George S. Patton (1885–1945) was a skilled and controversial American army officer during World War II. Patton graduated from West Point in 1909 and served under General John J. Pershing in the US Tank Corps during World War I. He was promoted to tank brigade commander in 1940 and continued to rise through the military ranks. Patton earned a reputation as a clever and capable commander in the North African and Sicily campaigns of 1942–1943. In August 1943, however, Patton came under criticism for striking and accusing a hospitalized “shell-shocked” soldier of cowardice. The highly publicized incident damaged Patton’s reputation, but he was not removed from command. In 1944–1945, his forces captured Mayenne, Laval, Le Mans, Reims, and Châlons. They also took part in the Battle of the Bulge. Patton’s Third Army crossed the Rhine into Germany and captured thousands of German soldiers. They also helped to liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp before pushing through into Czechoslovakia and Austria. Soon after the war’s end, Patton was removed from command for publicly criticizing Allied plans for denazification in Germany. In December 1945, he was fatally injured in an automobile accident and died in Heidelberg.

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