Military Bios

Brigadier General Lawrence M. Guyer:

Military Branch:United States Airforce
Died Jan. 22, 1982.
Lawrence McIlroy Guyer was born in Brookings, S.D., in 1907. The son of an Army officer, he was raised in the service and spent his boyhood at many Army camps and stations, mostly in the old west and in Alaska. He graduated "cum laude", with honors, from Louisville, Ky., Male High School in 1924, and during the next year he briefly attended the University of South Dakota and the University of Louisville, Ky., in preparation for entering West Point. In 1925 he received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy from the Honorable Maurice Thatcher, 5th District of Kentucky. He graduated in 1929, 61st in a class of 301.
During the first 14 years of his service, General Guyer was an artillery officer in the Coast Artillery Corps. His first assignment was as a battery officer in the 13th Coast Artillery at Fort Barrancas, Fla. Thereafter, between 1930 and 1932, he was a battery officer assigned to the 1st Coast Artillery at Fort Sherman, Canal Zone, and between 1932 and 1935 he was a battery officer in the 62nd Coast Artillery, Anti-Aircraft, at Fort Totten, N.Y. During his latter period he also was on sub-assignment as a camp commander of the Civilian Conservation Corps at Blue Mountain, N.Y.
In 1935 Lieutenant Guyer was ordered to school as a student at the Coast Artillery School, Fort Monroe, Va., from which he graduated in 1936. From 1936 to 1940 he was assigned as an instructor in the Department of English at the U.S. Military Academy. From 1940 to 1941 he was engaged in reactivating the old harbor defenses of Portsmouth, N.H., and in rebuilding the submarine mine and seacoast defenses centered around Fort Constitution.
In late summer of 1941, Captain Guyer took command of a battalion of the 67th Coast Artillery, Anti-Aircraft, located at Schofield Barracks, near Wheeler Field, Hawaii. The battalion was a newly activated, full war-strength unit, but was still awaiting the arrival of guns and fire control equipment from the United States when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The officers and men of the battalion were reassigned as fillers to other units and Guyer, now a temporary major, was assigned to headquarters of the Hawaiian Anti-Aircraft Command, and subsequently to headquarters of the Hawaiian Seacoast Artillery Command where, in 1942 and 1943 he served successively as G-3, acting chief of staff, and artillery officer.
He was promoted in April 1942 to temporary lieutenant colonel and in November 1942 to temporary colonel. During this period Colonel Guyer was responsible for the installation of many Army seacoast gun batteries on Oahu and for the land adaptation and installation of many Navy gun turrets, including the unparalleled installation of the two 14 inch aft turrets of the USS Arizona after their salvage from the sunken vessel in Pearl Harbor. Such activities earned Colonel Guyer the Bronze Star Medal for "meritorious service in connection with military operations against the enemy". The citation stating also that "his qualities of leadership, superior initiative, efficiency and professional knowledge were of inestimable value to his command in completing its mission in the defense of Oahu."
On Nov. 9, 1943 Colonel Guyer was relieved from assignment and further duty in the Central Pacific Area and was assigned to Headquarters Army Air Forces as executive of the Pacific Theater Branch in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Plans, Washington, D.C. In this office Colonel Guyer further served as chief of the Pacific Theater Branch, then acting chief of the Operational Plans Division, then deputy assistant chief of Air Staff Plans.
For these services during the period December 1943 to September 1945 Colonel Guyer was awarded the Legion of Merit. Also during this period, on April 6, 1945, Headquarters Army Air Forces issued Personnel Orders No. 83 by which Colonel Guyer was "granted an honorary inactive rating as aircraft observer, and is authorized to wear the Aircraft Observer aviation badge."
In September 1945 Colonel Guyer was re-assigned from the air staff to the Office of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. Here, until July 1949 he was Air Force member of a joint Army-Navy-Air Force team charged with researching the records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and writing the wartime history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During this same period, on Feb. 2, 1946, Colonel Guyer permanently transferred from the Coast Artillery Corps to the Army Air Corps, in the permanent grade of major and temporary grade of colonel. On April 2, 1948 he was promoted to the permanent grade of colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
From August 1949 to June 1950 Colonel Guyer was a student at the National War College, from which he graduated in 1950. He was then assigned to the faculty of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and in May 1952 he became deputy commandant and director of academic instruction at the Air War College.
In October 1953 Colonel Guyer was reassigned as chief of staff of the Continental Air Command at Mitchel Air Force Base, N.Y. While serving in this capacity he was promoted, on June 27, 1955, to the grade of temporary brigadier general.
In March 1956 General Guyer was reassigned from the Continental Air Command to duty as U.S. Air Force member and chief of staff of the United Nations Military Armistice Commission in Korea. After completion of this duty assignment he became, in September 1956, special assistant to the commander, Far East Air Forces, in Tokyo, Japan. In this capacity General Guyer was responsible for assisting the commander in matters pertaining to command re-organization in the Pacific-Far east areas, and for re-location of headquarters of the Far East Air Forces from Japan to Hawaii.
Effective upon the re-organization of command in the Pacific and Far East, July 1, 1957, General Guyer became chief of staff of the Fifth Air Force. It was while serving in this capacity that he was found to have contracted pulmonary tuberculosis, and he was returned to the United States in September 1957 as a patient at Fitzsimons Army Hospital, Denver, Colo., where, as of August 1958 his full recovery is soon expected.
General Guyer is the son of George Dickinson Guyer of Albany, N.Y., and Helen May Greenman of Lacrosse, Wis. His father, deceased, was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1891. His brother, George Robert Guyer, was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1916. He is the great-great-great grandson of Major Daniel Dickinson, who as an American officer of the Thirteenth Albany County Regiment who fought against the British in the Revolutionary War Battle of Saratoga in 1777. Two of General Guyer's nephews are also graduates of the U.S. Military Academy - namely, Edward Burr II, Class of 1943, and James Talbot Guyer, Class of 1951.
Tennis and baseball enthusiast, but no longer physically able to participate. As a boy in grade school he invented an indoor baseball game that someone else copyrighted and marketed without his knowledge.
Has extensive collection of U.S. postage stamps and a large collection of old popular Victrola records still of great interest and enjoyment. Abhors classical music.
Likes gardening, both vegetable and flowers, but is unable to cope with bugs and lacks a green thumb. Homegrown items cost him in the order of $5 per tomato and $3 per radish, but each spring he buys lavish supplies and plants anew.
Is expert woodworker, especially fine cabinets, inlaying, and marquetry. Prefers woodworking to all other hobbies.
Interested in military history, especially as to strategy and air power. Spent nearly four years working officially on wartime history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Has several times lectured on military strategy to students of the Air War College and the Air Command and Staff College.
Most successful hobby has been writing. Has sold thousands of dollars worth of fiction published in such magazines as Argosy, Wings, Action Stories, Air Stories, Boys-Life, American Boy, etc in the 1930s. Sold his first story to the old Argosy magazine while he was still a West Point cadet. In 1937-1938 he did advertising writing for the Kellogg Cereal Company, who bought and published more than 150 of his short stories and articles on aviation.
Greatest achievement in writing was a routine training memorandum on leadership, written as a mimeograph hand-out for the Hawaiian Seacoast Artillery Command in the Pacific during the early days of World War II. A copy of the mimeo somehow made its way to Washington, where, with identity of the author then unknown, it was rushed into print by The Infantry Journal under the title "Think It Over". Publication was followed by the greatest number of requests for reprints of anything ever published in the long history of the Infantry Journal. The article was distributed or read to officers and men all over the services. It became required reading in service schools; it was the subject of lecture of numerous leading commanders like General Lear arid General Montague. The article also came to the attention of Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then preparing for the invasion of North Africa. In England, General Eisenhower had the article reprinted and issued with a foreword by himself stating "It is my personal desire that every officer and non-commissioned officer in this theater not only receive and read a copy of Think It Over, but that he use it as a personal reminder of the task that confronts him in preparing his unit for operations, and the obligation that he as a leader owes to his men".
No greater compliment could have been accorded.
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
American Defense Service Medal with star
Army Commendation Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Air Force Longevity Service Award with six stars
Devotee of outdoor or indoor cooking over charcoal and enjoys acting as chef. Likes steaks, chops, roasts, and any and all seafood; enjoys a good Italian dinner, but does not share the common taste for Chinese and Mexican dinners. Preferred drink is sour-mash bourbon with tap water, or a martini or Gibson. Wears clothing predominantly in blues and grays, preferably informal, and most preferably just some slacks, a sport shirt and moccasins. Dislikes fanfares and enforced celebrations over birthdays (especially office birthday parties). Abhors the compulsory cocktail-party circuit, but enjoys nothing so much as a good get-together with a few close and congenial friends.
Favorite reading is a trashy "whodunit" but still enjoys going back to sentimental old favorites like Cyrano de Bergerac. Dislikes classical music and modern varieties of popular music like bee-bop; greatly enjoys, however, a large collection of Victoria records of popular music from way back when. Feels intense nostalgia for the Gay Nineties (before he was born) and a great interest in the Roaring Twenties (which he didn't appreciate at the time). Likes travelling anywhere in the United States and is most fond of the Gulf beaches and Florida coast. Does not thrive on cold weather.
Favorite creed is that the American soldier will back you up in anything if you tell him the WHY of his job, and not just the who, what, when and where. Considers that the most objectionable subordinate is one who is "right for the wrong reasons or "wrong for no reason". Deeply believes that the best guide to life, not only for a military career but for personal satisfaction, is the Golden Rule.
Admits to accusations of being a perfectionist, but not when stresses are great and time is short. Demands accuracy and facts. Demands written and spoken English that not only can be understood but cannot possibly be misunderstood. Values "simpatico" in a superior and absolute sincerity in subordinates.
Greatest satisfaction in life is the honor and integrity of the military men he has lived with and worked with.
Evaluations or comments by friends or associates. Suggest reference to Officer's Effectiveness Reports. This is one of the basic purposes that OERs were intended to serve.
In 1942 as an artillery officer, General Guyer put on a diving helmet and went down into the sunken USS Arizona, in Pearl Harbor, to ascertain if, from an artillery view-point, the two aft 14 inch gun turrets could be removed from the battleship and installed on land. The conclusion was affirmative, and the job was later done. The experience was especially unusual in that few have ever had access to the USS Arizona shortly after its sinking or have seen such eyewitness evidence of the heroism at Pearl Harbor.
From 1945 to 1949 General Guyer was assigned full time duty to researching the records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff preparatory to the writing of the World War II history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Few officers have ever had so unparalleled an opportunity to learn the over-all military and military-political record of the United States participation in World War II.
From April to September 1956 General Guyer was a member of the United Nations Military Armistice Commission in Korea. The seeking to negotiate with the Communists in a military battlefield environment is an experience that falls to the lot of few officers.


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