National Affairs: Generals' Exodus

"It is inconceivable to me.'' cried crusty U.S. Navy Captain Douglas Dismukes in 1925, "that an officer with my record should be passed over for promotion to admiral." Largely to appease Sea Dog Dismukes, who, although credited with saving the torpedoed transport Mount Vernon in World War I, was being forced into retirement because of age, Congress that year passed the so-called "Tombstone Law." Under it, all battle-cited Navy, Marine and Coast Guard officers are promoted one grade upon being piped out of service. This allowed a generous wash of war-decorated four-stripe captains, for example, to engrave "Rear Admiral" across their...

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