John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower (August 3, 1922 – December 21, 2013) was a United States Army officer, diplomat, and military historian. He was a son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. His military career spanned from before, during, and after his father's presidency, and he left active duty in 1963 and then retired in 1974. From 1969 to 1971, Eisenhower served as United States Ambassador to Belgium during the administration of President Richard Nixon, who was previously his father's vice president and also father to Eisenhower's daughter-in-law.
Early life and education
John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower was born on August 3, 1922, at Denver General Hospital in Denver, Colorado, to future U.S. President and United States Army General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie; he was their second child. Their elder son, Doud, known affectionately as "Icky", died in 1921, at age three, after contracting scarlet fever. Eisenhower, like his father, attended the United States Military Academy, graduating on June 6, 1944, the day of the Normandy landings, which his father was commanding. He later earned a master's degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University, and taught at West Point.
Eisenhower served in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War, remaining on active duty until 1963; then serving in the U.S. Army Reserve until retirement in 1975 – attaining the rank of brigadier general. A decorated soldier, Eisenhower found his World War II military career thwarted by fears for his safety and concern from the top brass that his death or capture would be a distraction to his father, the Supreme Allied Commander. During World War II, he was assigned to intelligence and administrative duties. This issue arose again in 1952 when Major Eisenhower was assigned to fight in a combat unit in Korea while his father ran for president. But unlike World War II, John was able to see combat in Korea. After seeing combat with an infantry battalion, he was reassigned to the 3rd Division headquarters.
In the administration of President Richard Nixon, who had been his father's vice president, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1969 to 1971. In 1972, President Nixon appointed Eisenhower Chairman of the Interagency Classification Review Committee. In 1975, he served President Gerald Ford as chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees.
Later life and writing
As a military historian, Eisenhower wrote several books, including The Bitter Woods, a study of the Battle of the Bulge, and So Far from God, a history of the Mexican–American War. In a New York Times review of the latter, historian Stephen W. Sears remarked that Eisenhower "writes briskly and authoritatively, and his judgments are worth reading." Eisenhower wrote Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents Series: The 12th President, 1849–1850 (2008). John Eisenhower also wrote the forewords to Borrowed Soldiers, by Mitchell Yockelson of the U.S. National Archives, and to Kenneth W. Rendell's Politics, War and Personality: 50 Iconic Documents of World War II.
A lifelong Republican, Eisenhower voted for Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election, citing dissatisfaction with Republican incumbent George W. Bush's management of U.S. foreign policy.
During the 2008 presidential election, in which presidential candidate John McCain and vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden all had children enlisted in the armed forces, he wrote about his wartime experience as the son of a sitting president in a cautionary opinion piece in The New York Times entitled "Presidential Children Don't Belong in Battle".
He died at Trappe, Maryland, on December 21, 2013. From the death of Elizabeth Ann Blaesing in 2005 until his own death, Eisenhower was the oldest living presidential child; on his death that distinction passed to Lynda Bird Johnson, who still holds it as of 2022. His burial was at West Point Cemetery on the grounds of the United States Military Academy.
Marriage and children
Eisenhower married Barbara Jean Thompson on June 10, 1947, only a few days before her twenty-first birthday. Barbara was born on June 15, 1926, in Fort Knox, Kentucky, into an Army family. She was the daughter of Col. Percy Walter Thompson (1898–1974) by his wife Beatrice (née Birchfield). Col. Thompson was commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. The Eisenhowers had four children:
- Dwight David Eisenhower II (b. 1948, West Point, New York), who married Julie Nixon, herself a presidential daughter;
- (Barbara) Anne Eisenhower (b. 1949, West Point, New York);
- Susan Elaine Eisenhower (b. 1951, Fort Knox, Kentucky);
- Mary Jean Eisenhower (b. 1955, Washington, D.C.).
John and Barbara divorced in 1986 after thirty-nine years of marriage. In 1988, Barbara married widower Edwin J. Foltz, a former vice president at the Campbell Soup Company. She died on September 19, 2014, in Gladwyne, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Military awards and decorations
|U.S. military decorations|
|Bronze Star Medal|
|Army Commendation Medal|
|U.S. service medals|
|American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal w/ 2 bronze service stars|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|Army of Occupation Medal w/ "Germany" Clasp|
|National Defense Service Medal|
|Korean Service Medal w/ 3 bronze service stars|
|Foreign unit awards|
|Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation|
|Non-U.S. service awards|
|United Nations Service Medal|
|Republic of Korea War Service Medal|
|U.S. Army badges|
|Combat Infantryman Badge|
The city of Marshfield, Missouri chose Eisenhower as a 2008 honoree of the Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative. His grandson, Merrill Eisenhower Atwater spoke on his behalf at Marshfield's annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The medal recognizes individuals who demonstrate great initiative in their chosen field.
Dates of rank
|Second Lieutenant||Regular Army||June 6, 1944|
|First Lieutenant||Army of the United States||January 23, 1945|
|Captain||Army of the United States||March 16, 1946|
|First Lieutenant||Regular Army||June 6, 1947|
|Captain||Regular Army||May 14, 1951|
|Major||Army of the United States||August 16, 1951|
|Major||Regular Army||September 4, 1957|
|Lieutenant Colonel||Army of the United States||May 31, 1960|
|Lieutenant Colonel||Army Reserve||July 1, 1963|
|Colonel||Army Reserve||July 1, 1967|
|Brigadier General||Army Reserve||July 29, 1970|
|Brigadier General||Retired||August 31, 1975|
- The Bitter Woods. Battery Classics. 1969. ISBN 9780898391060.; Da Capo Press, 1995, ISBN 9780306806520
- Strictly Personal Doubleday, 1974, ISBN 9780385070713
- Allies, Pearl Harbor to D–Day. Doubleday. 1982. ISBN 9780385114790.
John Eisenhower.; Da Capo Press, 2000, ISBN 9780306809415
- So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846–1848. Random House. 1989. ISBN 9780394560519.; University of Oklahoma Press, 2000, ISBN 9780806132792
- Intervention!: The United States Involvement in the Mexican Revolution, 1913–1917. W. W. Norton & Company. 1993. ISBN 9780393313185.
- Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott. Free Press. 1997. ISBN 9780684844510.
- Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I. Simon and Schuster. 2001. ISBN 9780743216371.
- General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence. Simon and Schuster. 2003. ISBN 9780743255721.
- Zachary Taylor. Macmillan. 2008. ISBN 9780805082371.
- Soldiers and Statesmen: Reflections on Leadership. University of Missouri Press. 2012. ISBN 9780826219701.
John Eisenhower soldiers.
- Perret, Geoffrey (March 2, 2000). Eisenhower. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-375-50470-9.
- 'John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91,' The New York Times, Richard Goldstein, December 22. 2013
- "John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower". Internet Accuracy Project.
- "Obituary: Eisenhower's son John, at 91". New York Times. December 22, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2017 – via Times Union.
- "History of the Information Security Oversight Office". www.archives.gov. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
- Woolley, John T.; Gerhard Peters. "Remarks Upon Establishing the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees". The American Presidency Project. Santa Barbara, California: University of California. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
- Stephen W. Sears (April 2, 1989). "Land Grab on the Rio Grande". New York Times.
- Eisenhower, John S. D. (2008). Jr, Arthur M. Schlesinger; Wilentz, Sean (eds.). Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents Series: The 12th President, 1849–1850. New York: Times Books. ISBN 9780805082371.
- Eisenhower, John S. D. (September 27, 2008). "Opinion | The children of presidents and vice presidents shouldn't be in combat". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
- Zongker, Brett (November 16, 2013). "Eisenhower Memorial Approval Delayed Into 2013". Associated Press.
- Eisenhower, John (September 28, 2004). "Why I Will Vote for John Kerry for President". The Manchester Union Leader. Archived from the original on December 15, 2006. Retrieved May 19, 2007.
- Eisenhower, John (September 27, 2008). "Presidential Children Don't Belong in Battle". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
- Goldstein, Richard (December 22, 2013). "John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91". The New York Times. New York.
- "Former President John Tyler's (1790–1862) grandchildren still alive". January 25, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2012. If Elizabeth Ann Blaesing was actually Warren Harding's daughter, she would have been the oldest surviving presidential child from 1995 to her death in 2005, at which point John Eisenhower would have become the oldest.
- Pasley, James (July 3, 2019). "Where Are They Now: First kids of the United States". Business Insider. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
- Times, NY (December 29, 1973). "Eisenhower Gathering Marks Debutante Ball". New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- "John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower". Internet Accuracy Project. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
- "Hubble Medal of Initiative." Marshfield Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
- Official Register of Commissioned Officers of the United States Army, 1948. Vol. I. pg. 528.
- Eisenhower, John S. D. (1974). Strictly Personal (1st ed.). Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-07071-3.
- McCaffree, Mary Jane; Innis, Pauline (1997). Protocol: The Complete Handbook of Diplomatic, Official and Social Usage (4th ed.). Washington: Devon. ISBN 0-941402-04-5.