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Clay, Lucius

Clay, Lucius (1897–1978), army general and diplomat.Born in Marietta, Georgia, Clay graduated from West Point in 1918 as a military engineer. His career departed from the routine with assignments to the International Naval Conference in Brussels in 1934 and to the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines in 1937.

During World War II, Clay became deputy director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion (1944). In 1945, he served briefly as deputy to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, and then as deputy military governor of the U.S. zone in Germany. From 1947 to 1949 he served as commander of U.S. forces in Europe, and as U.S. military governor in Germany. Clay won acclaim for his direction of operations including the Berlin Airlift in the American response to the Soviets' blockade of the western access routes to Berlin in 1948–49. His determination and his blunt criticism of the Soviets made him a symbol of the U.S. support for West Berlin. He retired from the army as a full general in May 1949, and served as chairman of the board of Continental Can Company from 1950 to 1962.

At the time of the Berlin Wall crisis of 1961, President John F. Kennedy recalled Clay to active duty to symbolize U.S. commitment to the city. Clay served from September 1961 to May 1962 as Kennedy's personal representative in Berlin, with the rank of ambassador. The crisis reached a flashpoint in October 1961, when, with Kennedy's permission to take a strong stance, Clay ordered ten M‐48 tanks to the entrypoint of the wall, “Checkpoint Charlie,” where they were met with a similar Soviet armored force. Kennedy made a secret appeal to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev to defuse the crisis, and both sides withdrew their tanks after the show of force.
[See also Berlin Crises; Germany, U.S. Military Involvement in.]

Bibliography

Lucius D. Clay , Decision in Germany, 1950.
Lucius D. Clay , The Papers of General Lucius D. Clay: Germany 1945–1949, 2 vols., ed. Jean Edward Smith, 1974.
John H. Backer , Winds of History: The German Years of Lucius DuBignon Clay, 1983.

John Whiteclay Chambers II

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"Clay, Lucius." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Clay, Lucius DuBignon

Lucius DuBignon Clay (dəbĬn´yən, dübēnyôN´), 1897–1978, American general, b. Marietta, Ga. A graduate of West Point and an engineering officer, he held many army administrative posts and became (1944) deputy director of the office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. Clay was (1945–47) deputy chief of the U.S. military government in Germany and in 1947 became commander of U.S. troops in Europe. He directed operations in the Berlin blockade as U.S. military governor (1947–49). Clay retired from the army as a full general in May, 1949, to enter private business. After the closing of the borders between East and West Berlin by the Communists, he served (Sept., 1961–May, 1962) as President Kennedy's personal representative in Berlin with the rank of ambassador. He wrote Decision in Germany (1950).

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"Clay, Lucius DuBignon." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Clay, Lucius DuBignon." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/clay-lucius-dubignon