The Controversial Military Career of Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur in France during the First World War. National Archives

2. MacArthur’s first military post was in the Philippines

MacArthur was assigned to the Philippines, arriving there in late 1903. He conducted surveys and supervised construction projects in the islands before returning to the United States in 1904 after contracting malaria. In 1905 his father, then a Major General, was assigned to serve as an observer during the Russo-Japanese War. Douglas was assigned as his father’s aide, and traveled with him to Japan, China, India, Burma, Singapore, and other locales. In July 1906 they returned to the United States, his father resuming his duties as Commander of the Department of the Pacific. Douglas remained his father’s aide until he was transferred to Washington In September, 1906.

The following August MacArthur wangled a transfer to the Corps of Engineers district office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Coincidentally, his mother and father were living in the area at the time. He had several other postings in the west before his father died suddenly in 1912. His mother’s health was severely weakened, and MacArthur requested a transfer to Washington DC. His request, which was made to General Leonard Wood, was based on his hope to have his mother examined and treated by the staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital in nearby Baltimore. Wood intervened, and Douglas was assigned to the Chief of Staff, with offices in the War Department, in late 1912.