Sept. 26, 1961 - General Robert L. Eichelberger (pictured in New Guinea during World War II), retired American commander of the Eighth Army in the Pacific during World War II, died in Asheville, N.C. today. He was 75 years old. American troops under Eichelberger inflicted on the Japanese their first land defeat of the war at Buna, New Guinea. The general's stamina and perseverance against the Japanese in the sweltering, slime-coated jungles of New Guinea became legend. Few field generals were as daring or relentless in the Pacific, and none commanded so many amphibious assaults. Gen. Eichelberger made more than 55 invasion landings. He took risks in combat that he would have disciplined his staff for taking and was often under direct fire. On more than one occasion, he seized a rifle to pick off a Japanese sniper. "I want all of these boys to know I'm here going through it with them," he said. General Douglas MacArthur described him today as "one of the Army's most brilliant commanders."
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