Cover photo for General Frederick J. Kroesen's Obituary
General Frederick J. Kroesen Profile Photo
General

General Frederick J. Kroesen

General Frederick James Kroesen – husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and great-great grandfather was a rare combination of warrior and writer. He was one of America’s most distinguished and accomplished soldiers, a man of unmatched integrity and honor. During four decades in uniform, General “Fritz” Kroesen was considered by his peers as “indestructible,” participating in four wars – World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War – where he was wounded in each. He wears the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with two stars awarded. He led troops as a platoon and company commander in France and Germany during World War II, as a battalion commander in Korea, as a brigade commander in Vietnam and he commanded the 23d Americal Division in Vietnam. He commanded the 82d Airborne Division in the United States, and the VII Corps in Germany. Wearing four stars, he commanded the U.S. Army Forces Command, served as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and completed his active service in 1983, as the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Europe and Central Army Group (NATO) for four years of the Cold War.
His awards include the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal (w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster-OLC), Silver Star (w/1 OLC), Legion of Merit (w/2 OLC), Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star (w/Valor and 2 OLC), Air Medal (w/29 OLC), Purple Heart (w/2 OCL), Master Parachute Badge, Officer of Legion of Honor (France: Croix d’Officier de la Legion d’Honneur) and Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany, Korean Presidential Citation, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (3x), the Silvanus Thayer Award at West Point, the Honorary Sergeant Major of the Army Award, the Abrams’ Award from AUSA , the Audie Murphy Award from the American Veterans Center, the Doughboy Award from the Infantry Center, and the Gold Good Citizenship Medal from the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was the first graduate of the Officer Candidate School (OCS) to reach the rank of four stars and was inducted in the OCS Hall of Fame. General Kroesen was honored to “take the salute” at Edinburgh Castle, and change the U.S. Flag at the Tomb of the Marquis de Lafayette. He graduated from and became an instructor at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, PA.
General Kroesen’s education includes a Bachelor of Science, Agriculture, Rutgers University, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts, International Affairs, George Washington University and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Rutgers University.
General Kroesen was a Son of the American Revolution, Senior Fellow of the Institute of Land Warfare of the Association of the U.S. Army, U.S. Army War College Alumni Association President (1984-1990), served on the boards of The Army Museum, the American Security Council and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors, Net Talon Security International, and on the Army Historical Foundation.
While on active duty and during his retirement, into 2019, General Kroesen consistently produced thought-provoking articles and essays for ARMY magazine that reflected his deep and abiding appreciation of the rigors and challenges of infantry combat and his concern for the future of America’s Army and the nation he loved. Using common-sense prose, General Kroesen communicated his insights, and his thoughtful articles on a wide variety of subjects remain as relevant today as when they were first written. The articles, being somewhat autobiographical, reflect an extraordinary soldier who gives us great insight into his life. His book, General Thoughts: 70 Years with the Army, was published in 2003, by AUSA.
General Kroesen was born 11 February 1923 in Philipsburg, New Jersey, to Frederick J. and Jean Kroesen, née Shillinger. Growing up in Trenton, N.J. he was a mounted Boy Scout, winning ribbons at Horse Shows and working in the stables at the N.J. National Guard 112th Field Artillery Battery. General Kroesen never tired of besting the younger generation at play – squash, tennis, softball, ping-pong, golf, chess and cards. He coached Little League Baseball and guided historical tours of battlefields. He supported over a hundred charities. He was in the Advanced ROTC program at Rutgers University and was on Rutgers’ varsity crew. He enlisted and as a Private and was selected to attend the Infantry Officer Candidate School, graduating a 2nd Lieutenant in 1944, before being sent to the war. General Kroesen died peacefully at the age of 97, on April 2020. He is survived by his beloved high school sweetheart and wife of 76 years, Rowene, née McCray, his children Karen and Stephen Klare, Frederick and Ada Kroesen, Gretchen and Kief Tackaberry, 10 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson “Baby Fritz.”
General Kroesen departs this life leaving the world a better place, and his legacy of service to the people of the U.S. and other nations will endure for generations.
Memorial donations may be made to the Army Historical Foundation Army Museum Fund via https://armyhistory.org/individual-giving-programs/tribute-gifts/.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him. Amen.

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