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John Eisenhower
John Eisenhower on USS Eisenhower.jpeg
Eisenhower on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1990
45th United States Ambassador to Belgium
In office
May 14, 1969 – September 28, 1971
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by Ridgway B. Knight
Succeeded by Robert Strausz-Hupe
Personal details
Born (1922-08-03)August 3, 1922
Denver, Colorado
Died December 21, 2013(2013-12-21) (aged 91)
Trappe, Maryland
Political party None/Independent
Spouse(s) Barbara Jean Thompson (m. 1947–1986; divorced)
Joanne Thompson (m. 1988–2013, his death)
Relations Dwight D. Eisenhower – father
Mamie Eisenhower – mother
Doud Eisenhower – brother
Children 4 (all by Barbara Thompson)
Alma mater U.S. Military Academy
Profession Diplomat, Brigadier General, Author
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service 1944–1963 (active), 1963–1974 (Reserves)
Rank Brigadier General
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War

John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower (August 3, 1922 – December 21, 2013) was a United States Army officer, diplomat, and military historian. The son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, his decorated military career spanned from before, during, and after his father's presidency, and he would retire from active duty in 1963 and then altogether in 1974. From 1969 to 1971, he served as United States Ambassador to Belgium during the administration of President Richard Nixon, previously his father's Vice President.

Early life and career

White House exterior - NARA - 194628
President Nixon and John Eisenhower on the White House steps 1969

Eisenhower was born in Denver, Colorado to future U.S. President and United States Army General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie; he was their second child. Their elder son, Doud, died in 1921, at age three after contracting scarlet fever. Eisenhower, like his father, attended the United States Military Academy, graduating on June 6, 1944, the day of the Normandy landings, which his father was commanding.

Eisenhower served in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War, remaining on active duty until 1963; then serving in the U.S. Army Reserve until retirement in 1975, attaining the rank of brigadier general. A decorated soldier, Eisenhower found his World War II military career held back by fears for his safety and concern from the top brass that his death or capture would be a distraction to his father, the Supreme Allied Commander.

During World War II, he was assigned to intelligence and administrative duties. This issue arose again in 1952 when Major Eisenhower was assigned to fight in a combat unit in Korea while his father ran for President. But unlike World War II, John was able to see combat in Korea. After serving combat with an infantry battalion, he was reassigned to the 3rd Division headquarters.

Government career

Eisenhower Interstate System sign
John Eisenhower (2nd from left) 1993

During his father's presidency, John Eisenhower served as Assistant Staff Secretary in the White House, on the Army's General Staff, and in the White House as assistant to General Andrew Goodpaster.

In the administration of President Richard Nixon, who had been his father's Vice President, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1969 to 1971. In 1972, President Nixon appointed Eisenhower Chairman of the Interagency Classification Review Committee. In 1975, he served President Gerald Ford as chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees.

Personal life

Mary Jean Eisenhower at 5th Annual Military Child of the Year Awards Gala
Mary Jean Eisenhower at 5th Annual Military Child of the Year Awards Gala

Eisenhower married Barbara Jean Thompson in 1947. The Eisenhowers had four children:

  • Dwight David Eisenhower II (born March 31, 1948, West Point, New York), who married Julie Nixon, herself a presidential daughter
  • (Barbara) Anne Eisenhower (born May 30, 1949, West Point, New York)
  • Susan Elaine Eisenhower (born December 31, 1951, Fort Knox, Kentucky)
  • Mary Jean Eisenhower (born December 21, 1955, Washington, DC)

All of his daughters were presented as debutantes to high society at the prestigious International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

John and Barbara divorced in 1986 after thirty-nine years of marriage. In 1988, Eisenhower married Joanne Thompson. He lived in Trappe, Maryland, after moving there from Kimberton, Pennsylvania.

As a military historian, Eisenhower wrote several books, including The Bitter Woods, a study of the Battle of the Bulge, and So Far from God, a history of the Mexican–American War. Eisenhower wrote Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents Series: The 12th President, 1849-1850 (2008).

The city of Marshfield, Missouri chose Eisenhower as a 2008 honoree of the Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative. His grandson, Merrill Eisenhower Atwater spoke on his behalf at Marshfield's annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The medal recognizes individuals who demonstrate great initiative in their chosen field.


He died at Trappe, Maryland on December 21, 2013. From the death of John Coolidge in 2000 until his own death, Eisenhower was the oldest living presidential child. His burial was at West Point Cemetery on the grounds of the United States Military Academy.

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