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How, exactly, did Gen. George S. Patton die? Thanks.


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Dear Don,

On the overcast morning of December 9, 1945, General George S. Patton Jr. and his chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Hobart Gay, were being driven by Pfc. Horace I. Woodring to go pheasant shooting when a 2 ½ ton truck driven by Staff Sgt. Robert Thompson suddenly emerged from the haze near Neckar Stadt, made a left turn to get on a side road and Patton’s sedan crashed into it. The only injury was to Patton, who was thrown forward, striking his head on a metal part of the partition between the front and rear seats. After asking if anyone else was all right, Patton told Gay: “What a hell of a way to die. I think I’m paralyzed.” He was—from the neck down.

Taken to the 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg and put in a body cast, Patton seemed to improve, but on December 21 he developed pneumonia and, unknown to the doctors at the time, a lung embolism. He died in his sleep that night.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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