Hanford MacNider (October 2, 1889 – February 18, 1968) was a senior officer of the United States Army who fought in both world wars. MacNider served as a diplomat, the United States Assistant Secretary of War, from 1925 to 1928, and the National Commander of The American Legion from 1921 to 1922.
Hanford MacNider was born in Mason City, Iowa as the son of Charles H. MacNider, a prominent banker, and May Hanford. He attended Milton Academy (a boarding school in Massachusetts) and subsequently Harvard University, where he graduated in 1911 before returning to Iowa.
MacNider joined the National Guard and served during the Pancho Villa Expedition during the Mexican Revolution. During World War I, he served as a captain in the 2nd Division within American Expeditionary Forces in France. The story goes that military charges were laid against him when one of his men disagreed with a colonel. He then supposedly went AWOL to get to the front. When authorities finally caught up to him, he had already risen through the ranks to Lieutenant Colonel and won 14 medals, so charges were dropped. For extraordinary heroism in the battle, MacNider was decorated with two Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars, Italian War Merit Cross, French Légion d'honneur, and French Croix de Guerre with Palm.
The American Legion
MacNider was Department Commander of the Legion for the State of Iowa from 1920 to 1921, before being elevated to the Office of National Commander.
President Calvin Coolidge appointed MacNider Assistant Secretary of War in 1925 where Major Dwight Eisenhower was his executive assistant. He married Margaret McAuley in 1925. He was considered a possible Republican candidate in the United States presidential election, 1928, but after the death of his father, MacNider returned to Iowa to handle the family's business affairs which thrived despite the Depression.
President Herbert Hoover appointed him United States ambassador to Canada in 1930. In 1932, he resigned in an unsuccessful attempt to be made the Republican candidate for vice president. In 1940, he again failed receive the Republican nomination for president and declined the vice presidential candidacy under Wendell Lewis Willkie. He also turned down a cabinet position offered by President Dwight Eisenhower.
World War II
MacNider was eventually promoted to Brigadier General in the United States Army, and then Major General until his retirement in 1951. (After retirement, he was promoted to Lieutenant General.) During World War II, he was wounded while commanding the Buna Task Force in New Guinea. After recovery, he was given the command of the 158th Regimental Combat Team (the Bushmasters) at the Bicol Peninsula. His command of the 158th RCT in the Philippines was excellent and it was there that some of the toughest fighting of the war occurred. A Regimental legend contends that at one point men of the 3rd battalion became drunk from a cache of Japanese Sake, at which point MacNider finding the men in poor conditions downed a whole bottle in a single moment and decried the troops for being poor soldiers. MacNider earned the respect and love of the men of the 158th by his courage and great battlefield leadership, this has led to an almost mythical reputation in the regiment even today.
On February 18, 1968, while on vacation in Sarasota, Florida, he died at a hospital of pulmonary edema. It has been said that he was interred in Mason City's Elmwood Saint Joseph Cemetery, the cemetery office has no record of him, it is believed that he was cremated and his ashes scattered in an unknown location.
Today MacNider is considered one of Iowa's greatest war heroes, the 158th RCT (Infantry) wartime leader, and an effective politician during the inter-war years.
Hanford MacNider received during his military career many decorations and awards for heroism and distinguished service. Here are official citations of the most important military decorations:
First Distinguished Service Cross citation
The official U.S. Army citation for his first Distinguished Service Cross reads:
Second Distinguished Service Cross citation
The official U.S. Army citation for his second Distinguished Service Cross reads:
Third Distinguished Service Cross citation
The official U.S. Army citation for his third Distinguished Service Cross reads:
Distinguished Service Medal citation
The official U.S. Army citation for his Distinguished Service Medal reads:
Here is the ribbon bar of Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hanford MacNider:
|1st Row||Distinguished Service Cross w/ two OLCs||Distinguished Service Medal||Silver Star w/ two OLCs|
|2nd Row||Legion of Merit w/ OLC||Bronze Star Medal w/ OLC||Air Medal||Purple Heart w/ OLC|
|3rd Row||Mexican Border Service Medal||World War I Victory Medal w/ five Battle Clasps||Army of Occupation of Germany Medal||American Campaign Medal|
|4th Row||Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ Arrowhead Device, one silver and one bronze Service Star||World War II Victory Medal||Army of Occupation Medal
w/ Japan Clasp
|French Legion of Honour|
|5th Row||French Croix de Guerre w/ Palm||Italian Cross of War Merit||Philippine Legion of Honor||Philippine Liberation Medal w/ bronze Service Star|