Brigadier General George M. Donovan Brigadier General George M. Donovan (Retired)
Army National Guard, State of Oklahoma
Brigadier General George M. Donovan began his military service April 13, 1940 as a Private with Company H, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division, Oklahoma National Guard at Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Pursuant to the Presidential Order of August 14, 1940, the Oklahoma National Guard was mobilized into Federal Service September 16, 1940. The unit reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, September 26, 1940, and moved to Camp Barkeley near Abilene, Texas, February 23, 1941.
He was inducted as a Private assigned to the Machine Gun Platoon. He later received extensive training at five Military Training Stations in the United States advancing to the rank of Staff Sergeant assigned as Section Sergeant to a Machine Gun Platoon before departing for overseas assignment in June 1943.
Sergeant Donovan and the 45th Infantry Division arrived at Oran, North Africa and participated in landings in Sicily and the Salerno Beach Head Campaign during September 1943. His unit advanced from there to the Venafro-Casino area to engage the Germans at their Winter Defense Line during late 1943. Later, Donovan's unit was relieved and ordered to participate in the Anzio Beach Head Landing near Anzio, Italy in January 1944, during which he was promoted to Platoon Sergeant. His unit was part of the force which took Rome, Italy. During the battle for Rome, Donovan took command of his wounded Platoon Leader's Machine Gun Platoon during a fierce battle with the Germans who had overwhelming man and fire power. The men under his command performed in an outstanding manner, repulsing the enemy until reinforcements arrived the following day. During this battle, Sergeant Donovan personally captured nine Germans who were approximately 300 yards forward of his position. He assisted in the capture of several others. For this action, he was awarded the Silver Star for outstanding leadership and bravery and received a Battlefield Commission to Second Lieutenant, Infantry. Following Rome, he participated in landings in Southern France during August 1944.
During September 1944, while serving as Battalion Reconnaissance Officer in the vicinity of Maximeau, France, he was severely wounded. Without medical help, he continued his mission until captured by the German Army, September 1, 1944. He was later awarded the Bronze Star for outstanding leadership and bravery during this battle.
Held as a Prisoner of War at Schubin, Poland, he escaped in the later part of January 1945 and worked his way to Torun, Poland where he was aided by an English speaking family who were part of the Polish Underground. During the 60-days he spent with them, the Russian Army pushed the Germans from Torun. In the absence of the Germans, the Polish family secured a "Red Cross Pass" so that Lieutenant Donovan could identify himself while making his was back to American troops.
Making his way to Warsaw, Poland and then to Odessa, Russia, he secured passage on a ship to Naples, Italy where he united with US Army Forces who provided immediate passage to the United States, arriving there in April 1945.
Donovan was treated at the US Army Rehabilitation Center, Hot Springs, Arkansas, until assigned to the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Camp Robinson, Arkansas as Bayonet Instructor in July 1945. He was released from active duty October 31, 1945 and assigned to the Officer Reserve Corp.
In October 1945, he was assigned as Executive Officer, Company H, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division with promotion to First Lieutenant. In October 1949, he was reassigned as Company Commander and promoted to the Grade of Captain. He remained in that capacity until August 31, 1950 when the 45th Infantry Division was again called to active military duty during the Korean Conflict.
As Commanding Officer, Company H, 179th Infantry, he demonstrated outstanding leadership ability with special emphasis on Heavy Weapons tactics. After returning from Korea, he reverted again to Oklahoma National Guard status on May 15, 1952. He was immediately assigned as Detachment Commander, 6th Holding Detachment, Ardmore, Oklahoma, to train and account for Guardsmen who were released from active duty and desired to remain active in the Army National Guard.
In November 1952, he was assigned as Executive Officer, Second Battalion, 179th Infantry Division, National Guard United States. He was promoted to Major, Infantry, in January 1954. The Battalion was reorganized in May 1959 and he became Executive Officer, 245th Transportation Battalion, Headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Major Donovan was assigned as Executive Officer of Brigade Headquarters Section, 45th Infantry Division with a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. He held this position until August 1962 at which time he returned to the 245th Transportation Battalion as Battalion Commander serving until March 1963 when the Battalion was reorganized into the Second Battalion, 245th Armor Battalion. He continued as Battalion Commander until September 1966.
In October 1966, he became the Commanding Officer of the Third Brigade, 45th Infantry, which was Oklahoma's Special Reserve Force Brigade. During this period of service he was promoted to full Colonel, Infantry and gained the reputation of being an outstanding MACOM Commander. He served in this capacity until June 1970.
On July 1, 1970, he was assigned as Commanding General, 45th Infantry Brigade. On October 1, 1971 he was promoted to Brigadier General, continuing in this leadership position until September 1973. Putting in many long, hard hours, his Brigade passed the Commanding General, Fifth United States Army Command Inspections revealing the Brigade to be Combat Ready. For his effort, General Donovan was awarded the "Legion of Merit," the highest award given by the United States Army for Peace-Time Service.
In September 1973, General Donovan was reassigned to Task Force Commander for the Oklahoma Military Department. He remained in the assignment until his retirement October 31, 1973.
General George M.Donovan devoted 33-years, 6-months and 19-days of his life to the service of his Country. Two-years, 7-months and 16-days of that time were in combat; 183 of these were spent as a Prisoner of War.
Decorations and Awards: Combat Infantry Badge (First and Second Award); Purple Heart; Silver Star; Good Conduct Medal; European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; American Defense Service Medal; Army of Occupation Medal; United Nations Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Presidential Unit Citation; Bronze Star Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Hour Glass Device; Legion of Merit-United States Army; Selected Reserve Forces Medal and Prisoner of War Medal.
Campaigns:Sicily-Naples Foggia; Rome-Arno; Southern France; Second Korean winter; and Korean summer-fall 1952.
Military Education Courses: Associate Advance Infantry Officers Course; Armor Branch Advance Course; Command General Staff Course; US Army War College; Senior Officers Preventive Maintenance Course and six Staff Refresher Courses in Infantry Armor and Transportation Branches and Ardmore Business College.
In civilian life, Donovan was employed as Retail Store Manager for Montgomery Ward Company in Ardmore, Oklahoma, retiring in June 1975. He then organized and managed Hu-Don Manufacturing Company, Inc. until his retirement in 1984 as co-owner and Chairman of the Board.
During 1983, he chaired the committee which founded and organized the Carter County Veteran's Council, chairing that Council for two terms. The Council under his leadership united all Veteran Organizations in the Ardmore area to promote and assist veterans and veteran programs.
During 1984-85, he chaired the Oklahoma Veterans Memorial Committee in the establishment of the Southern Oklahoma Veteran's Memorial located at the Oklahoma Veteran's Center in Ardmore. The monument is dedicated to Veterans of all wars.
In 1989, to fulfill a dream of several years, Donovan founded and organized the Military Memorial Museum located in the west wing of the old National Guard Armory (Greater Southwest Historical Museum) where his military service began as a Private in 1940. He was inducted into the Military Memorial Museum Hall of Fame on October 30, 1995 in recognition of his outstanding service to his country and to his community.
General George M. Donovan departed this life November 4, 2002 after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. His influence continues in the on-going organizations he helped establish and in the memory of his many military and civilian friends.
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