Thomas Troy Handy was a United States Army general who served as Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army (DCSA) from 1944 to 1947; Commanding General, Fourth United States Army from 1947 to 1949; Commander in Chief, United States European Command (CINCEUR) from 1949 to 1952; Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Europe/Commander, Central Army Group (CINCUSAREUR/COMCENTAG), 1952; and Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command (DCINCEUR), from 1952 to 1954.
Handy was born on March 11, 1892 in Spring City, Tennessee, and attended the Virginia Military Institute, graduating in 1914. He did not receive an Army commission until two years later, in the Field Artillery. Handy deployed with the 5th Field Artillery Regiment to France in August 1917, moving to the 42nd Infantry Division in 1918, and later that year was assigned to the 151st Field Artillery Regiment. Following World War I and occupation duty in Germany he went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
He returned to his alma mater in 1921, serving as an instructor until 1925. After graduating from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas he assumed duties as Executive Officer of the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade in 1928. He served in various staff assignments from 1929 to 1931 in Panama, and then returned to Fort Sill as an instructor at the United States Army Field Artillery School until 1934. His time there was followed as a student at the Army War College, and after graduating in 1935 he went to the Naval War College. His schooling was followed by assignment to the General Staff until 1940, interrupted for a year by taking command of the 78th Field Artillery Battalion at Fort Benning.
Letter from Handy to General Carl Spaatz authorizing the dropping of the first atomic bomb, July 25, 1945In December 1941 he was promoted to temporary Brigadier General, and temporary Major General in June 1942 when he became Assistant Chief-of-Staff in charge of Operations Division. In September 1944 he was promoted to temporary Lieutenant General in September 1944. In October 1944 he became Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the Army, receiving his fourth star in March 1945. In August 1945 he was acting Chief-of-Staff, due to George C. Marshall's absence, and transmitted the order for use of the atomic bomb.
Following the war, he remained Deputy Chief of Staff, and in September 1947 he assumed command of Fourth United States Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Two years later, in September 1949, he was Lucius D. Clay's successor as Commander-in-Chief of United States European Command. He moved down to Deputy Supreme Commander in 1952 when Matthew Ridgeway was named Supreme Allied Commander, Allied Powers. Handy retired from the Army in 1954 to Washington, D.C. and later residing in San Antonio, Texas.
He died on April 12, 1982, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.