, Georgia, is a school dedicated to training infantrymen for service in the United States Army.

Fort Benning United States Army post outside Columbus, Georgia

Fort Benning is a United States Army post straddling the Alabama–Georgia border next to Columbus, Georgia. Fort Benning supports more than 120,000 active-duty military, family members, reserve component soldiers, retirees, and civilian employees on a daily basis. It is a power projection platform, and possesses the capability to deploy combat-ready forces by air, rail, and highway. Fort Benning is the home of the United States Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, the United States Army Armor School, United States Army Infantry School, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment, 3rd Brigade – 3rd Infantry Division, and many other additional tenant units.

Civilian Conservation Corps

In 1933, during the Great Depression, the U.S. Army provided logistical support to the federal Emergency Conservation Work program, later known as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Herren, as part of that effort, moved to Gatlinburg, Tennessee where he organized and supervised the construction, supply and operation of 17 CCC camps in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At the Smokies, local citizens or “local experienced men” (LEM) were employed to cut the dead chestnut timber and snake it clown the mountains, saw it into lumber and construct the camps for young male enrollees from urban areas. After the camps were built and occupied, he returned to Fort Oglethorpe to become CCC district supervisor for Tennessee and North Carolina. During this period he attended short courses in Chemical Warfare, Sanitation, Food Service, Public Relations and other subjects of value to military officers. His sons, Thomas W Herren Jr., and John D. Herren, were born during his tour at Fort Oglethorpe and would both later go on to graduate from the United States Military Academy.

Civilian Conservation Corps public work relief program

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to ages 17–28. Robert Fechner was the first director of the agency, succeeded by James McEntee following Fechner's death. The CCC was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men and to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000. Through the course of its nine years in operation, 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a wage of $30 per month.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Gatlinburg is a mountain resort city in Sevier County, Tennessee, United States. It is located 39 miles (63 km) southeast of Knoxville and had a population of 3,944 at the 2010 Census and an estimated U.S. Census population of 4,163 in 2017. It is a popular vacation resort, as it rests on the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park along U.S. Route 441, which connects to Cherokee, North Carolina, on the southeast side of the national park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park national park in the USA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an American national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North Carolina runs northeast to southwest through the centerline of the park. Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the United States with over 11.3 million recreational visitors in 2016. The Appalachian Trail passes through the center of the park on its route from Maine to Georgia. The park was chartered by the United States Congress in 1934 and officially dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940.

Advanced Officer Training

In 1935, he was promoted to major and attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Upon the completion of that course in 1936 he returned to the United States Army Cavalry School, at Fort Riley, Kansas as an instructor in the Department of Tactics from 1937 to 1938. At that time “Mechanization” was introduced into the school curriculum and the tactics and techniques developed by Herren’s department were later used by General George Patton and his armored units in World War II

Fort Leavenworth United States Army installation located in Leavenworth County, Kansas

Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army installation located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, in the city of Leavenworth since it was annexed on April 12, 1977, in the northeast part of the state. Built in 1827, it is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C., and the oldest permanent settlement in Kansas. Fort Leavenworth has been historically known as the "Intellectual Center of the Army."

Fort Riley United States Army installation located in North Central Kansas

Fort Riley is a United States Army installation located in North Central Kansas, on the Kansas River, also known as the Kaw, between Junction City and Manhattan. The Fort Riley Military Reservation covers 101,733 acres (41,170 ha) in Geary and Riley counties. The portion of the fort that contains housing development is part of the Fort Riley census-designated place, with a residential population of 7,761 as of the 2010 census. The fort has a daytime population of nearly 25,000. The ZIP Code is 66442.

During the summer of 1938 Herren was assigned to the United States Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia where he was a cavalry instructor and chairman of the animal management and transportation committee. At the school, he was responsible for all activities involving the use of horses and reconnaissance vehicles, developing and demonstrating tactics of scout cars and light reconnaissance vehicles of all types. He worked with infantry instructors to develop the use of light tanks, armored cars and other mechanized equipment. The use of anti-tank battalions was first introduced at this time. The Infantry School had a stable of horses used for tactical rides and mobility in heavy terrain and its horse show team and polo teams provided recreation for students and members of the regular garrison.

World War II

In 1942 he was promoted to colonel and assigned to the 106th Cavalry Regiment (United States) of the Illinois National Guard then in training at Camp Livingston, Louisiana. This regiment was one of the first to receive mechanized equipment and was being prepared for overseas duty in a crash program. Every individual had to the retrained, new subjects taught and tactics and techniques developed and perfected. As commander, he prepared this regiment for combat by intensive training which included two of the famous Louisiana Maneuvers. As the regiment was deployed to Europe in 1943, Herren returned to the Cavalry School at Fort Riley as its commandant and was promoted to brigadier general in 1944.

Herren joined the 70th Infantry Division (United States) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri as assistant division commander in the fall of 1944, near the end of its pre-deployment training. With three infantry regiments— 274th 275th and 276th - the incomplete division, minus special troops, deployed to Marseilles, France in December 1944. As Task Force HERREN it undertook combat missions with the Seventh United States Army in northeast France, mostly in the Alsace-Lorraine region. Task Force HERREN fought in numerous engagements in Operation Nordwind and along the Rhine until remaining units of 70th Division arrived. Herren remained with the 70th Division until it returned to the States and demobilized.

Cold War and Korea

Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas as Chief of Staff G-3 for planning of U.S. Fourth Army in San Antonio, Texas. There he planned and supervised post war training programs in the Fourth Army area. In the summer of 1946 he was ordered to Korea as XXIV Corps chief of staff under the command of General John R. Hodge. In subsequent assignments as U.S. Eighth Army deputy commanding general for civil affairs and commanding general of Korean Communications Zone, Herren planned and initiated the economic rehabilitation and the restoration of civil government in Korea. He arranged accommodations for dependents of Army personnel, set up schools for children of introduced English language courses in Korean schools. He also supervised the organization of the military/civilian government — saw to it that Korean officials were trained to function in governmental positions. He supervised the elections in 1949 which resulted in the government of the Republic of Korea. He arranged and supervised the conferences between the Soviet Union and the United States to discuss the unification of Korea, and provided guidance to United Nations Committee on Korea.

In late 1949 he became 2nd Brigade commander for the 1st Cavalry Division (United States) in Tokyo for six months before returning to the United States where he was promoted to major general and appointed to staff for the Secretary of Defense as Chief of Special Services in 1950. In this position he directed and supervised all U.S. Armed Forces Institute education programs throughout the Army, arranged for off duty classes and overseas instruction. He supervised the Army athletic and recreation programs in the U.S. and overseas, including the Army’s participation in the Olympic Games of 1952. When the office of Chief of Special Services was absorbed by the Adjutant General’s office, he assumed command of the Military District of Washington. The Army, as the senior service, is the lead participant in public ceremonies and other events that occur continuously in the Washington, D.C. area.

During the Korean War, General Herren was deputy commanding general for Eighth United States Army. Then as an effort to focus Eighth Army efforts on combat, Herren was appointed commanding general of the Korean Communications Zone and Economic Adviser, Republic of Korea, a vital rear echelon command responsible for U.S. Army activities in the southern two thirds of South Korea. He oversaw the handling of prisoners of war, refugees and logistical support and supply of combat units of Eighth Army. He received the repatriated U.S. prisoners of war and facilitated their return to the United States. Conversely, his responsibilities included the detention and later, the return of Communist prisoners of war to North Korea.

In 1953 Herren became commanding general of a newly established Northern Area Command of U.S. Army in Europe headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. Again Herren commanded logistical support and supply for U.S. Army forces and military dependents in over two dozen posts, sub-posts and training areas in northern Germany. NORCOM consisted of the former Frankfurt and Wuerzburg districts and military posts, Bamberg subpost for Nuernberg, and the airbases at Rhine-Main and Wiesbaden. His close liaison with West German authorities allowed for the construction and leasing of housing- acquisition of buildings for schools, organization of a school system for American children, provision of teachers, and supervision of the educational programs. Over 6000 dependent housing units and facilities costing over one billion dollars were built in his tenure there.

Final command and retirement

Herren was promoted to lieutenant general in 1954 and assumed his final command as commanding general of First United States Army at Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York. His responsibilities included all operations in the First Army area, including training, morale and supply. He supervised the operation of the Army ROTC programs in 50 schools, colleges, and 4 military institutes. He represented the United States on the Military Committee of the United Nations. Herren retired from the Army at Governors Island on July 31, 1957 after 40 years of active duty.

After the end of his military career, Herren moved to Washington, D.C. working in the private sector until 1967. Herren maintained close ties with his family and friends in and around Birmingham, Alabama and enjoyed vacations at his lake cabin on Lake Martin near his hometown of Dadeville, Alabama.

Herren died on June 4, 1985, at his home in Washington, D.C. at the age of 89. His wife, Lillian Herren, died on August 28, 1990, at the age of 87. Both are interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

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"Retired Lt. General Thomas Herren Dies; Led Military District Here", Washington Post, Washington, D.C., pp. C12, June 6, 1985 

Military offices
Preceded by
Withers A. Burress
Commanding General - First United States Army
December 1, 1954 July 31, 1957
Succeeded by
Blackshear M. Bryan