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Original Issue

Courtney H. Hodges

'I didn't kill him'

In San Antonio, a star-studded haven for retired Army brass, lives a quiet, wise man to whom the nation will always owe a debt of profound gratitude. As commander of the First Army during World War II, General Hodges led his men in the first landings on the Normandy beaches and on to the liberation of Paris; his First Army was the first to break into Germany, the first to cross the Rhine. Now 71, retired, and a most active hunter, the general, as is only right, bagged this whitetail buck on the first day of the Texas season.

War correspondents called the First Army the greatest aggressive instrument devised by man, but General Hodges, though closely associated through service and friendship with such excitement-stirrers as Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Montgomery, artfully escaped the limelight. Throughout the entire war he gave only one press conference. Since his retirement General Hodges has avoided both publishers and politicians to live modestly with his wife and guns. On a ranch near his home where the grass grows tall and turkey and deer are plentiful, General Hodges shot his buck. "I didn't kill him," he explained afterward, "he committed suicide—came within 50 yards of me," a fitting if unintended epitaph for the General's wartime opponents.