10 Things You Didn't Know About David Petraeus

Compiled by the U.S.News & World Report library staff.

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Compiled by the U.S.News & World Report library staff

1. David Howell Petraeus was born in Cornwall, N.Y., on Nov. 7, 1952. His father, Sixtus, was a Dutch-born ship captain who met David's mother, Miriam, at the Seaman's Church Institute in New York. Sixtus later worked for a New York power company.

2. While he was a student at Cornwall Central High School, Petraeus appeared in school plays (including David Swan and The Devil and Tom Walker) and played on the soccer team. He was a member of the National Honor Society and was named a National Merit Scholarship finalist.

3. Reportedly, Petraeus's nickname was "Peaches." This may be because of the youngster's lack of facial hair, or it could be a shortened version of his last name.

4. Petraeus attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1974 at the top of his class. The academy's yearbook said that he "was always going for it in sports, academics, leadership, and even his social life." Upon graduation, he was commissioned in the infantry.

5. He earned master's (1985) and doctorate (1987) degrees from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. His dissertation was titled "The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam."

6. Petraeus has suffered two major injuries during his career. In 2000, he shattered his pelvis during a parachute jump. In 1991, during a training exercise at Fort Campbell, Ky., he took a bullet to the chest. He was medevaced to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where his surgeon was Bill Frist (who would later become the Senate majority leader). When he felt ready to be discharged, he persuaded the hospital staff to release him early by doing 50 push-ups.

7. On Feb. 10, 2007, Petraeus took over command of the multinational forces in Iraq, overseeing the surge of troops.

8. Petraeus is devoted to physical fitness. He has been known to challenge younger soldiers to push-up contests. At the age of 49, he ran the Army 10-Miler in under 64 minutes. In 2007, it was reported that he still regularly goes for 5-mile runs, even in the 120-degree Iraqi heat.

9. Shortly after graduating from West Point, Petraeus married the daughter of the academy's superintendent, Holly Knowlton. The couple have two children, Anne and Stephen.

10. One of Petraeus's mottos is: "Physical and mental toughness are...essential [to] leadership. It's hard to lead from the front if you are in the rear of the formation." Thanks to his devotion to intellectual pursuits as well as to the military and to physical fitness, he has been called a warrior-scholar, a soldier-scholar, and even a warrior monk.

Sources:
Associated Press
Biography Resource Center Online
National Journal
Newsweek
New York Times
Operation Iraqi Freedom: Multi-National Force: Commanding General
Time
U.S.News & World Report
Washington Post