Dennis P. McAuliffe

D. P. McAuliffe


Dennis P. McAuliffe was born on April 8, 1922 in New York City, the son of Michael McAuliffe and Mary Ryan. He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point and commissioned as a second lieutenant of field artillery on June 6, 1944; assigned to the 89th Infantry Division as a battery officer; served through the division’s wartime deployment to Europe in late 1944. In 1946 he married Kathleen Bolton.

From 1946 to 1948 he was assigned to the US Army Military Government in South Korea functioning in an advisory role. He earned his master's degree in electrical engineering in 1950; in June 1950, he joined Army Field Forces Board No.1 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and for two years was a test officer with new artillery radar and electronic equipment; in 1952 participated in the overall preparatory and operational effort for the firing of the first artillery nuclear shell.

After attending the Artillery Advanced Course at Fort Sill (1953-54), he joined the 663d Field Artillery at Fort Bragg as operations officer; from 1955 to 1956 served as battalion operations officer in Okinawa; in 1957 was appointed as the Secretary of the General Staff of Headquarters, US Army Ryukyu Islands; from 1958 to 1959 was student at the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

McAuliffe attended the National War College from 1963 to 1964 and then served for 13 months in Korea as the assistant commander, I Corps Artillery; he was designated to the Army Chief of Staff in 1966; in 1967 he became the executive officer to the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff; and joined the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1969.

McAuliffe then became deputy denior advisor in the III Corps and Military Region until 1970. He returned to Europe for duty with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and in 1973 was reassigned to Fort Leavenworth as deputy commanding general until 1974. On October 1, 1979, he was appointed by President Carter as the first administrator of the new Panama Canal Commission, position created by the new Panama Canal treaties signed in 1977, and with the requirement of McAuliffe's retirement from the army.

McAuliffe’s tenure as administrator, from 1979 to 1989, was marked by the many challenges and changes involved in shepherding the newly organized Canal agency through its first ten years of existence. During his administration the Canal tolls were increased three times in 1979, 1983, and 1989; in 1983 a permanent transit reservation system was implemented; the project to deepen the river bed of the Canal by three feet was completed in 1985 as well as the construction of the hydrographic station in Rio Piedras at Madden reservoir in 1985; and finally the widening project at Bohio was finished in 1989.

Dennis McAuliffe died July 31, 2012 in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. His work during the first ten years of the Canal's transition period to Panamanian administration was greatly recognized. A Panama Canal tugboat is named after him. His co-workers remember him as a being a mediator and good-natured person.