Time period: WW I
Major General Julius Adler was a distinguished and highly decorated officer who served in both World Wars.
A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, he attended Princeton University. After graduating, Adler was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in April 1917. He was promoted to Captain in August 1917 and served as a Company Commander (“Company H”) in the 306th Infantry Regiment, 77th Division, on the Western Front. There he saw action in the Lorraine, Aisne-Marne, Vesle and Meuse Argonne Offensives and was one of many soldiers to be victimized by German mustard gas. Adler, by then a Major, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions at St. Juvin on 14 October 1918, which led directly to the capture of 50 German soldiers.
The citation reads: Accompanied by another officer, Major Adler was supervising the work of clearing the enemy from St. Juvin where they suddenly came upon a party of the enemy numbering 150. Firing on the enemy with his pistol, Major Adler ran toward the party, calling on them to surrender. His bravery and good marksmanship resulted in the capture of 50 Germans and the rest fled.
When Adler returned to the states, he transitioned to a reservist and became a journalist for his uncle, Adolph Ochs, founder of The New York Times. He worked his way up in the halls of the fabled Grey Lady until he became vice president, treasurer, and eventually, general manager of the newspaper.
In 1940, Adler returned to Active Duty to serve during World War II, first serving in a command position at Fort Dix. A year later, he achieved the rank of Brigadier General, and then quickly promoted to Assistant Division Commander of the 6th Infantry Division in New Guinea. After four years of serving in World War II, he was discharged due to illness.
No longer serving in an active duty position, Adler went back to Europe as a journalist, covering war stories for both The New York Times and the Chattanooga Times. At the end of the war, General Eisenhower invited Adler and 17 other journalists to visit concentration camps that the Allies had liberated. Adler wrote a number of articles based on his experiences there, expressing his outrage and frustration at what he saw.
Adler married his wife, Barbara, in 1922. They had three children, two girls and a boy. The pair were proud Americans, widely known for their philanthropic efforts. Among his many accomplishments, Adler was heavily involved in advocating for the institution of the Selective Service in 1940, the first peacetime draft enacted in American history.
In addition to his DSC, Adler was awarded a Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, World War I Victory Medal, Army of Occupation of Germany Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Officer of the Legion of Honour, French Croix de Guerre, and the Italian War Merit Cross.
Adler passed away on October 3, 1954, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Soon after his death, President Dwight D. Eisenhower eulogized him, stating: “As a gallant leader in combat and as an esteemed advisor in high office, you have splendidly earned the great honor of being known as a ‘Soldier’s Soldier.’” This high praise, coming from the well respected 5-star General and Commander-in Chief, was engraved upon his tombstone.
Originally published in the Tishrei 2023 issue of The Jewish American Warrior.