The MG Frederick Leadership Award
About MG Frederick
MG Robert Tyrone Frederick (1907-1970)
Born in San Francisco Frederick attended Staunton (VA) Military Academy for one year before transferring to West Point where he graduated in 1928.
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor Fredericks was given command of a new combined U.S.-Canadian commando unit known as the 1st Special Service Force (1SSF) aka ‘The Force.’ Their mission was to destroy German ‘heavy water’ production factories, a necessary element in producing an atomic bomb at the time, in Norway. The ‘Force’ was extensively trained in mountain and winter weather operations.
The mission to Norway was eventually cancelled. After initial combat operations in the Aleutians in July 1943 ‘The Force’ redeployed to Italy in November and soon entered the line. 1SSF attacked and captured the heavily defended Mount La Difensa and other strongholds in December and January ’44. The attack on Mount La Difensa is highlighted in the movie ‘The Devils Brigade’ starring William Holden and Cliff Robertson. Following the ‘mountain top fights’ the 1SSF deployed to Anzio from Jan – May ’44 where they conducted aggressive combat patrols holding a section of line along the Mussolini Canal normally assigned to units 4-5X larger. In May ’44 the 1SSF led the breakout attack and was the first allied unit into Rome on 4 June ’44.
In late June ’44 Frederick was promoted to BG and given command of a new unit, the 1st Allied Airborne Task Force (1AATF), for the invasion of southern France in August ’44. This was an ad hoc division sized airborne unit comprised of battalion and regimental sized elements from both the U.S. and British armies. With just over one month to prepare the 1AATF conducted a textbook airborne assault into southern France with minimal casualties.
In early December ’44 Frederick, now promoted to MG, was given command of the 45th Infantry Division. The 45th saw heavy combat in Alsace, the capture of Nuremberg in mid-April and finally the occupation of Munich at the end of the month where it finished the war.
MG Frederick, along with MG James Gavin, 82nd Airborne, were the youngest division commanders in the U.S. Army in WW2. MG Gavin was eight days younger than MG Frederick.
MG Fredericks medals include: 2 Distinguished Service Crosses (2nd highest award); 2 Army Distinguished Service medals; 2 Legion of Merits; Silver Star; Bronze Star w/oak leaf cluster; Air Medal; and Purple Heart w/ 7 oak leaf clusters.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared ‘Robert Frederick the greatest fighting general of all time. If we had a dozen more like him we would have smashed Hilter in 1942.’
The V-42 combat knife was partly designed while Frederick was commanding the 1st Special Service Force. The V-42 was its trademark weapon and its members were trained extensively in its use. The profile of the V-42 knife appears in the crests of both the U.S. Army Special Forces and the Canadian Army Joint Task Force 2 (Special Forces).
On 1 May 2023, SFA Chapter 90 President Greg Discavage, presented the MG Frederick Award to the outstanding ROTC Cadet from VMI, Cadet Collin Fitzpatrick. Cadet Fitzpatrick will be branched Infantry and attend the IOBC at Ft. Benning beginning on 9 June 2023. His personal commitment, discipline, mastery of skills, physical toughness, and an ability to lead were instrumental in his selection for this prestigious award. Congratulations to him and best wishes for his continued success.