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,[1] 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.[2] He later earned a master's degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University, and taught at West Point.[2]

Military career

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.[3] 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.[4] After seeing combat with an infantry battalion, he was reassigned to the 3rd Division headquarters.

Government career

During his father's presidency, John Eisenhower served as Assistant Staff Secretary in the White House, on the Army's General Staff, and in the White House as assistant to General Andrew Goodpaster.

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.[5] In 1975, he served President Gerald Ford as chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees.[6]

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."[7] Eisenhower wrote Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents Series: The 12th President, 1849–1850 (2008).[8][9] 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.

In later years, he had been an opponent of Frank Gehry's proposed design for the National Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, which he said was "too extravagant" and "attempts to do too much."[10]

Presidential elections

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.[11]

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".[12]


He died at Trappe, Maryland, on December 21, 2013.[13] From the death of Elizabeth Ann Blaesing in 2005 until his own death, Eisenhower was the oldest living presidential child;[14] on his death that distinction passed to Lynda Bird Johnson, who still holds it as of 2022.[15] 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:

All of his daughters were presented as debutantes to high society at the prestigious International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.[16]

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.

In 1988, Eisenhower married Joanne Thompson. He lived in Trappe, Maryland, after moving there from Kimberton, Pennsylvania.[17]

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
Bronze star
Bronze star
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
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
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 Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
USAAF - Glider Pilot 4.png Glider Badge

Other honors

The city of Marshfield, Missouri chose Eisenhower as a 2008 honoree of the Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative.[18] 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

Insignia Rank Component Date
US-O1 insignia.svg
Second Lieutenant Regular Army June 6, 1944
US-O2 insignia.svg
 First Lieutenant Army of the United States January 23, 1945
US-O3 insignia.svg
 Captain Army of the United States March 16, 1946
US-O2 insignia.svg
 First Lieutenant Regular Army June 6, 1947
US-O3 insignia.svg
 Captain Regular Army May 14, 1951
US-O4 insignia.svg
 Major Army of the United States August 16, 1951
US-O4 insignia.svg
 Major Regular Army September 4, 1957
US-O5 insignia.svg
 Lieutenant Colonel Army of the United States May 31, 1960
US-O5 insignia.svg
 Lieutenant Colonel Army Reserve July 1, 1963
US-O6 insignia.svg
 Colonel Army Reserve July 1, 1967
US-O7 insignia.svg
 Brigadier General Army Reserve July 29, 1970
US-O7 insignia.svg
 Brigadier General Retired August 31, 1975


Family tree

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Mamie Doud
Richard Nixon
Pat Ryan
Doud Eisenhower
John Eisenhower
Barbara Thompson
Edward Cox
Tricia Nixon
Julie Nixon
David Eisenhower
Anne Eisenhower
Susan Eisenhower
John MahonMary Eisenhower
Ralph Atwater
Andrea Catsimatidis
Christopher Cox
Anthony Cheslock
Jennie Eisenhower
Alex Eisenhower
Tara Brennan
Melanie Eisenhower
Adriana Echavarria
Amelia Eisenhower Mahon
Merrill Eisenhower Atwater



  1. ^ Perret, Geoffrey (March 2, 2000). Eisenhower. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-375-50470-9.
  2. ^ a b 'John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91,' The New York Times, Richard Goldstein, December 22. 2013
  3. ^ "John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower". Internet Accuracy Project.
  4. ^ "Obituary: Eisenhower's son John, at 91". New York Times. December 22, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2017 – via Times Union.
  5. ^ "History of the Information Security Oversight Office". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Stephen W. Sears (April 2, 1989). "Land Grab on the Rio Grande". New York Times.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Zongker, Brett (November 16, 2013). "Eisenhower Memorial Approval Delayed Into 2013". Associated Press.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Eisenhower, John (September 27, 2008). "Presidential Children Don't Belong in Battle". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  13. ^ Goldstein, Richard (December 22, 2013). "John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91". The New York Times. New York.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ Pasley, James (July 3, 2019). "Where Are They Now: First kids of the United States". Business Insider. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  16. ^ Times, NY (December 29, 1973). "Eisenhower Gathering Marks Debutante Ball". New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  17. ^ "John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower". Internet Accuracy Project. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  18. ^ "Hubble Medal of Initiative." Marshfield Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  19. ^ 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.

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Belgium
Succeeded by