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 Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr

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Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr

US Marine Corps General. He served as the 24th Commandant of the US Marine Corps. Born Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr., he graduated from high school in DeLand, Florida in 1931 and entered the University of Florida at Gainesville, Florida where he became a member of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps unit for four years. Upon graduation in June 1935, he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. After completing The Marine Officer Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Marines at Quantico, Virginia, from April 1936 until August 1937. In June 1938, after completing Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he was assigned to the 10th Marines at Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California and promoted to the rank of 1st lieutenant in September 1938. In June 1940 he was sent to Honolulu, Hawaii where he completed Gunnery School aboard the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans before reporting to heavy cruiser USS Astoria in July 1940 for a two-year assignment as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment. In April 1941 he was promoted to the rank of captain and following the US entry into World War II, he participated in the early Pacific raids culminating in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. In May 1942 he was promoted to the rank of major and returned to the US the following month, where he was assigned to the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, in August 1942 as an instructor in the Artillery Course. In May 1943 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and the following October he was named Executive Officer of the Artillery Section at Marine Corps Schools. In June 1944 he returned to the Pacific Theater for combat duty, joining the 1st Marine Division as the operations officer for the 11th Marines, and Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion, 11th Marines, during combat operations at Peleliu in September and October 1944, and as 4th Battalion Commander at Okinawa from April to July 1945. After the end of the war in August 1945, he returned to the US and served as Secretary of the General Staff, Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Pacific from September 1945 until July 1946. From August 1946 until May 1949, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington DC, serving as Executive Officer, G-3 Section, Division of Plans and Policies. In June 1949 he was assigned to the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, where he served as Coordinator, Reserve Artillery Training Unit, completed the Amphibious Warfare School, Senior Course in June 1950, and then served as Chief of the Supporting Arms Group, Marine Corps Development Center. While at Quantico, he was promoted to the rank of colonel in July 1950. In July 1952 he was assigned to Camp Pendleton, California, where he joined the 3rd Marine Division as Commanding Officer, 12th Marines. In August 1953 he sailed with the division for Japan, where he continued to command the 12th Marines. From August 1954 until May 1956 he was the Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, US Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan. In July 1956 he returned to the US and became the Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, and Director of the Marine Corps Institute in Washington DC. In July 1958 he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and assigned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, serving as Commanding General, Force Troops, FMF Atlantic, until August 1961. In September 1961 he returned to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington DC to become the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 and was promoted to the rank of major general the following November. In January 1964 he was designated as Chief of Staff, with the rank of lieutenant general and in July 1967, he became Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. In January 1968 he was promoted to the rank of general and became Commandant of the US Maine Corps, serving in that position until January 1972. During his term, he witnessed the 3rd Marine Amphibious Force withdrawal from Vietnam. He retires as Commandant of the US Marine Corps with 37 years of continuous military service. Among his military and foreign decorations and awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal with 2 stars, the Legion of Merit with 1 star & combat "V" device, the Bronze Star with combat "V" device, the Navy Commendation Medal with combat "V" device, the Navy Presidential Unit Citation with 1 star, the American Defense Service Medal with 1 star, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 5 stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with 1 star, the Korean Service Medal, the Korean Order of National Security Merit, Tong-il Medal, the National Order of Vietnam, officer grade, and the United Nations Korea Medal. After his military retirement, he became Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington DC. He died of complications from cancer at the age of 86.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 16 Nov 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 18417
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr (3 Nov 1913–6 Jan 2000), Find A Grave Memorial no. 18417, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .