In a series of articles looking at famous Freemasons, I've mentioned US Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Founding Fathers who were Freemasons, but I've never really looked at famous military figures. This article will look at those who served and were distinguished as being elevated to the rank of five-star. A five-star rank is a very senior rank used within the military, often the most highest rank, second in the United States only to the President. This rank is so rare that it is used only during times of war and even then in only rare cases. In the United States, the five-star rank is referred to differently in each of the branches. In the Army, it is known as "General of the Army." In the Air Force, it is known as "General of the Air Force." In the Navy, it is known as "Fleet Admiral." There is no five-star equivalent in the Marine Corps or Coast Guard. Here is a list of those who held the rank of five-star or higher:
George Washington*John J. Pershing*George C. MarshallDouglas MacArthurDwight D. EisenhowerOmar N. Bradley
General of the Air Force:
Henry "Hap" Arnold
William D. LeahyErnest J. KingChester NimitzWilliam F. "Bull" Halsey
The asterisks are placed next to George Washington and John J. Pershing because they are unique cases as they are considered "General of the Armies" which ranks higher than five-star rank. However, for the sake of Freemasons who were at least five-stars, I am including them both. How of these 11 five-stars listed, 7 of them were Freemasons: Washington, Pershing, Marshall, King, MacArthur, Arnold, and Bradley.
George Washington, the Father of our Country, was initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on November 4, 1752, passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on March 3, 1753, and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on August 4, 1753, in Fredericksburg Lodge (later No. 4), Virginia. He was named Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge #22, in Alexandria, VA, April 28, 1788, and reelected December 20, 1788, but there is no evidence he was ever installed or presided over any Masonic meeting. He was posthumously appointed "General of the Armies of the United States" in 1976.
John J. Pershing served as the General of the Armies during World War I. He was initiated, passed, and Raised in 1888, in Lincoln Lodge #19 in Lincoln, NE. He was made an honorary member of Stansbury Lodge #19 in Washington DC in 1919. Harry S. Truman, Senator at the time, presented Pershing with a certificate making him an honorary member oef the Grand Lodge of Missouri (Pershing's home state) on September 30, 1941. Pershing joined the Scottish Rite in Wheeling, WV, in 1920, which culminated in the 33° on January 6, 1930. Pershing was also a member of Lincoln Chapter #6 of Royal Arch Masons, Mt. Moriah Commandery #4 of Knights Templar, and Sesostris Shriners in Lincoln, NE.
George C. Marshall was appointed as General of the Army on December 16, 1944. He's also well known for his time as Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and being the author of the "Marshal Plan" which was an American initiative to help Western Europe recover following World War II. He was made a "Mason at Sight" by M.W.Bro. Ara M. Daniels, Grand Master of the District of Columbia, on December 16, 1941 in the Scottish Rite building of DC along with Jesse H. Jones, Secretary of Commerce; Marshall was the Army Chief of Staff at the time.
Ernest J. King was made the first Fleet Admiral of the US Navy on December 17, 1944. He was initiated, passed, and raised in George C. Whiting Lodge #22 (now Potomac Lodge #5) in Washington DC in 1935. He was exalted to the the degree of Royal Arch Mason in Darius Chapter #143 in 1938 in San Diego, CA. He later joined Holyrood Commandery #32 in 1939 and Al Koran Shrine in 1946, both in Cleveland, OH.
Being one of the most famous Generals in US history, Douglas MacArthur was appointed General of the Army on December 18, 1944. He was named "Allied Supreme Commander" in August 1945 and accepted the surrender of Imperial Japan. He was made a "Mason at Sight" by M.W.Bro. Samuel Hawthorne, Grand Master of the Philippines, on January 17, 1936, before affiliating with Manila Lodge #1. He joined the Scottish Rite in Manila the same year, received the Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH) in 1937, and received the 33° on December 8, 1947, while at the American Embassy in Tokyo. He was also a member of Nile Shrine in Seattle, WA.
Henry H. "Hap" Arnold was made a General of the Army on December 21, 1944, and then General of the Air Force on May 7, 1949. He was initiated, passed, and Raised in Union Lodge #7 in 1927 in Junction City, KS. He joined the Scottish Rite on April 11, 1929, in Leavenworth, KS, and received the 33° on October 19, 1945.
Omar N. Bradley was appointed General of the Army on September 20, 1950 and was the last person to possess the five-star rank in the United States military. He was initiated passed and raised in West Point Lodge #877 in Highland Falls, NY, in 1923.
These men served with distinction in the fight for freedom at home and abroad, and I am honored to number them as one of my Brothers. The next articles in this series of famous Masons will look at Civil War Generals and US Supreme Court Justices who were Freemasons.
1. 5-Star Generals. (n.d.). Retrieved from Military Factory: http://www.militaryfactory.com/5-star-generals.asp
2. Bessel, P. M. (n.d.). Freemasons among U.S. 5-Star Generals & Admirals. Retrieved from Paul Bessel: http://bessel.org/fivemas.htm
3. Denslow, W. R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/10,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_1_A_to_D.htm
4. Famous Freemasons. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grove Lodge No.824 AF&AM of Illinois: https://www.grovemasoniclodge.org/index.php/secrets/famous-freemasons
5. Five-Star Generals and Admirals of the United States. (n.d.). Retrieved from The History Guy: http://www.historyguy.com/5-star-military.htm
6. Highest Ranking Officers in US History. (n.d.). Retrieved from InfoPlease: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0004626.html
7. Morris, S. B. (n.d.). American Freemasons and the Spirit of Freedom. Retrieved from Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/brentmorris1.html
8. US Army Five-Star Generals. (2016). Retrieved from US Army: http://www.history.army.mil/html/faq/5star.html