GENERAL MATTHEW B. RIDGWAY
Matthew B. Ridgway, whose name the center bears, is best remembered for salvaging the United Nation's effort during the Korean War. His military career began in 1917, when the Army commissioned him as a Second Lieutenant immediately after he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. By 1930, Ridgway had become an advisor to the Governor General of the Philippines, and within a few years, he rose to the rank of Assistant Chief of Staff of the 4th Army.
At the outset of World War II, Ridgway's distinguished service record earned him a billet in the War Plans Division. In 1942, he attained the rank of Brigadier General and took command of the 82nd Airborne Division, which was then a grand experiment in revolutionary para-trooper tactics. Ridgway received the posting, in large part, because of his reputation for innovation, boldness, and leadership by example. The Normandy invasion proved that the Army accurately judged his character; Ridgway jumped with his troops on D-day and led them on the ground for more than 30 days, ultimately advancing to St. Sauveur le Vicomte. By the fall of 1944, Ridgway commanded all U.S. Airborne troops. He headed the XVII Corps, which included both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.
Ridgway continued to earn promotions both during and after the war. By the close of hostilities, he held the title of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean, and during the post-war peace, he held positions as the head of U.S. forces in the Caribbean and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army. However, his most distinguished service came during the Korean War.
Following his predecessor's death in a road accident in 1950, General Ridgway assumed command of the beleaguered 8th Army, which was then in a weeks' long retreat from a Chinese onslaught. Within a year, General Ridgway succeeded in a counter-offensive that regained a great deal of lost territory. By April of 1951, this record of success earned Ridgway both a promotion to full general and the command of all United Nations' forces in Korea, following President Truman's dismissal of General MacArthur.
Ridgway's leadership throughout the rest of the war was exemplary. Military historians credit him not only with boosting the broken morale of 8th Army, but also with transforming the entire United Nations war effort. Ultimately, General Ridgway's troops fought Chinese and North Korean forces to a standstill at the 38th parallel, which still marks the present day border between North and South Korea.
Following the Korean War, Ridgway's exemplary performance earned him the rank of Supreme Allied Commander of Europe (SACEUR). On his return to the U.S., Ridgway assumed the role of Chief of Staff of the Army. He held this position until 1955.
Following his military service, General Ridgway retired to suburban Pittsburgh, where he lived until he died of heart failure in 1993 at the age of 98. General Ridgway is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.