Biography

Corley, John T.
[Col. CO 3Bn24thIR]

  

24th Infantry Regiment 3rdBattalion

 biography

Col. John T. Corley, a crew-cropped red-headed West Point graduate of the class of 1938, 35 years old. One of the most highly decorated battalion or regimental officers in the US Army, he had earned two Distinguished Service Crosses, eight Silver Stars, and a battlefield promotion to colonel.

Brigadier General John T. Corley was born on August 4, 1914 to Irish Immigrant parents in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point in 1938,where he also was a pretty good boxer prior to his active duty service. One story states that after his graduation from West Point he was assigned to the Army Air Corps; where he then flew an airplane under the Brooklyn Bridge and was then reassigned to the Infantry. General Corley demonstrated such outstanding leadership qualities that he earned battlefield promotions in every command assignment from platoon leader through battalion commander.

He fought in WWII with the 1st division. As a major he landed with the Big Red One in North Africa and two days later earned a silver star for action in Oran , Algeria. In March 1943 during fighting at El Guettar Tunisia he destroyed an enemy machine gun nest, allowing his troops to take the hilltop. This action earned Corley the Distinguished Service Cross, America's second highest award for valor.

In May 1943 Corley was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, just five years after graduating from West Point.

While Commanding the 3rd Battalion in Mateur, Tunisia Corley was wounded he recovered and went on to lead and fight at the front in Sicily, he landed at Normandy during D-Day and fought at the Hurtgen Forest during late 1944. He also accepted the first unconditional surrender of a German city during the war, when he accepted the surrender of Aachen by Col. Gerhard Wilck.

Corley would earn 4 oak leaf clusters to his Silver Star for a total of five silver stars earned in WWII. After the war Corley served in a supporting role at the war criminal trials in Nuremberg. He would then return to West Point to teach as a tactical officer followed by staff positions with the 1st Army, and graduation from CGSC at Ft. Leavenworth.

Korea

General Corley was one of 21 commanders personally requested by General Douglas Macarthur for duty in the Far East shortly after the invasion of South Korea by North Korea. He served as battalion commander of the 24th Regiment/25th Infantry Division. Corley led his troops in close combat and won himself an oak leaf cluster to his Distinguished Service Cross. He also helped dispel the myth that Black Soldiers were unreliable, after a series of incompetent leaders the soldiers of the 24th Infantry regiment, a Black unit, were labeled as unreliable.

However when Corley became the commander of these men, they now had a true leader and they soon became a very tough and disciplined fighting force a reflection of their leader.

After Korea Corley served as Chief of the Infantry Branch. Following that tour he Graduated from the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. in 1954. He would later serve as director of the Infantry School's Ranger Department at Ft. Benning Ga. He would later be selected into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2003. Corley would pin on the star of a Brigadier General in July 1962. His last assignment would be as Deputy Commanding General Ft. Jackson SC. He retired September 30th, 1966 and passed away at the young age of 62 on 16 April 1977.

    He and his wife Mrs. Mary Buckley Corley would have 3 sons and 3 daughters.  One son 1Lt. John Thomas Corley jr. USMA 1967 would be KIA in Vietnam, another son made full Colonel in the Army and a daughter would serve and retire from the Army Nurse Corps.

John Thomas Corley
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John T. Corley
 
biography
Brigadier General John T. Corley
Born (1914-08-04)August 4, 1914
Brooklyn, New York
Died April 16, 1977(1977-04-16) (aged 62)
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1938-1966
Rank  Brigadier General
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Silver Star (8)
Soldier's Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star (4)
Purple Heart
Combat Infantryman Badge (2)
Ranger tab

Brigadier General John T. Corley (August 4, 1914 - April 16, 1977) was a career Army officer noted for his contributions to Army training.

Early life

Born to Irish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York. He attended high school at St. Francis Preparatory High School, in Brooklyn and graduated from the class of 1932 and he is also a member of that High School's Hall of Fame. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1938, where he also was an accomplished boxer prior to his active duty service. One story states that after his graduation from West Point he was assigned to the Army Air Corps; where he then flew an airplane under the Brooklyn Bridge and was then reassigned to the infantry.

World War II

He fought in World War II with the 1st Infantry Division. As a major, he landed with the Big Red One in North Africa and two days later earned a Silver Star, America's third highest award for valor, for action in Oran, Algeria. In March 1943, during fighting at El Guettar, Tunisia, he destroyed an enemy machine gun nest, allowing his troops to take the hilltop. This action earned Corley the Distinguished Service Cross, America's second highest award for valor. In May 1943 Corley was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, just five years after graduating from West Point.

While commanding the 3rd Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in Mateur, Tunisia, Corley was wounded. He recovered and went on to fight at the front in Sicily. He landed at Normandy during D-Day and fought at the Hurtgen Forest during late 1944. He also accepted the first unconditional surrender of a German city during the war, when he accepted the surrender of Aachen by Col. Gerhard Wilck.

Corley would add 4 oak leaf clusters to his Silver Star for a total of five Silver Stars earned in World War II. After the war, Corley served in a supporting role at the Nuremberg Trials. He then returned to West Point to teach as a tactical officer, followed by staff positions with the 1st Army, and graduation from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

Korean War

General Corley was one of 21 commanders personally requested by General Douglas MacArthur for duty in the Far East shortly after the invasion of South Korea by North Korea.

He served as battalion commander of the 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, a segregated regiment composed of black enlisted men and mostly white officers. Corley led his troops in close combat and earned an oak leaf cluster for his Distinguished Service Cross and three additional clusters for the Silver Star between August and November 1950.

After Korea Corley served as Chief of the Infantry Branch. Following that tour, he graduated from the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania in 1954. He would later serve as director of the Infantry School's Ranger Department at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2003.

Corley would pin on the star of a Brigadier General in July 1962. His last assignment would be as Assistant Division Commander, 2d Infantry Division, Fort Benning, GA. Upon his departure from the US Army Infantry School in June 1960, BG (then COL) Corley was assigned to HQ, US Army Element, SHAPE in Paris with duty in Copenhagen, Denmark with the NATO Land Forces HQ as Deputy Chief of Staff. Upon nomination for promotion to brigadier general, he was reassigned from SHAPE HQ for duty as Assistant Division Commander, 2d Infantry Division, Fort Benning GA. He retired September 30, 1966 and died at the age of 62 on 16 April 1977.

Family

He and his wife, Mrs. Mary Buckley Corley, would have 4 sons and 3 daughters. One son, 1LT John Thomas Corley, Jr., USMA 1967, would be killed in Vietnam. Another son made full Colonel in the Army, and a daughter would serve and retire from the Army Nurse Corps also as a Colonel. His son is John F. Corley.

Awards and decorations

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Brigadier General Corley’s individual awards and decorations include

two Combat Infantryman Badges,

two Army Distinguished Service medal Cross,

19500821 0000 DSC CORLEY

eight Silver Stars,

Corley, John Thomas [LtCol SS6 CO 3rdBn24thIR]

Corley, John Thomas [LtCol SS7 CO 3rdBn24thIR]

Corley, John Thomas [Col SS8 CO 24thIR]

two Legion of Merit medals,

the Soldier's Medal,,  bronze star???

the Purple Heart

an Army Commendation Medal.

The American Defense Service Medal,

American Campaign Service Medal,

European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 2 campaign stars and an arrow,

the World War II Victory Medal,,

Army of Occupation Medal with “Germany” clasp,

two National Defense Service Medals,

the Korean Service Medal with two campaign stars,

the WWII French Croix De Guerre Medal with silver stars, for those who had been mentioned at the division level,

the United Nations Service Medal and

the Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal (Posthumously),

and the Ranger Tab.

He also has the a Korean Presidential Unit Citation for the defense of the port of Pusan, Korea in 1950


August 7, 1950


At about the time Champeny arrived, however, the 24th did receive one highly competent senior officer, and a West Pointer (1938) at that. He was John T. Corley, thirty-six, one of about two dozen experienced battalion commanders the Army had rushed to Korea by air. A West Point boxer, Corley was a legendary fighter. As a battalion commander in the 1st Infantry Division in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Germany, Corley had won a DSC, five Silver Star medals, and numerous other awards for heroism. A devout Catholic, Corley was the father of seven children.

Although he was fully qualified by dint of experience to command the 24th Regiment, he was so eager to return to combat that he willingly replaced the wounded Sam Pierce as commander of the disorganized 3/24.[7-33]
 

August 12, 1950

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 Meanwhile, John Corley was attempting to bring his 3/24 from the west. But it was hopeless. Corley had only that day taken command, and his men had no heart for a fight. According to the Army historian they bugged out in droves; three of Corley's officers, attempting to stop the stampede, were killed or wounded.[7-42]