For no reason in particular, I "googled" Andrew Goodpaster's name, just to look up a few articles on him. I'm familiar with this man because his name pops up in several WWII books that I've read. Sadly, he died this past May. Usually notable deaths such as this don't get by me, but I guess either I missed it in the press, or was reading the wrong thing that day. If the name doesn't sound familiar to you, it's no surprise; Goodpaster was a behind the scenes guy. But this relatively unknown historical character had a huge impact on the conduct of both the Second World War and the Cold War. He may have also helped to save the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American servicemen.
In the dying days of the Second World War, all the allied armies came within spitting distance of Berlin. General Eisenhower's two most unmanageable generals, Patton and British general/pain-in-the-ass Montgomery, pressed Eisenhower to give them the green light to cross the River Elbe and take Berlin. Eisenhower had no illusions about the strategic significance of Berlin, for it had none. It was a prestige objective, nothing more. As a member of General Eisenhower's staff, then later part of the War Department and a right-hand man to General Marshall, Goodpaster was deep in the high command. Eisenhower requested a mathematical assessment of what the cost in human life and ordnance would be to take Berlin. The number came back from the States: 100,000 men. "Hell of a price to pay for a prestige objective", Eisenhower was recorded as saying. Instead, Stalin took it upon himself to assault the last bastion of Nazi Germany. Needless to say, the extrapolated number of 100,000 combat casualties was proven accurate, for that is what the Soviet Red Army lost in the final push of the war, Berlin. Andrew Goodpaster was the man who came up with the 100,000 number. As a result, 100,000 American and British kids would make it home in one piece, since Eisenhower chose not to turn that amount into cannon food for what was essentially a militarily useless objective. Goodpaster was also involved in the numerical extrapolations the War Department (now known as Dep. of Defense) drew up for the invasion of the Japanese home islands. 500,000 casualties were forcasted, as well as an occupational force of over a 1,000,000 Americans post-war. Fortunately, the atom bombs spared the US the misery of the first number. This writer's father in all likelihood would've been one of those lives lost or maimed in that 500,000 casualty statistic.
Goodpaster later went onto being one of the logistical coordinators of the Berlin airlift in 1947, which circumvented Stalin's blockade of West Berlin. He was involved in the high command of the United States military establishment for his entire life, having also been the supreme military commander of NATO, and served under five presidents (Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson), and was the commandant of West Point.
What an amazing life, and what a tremendous experience it must've been to be an eyewitness to history, time and again. Even more amazing is the fact that Goodpaster has served at the highest levels of the military and was in direct contact with presidents since his early 30's.
Goodpaster was 90 years old.