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#ArmyAuthor: MG Edwin "Forrest" Harding
The Harding Project profiles notable contemporary and historical Army authors each month. Starting in September, our partners at West Point’s Modern War Institute will host these profiles. This month, we’re highlighting our namesake, Major General Edwin “Forrest” Harding.
Major General Edwin “Forrest” Harding threw his cigarette to the ground. In the dense, humid jungle, the cigarette’s ember would have matched the fiery tension in the air. Harding’s West Point classmate, Lt. General Robert L. Eichelberger, stood in front of him, his expression stern.
Eichelberger’s words must have cut deep for Harding, whose soldiers had fought and died in the Battle of Buna, the outcome of which still hung in the balance.
As commander of the 32nd Infantry Division, Harding had been at the forefront of an intense jungle campaign to liberate Papua New Guinea from Imperial Japanese occupation. But malaria and malnourishment wreaked havoc on Harding’s troops. Sent by General Douglas MacArthur to inspect the situation, Eichelberger found the division combat ineffective and relieved Harding two weeks after the battle began, replacing him with the division artillery commander. Overseeing the battle as the I Corps commander, Eichelberger eventually captured Buna, but it took several weeks and came at great loss of life.
While relief from command during the Battle of Buna would forever be associated with Harding, this perhaps overshadows the deeply important contributions he made in the years ahead of World War II—contributions that make him worth remembering, and emulating, for today’s Army leaders of all levels.
If you have an #ArmyAuthor you’d like to profile, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.