George Marshall was one of the most decorated military leaders in American history. After the war, he served as the secretary of state and crafted the “Marshall Plan” for European recovery. In 1953, Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize.
A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, he was a World War I staff officer and later became assistant commandant at the U.S. Infantry School. Named chief of staff when World War II began in 1939, Marshall was responsible for exponentially increasing the size of the U.S. Army, and he helped devise Operation Overlord in 1944. After the war, he came out of retirement to serve as President Harry Truman’s secretary of state.
In the Cold War, as in World War II, Marshall saw Europe as the top American strategic priority.
In June of 1947, Marshall proposed a sweeping economic recovery program, later known as the Marshall Plan, which would remove trade barriers, modernize industry, make Europe prosperous again and help protect friendly European countries from Communist subversion. The plan was a success, and in 1953, Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
Before he left the State Department in 1949, he also helped erect two other pillars of containment in Europe to stand alongside the Marshall Plan–a West German state and a Western military alliance: NATO.