Douglas MacArthur, 1952, Oil on canvas by Howard Chandler Christy
Commander of American land forces in the Pacific at the outbreak of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur suffered the worst defeat of his career in the spring of 1942, when he was forced to flee the Philippines in the wake of Japanese invasion. Uttering on his arrival in Australia his famous words, "I shall return," MacArthur now faced the task of repelling Japan's drive for dominion in the southwest Pacific. His success in that effort, combined with his own genius for self-promotion in the press, made him one of the most popular heroes of the war back in civilian America. By the time he made good his promise to retake the Philippines in spring 1945, his reputation had reached legendary proportions, and the following September, he was chosen to preside over Japan's final surrender.