PERSHING, John Joseph (1860-1948), American general, who led
the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Europe during World War I. He was born on Sept. 13, 1860, in Linn Co., Mo., and educated at the U.S. Military Academy. He served in the Apache campaign in
1886, the Sioux campaign in 1890-91, in Cuba in 1898, and in the Philippines from 1899 to 1903. In 1916, during the Mexican War, he headed a punitive expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Francisco
(Pancho) Villa, who had committed depredations in American territory. In September of that year, Pershing was made a major general. When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, Pershing was appointed
commander in chief of the AEF in France and conducted its operations with great success. In October of that year he was made a full general. He preserved the unity of
the American army, in spite of pressure to divide it among other Allied forces. The success of the Americans at Saint-Mihiel, France, greatly stimulated the Allied morale. When the armistice
came, Pershing was almost in sight of his goal, Sedan. For his contribution to the Allied victory, in September 1919 he was made General of the Armies of the U.S., a rank only he has held.
Appointed chief of staff of the U.S. Army in 1921, Pershing entered on the unprecedented task of combining into one organization the Regular Army, the National Guard, and the Permanent
Reserves. After his retirement on Sept. 12, 1924, he headed a commission supervising American war memorials in France. His memoirs, My Experiences in the World War, appeared in 1931.
He died in Washington, D.C., on July 15, 1948.