Joseph Calvin (Joe) Lambert (1908–1979)
Joseph Calvin Lambert was a career U.S. Army soldier who fought in World War II before achieving the rank of major general and serving as the army’s adjutant general in the 1960s.
Joseph Calvin (Joe) Lambert was born in Washington (Hempstead County) on August 3, 1908, one of six children of timber industry worker Walter Samuel Lambert and Maude Johnson Lambert. He lived in the area, much of the time in Texarkana (Miller County), until 1925, when he joined the army as a buck private. He rose through the non-commissioned officer ranks, reportedly gaining his master sergeant’s stripes after rescuing a general’s daughter from shark-infested waters in Panama, and was promoted to second lieutenant in the Army Reserve Corps in 1934 while remaining in the regular army. He was discharged from the army in 1940 so that he could serve as an officer in the Reserve Corps.
Lambert served with I Armored Corps at the Desert Training Center and with the Eighth Armored Division in the United States before shipping out for Italy in 1943 during World War II, where he spent three months as a combat observer. He then joined the Fourteenth Armored Division. He engaged in 150 days of combat operations with the Fourteenth, 100 of which were continuous, and served as the division’s chief of staff before it was deactivated in 1945 following the collapse of the Axis powers.
Lambert earned a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, a Legion of Merit, and the French Croix de Guerre for his service in World War II. He was integrated into the regular army as a lieutenant colonel in July 1946.
Lambert and his wife, Dora McGhee Lambert, had two sons, one of whom died from a World War II injury.
Lambert rose to the rank of brigadier general and served as an adjutant general with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Germany; he attended the Command and General Staff School, Armed Forces Staff College, and Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
On April 14, 1961, President John F. Kennedy nominated him for promotion to major general in the regular army and to serve as that service’s adjutant general; both were confirmed that fall. A 1965 Arkansas Gazette article described his duties as adjutant general as “many and varied—ranging from overseeing the keeping of individual records of every person in the Army, to supervising operations of the Army-Air Force Postal Service, and administering the educational program in Europe for dependents of American military and civilian personnel of the Department of Defense.”
Following his term as adjutant general, which ended in 1966, Lambert served as commander of the Fourth Army Corps and president of the Department of the Army Selection Boards before retiring in 1968. He was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal in 1968 “for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility” during the previous decade.
Lambert died of a heart attack on April 21, 1979, while visiting his son in Lexington, Massachusetts. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery Section 11, Site 2-1.
For additional information:
Deane, Ernie. “11 Army Generals Sprang from Arkansas.” Arkansas Gazette, July 25, 1965, p. 5E.
“Joe C. Lambert.” The Hall of Valor Project. https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/107483 (accessed January 14, 2022).
Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, vol. CIII, Part 1. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1961, p. 526.
Lambert, J. C. “Armored Rescue.” Armored Cavalry Journal 58 (January–February 1949): 36–45.
Laseter, Mary Anita. “Maj. Gen. Joe C. Lambert Adjutant General of U.S. Army, Washington Native.” Hope Star, July 1, 1962, p. 1.
“Maj. Gen. Joe Lambert, 70, Adjutant General in 1960s.” Washington Post, May 5, 1979. Online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1979/05/05/maj-gen-joe-lambert-70-adjutant-general-in-1960s/f3cd3cfc-f5e1-473a-b985-478185d2a4e3/ (accessed January 14, 2022).
“Maj. Gen. Joseph Calvin Lambert.” Find-A-Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/114862396/joseph-calvin-lambert (accessed January 14, 2022).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
Last Updated: 01/14/2022