The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man… Thomas Robert MALTHUS

All About Lieutenant General, Army of The United States George Smith Patton, Jr.(10)…

ACCIDENT and DEATH…

On December 9, 1945, Patton was severely injured in a road accident. He and his chief of staff, Major General Hobart R. „Hap” Gay, were on a day trip to hunt pheasants in the country outside Mannheim. Their 1938 Cadillac Model 75 was driven by Private First Class Horace Woodring (1926–2003), Patton sitting in the back seat on the right side, with General Gay on his left, as per custom. At 11:45 near Neckarstadt (Mannheim-Käfertal), a 2½ ton GMC truck driven by Technical Sergeant Robert L. Thompson made a left turn in front of Patton’s Cadillac. Patton’s car hit the front of the truck, at a low speed.

At first the crash seemed minor, the vehicles were hardly damaged, no one in the truck was hurt, and Gay and Woodring were uninjured. However, Patton was leaning back with trouble breathing. The general had been thrown forward and his head struck a metal part of the partition between the front and back seats, incurring a cervical spinal cord injury. Paralyzed from the neck down, he was rushed to the military hospital in Heidelberg. Patton died of a pulmonary embolism on December 21, 1945. The funeral service was held at the Christ Church (Christuskirche) in Heidelberg-Südstadt.

Patton was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm, Luxembourg along with other members of the Third Army, as per Patton’s request to „be buried with my men.” On March 19, 1947, his body was moved from the original grave site in the cemetery to its current prominent location at the head of his former troops. A cenotaph was placed at the Wilson-Patton family plot at the San Gabriel Cemetery in San Gabriel, California, adjacent to the Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal), where Patton was baptized and confirmed. In the narthex of the sanctuary of the church is a stained glass window honor which features, among other highlights of Patton’s career, a picture of him riding in a tank. A statue of General Patton was placed between the church and the family plot. Patton’s car was repaired and used by other officers. The car is now on display with other Patton artifacts at the General George Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

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