Matthew Bunker Ridgway

Matthew Bunker Ridgway (1895-1993), American Army officer, served as supreme Allied commander in Korea and immediately thereafter as supreme Allied commander in Europe.

Matthew B. Ridgway was born on March 3, 1895, at Fort Monroe, Va. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1917. Ridgway's early career took him to China, Nicaragua, and the Philippines, where in 1932-1933 he served as technical adviser to the governor general. In 1935 he attended the U.S. Command and General Staff School and in 1937 the Army War College.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Ridgway was in the War Department's War Plans Division. In 1942 he rose to commander of the 82d Infantry Division, which he converted into the 82d Airborne Division. He led the 82d in the invasions of Sicily and Italy and in 1944 parachuted with his troops into Normandy, France. Later that year he took command of the 18th Airborne Corps in Belgium, France, and Germany. In 1945 he became chief of the Luzon Area Command. Ridgway married Mary Anthony in 1947, and the couple had one son.

After the war Ridgway commanded the Mediterranean theater. From 1946 until 1948 he was chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board and from 1948 to 1949 chief of the Caribbean Command. In 1949 he returned to Washington as Army deputy chief of staff. Late in 1950, during the Communist Chinese offensive in South Korea, Ridgway assumed command of the U.S. 8th Army and organized the counteroffensive which drove the Chinese and North Koreans out of South Korea. In 1951 he succeeded Gen. Douglas MacArthur as supreme commander for the Allied Powers in Japan, as commander of United Nations forces in Korea, and as commander of all United States forces in the Far East.

Unlike the other generals who directed the Korean War, Ridgway rejected MacArthur's strategy for victory—an Allied advance to the Yalu River. Instead, he conducted a limited war until President Harry Truman transferred him to Europe to succeed Gen. Dwight Eisenhower as supreme commander of the Allied Powers in Europe in 1952. Ridgway served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army from 1953 until he retired in 1955.

Ridgway's many military decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Silver Star. In civilian life, he became a business executive. He served as a member of the board of Colt Industries and as chairman of the board of trustees of the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.


Further Reading on Matthew Bunker Ridgway

Ridgway's accounts of his career are in his Soldier: The Memoirs of Matthew B. Ridgway (1956) and The Korean War (1967). His activity in World War II is assessed in John S. D. Eisenhower, The Bitter Woods (1969) and Clay Blair, Ridgway's Paratroopers: The American Airborne in World War II (1985). His role in the Korean War is recounted in Harry J. Middleton, The Compact History of the Korean War (1965); Roy Appleman, Ridgway duels for Korea (1990). Also, Ridgway's own reflections on the Korean war and related events are in The Korean War: How We Met the Challenge (1986). An unsympathetic view of Ridgway is in Isidor F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War (1952; with new appendix, 1969).