SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The youngest grandson of World War II’s Gen. George S. Patton Jr. and the great-great-grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt will talk about their historic ancestors at 7 p.m. Monday, April 30, at Wofford College as part of the Hipp Lecture Series on International Affairs and National Security.
“Reflections on Heroes, History and Family Wisdom: President Roosevelt and General Patton” will be presented by Ben Patton, founder and executive director of the Patton Veterans Project, and Kevin Cushing Chiucchini, co-host of the Armstrong Williams Show on Sirius XM. The program, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Leonard Auditorium in Main Building. For those unable to make it to campus, the event will be livestreamed at: https://youtu.be/dIIvK-FJXqg
“Ben Patton and Kevin Chiucchini will help bring to life the passion, wisdom and courage of their forefathers,” says Van D. Hipp Jr., the founder of the Hipp Lecture Series and a 1982 Wofford graduate. “Being able to hear their reflections on Gen. Patton and President Roosevelt will provide a special look into history and how they helped shape the America of today.”
Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the United States, serving from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century. He directed the federal government during the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. FDR’s re-election in 1940 made him the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms. With World War II looming, he gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China as well as the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union while the U.S. remained officially neutral. Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, an event he famously called “a date which will live in infamy,” Roosevelt obtained a declaration of war on Japan the next day, and a few days later, on Germany and Italy. He supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort and implemented a Europe-first strategy, making the defeat of Germany a priority over that of Japan. He also initiated the development of the world’s first atomic bomb and worked with other Allied leaders to lay the groundwork for the United Nations and other post-war institutions.
Roosevelt won re-election in 1944, but he died in April 1945, just 11 weeks into his fourth term. The Axis Powers surrendered to the Allies in the months following his death, during the presidency of his successor, Harry S. Truman.
Gen. George S. Patton Jr. is best known for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. He also was a senior officer of the U.S. Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean and European theaters in World War II.
Patton led a highly successful rapid armored drive across France after the Normandy invasion, and he led the relief of American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of Bulge and advanced his Third Army into Nazi Germany by the end of the war.
After the war, Patton briefly was the military governor of Bavaria. He commanded the U.S. Fifteenth Army for a little more than two months. He died in Germany in December 1945 as a result of injuries from an automobile accident.
Patton’s philosophy of leading from the front and his ability to inspire troops with vulgarity-ridden speeches attracted favorable attention. A popular, award-winning biographical film, “Patton,” released in 1970, helped transform Patton into an American folk hero.
Benjamin Patton did not follow in the military footsteps of his famous grandfather or his father, a decorated general of the Korean and Vietnam wars. The younger Patton became a producer and executive at PBS and started his own video production company, Patton Productions LLC, a full-service company specializing in marketing and promotional videos and high-end family biographies for private clients. Patton, the co-author of “Growing Up Patton: Reflections on Heroes, History and Family Wisdom” (Berkley Caliber, 2012), has a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Columbia University-Teachers College and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. He is the founder and executive director of the Patton Veterans Project, a nonprofit organization that teaches combat veterans how to make films that express their experiences and help them return to productive civilian life.
Kevin Chiucchini is co-host on the Armstrong Williams Show on Sirius XM; Williams is one of the biggest names in political talk radio and political talk TV. Chiucchini also is the house manager at Theatre Row, 42nd Street Development Corp., a complex of off-Broadway rental venues, rehearsal studios and office spaces. He received a B.B.A. in international management from Pace University in New York City and studied acting at the Actor’s Conservatory, the New York Film Academy and Maggie Flanigan Studio. In addition to being the great-great-grandson of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, Chiucchini is the grandson of Kate Whitney and Franklin Thomas, philanthropist and the first African-American president and CEO of the Ford Foundation.
The Hipp Lecture Series on International Affairs and National Security, founded in 2011, is designed to create signature events at Wofford that will capture the attention of students and the public and draw them into important conversations on applying American leadership and ideals to the challenges of international affairs past, present and future.
The lecture series is made possible through the generous donations of Hipp, chairman of American Defense International Inc., a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm specializing in government affairs, business development and public relations.