Wainwright then reverted to his permanent rank of captain and held a variety of command and staff slots. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1929, he graduated from the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth (1931), and the Army War College (1936). Promoted to colonel, he commanded the 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Myer, Virginia (1936–1938). After being made a temporary brigadier general (1938), he was put in charge of the 1st Cavalry Brigade. In September 1940, Wainwright was advanced to temporary major general and assigned to the Philippines to command the Philippine Division.
Following the Japanese landings there on 8 December, Wainwright commanded the North Luzon Force. General Douglas MacArthur, confident his forces could throw back any Japanese invasion, had scrapped the original plan to meet a Japanese invasion by withdrawing into the Bataan Peninsula. Wainwright's Filipino and U.S. forces fought well but were ultimately forced from the Lingayen Gulf onto Bataan. Much of their equipment and supplies were lost in the withdrawal.
With a Japanese victory in sight, Washington ordered MacArthur to leave the Philippines for Australia. He was then awarded the Medal of Honor. On MacArthur's departure on 11 March 1942, Wainwright took over as commander of U.S. forces in the Far East, with the rank of lieutenant general. Forced off Bataan to Corregidor, he had no choice but to surrender on 6 May 1942. MacArthur protested Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall's recommendation that Wainwright receive the Medal of Honor.
Treated harshly as a prisoner of war in camps in northern Luzon, Formosa, and Manchuria for the next three years, Wainwright was liberated by the Soviets in August 1945. He witnessed the formal Japanese surrender on 2 September on the USS Missouri and traveled to the Philippines to receive the surrender of Japanese forces there.
Wainwright returned to the United States and, despite MacArthur's opposition, was awarded the Medal of Honor. In September 1945, he was promoted to full general. He took command of Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 1946 but retired in August 1947. Wainwright died in San Antonio, Texas, on 3 September 1953. T. Jason Soderstrum
Beck, John Jacob. MacArthur and Wainwright: Sacrifice of the Philippines. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974.; Schultz, Duane P. Hero of Bataan: The Story of General Jonathan M. Wainwright. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981.; Wainwright, Jonathan Mayhew. General Wainwright's Story: The Account of Four Years of Humiliating Defeat, Surrender, and Captivity. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1946.
T. Jason Soderstrum