General Andrew J. Goodpaster is one of the U.S. Military’s towering figures of the 20th century. A recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star for valor during World War II, he would go on to serve as staff secretary for President Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, and Superintendent of West Point. He was universally admired for his intellect, devotion to duty, fairness, and sense of decency.

Despite his battlefield heroics and rise through the ranks, General Goodpaster was at heart a scholar. Having earned graduate degrees in Engineering and International Affairs from Princeton, Goodpaster was most proud of his scholarly achievements, and was often regarded as the epitome of the “soldier-scholar.”

From its founding, General Goodpaster was a strong supporter of the World War II Veterans Committee and the American Veterans Center until his passing in 2005. His advice in those early years helped ensure that the Center would not merely survive, but thrive, and we owe him a debt that can never be repaid. To honor his legacy, the Center inaugurated the Andrew J. Goodpaster Prize and Lecture in 2007, honoring achievements of other “soldier-scholars.” Made possible by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, this prize and lecture is our way of spotlighting the finest in military scholarship and honoring one of our military’s most noble soldiers, helping to ensure that his legacy will live on.

The inaugural Goodpaster Prize was presented to Dr. Lewis Sorley. A 1956 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, his service included leadership of tank and armored cavalry units in Germany and Vietnam. He retired a lt. colonel and has gone on to write several books, including Honorable Warrior: General Harold K. Johnson and the Ethics of Command, Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times, and the Pulitzer Prize-nominated A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam. His recent work Honor Bright: History and Origins of the West Point Honor Code and System was released in July 2008.

The American Veterans Center congratulates Dr. Sorley on his outstanding work, and is proud to print his remarks, delivered on December 11, 2007 in Washington, DC.

I am grateful for this opportunity to talk with you about a topic of great contemporary relevance. That topic is principled leadership. I will begin with General Andrew J. Goodpaster, in whose honor this lecture series is being inaugurated. My other examples will also be drawn from the military realm, for that is what I know best, it has been the focus of my scholarly endeavors, and it is where my heart resides.

I read once that a biographer should show rather than tell. I have always liked show and tell. In these remarks I will try to mostly show. In these examples of principled leadership you will find qualities I am sure you expect—integrity, courage (both physical and moral), decency, selflessness and reliability among them. But there are other attributes, perhaps less often thought of in connection with warriors, that are also part of the story. These include compassion, kindness, consideration and sensitivity.


First, then, to Andrew J. Goodpaster, whose lifetime of dedication and service has inspired this memorial. He got off to a good start, graduating second in his 456-man West Point Class of 1939, which was itself one of West Point’s most distinguished, rising quickly as young officers during World War II and thereafter serving at very significant levels for many years.

General Goodpaster’s intellect made him a natural for the Corps of Engineers, in which he was commissioned upon graduation, and in it he proved as brave as he was brainy, earning the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts while leading a combat engineer battalion through desperate fighting in Italy.

After the war he earned a Ph.D. at Princeton. His “utilization” tour for that schooling was four years at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe). A well-known journalist, with perhaps only a little hyperbole, observed that as a colonel Goodpaster was given a blank sheet of paper and told to create NATO. Colonel Goodpaster did in fact personally draft General Order Number 1 by which the newly activated SHAPE assumed operational control of allied forces dedicated to defense of Western Europe. He also became a close associate of and a trusted aide to Dwight Eisenhower, subsequently serving him as staff secretary throughout the Eisenhower presidency. General Goodpaster’s long tenure in that key position stemmed from the universal perception that he was an honest broker, a man to be trusted, one who was invariably fair and discreet and who had the total confidence of the President.

No one was surprised when, an appropriate number of years later, General Goodpaster followed his former boss by becoming SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe) in his own right, holding that position for five critical years. First, though, he served in another demanding post, deputy commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. I will tell you of one episode which illustrates how he brought to bear the full weight of his professional integrity in that difficult environment.