Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 – April 8, 1981) was one of the main U.S. Army field commanders in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and a General of the Army in the United States Army. He was the last surviving five-star commissioned officer of the United States and the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Bradley, the son of a schoolteacher, was born into a poor family in rural Randolph County, near Clark, Missouri, He attended country schools where his father, John, taught. At 13 Bradley's father, whom he credited with passing on a love of books, baseball and shooting, died. His mother moved to Moberly and remarried. Bradley graduated from Moberly High School in 1910, an outstanding student and captain of both the baseball and football teams.
Bradley was working as a boiler maker at the Wabash Railroad when he was encouraged by his Sunday school teacher at Central Christian Church in Moberly to take the entrance examination for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY Bradley had been planning on saving his money to enter the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he intended to study law. He finished second in the West Point placement exams at Jefferson Barracks Military Post in St. Louis. The first place winner was unable to accept the Congressional appointment, deferring instead to Bradley. While at the academy, Bradley's focus on sports prevented him from excelling academically. He was a baseball star, though, and often played on semi-pro teams for no remuneration (to ensure his eligibility to represent the academy). He was considered one of the most outstanding college players in the nation his junior and senior seasons at West Point, noted as both a power hitter and an outfielder with one of the best arms in his day. While at West Point, Bradley joined the local Masonic Lodge in Highland Falls, New York.