John J. "Blackjack" Pershing (1860-1948) was promoted to General of the Armies during World War I, the highest rank ever held in the United States Army. After unsuccessfully pursuing Pancho Villa through northern Mexico during the Punitive Expedition in 1915 and 1916, Pershing was given command of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I. In his later career, he was instrumental in formulating the plan that would later form the basis for the Interstate Highway System.
During World War I, General Pershing led the American Expeditionary Force in Europe. With nearly two million men under his command, Pershing was responsible for more troops than any commander in American history. Further, he helped keep American forces independent, despite repeated European requests to put American troops under foreign command. Though Pershing was not known as a brilliant tactician, his soldiers helped turn the tide of World War I to the Allies, and his refusal to allow American soldiers to enter the line before they were fully trained was credited with saving countless lives.