Courtney Hicks Hodges (January 5, 1887 – January 16, 1966) was an American military officer, most prominent for his role in World War II, in which he commanded the U.S. First Army in Northwest Europe.
Hodges's father published a small-town newspaper in Perry, Georgia where he was born. He attended West Point but was forced to leave after a year, along with George S. Patton Jr., because of poor test scores ("found deficient" in mathematics). In 1906, however, he entered the United States Army as a Private, and became a commissioned officer three years later. He served with George Marshall in the Philippines and Patton (who reentered to graduate in 1909) in Mexico.
He earned the Distinguished Service Cross (second only in precedence to the Medal of Honor), during the closing days of World War I while leading an attack across the Marne River. After the war he was so well thought of that he became an instructor at West Point, even though he had not graduated from that institution.
In 1938, he became an Assistant Commandant of the Infantry School, and in 1941, he became full Commandant.
In May 1941, he was promoted to Major General and was given various commands,including Chief of Infantry until he finally received a frontline command, that of the X Corps, which he received in 1942. In 1943, while commanding both X Corps and then the US Third Army, he was sent to Britain, where he served under General Omar Bradley. During Operation Overlord, he was subordinate to Bradley as Deputy Commander of the U.S. First Army, but in August 1944, he succeeded Bradley, as the latter went to command 12th Army Group and took command of the Army.
Hodges's troops were the first to reach Paris, France, and he led them through Germany. His troops fought the Battle of Hurtgen Forest and had a major role in the Ardennes Offensive, otherwise known as the Battle of the Bulge. The First Army was the first unit to cross the Rhine River, by using the still standing Ludendorff bridge at Remagen, and to meet with the Soviet Red Army near Torgau, on the river Elbe. Hodges was promoted to General on April 15, 1945 making him the first man to rise to full General from enlisted private.
In May 1945, after the German surrender, Hodges and his troops were ordered to prepare for the invasion of Japan; that became unnecessary, however, when the atomic bomb caused Japan's surrender later that year. Hodges was present at the surrenders of both Germany and Japan.
After World War II, he served First Army Commandant stationed at Governors Island, New York until his retirement in March 1949.
Hodges died in San Antonio, Texas in 1966. His extreme personal modesty prevented him from receiving the credit due his efforts.