March 20, 1910: Student Years of General Carl A. Spaatz Include Dramatic Intervention


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

March 20, 1910: Charles Spatz is beside himself and has called his friend Tommy for help. His son Carl has submitted a letter of resignation form the United States Military Academy and wants to come home. He has only been there 20 days and is apparently distressed by the hazing and regulations.

The elder Spatz wants Tommy to use all of his influence to keep Carl at West Point. That influence is considerable, because Tommy is Major Thomas Leidy Rhoads, the personal physician of the President of the United States, William H. Taft. It was Major Rhoads who had suggested that Carl had “the makings of a soldier” and helped him secure an appointment to West Point.

Rhoads went over to the White House and got the President out of bed, the two of them contacted Congressman John. H. Rothermel, who had appointed Spatz to the Academy, and the three of them got in touch with the Superintendent of the Academy to stop the resignation.

It has not been recorded exactly how they did it, because it would normally take an act of Congress to get him back in, but Spatz did remain there and did graduate four years later, although not with a spotless record. He was still marching punishment tours the afternoon of graduation.

While at the Point, Spatz acquired the nickname Tooey, because he looked like an upperclassman who last name was Tooey, and that name stuck with him throughout his military career.

At one time, Spatz was caught with alcohol in his dorm room, which is automatic expulsion, but he was found “Not Guilty” on a “technicality.” Was that technicality an excuse to avoid another intervention of the President of the United States?

Time will prove that President Taft was right to intervene because Carl Spaatz will go on to become one of the most important leaders in the Allied victory over the Germans in World War II.

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