Little League Graduate, General David Petraeus, Is New Chief of U.S. Central Command
United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently introduced General David Petraeus, a graduate of Cornwall (N.Y.) Little League, as the new chief of U.S. Central Command.
Gen. Petraeus spent 20 months as the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, and now oversees U.S. military operations across the Middle East — from Egypt to the Persian Gulf — as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Even as an 11-year-old Little Leaguer, Gen. Petraeus was quiet, unassuming, and a tough competitor. More than 40 years later, the child who was affectionately known as “Peaches,” was selected by President Bush to head the Coalition Forces in Iraq before accepting his current duties.
Growing up in Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, N.Y., the nickname “Peaches” came about when the future general’s Little League teammates mispronounced his last name.
Now a four-star general in the United States Army, Gen. Petraeus was unanimously confirmed in January 2007 by the Senate as Commander of Multinational Forces-Iraq. He assumed his position as Central Command Chief on Oct. 31.
“I’m not surprised at all that’s David’s been successful,” Gene Goldsmith, one of Gen. Petraeus’ Little League coaches, said. “He would encourage others to do their best, and then go ahead and work on his own game. As a player he was quiet, but sincere – a go-get-’em type of a player.”
Gen. Petraeus was the General George C. Marshall Award winner as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Class in 1983; and later earned a Master’s degree in public administration, and a Ph.D. in international relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Mr. Goldsmith remembered the future general played third base and outfield, and was a solid hitter, batting third or fourth in the lineup.
“He was shy, but if you gave him the ball, and told him to do something – he’d do it,” Mr. Goldsmith, a retired facility manager with the New York State Parks Service, said. “When you spoke to him, it was like talking to a grown-up. He was very smart, and a well-disciplined young man.”
Gen. Petraeus has held leadership positions in airborne, mechanized, and air assault infantry units in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. Before his tour in Iraq, he was Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations of the NATO Stabilization Force, and Deputy Commander of the U.S. Joint Interagency Counter-Terrorism Task Force in Bosnia. He has been wounded at least twice in the line of duty.
In 2003, Gen. Petraeus commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the invasion of Iraq, and during that unit’s occupation of Mosul in 2004. Later in 2004, he was placed in charge of training the new Iraqi Army. In September of 2005, he assumed command of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
In a military career that has spanned more than three decades, the numerous awards and decorations earned by Gen. Petraeus include, the Distinguished Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
On Oct. 31, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates introduced General David Petraeus as chief of U.S. Central Command. Gen. Petraeus, a graduate of Cornwall (N.Y.) Little League, previously was the top U.S. commander in Baghdad. His new duties places him in charge of U.S. military operations across the Middle East, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan.