George Smith Patton, Jr. was a general in the United States Army best known for his command of the Seventh United States Army, and later the Third United States Army, in the European Theater of World War II.
Born in 1885 to a privileged family with an extensive military background, Patton attended the Virginia Military Institute, and later the U.S. Military Academy. He participated in the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and was instrumental in designing the M1913 "Patton Saber". Patton first saw combat during the Pancho Villa Expedition in one of the earliest instances of mechanized combat. He later joined the newly formed United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Force and saw action in World War I, first commanding the U.S. tank school in France before being wounded near the end of the war. In the interwar period, Patton remained a central figure in the development of armored warfare doctrine in the U.S. Army, serving on numerous staff positions throughout the country. Rising through the ranks, he commanded the U.S. 2nd Armored Division at the time of the U.S. entry into World War II.
Patton led U.S. troops into the European theater with an invasion of Casablanca during the North African Campaign in 1942, where he later established himself as an effective commander through his rapid rehabilitation of the demoralized U.S. II Corps. He commanded the Seventh Army during the Invasion of Sicily, where he beat British General Bernard Law Montgomery to Messina but was embroiled in controversy after he slapped two soldiers under his command. Patton returned to command the Third Army following the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, where he led a highly successful, rapid drive across France. He led the relief of beleaguered U.S. troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and advanced his army into Nazi Germany by the end of the war. Patton was the military governor of Bavaria after the end of the war before being relieved of this post, then he commanded the Fifteenth United States Army for a time. He died following an automobile accident in Europe on 21 December 1945.