Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies

Degree Program

Interdisciplinary Studies (Individualized Degree), PhD

Committee Chair

Carini, Robert

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Krebs, Daniel

Committee Member

Austin, Mark

Committee Member

Gregg, Gary

Author's Keywords

Patton; collective memory; transformational process; Army ROTC; subculture; heroes


During WWII, General George Patton became the hero Americans needed through the creation of a self-crafted brand and with help from journalists. After Patton’s death, opportunists forwarded a legend narrative that developed into a collective memory that morphed over time to meet contemporary challenges. Stakeholders of that collective memory commemorated and memorialized the dead hero for monetary and political gain, to promote patriotism, make military doctrinal changes, and even promote peace. Today, this collective memory has potential for the U.S. Army as it transforms civilians into soldiers and officers. This study contributes to history and memory studies by linking representations of an historical figure to targeted audiences, arguably, the first of its kind. As an interdisciplinary study utilizing empirical historical and qualitative sociological methods, it adds to extant literature for multiple disciplines by providing explanatory insight into the use of hero narratives by individuals undergoing a transformational process. The dissertation is divided into two parts. Using archival and material culture evidence, Part 1 discusses the creation and promulgation of the Patton collective memory and applicable theories and research on memory, ultimately relating it to the legacy of leader development and operational doctrine Patton left for the Army. Part 2 defines the Army as a subculture and introduces the importance of heroes in general. Evidence from in-depth individual interviews with 27 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet volunteers from a single university in the spring of 2020 forms the basis for a proposed grounded theory, the Transformative Hero Model. The model is informed by several orienting theories including Affective Disposition Theory, Sense-making Theory, and Self-efficacy Theory. Cadets undergoing the Army’s transformational process used hero narratives to develop themselves and understand their place within an organizational subculture. Whom cadets found inspirational and how they connected to and used those narratives centered on their sense of self. They also used hero stories in their socialization process by adopting a shared heritage and internalizing value structures. Furthermore, they began to differentiate themselves from out-group members while simultaneously increasing identification with their subgroup. Organizations that use transformational processes may leverage hero narratives by using this model.