John Eisenhower

The Honorable
John Eisenhower
Eisenhower on-board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1990
45th United States Ambassador to Belgium
In office
May 14, 1969  September 28, 1971
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by Ridgway Knight
Succeeded by Robert Strausz-Hupe
Personal details
Born John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower
(1922-08-03)August 3, 1922
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Died December 21, 2013(2013-12-21) (aged 91)
Trappe, Maryland, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Republican
  • Barbara Thompson
    (m. 1947; div. 1986)
  • Joanne Thompson
    (m. 1988–2013, his death)
Alma mater
Profession Army officer, military historian, diplomat

Military career

Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1944–1963 (active)
1963–1974 (reserve)
Commands held

John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower (August 3, 1922 – December 21, 2013) was a United States Army officer and military historian. As the son of General, later President, Dwight D. Eisenhower his opportunities for front-line service were often restricted, at some cost to his career, though he ended as a decorated brigadier-general. In the administration of President Richard Nixon (his father’s vice-president), he served as United States Ambassador to Belgium.

Early life and education

Eisenhower was born on August 3, 1922 in Denver, Colorado to future U.S. President and United States Army General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie; he was their second child. Their elder son, Doud, known affectionately as "Icky", died in 1921, at age three, after contracting scarlet fever. Eisenhower, like his father, attended the United States Military Academy, graduating on June 6, 1944, the day of the Normandy landings, which his father was commanding.


Eisenhower served in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War, remaining on active duty until 1963; then serving in the U.S. Army Reserve until retirement in 1975 – attaining the rank of brigadier general.[1] A decorated soldier, Eisenhower found his World War II military career thwarted by fears for his safety and concern from the top brass that his death or capture would be a distraction to his father, the Supreme Allied Commander. This issue arose again in 1952 when Major Eisenhower was assigned to fight in a combat unit in Korea while his father ran for President. After a short stint in combat with an infantry battalion, he was reassigned to the safety of division headquarters. In 2008, he wrote about this experience in an opinion piece in The New York Times entitled "Presidential Children Don't Belong in Battle".[2]

During his father's presidency, John Eisenhower served as Assistant Staff Secretary in the White House, on the Army's General Staff, and in the White House as assistant to General Andrew Goodpaster.

In the administration of President Richard Nixon, who had been his father's Vice President, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. In 1972, President Nixon appointed Eisenhower Chairman of the Interagency Classification Review Committee.[3] In 1975, he served President Gerald Ford as chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees.[4]

Marriage and children

Eisenhower married Barbara Jean Thompson on June 10, 1947, only a few days before her nineteenth birthday. Barbara was born on June 15, 1926, in Fort Knox, Kentucky, into an Army family. She was the daughter of Col. Percy Walter Thompson (November 8, 1898 – June 19, 1974) by his wife Beatrice (née Birchfield). Col. Thompson was commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. The Eisenhowers had four children:

The couple divorced in 1986 after thirty-nine years of marriage. In 1988, Barbara married widower Edwin J. Foltz, a former Vice President at the Campbell Soup Company. She died on September 19, 2014, in Gladwyne, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

In 1988, Eisenhower married Joanne Thompson. He lived in Trappe, Maryland, after moving there from Kimberton, Pennsylvania.[5]

Later life and death

A lifelong Republican, Eisenhower voted for Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election, citing dissatisfaction with Republican incumbent George W. Bush's management of U.S. foreign policy.[6] In later years, he had been an opponent of Frank Gehry's proposed design for the National Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, which he said was "too extravagant" and "attempts to do too much."[7]

He died at Trappe, Maryland on December 21, 2013.[8] From the death of John Coolidge in 2000 until his own death, Eisenhower was the oldest living presidential child.[9] His burial was at West Point Cemetery on the grounds of the United States Military Academy.



As a military historian, Eisenhower wrote several books, including The Bitter Woods, a study of the Battle of the Bulge, and So Far from God, a history of the U.S.-Mexican War. In a New York Times review of the latter, historian Stephen W. Sears remarked that Eisenhower "writes briskly and authoritatively, and his judgments are worth reading."[10] John Eisenhower also wrote the forewords to Borrowed Soldiers, by Mitchell Yockelson of the U.S. National Archives, and to Kenneth W. Rendell's Politics, War and Personality: 50 Iconic Documents of World War II.


Awards and decorations

U.S. military decorations
Bronze Star Medal
U.S. service medals
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal w/ 2 bronze service stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal w/ "Germany" Clasp
National Defense Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal w/ 3 bronze service stars
Foreign unit awards
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Non-U.S. service awards
United Nations Service Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
U.S. Army badges
Combat Infantryman Badge
Glider Badge

Other honors

The city of Marshfield, Missouri chose Eisenhower as a 2008 honoree of the Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative.[11] His grandson, Merrill Eisenhower Atwater spoke on his behalf at Marshfield's annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The medal recognizes individuals who demonstrate great initiative in their chosen field.

Family tree

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Mamie Doud
Richard Nixon
Pat Ryan
Doud Eisenhower
John Eisenhower
Barbara Thompson
Edward Cox
Tricia Nixon
Julie Nixon
David Eisenhower
Anne Eisenhower
Susan Eisenhower
Mary Eisenhower
Christopher Cox
Andrea Catsimatidis
Anthony Cheslock
Jennie Eisenhower
Alex Eisenhower
Tara Brennan
Melanie Eisenhower
Chloe Cheslock
Kaia Eisenhower
Kaeden Eisenhower

See also


  1. "John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower". Internet Accuracy Project.
  2. Eisenhower, John (September 27, 2008). "Presidential Children Don't Belong in Battle". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  3. "History of the Information Security Oversight Office". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
  4. Woolley, John T.; Gerhard Peters. "Remarks Upon Establishing the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees". The American Presidency Project. Santa Barbara, California: University of California. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
  5. "John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower". Internet Accuracy Project. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  6. Eisenhower, John (September 28, 2004). "Why I Will Vote for John Kerry for President". The Manchester Union Leader. Retrieved 2007-05-19.
  7. Zongker, Brett (November 16, 2013). "Eisenhower Memorial Approval Delayed Into 2013". Associated Press.
  8. Goldstein, Richard (2013-12-22). "John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91". The New York Times. New York: The New York Times Company.
  9. "Former President John Tyler's (1790–1862) grandchildren still alive". January 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-25. If Elizabeth Ann Blaesing was actually Warren Harding's daughter, she would have been the oldest surviving presidential child from 1995 to her death in 2005, at which point John Eisenhower would have become the oldest.
  10. Stephen W. Sears (April 2, 1989). "Land Grab on the Rio Grande". New York Times.
  11. "Hubble Medal of Initiative." Marshfield Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival. Retrieved March 4, 2011.


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