INT: Yes, what.. could you tell us roughly what the Wake Island meeting was about, what happened in that meeting.
ES: MacArthur had never met Truman. Truman had never met MacArthur. Now there are legends that they had met on the battlefield in France. Not true. Truman's battery never fired for the 42nd Division which was MacArthur's division. MacArthur, incidentally, was the youngest American division commander in World War I, but the two had never met. So MacArthur received a message from General Marshall along about the 12th or 13th of October that President Truman wanted to meet with him. Honolulu was one possible site or Wake Island was another possible site. neither side had much time to prepare for this meeting and MacArthur in his imperious way said "I cannot afford to go to Honolulu. I'm much too busy. I will meet the President at Wake Island." And Wake Island had great significance to the Americans because of the early defence there at the beginning of the Pacific war in December of 1941. Just a small, bleak island, a Pan-American stopover and that was about it. But a lot of legends about Wake Island are not true. One legend that's often told is that the 2 planes, the one bearing MacArthur and the one bearing Truman, kept circling the airfield because they didn't wanna be the first one to land. Not true. MacArthur arrived the night before. He arrived on the 14th of October, had a quiet night. Next morning, got up, bathed, shaved, went down to the airstrip to meet Truman's party which was arriving in 3 aircraft and they met there, plane-side, and Truman said "I've been wanting to meet you for a great.. long time" and MacArthur says "Let's hope that the next time it's not so far off" etcetera etcetera. The two men met privately for about a half an hour and no-one quite knows what was said. Truman gives his version in his memoirs and MacArthur gives his version in his memoirs. MacArthur tends to deprecate the whole meeting as a political junket on the part of Truman. Some difficult congressional elections were coming up at the 1st of November andhere it is the middle of October and we must remember, Truman was not a popular president. He's grown in stature since that timbut he was not a popular president. He was under heavy pressure from such as Senator McCarthy who said he was soft on Communism and so forth. So from MacArthur's viewpoint, this was a political junket. Having met privately, they met again in the Pan-American hangar there, the.. little station there. That meeting went for about an hour and a half and there were other persons there, primarily with Truman's party, including a party of newspaper men. MacArthur had been told not to bring any newspaper men with him and he resented that. MacArthur says there was nothing on the agenda that surprised him. They were all matters that they had discussed before and the matter of the Chinese entering the war came up almost incidentally. Now Truman took it as a guarantee on MacArthur's part that it was too late for the Chinese to intervene effectively in Korea. MacArthur says "no, what I said was, in passing, that if they did try to intervene, there would be a great slaughter." Truman asked MacArthur to stay for lunch. MacArthur rather imperiously said "I'm much too busy. I must get back to Tokyo". Truman gave him another Distinguished Service medal -- I think it was about the fifth one he had received. MacArthur then saw Truman off and returned to Tokyo. he says that he was still wondering 'why the meeting' as he flew back but he did take it as a signal that he could continue the attack against the North Koreans and finish up the war. At this point, the last several weeks of October, there were 3 strategic options open to MacArthur. Each one would require the blessing of Washington but he would probably have gone ahead and done it anyway, with or without a blessing. (loud cough/sneeze) He could move north to the 38th parallel to where the war had begun and said "alright, we've restored the boundary between North Korea and South Korea." Or he could