History Biography Geography Science Games

Biography >> World War 2 for Kids


Douglas MacArthur

Portrait of General Douglas MacArthur
General Douglas MacArthur
Source: Department of Defense


Where did Douglas MacArthur grow up?

Douglas MacArthur was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on January 26,1880. The son of an officer of the U.S. Army, Douglas' family moved a lot. He was the youngest of three brothers and grew up enjoying sports and outdoor adventures.

As a child, his family lived mostly in the Old West. His mother Mary taught him how to read and write, while his brothers taught him how to hunt and ride a horse. Douglas' dream as a child was to grow up and be a famous soldier like his dad.

Early Career

After graduating high school, MacArthur entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was an excellent student and played on the school's baseball team. He graduated first in his class in 1903 and joined the army as second lieutenant.

Douglas was very successful in the army. He was promoted several times. When the United States entered World War I in 1917 MacArthur was promoted to colonel. He was given a command of the "Rainbow" Division (the 42nd Division). MacArthur proved himself to be an outstanding military leader and a brave soldier. He often fought on the front lines with his soldiers and earned several awards for bravery. By the end of the war he had been promoted to general.

World War II

In 1941, MacArthur was named commander of the U.S. forces in the Pacific. Not long after, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. At the time, MacArthur was in the Philippines. After attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese turned their attention to the Philippines. They quickly took control and MacArthur, along with his wife and child, had to escape through enemy lines on a small boat.

Once MacArthur could gather his forces, he went on the attack. He was an excellent leader and began to win back islands from the Japanese. After several years of fierce fighting, MacArthur and his troops won back the Philippines, delivering a serious blow to the Japanese forces.

MacArthur's next job was to invade Japan. However, U.S. leaders decided to use the atomic bomb instead. After atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan surrendered. MacArthur accepted the official Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945.

MacArthur Smoking a
Corn Cob Pipe
Source: National Archives
Rebuilding Japan

After the war, MacArthur took on the monumental task of rebuilding Japan. The country was defeated and in ruins. At first, he helped to provide food for the starving people of Japan out of the armies supplies. He then worked to rebuild the infrastructure and government of Japan. Japan had a new democratic constitution and would eventually grow to become one of the largest economies in the world.

Korean War

In 1950, the Korean War broke out between North and South Korea. MacArthur was made commander of the forces fighting to keep South Korea free. He came up with a brilliant, but risky plan. He attacked at a point well behind the enemy lines, splitting the North Korean army. The attack was a success, and the North Korean army was driven out of South Korea. However, soon the Chinese joined in the war to help North Korea. MacArthur wanted to attack the Chinese, but President Truman disagreed. MacArthur was relieved of his command over the disagreement.


MacArthur retired from the army and went into business. He spent his retirement years writing his memoirs. He died on April 5, 1964 at the age of 84.

Interesting Facts about Douglas MacArthur Activities

  • Listen to a recorded reading of this page:

  • Learn More about World War II:

    World War II Timeline
    Allied Powers and Leaders
    Axis Powers and Leaders
    Causes of WW2
    War in Europe
    War in the Pacific
    After the War

    Battle of Britain
    Battle of the Atlantic
    Pearl Harbor
    Battle of Stalingrad
    D-Day (Invasion of Normandy)
    Battle of the Bulge
    Battle of Berlin
    Battle of Midway
    Battle of Guadalcanal
    Battle of Iwo Jima

    The Holocaust
    Japanese Internment Camps
    Bataan Death March
    Fireside Chats
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Atomic Bomb)
    War Crimes Trials
    Recovery and the Marshall Plan
    Winston Churchill
    Charles de Gaulle
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Harry S. Truman
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Douglas MacArthur
    George Patton
    Adolf Hitler
    Joseph Stalin
    Benito Mussolini
    Anne Frank
    Eleanor Roosevelt

    The US Home Front
    Women of World War II
    African Americans in WW2
    Spies and Secret Agents
    Aircraft Carriers
    World War II Glossary and Terms

    Works Cited

    History >> World War 2 for Kids

    Ducksters Footer Gif with Ducks

    About Ducksters Privacy Policy 


    This site is a product of TSI (Technological Solutions, Inc.), Copyright 2024, All Rights Reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use.