Gavin, James (Maurice)(1907–90) soldier; born in New York City. An orphan, he grew up in coal mining towns in Pennsylvania, enlisted in the army, and won an appointment to West Point, from which he graduated in 1929. In August 1944 "Jumping Jim" Gavin became commander of the 82nd Airborne Division—the youngest division commander of World War II. During the 1950s he developed a reputation as a strategist of limited war; in 1961 President Kennedy appointed him ambassador to France. His memoir, On to Berlin, appeared in 1978.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.