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Frederick Robert Tyron

Robert Tyron Frederick
Major General
Serial Number:
First Special Service Force (FSSF)
Date of Death:
San Francisco National Cemetery, California
Section OS Row 66A Lot 11
Distinguished Service Cross (2) Distinguished Service Medal (2) Silver Star

From the Military Hall of Fame site: Robert Tryon Frederick was born on 14 March 1907 in San Francisco, CA. When he was 14 years old, he lied about his age to join a Cavalry unit in the California National Guard. He attended Staunton Military Academy from 1923-24 and the U.S. Military Academy from 1924-28. Upon graduation from West Point, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery. In 1942, as a staff officer serving in the War Department, then-Lieutenant Colonel Frederick was tasked with raising the joint U.S.-Canadian force which became the 1st Special Service Force. The unit, activated on 9 July 1942 at Fort William Henry Harrison, MT, was originally intended for commando operations in Norway, and trained extensively in winter and mountain warfare, as well as hand-to-hand combat and other infantry skills. In April 1943, the unit moved to Vermont for training, first at Camp Bradford and then at Fort Ethan Allen. However, the Norway mission was canceled and the 1st Special Service Force was sent instead to the Aleutian Islands in July 1943. It returned to the continental U.S. in September, and then left in October for the European Theater of Operations. Frederick's men arrived in Casablanca in French Morocco in November 1943 and quickly moved to the Italian front. Landing at Naples on 19 November 1943, the 1st Special Service Force went into the line. In December 1943 and January 1944, the 1st Special Service Force conducted a series of operations at Monte la Difensa, Monte la Remetanea, Monte Sammucro (Hill 720) and Monte Vischiataro. Frederick was promoted to Brigadier General in January 1944. After the 1st Special Service Force (or Devil's Brigade) attacked and captured the enemy forces at the impregnable Monte la Difensa, the victory prompted Winston Churchill to declare that Robert Frederick was "the greatest fighting general of all time" and "if we had had a dozen more like him we would have smashed Hitler in 1942." On 2 February 1944, Frederick's men landed at Anzio and went into action along the Mussolini Canal. They were the first Allied troops to enter Rome on 4 June 1944. For valor with the 1st Special Service Force in Italy, Brigadier General Frederick was twice decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor. The first award was for actions on 10-13 January 1944 and the second for actions on 4 June 1944. While at Anzio he was wounded a number of times, including two separate wounds on a single day. On 23 June 1944, Frederick announced he was leaving the unit. He was to be promoted to Major General and given command of an ad hoc division-sized airborne formation, the 1st Airborne Task Force, for the invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon). The task force, formed that July, consisted of the British 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade and the U.S. 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team, 550th Glider Infantry Battalion, 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion and 460th and 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalions, along with various support units. Under the code name Rugby Force, the unit jumped on 15 August 1944 into the Argens Valley between Le Luc and Le Muy, behind the Massif des Maures, a key piece of terrain which overlooking the Allied landing beaches near St. Tropez and St. RaphaŽl. Having successfully blocked German forces from reaching the invasion beaches, the 1st Airborne Task Force linked up with the 36th Infantry Division on 17 August 1944. It then moved up the French Riviera coastline, taking Cannes unopposed on 24 August and linking up with Frederick's old unit, the 1st Special Service Force. The 1st Special Service Force had initially been tasked to seize several small islands off the French Riviera and then moved onshore, where it was attached to the 1st Airborne Task Force on 22 August (replacing the British 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade). The task force then fought on to the French-Italian border, where it took up defensive positions. The task force was dissolved on 23 November 1944 and the 1st Special Service Force was disbanded on 5 December. Major General Frederick was given command of the 45th Infantry Division in December 1944, and led the Division through the end of the war. The 45th saw heavy combat in French Alsace from December 1944 through February 1945, and was pulled from the line to rehabilitate on 17 February. In mid-March, it was assigned to XV Corps for the drive into Germany. The Division crossed the Rhine and advanced to the Main. Moving along the Main into Bavaria, the Division participated in heavy fighting in Aschaffenburg from 28 March to 3 April and then drove to Nuremberg, taken in heavy fighting from 16-20 April. Moving south, the Division crossed the Danube on 26 April, and opened up the path for the 20th Armored Division to drive on Munich. Reaching Munich on 29 April, the 45th Division shifted from combat to occupation. After a period of occupation duty, the 45th Infantry Division prepared to return to the U.S. and Major General Frederick relinquished command in September 1945. After a period of staff duty and recuperation (he had been wounded eight times), Major General Frederick was assigned to Allied occupation forces in Austria, commanding the U.S. Sector of the Vienna Inter-Allied Command in 1948. From 28 February 1949 to 10 October 1950, Major General Frederick commanded the 4th Infantry Division, which had been reactivated as a training division at Fort Ord, CA, in 1947. In October 1950, the Division was re-designated the 6th Infantry Division and Major General Frederick continued as its Commanding General until 1951. Major General Frederick returned to Europe in 1951 to take command of the Joint U.S. Military Aid Group, Greece (JUSMAG Greece). MG Frederick retired from the Army on disability in March 1952. He was awarded the Purple Heart 8 times during World War 2!