John A. Lejeune - History of World War I - WW1 - The Great War

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World War 1 Picture - MGen Lejeune at the front in France.

John A. Lejeune Information

John A. Lejeune

Nickname: "Greatest of all Leathernecks" "The Marine's Marine"
Place of birth: Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana
Place of death: Baltimore, Maryland
Place of burial: Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance: United States of America
Service/branch: United States Marine Corps
Years of service: 1890 - 1929
Rank: Lieutenant General
Commands held: 1st Brigade of Marines
4th Brigade of Marines
2nd Infantry Division
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Battles/wars: Spanish-American War
*Cuban Campaign
*Puerto Rico Campaign
Philippine-American War
Mexican Revolution
*Battle of Veracruz
World War I
*Western Front
Awards: Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Service Medal (Army)
Croix de guerre
Legion of Honor
Relations: Lt. Eugenia Lejeune, USMC
Other work: Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute (1929-1937)

Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune, (January 10, 1867 - November 20, 1942) was the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Known as the "greatest of all Leathernecks" and the "Marine's Marine", he served for nearly 40 years. His service included commanding the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division during World War I and culminated with his service as the 5th Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute.


Lejeune was born on January 10, 1867 at the Old Hickory Plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. He attended the preparatory program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge from September 1881 to April 1884, leaving to prepare for the entrance exam for the U.S. Naval Academy. Subsequently, he secured an appointment as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1888, ranking second academically in his class of thirty-two midshipmen. At the completion of a two-year cruise as a midshipman, he did not want a Navy career, but rather chose the Marine Corps. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on 25 July 1890.

Marine Corps career


After receiving his Marine Corps commission, Lejeune reported to Marine Barracks, New York on 31 March 1890 for Marine Corps "indoctrination and instruction." He reported for duty to the Marine Barracks, Norfolk, Virginia, on 3 November 1890. While in Norfolk, he met Ellie Harrison Murdaugh; they were engaged just before he began his sea duty. From 1 October 1891 to 28 July 1893, Lejeune served on board USS Bennington and was promoted to first lieutenant on 26 February 1892. On 28 August 1893, he reported for duty at the Norfolk Barracks, where he served until 31 July 1897. While stationed in Norfolk again, he married Miss Murdaugh on 23 October 1895.

On 2 August 1897, Lejeune assumed command of the Marine Guard of USS Cincinnati, where he served throughout the Spanish-American War. He was detached from the Cincinnati on 17 February 1899, and on 18 February 1899, joined USS Massachusetts to command the Marine Guard. He was promoted to captain on 3 March 1899 and left his position on Massachusetts on 10 May 1900.


From 3 July 1900 to 12 November 1900, Captain Lejeune performed recruiting duty at Boston, Massachusetts, and on 22 November 1900 reported at the Marine Barracks, Pensacola, Florida, to command the Marines. From 12 January 1903 to 21 January 1903, Captain Lejeune was on duty at the Norfolk Barracks, going to recruiting duty at New York City on 26 January 1903. He was promoted to Major on 3 March 1903 and was on duty at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. from 15 May 1903 to 8 August 1903.

On 8 August 1903, Major Lejeune was ordered to USS Panther to command the Marine Battalion on board that vessel, joining 16 August 1903. On 23 October 1903, the battalion, with Lejeune in command, was transferred to USS Dixie. From 16 December 1903 to 21 December 1904, Major Lejeune was on duty ashore on the Isthmus of Panama in command of this battalion, leaving there on the latter date on board USS Yankee.

From 27 January 1905 to 20 May 1906, Lejeune served at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. He then returned to Panama in command of a battalion of Marines from 29 May to 6 July 1906, the battalion being transported both ways on board USS Columbia. This was detached duty, and on 29 March 1907, Major Lejeune was detached from command of the Washington Barracks and ordered to the Philippines. His family - his wife and three daughters accompanied him on this overseas duty.

Arriving in the Philippines on 2 May 1907, Lejeune assumed command of the Marine Barracks and Naval Prison, Navy Yard, Cavite, on 6 May 1907. He assumed command of the First Brigade of Marines on 15 June 1908 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 13 May 1909. He was detached on 8 June 1909 and ordered to return to the United States. He then attended the U.S. Army War College, graduating in 1910.

Lieutenant Colonel Lejeune embarked on board USS Ohio on 26 May 1912 with the Second Regiment, First Provisional Brigade Marines for Cuba. He disembarked at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on 8 June 1912 and was in command of the District of Santiago from 9 June, to 14 July 1912. On 15 July 1912, Lejeune embarked on board USS Prairie and sailed for Colon, Panama. July 18-29, 1912 was spent at Camp Elliott, Panama.

After returning to the United States, Lejeune was again called upon for expeditionary duty. He sailed from Philadelphia, 20 February 1913 as second in command of the First Regiment, Second Provisional Brigade Marines and disembarked 27 February 1913, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Then-LtCol Lejeune began the Marine Corps Association with the goal of professional advancement among Marines. He returned to Philadelphia on board USS Prairie on 2 May 1913.

On 27 November 1913, Lejeune sailed from New York with the 2nd Advanced Base Regiment, his ultimate destination Veracruz, Mexico, but returned to the United States to receive his promotion to colonel on 25 February 1914. Colonel Lejeune and his unit eventually landed in Mexico on 22 April 1914 and participated in the occupation of the city. He returned home in December 1914, this time to report to Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to become assistant to the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was promoted to brigadier general on 29 August 1916.

World War I

With the outbreak of World War I, Lejeune assumed command of the newly constructed Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia; however, his overseas service was inevitable, and in June 1918, he arrived at Brest, France. He was promoted to major general 1 July 1918.

World War 1 Picture - MGen Lejeune at the front in France.

Picture - MGen Lejeune at the front in France.

Upon reporting to the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, he was assigned to command a brigade of the 32nd Division and assumed command of the 4th Brigade of Marines of the 2d Division immediately following the attack of the division in the Battle of Soissons. On 28 July 1918, Major General Lejeune assumed command of the 2nd Division and remained in that capacity until August 1919, when the unit was demobilized. He was the second Marine officer to hold an Army divisional command (BG Charles A. Doyen was the first), and following the Armistice he led his division in the march into Germany.

During that war, he was recognized by the French Government as a strategist and leader, as evidenced by the Legion of Honor, and the Croix de Guerre bestowed upon him by France. From General John J. Pershing, he received the Distinguished Service Medal (Army). The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was conferred upon him when he returned to the United States following the occupation of Germany.

World War 1 Picture - John A. Lejeune with his insigina of commander in the French Légion d'honneur

Picture - John A. Lejeune with his insigina of commander in the French Légion d'honneur

In October 1919, he again was appointed Commanding General, Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia.

Commandant of the Marine Corps

Lejeune was appointed as Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps on 1 July 1920. Subsequent to that time, he left his headquarters at Washington several times for tours of inspection in Haiti, Santo Domingo, Cuba, Puerto Rico, to the West Coast and elsewhere. Upon the expiration of his second term as Commandant, Lejeune indicated his desire not to retire from the Marine Corps, but was relieved as Commandant in March 1929.

Retirement and VMI

On 10 November 1929, Lejeune retired in order to accept the position of Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), serving there over eight years until October 1937. In February 1942, he was advanced to the rank of lieutenant general on the Marine Corps retired list.

Lejeune died 20 November 1942 in the Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, and was interred in the Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Marine Corps Birthday message

In the Marine Corps' annual celebration of the establishment of the Marine Corps on November 10, 1775 at Tun Tavern, the following message from MajGen John A. Lejeune is read:

Decorations and honors

Personal military awards

Lieutenant General Lejeune's awards include:

U.S. Postal service honor

On November 10, 2005, the United States Postal Service issued the Distinguished Marines stamps in which Lejeune was honored.

Statues and memorials

On November 10, 2000, a life-sized bronze statue of Lejeune was unveiled on the grounds of the Pointe Coupee Parish Courthouse in New Roads, Louisiana. Patrick F. Taylor, chairman and CEO of Taylor Energy Company, along with the retired Marine Corps Major General Ronald G. Richard (former commanding general of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune) were in attendance. Taylor, who financed the Lejeune statue project, joined the Marine Corps Officer Training program as a student at Louisiana State University, but a heart problem kept him from receiving his commission. Taylor commissioned sculptor Patrick Dane Miller to fashion it to be historically accurate. Statues of Lejeune also stand outside the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia and the Louisiana War Memorial in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana next to the destroyer USS Kidd (DD-661).


Lejeune, legendary among Marines and often referred to as "the greatest of all Leathernecks", served in the Marine Corps for over 40 years. In his honor, the following bear his name:

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
USS Lejeune (AP-74), Navy transport ship
Lejeune Hall, Marine Corps Barracks, Quantico
Lejeune Hall, Louisiana State University
Lejeune Hall, United States Naval Academy
Lejeune Hall, Virginia Military Institute
Lejeune High School, Jacksonville, North Carolina
Lejeune Road, Miami-Dade County, Florida

List of Historically Important U.S. Marines

This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

"Biography of Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune (1867 - 1942)". Louisiana's Military Heritage: Sons & Daughters of the State. USS Kidd Veterans Memorial, Louisiana Naval War Memorial Commission. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
Cooke, Jennifer (April 1, 2000). "Always a Marine" (PDF). The Advocate. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
"Major General John A. Lejeune Birthday Message". Customs and Traditions. United States Marine Corps History Division. 1921.
"Major General John Archer Lejeune, USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. United States Marine Corps History Division. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
"John A. Lejeune, Class of 1935". United States Naval Academy alumni. United States Navy. Retrieved May 6, 2009.
Allan Reed Millett and Jack Shulimson, ed (2004). Commandants of the Marine Corps. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 194-213. ISBN 9780870210129.

Further reading

Bartlett, Merrill L. (1996). Lejeune: A Marine's Life, 1867-1942. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0872497712.
Brent, P.T. (April 2008). "Lejeune, Lejern (How to say it)". Leatherneck Magazine.
Irwin, Manley R. (2004). "Lejeune and Denby: Forging a Marine Corps Doctrine". Marine Corps Gazette.
Lejeune, John A. (1930). The Reminiscences of a Marine. Dorrance and Company, Inc.. ISBN 0405118600.

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