’The soldier’s general’

Elizabeth Davis

On Feb. 12, 1893, the only surviving child of John Smith Bradley and Sarah Elizabeth (Hubbard) Bradley, was born in a log cabin in Clark in Randolph County.

Omar Nelson Bradley graduated from Moberly High School in 1910, after which he went to work for the Wabash Railroad at 17-cents-an-hour to earn enough money to attend the University of Missouri in Columbia.

His plans changed when his Sunday School superintendent suggested he apply for an appointment to West Point. After placing second in the competitive exams for his district at Jefferson Barracks, (the first-place winner was unable to accept), he received an appointment from Congressman William M. Rucker to enter West Point in the fall of 1911.

Bradley graduated 44th in a class of 164 in 1915. Because so many of that class became generals, it was known as “the class the stars fell on.” Dwight D. Eisenhower was among the graduates.

Bradley was stationed in the U.S. during World War I and missed going to France where many of his contemporaries distinguished themselves. Because of this, he considered himself a professional failure.

World War II was a different matter. Assigned to the European Theater, he served under General George S. Patton, Jr., prior to taking command of the U.S. Army Group, which was the largest single command ever held by an American general officer. He was known as “the soldier’s general” because of his care of and compassion for those soldiers under his command.

In 1950, Bradley was promoted to 5-star General-of-the-Army rank. He also served as Army Chief of Staff and two terms as the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Later President Truman put him in charge of the Veterans’ Administration.

Bradley did not go through life as a bachelor. In 1919, he married Mary Quayle whom he’d met in high school. The couple was blessed with one child, Elizabeth, who was born in 1923. His wife of 49 years died of leukemia in 1965.

Bradley married Esther Dora Buhler on Sept. 12, 1966.

Omar Nelson Bradley died on April 8, 1981, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Both wives rest beside him.

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008. She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she syndicated her column statewide in September 2018 and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.davis@gmail.com