CLAYTON, Ga. (AP) _ Retired four-star Army General John H. Michaelis, whose courage on the battlefield earned him the nickname ″Iron Mike″ and who served as a commandant of cadets at West Point, has died. He was 73.
Army spokesman Maj. Graham Yates said Michaelis died Thursday of heart failure at Rabun County Hospital in Clayton.
Rabun County Coroner Lloyd Hunter said Michaelis was admitted to the hospital Wednesday complaining of chest pains and underwent a cardiogram. The next morning he suffered a heart attack and died, Hunter said.
The coroner said an autopsy would be performed today at Gainesville Hospital. Following cremation, Michaelis’ remains will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, he said.
After entering the Army in 1931, Michaelis rose quickly through the commissioned ranks during World War II and the Korean conflict until his retirement in 1972 as a four-star general.
Michaelis was known for his courage on the battlefield. He was often decorated and often wounded. He once prepared his men for a battle in Korea by telling them: ″You’re not here to die for your country. You’re here to make those so-and-sos die for theirs.″
In 1942 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and appointed regimental executive officer of the 502nd Parachute Infantry. He traveled with the unit one year later when it went to Europe.
Michaelis assumed command of the 502nd just before the launching of the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944, and in July of that year he received his first battlefield promotion to full colonel.
He later led his regiment on an airborne assault on Holland, during which he was wounded twice. After recovering, Michaelis returned to active duty in 1944 as chief of staff of the 101st Airborne Division during its heroic stand at Bastogne, France.
After being hospitalized again with combat wounds, Michaelis was assigned in 1945 to the War Department general staff, where he later rose to senior aide to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in May 1947.
When the Korean conflict began in 1950, Michaelis took command of the 27th Infantry regiment, which he led until February 1951. He received two more battlefield promotions, rose to the rank of brigadier general and was awarded, among many other decorations, the Distinguished Service Cross.
After returning to the United States in 1952, Michaelis became the commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Born in San Francisco, Michaelis moved as a boy with his family to Lancaster, Pa. He enlisted in the Army after graduation from Lancaster Boys’ High School in 1931. After serving as an infantryman, he was admitted to West Point.
Besides his wife, Mary, Michaelis is survived by two daughters and a sister. He had a summer home in Dillard, and a permanant residence in St. Petersburg, Fla.