|Born||13 Mar 1887|
|Died||8 May 1973|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Alexander Archer Vandegrift was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States. He attended the University of Virginia and was commissioned in the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant on 22 Jan 1909. After some time in New Hampshire, he was sent to the Caribbean Islands, participating in the assault on Coyotepe, Nicaragua and the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico. After another short period serving in Philadelphia, he once again was sent on foreign service in Haiti, battling the Cacos bandits. His next foreign tour of duty was not until 1927 when he was sent to China to serve as Operations and Training Officer of the 3rd Marine Brigade with headquarters in Tientsin. Between 1928 and 1934, he served in the Washington DC region. In Jun 1935 he returned to China as a lieutenant colonel to serve as executive officer and then commanding officer of the Marine Detachment at the American Embassy in Beijing. In the following year, he returned to Washington DC to fill the role of the Military Secretary to the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps. In Mar 1940, he was appointed Assistant to the Major General Commandant, and the following month was promoted to brigadier general.
When the United States entered the war in Dec 1941, Vandegrift was promoted to the war time rank of major general and sent to the South Pacific the following May. On 7 Aug 1942, he led ashore the 1st Marine Division in the first large-scale offensive action against the Japanese at the Solomon Islands. For his leadership in the assault on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Gavutu, he was awarded the Navy Cross. Later that year, for his courage during the defense of those islands against Japanese counterattacks, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. The citation for his Medal of Honor award was as follows:
In Jul 1943, he assumed command of the 1st Marine Amphibious Corps. On 1 Jan 1944, with the rank of lieutenant general, he was sworn in as the 18th Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was the first Marine to hold the rank of four-star general while being on the active roster in the Corps' history. On 4 Apr 1945, he was promoted a full general.
After the war, Vandegrift retired from active service on 31 Dec 1947. He passed away in 1973 at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, United States after a long illness. He rests in peace at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Sources: Naval Historical Center, Wikipedia.
Alexander Vandegrift Timeline
|13 Mar 1887||Alexander Vandegrift was born.|
|1 Apr 1949||General Alexander Vandegrift, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, retired after over 40 years of service.|
|8 May 1973||Alexander Vandegrift passed away.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939