John Sheldon Eisenhower is not only known as the son of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he is also known as a respected historian. The second son to Ike and Mamie, he was born in Denver, on Aug. 3, 1922. The couple’s older son, Doud Dwight, passed away from Scarlet Fever at age 3.
The son of a military man, John Eisenhower followed his father’s footsteps and attended West Point. He graduated from West Point June 6, 1944. He also taught English at the renowned military school.
John Eisenhower attended high school in the Philippines during his father’s tour there. As the son of a general, and later the son of a president, Eisenhower often found himself shadowed. So he decided to do try his hand at something his father was not involved in, he began writing. Armed with a Masters in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, John Eisenhower succeeded in making a name for himself as a writer.
Between periods of military service, Eisenhower published and was recognized for a number of books. John Eisenhower spent a total of 34 years in the United States military. He spent 19 of those years in active service and the remainder in the military reserve.
He also served as White House Advisor on National Security Affairs during his father’s second term. During the presidency of Richard Nixon, his father’s former vice president, Eisenhower served as Ambassador to Belgium.
In 1969, Eisenhower’s first book was published; it was titled, “The Bitter Wood”, it was a history of the World War II, Battle of the Bulge. During his years as an ambassador he published his memoir, “Strictly Personal.”
There is a noted resemblance between John Eisenhower and his father. It is also reported that the pair got a long “just fine,” despite the former president’s strict parenting style. While discussing his early years in the military and how it affected his relationship with his father, Eisenhower stated, “I was not only his son, I was a young lieutenant who needed on occasion to be straightened out.”
In 2008, Mr. Eisenhower wrote about his decision to be deployed in Korea, and how his father took the news. According to the article, the then President Dwight Eisenhower made one condition for his son’s deployment. He required that John make sure that he was not captured. He understood that the capture would lead to blackmail and that it would be mandatory for him to resign as president.
John Eisenhower died Saturday, Dec 21, in his Maryland home. His family is unaware of the cause of death. He is survived by his second wife Joanne Thompson Eisenhower. He has four children by his first wife Barbara Jean Thompson. The marriage to Barbara Jean lasted from 1947-1986. The children’s names are son, Dwight David Eisenhower, II and daughters, Barbara Ann, Susan, and Mary. He also had 8 grandchildren.
President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel both sent letters of condolence to the family. Each recognized Mr. Eisenhower for his contributions. In his letter President Obama described John Eisenhower as, “an accomplished soldier, diplomat, and author.” After 91 years of life, Mr. Eisenhower was indeed all of those things.
By Earnestine Jones
U.S. Dept. of Defense