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General Frank T. Mildren U.S./Colt M1903 Semi-Automatic General Officer's Pistol
This pistol (SN 567272) was twice presented to General Frank T. Mildren, U. S. Army. This gun was originally presented to General Mildren by the Army, then re-presented after it had been engraved. Army general officers have been issued special pistols since the Second World War. The reasons for this are obscure. Typically, Army general officer pistols have been John Browning-designed Colt Pocket Automatic Pistols in .32 or .380 caliber.
General Frank Thomas Mildren was born in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 8, 1913. He completed two years of study at the University of Nevada before entering the United States Military Academy in 1935. After graduating four years later, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and assigned to Company K, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Douglas, Utah. Over the course of the following three years, he served in command of the Regiment's Anti-Tank Company, A Company, and was an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy Prep School.
On April 13, 1941, Lieutenant Mildren married Audrey Leone Paulus. He was promoted to Captain in March 1942 and was assigned to command of 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He attended the Battalion Commander and Staff Officer School, Fort Benning, Georgia during that same year, and in October 1942 he was promoted to Major. After completion of the course of instruction at Fort Benning, he returned to the 38th Infantry Regiment. In the summer of 1943, he assumed command of the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment prior to the unit's deployment to Europe.
As a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment during the Normandy invasion in June 1944, where his troops landed on Omaha Beach. He saw action throughout France and Germany, becoming Executive Officer of the 38th Infantry shortly before the end of hostilities. In June 1945, he became commander of the 23rd Infantry in time for the unit's return to the United States. In August of that year, he became Operations Officer of the 2nd Division. From September 1946 to June 1947, he attended the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and upon completion of the course, he was assigned to the Operations staff at the War Department in Washington. While serving in this capacity, he also attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.
In October 1950, he became Deputy Operations Officer for the X Army Corps in Korea. Within four months, he assumed the duties of Operations Officer for the Corps, and in June 1951, he returned to the 38th Infantry Regiment as its commander. Under his leadership, the unit took part in the fighting at Heartbreak Ridge, the capture of the "Punchbowl", and the battle for Mun Dung-Ni Valley. In October 1951, he was promoted to Colonel, and by year's end, he was named Senior Aide to the Commanding General, U.S. Eighth Army. After his return to the United States in the summer of 1952, Colonel Mildren served as a member of the faculty at the Infantry School at Fort Benning.
After a three-year tour of duty at the school, he attended the National War College. After graduation in 1956, he was designated Chief, Budget Division for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in Washington. In 1960, twenty-one years after completing his studies at West Point, he received his brigadier general's star and was assigned to duty as Assistant Division Commander, 24th Infantry Division in Germany. Over the next two years, he served as Chief of Staff, V Corps and Commanding General, 3rd Infantry Division, and was promoted to Major General. In April 1964, General Mildren became Director of Doctrine and Systems in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development.
He remained in this assignment until July 1, 1965, when he was promoted to Lieutenant General and given command of the VII Corps in Germany. After nearly three years in Europe, he was designated the Army's Deputy Commanding General in Vietnam. He returned to the United States in August 1970 and assumed his duties as Deputy Commanding General, Headquarters, Continental Army Command at Fort Monroe, Virginia. During the following spring, he was promoted to General and became NATO Commander in Southeastern Europe. General Mildren retired from the Army on August 1, 1973.
During his 34-year career, he received the Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Silver Star with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with V and two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal, Purple Heart, Campaign and Service medals for the Second World War, Korea, and Vietnam with battle stars, Combat Infantryman Badge with Star, and numerous other U.S. and foreign decorations and awards.
By his own admission, General Mildren was a poor marksman with a pistol, but he qualified as an expert with a rifle. During his Second World War and Korean service, he carried both the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine at various times. While in Vietnam, he carried his issue General Officer's Pistol because, as he put it, "I always had good marksmen with me wherever I went." General Mildren's pistol was elaborately engraved by J. Aichholzer of Ulm, West Germany.
Originally presented by the Army on his promotion to Brigadier General in 1960, the pistol was swapped with that of Major General John F. Freund, VII Corps Chief of Staff, without General Mildren's knowledge so that it could be engraved. It was then re-presented in 1968 by General Freund. Featured are oak leaf designs on the frame, slide, and custom grips, the three stars signifying the rank of lieutenant general which was held by General Mildren at the time in which the pistol was engraved, the shoulder patch of the VII Corps, an inlaid Great Seal of the United States, and the name "Frank T. Mildren." The overall gray cast metal finish helps to accentuate the engraving and inlays. This double-presentation pistol is very likely unique among U.S. Army General Officer's Pistols.