Hero's son heard
a different drummer


By Eric Shackle, May 2007

Arthur IV at an early age. American Caesar, Little, Brown and Co., 1978
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Arthur MacArthur, only son of World War II hero General Douglas MacArthur, escaped the limelight many years ago by adopting another name. Today, at 65, he's living in New York City, still leading his own life - in what might well be termed "relative" obscurity.

He covered his tracks so well that my wife, Jerry, and I took more than a month to discover that much about him.

Back in 1942, Jerry, formerly Staff-Sergeant E.F. Germaine, of the Australian Women's Army Service, was a member of General MacArthur's office staff in Brisbane, Australia. A few weeks ago, at the age of 87, she wrote a nostalgic story, Where Is Arthur MacArthur? which was published in our local newspaper, the New South Wales Central Coast Herald:
Here's what she wrote:

Arthur IV with his stuffed toy. American Caesar, Little, Brown and Co., 1978
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When four-year-old Arthur MacArthur stretched out an arm to pat Prince, the beautiful white German Shepherd I was holding on a leash, the two U.S. Army sergeants guarding General Douglas MacArthur's wife and young son drew their pistols, ready to shoot the dog if it as much as licked the boy's hand. Fortunately, Jean MacArthur recognized me, and assured her minders that her son was in no danger of being attacked.

The scene was a public park in Brisbane, Australia's third largest city, in 1942. The General, Supreme Allied Commander in the Southwest Pacific, had his operational headquarters in Brisbane from 1942 to 1944. His office was on the eighth floor of what is now the heritage listed MacArthur Chambers in the city's central business district.

As a Brisbane-born staff-sergeant in the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) I was attached to his office staff. I think he selected

me ahead of American personnel because I could take a shorthand record of his dictation (mostly Top Secret) at 200 words a minute, and type it out at 120 words a minute.

I had often spoken to Jean MacArthur and her son when they visited the office, so they had given me a friendly wave when they spotted me walking past the park, exercising a friend's German Shepherd on one of my all-too-rare rest days.

Jean must have reported the drawn guns episode to the General, because he issued instructions that in future her guards were not to interfere with me and my dog. After that, whenever we met, they saluted and addressed me as "Ma'am," but still kept a wary watch on Prince.

I remember Arthur as a polite and well-behaved little boy, although Harold Tichman, one of his Australian bodyguards, is said to described him as "a terror of a kid," who once had kicked him, leaving a long-lasting mark on his leg.

Jean was a tiny person, even shorter than me (and I was just 5 ft. 2 in. in those days). Her dress size was SSW (very hard to find during the war).

Shortly before the General died in 1964, he described Jean as "my constant friend, sweetheart and devoted supporter." After his death, AP reported, she remained active in theatre, opera, civic and philanthropic pursuits and served as honorary chairman of the Norfolk, Virginia, foundation created as a memorial to her husband.

Arthur IV getting his first. American Caesar, Little, Brown and Co., 1978
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"Jean MacArthur has witnessed the great cataclysms of our time, survived war and peace, conquered tragedy and known triumph," President Reagan said in awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988. The citation for the medal, the nation's highest civilian award, called her "a shining example, a woman of substance and character, a loyal wife and mother, and like her general, a patriot."

Jean died on January 22. 2000, aged 101. She was buried alongside the General at the MacArthur Memorial in Virginia, an old domed building that is part of a complex which includes the Jean MacArthur Research Center, where her husband's archives are held. See her obituary and other information about Jean MacArthur

From time to time over the last 60 years, I've wondered what became of young Arthur MacArthur. He received so much publicity in the 1940s, as the son and grandson of two famous generals, that it seems he has chosen to disappear from public gaze.

Searching the Internet the other day, I found an interesting story, Where Is General MacArthur's Son? written some years ago by Oscar Samuel Roloff (1918-1999) for the Woodinville Weekly in Washington state. It said:

"In 1950, a colleague and I were the two-man press team for VADM [Vice Admiral] Turner Joy, Commander Naval Forces, Far East, in Tokyo, Japan. Our top boss was the flamboyant General Douglas MacArthur, who ruled from his high Tokyo tower over his family, friends, and foes. No one dared challenge his dictates.

"One day, he ruled that his son, Arthur, 12, would take a warship ride from Yokosuka to Tokyo. Col. S.C. Huff, aide de camp to the General, was ordered to go along and watch the kid's every move, to protect him. During this stint, my colleague boarded the ship to take photos. I took some, too.

"I watched the lad, who seemed entirely uninterested, ill at ease, as he sat on a forward bitt [bollard]. No sailor was allowed to talk with him. His dad had ruled his son would go to West Point, become a General, and possibly some day be awarded the Medal of Honor as his Dad and Grandpa had received for bravery.

"As I studied the lad, and later took down the file folder of the photos we had taken, I studied them and came to the same conclusion. The kid wanted to march to a different drummer - not his Dad's drum.

Arthur IV and Jean. American Caesar, Little, Brown and Co., 1978
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He was a sensitive lad, one who had his own ideas of what he wanted to do, wanted to be."
Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.-- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862).
Where is Arthur MacArthur right now? I found this possible answer on a Fayetteville Observer (North Carolina) webpage: "Whatever happened to Gen. MacArthur's son? Did he go into the military? - H.P., Pinehurst ... A: No, he didn't. Instead, [he] became a concert pianist and writer, according to June Weatherly."

I found one other clue on the Internet. In an article about the Spanish-born artist Juvenal Sanso, Philippine novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist Nick Joaquin wrote: "One hears that General MacArthur's son is now an artist in Greenwich Village, but one doubts he's doing any recollections of the Manila of his childhood.. "

I suppose he can't recollect our Brisbane park encounter either. If he reads this story, I'd like him to know that, after all these years, I still have fond memories of him and his mother, and hope that he has found happiness in following the beat of that different drummer.

After that story was published, Jerry and I began a long search of the Internet, leading to dozens of email messages, in a bid to find the answer to her question "Where Is Arthur MacArthur?"

We thought we were hot on Arthur's trail when we discovered a story about Pixie Windsor, owner of Miss Pixie's Furnishing and Whatnot in the May-June1999 issue of The Washington Flyer, the official magazine of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority:

"At the bottom of a box of shirts Miss Pixie bought at Douglas MacArthur's son's estate sale, she found a dozen pairs of silk pajamas emblazoned with the monogram he shared with his father. Seizing upon this serendipity, she sold them for $50 apiece.

"Since she already had his stationery, each pair of PJs came with a business card in the pocket. So too went his martini pitchers along with programs from the presidential inaugurals."
Pixie Windsor's store features dressers, marble end tables, upholstered club chairs, giant cognac snifters, and vintage phones‹whatever she's picked up at auctions. Devotees show up on Thursdays, when she unloads the week's haul.- Extract from Miss Pixie's website.

But that story proved to be a red herring. We checked it out with MacArthur Memorial archivist James Zobel, in Richmond, Virginia. Was it true, we asked. Had Arthur died in Washington four years ago?

"No," he replied. "This was the estate sale of one of MacArthur's nephews. Included in the estate were the items belonging to his brother, Captain Arthur MacArthur USN."

Arthur IV and Jean. American Caesar, Little, Brown and Co., 1978
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Miss Pixie told us: "I was misquoted in that article. The items (and I got a lot!) were from the estate of the nephew of Douglas MacArthur, who served as Ambassador to Belgium."

We hit pay dirt when we emailed an inquiry to Colonel William J. Davis, USMC (Retired), Executive Director of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation and The MacArthur Memorial. We asked him what he could tell us about Arthur.

"Arthur lives in New York City and I will send him a copy of your email.," he told us. Finally, we discovered the existence of a worldwide Arthur clan, which traces its origins back to King Arthur, and embraces hundreds of MacArthurs, spelt in various ways. It issues a quarterly newsletter called The Round Table.

So we emailed its editor, Bob McArtor, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and he replied,
"I congratulate your wife on a well-written and documented story. You have as much information on the subject as anyone.

"I wrote to Jean MacArthur on two occasions during the General's illness and am aware of her graciousness. Her son used to visit her in the Astoria Towers in New York which she called home.

"It would appear he truly did hear a different drummer as he changed his name and literally buried the past. It is a good thing, in my opinion, to keep the subject alive as one day he may change his mind and resurface. He had much to add to history."

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shackle

See Eric's LIFE BEGINS AT 80
Also see Eric's contributions to Kilroy Was Here:
PFC Joe E. Mann


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