Definition

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps

 

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Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps



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Incumbent:
John M. Paxton, Jr.
since: December 15, 2012
First Eli K. Cole
Formation April 29, 1911



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The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (ACMC) is the second highest-ranking officer in the United States Marine Corps, and serves as a deputy for the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC). Before 1946, the title was known as Assistant to the Commandant.

The Assistant Commandant is appointed by the President of the United States and must be confirmed via majority vote by the Senate. In the event that the Commandant is absent or is unable to perform his duties, the Assistant Commandant assumes the duties and responsibilities of the Commandant. For this reason, the Assistant Commandant is appointed to a rank equal to the sitting Commandant; since 1971, each Assistant Commandant has been, by statute, a four-star general, making it the most common rank held among Marines serving this position. Additionally, he may perform other duties that the CMC assigns to him. Historically, the Assistant Comandant has served for two to three years.

The 33rd and current Assistant Commandant is John M. Paxton, Jr., who took office on 15 December 2012, when Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. vacated the office to become the sitting Commandant. The first Marine to hold the billet as "Assistant to the Commandant" was Eli K. Cole (Allen H. Turnage being the last), while Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. was the first to hold it as the "Assistant Commandant".

List of previous appointees

Assistants to the Commandant of the Marine Corps

Before the official title of "Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps" was adopted in 1946, the title of the position was known as the "Assistant to the Commandant" and before 1918, known only as "Duty in the Office of the Commandant". No records exist before the outbreak of World War I about this position, possibly because the Commandant likely had only administrative staff and no deputy.

The first Assistant to the Commandant was Lieutenant Colonel Eli K. Cole, who assumed the position on April 29, 1911. From April 29, 1911 to October 16, 1946, 19 men were assigned to assist the commandant, including five that went on to become Commandant themselves: John A. Lejeune, Wendell C. Neville, Ben H. Fuller, John H. Russell, Jr. and Alexander A. Vandegrift.

# Photo Rank Name Tenure from Tenure to Became Commandant
1 x O-05Lieutenant Colonel Cole, Eli K. 01911-04-29April 29, 1911 01915-01-01January 1, 1915 No
2

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O-07Brigadier General Lejeune, John A. 01915-01-01January 1, 1915 01917-09-10September 10, 1917 Yes
3 x O-07Brigadier General Long, Charles G. 01917-09-11September 11, 1917 01920-08-13August 13, 1920 No
4

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O-08Major General Neville, Wendell Cushing 01920-08-14August 14, 1920 01923-07-11July 11, 1923 Yes
5

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O-07Brigadier General Feland, Logan 01923-07-13July 13, 1923 01925-07-31July 31, 1925 No
6

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O-07Brigadier General Williams, Dion 01925-08-01August 1, 1925 01928-07-01July 1, 1928 No
7

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O-07Brigadier General Fuller, Ben Hebard 01928-07-02July 2, 1928 01930-07-08July 8, 1930 Yes
8

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O-07Brigadier General Myers, John Twiggs 01930-08-01August 1, 1930 01933-02-01February 1, 1933 No
9

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O-07Brigadier General Russell, Jr., John H. 01933-02-01February 1, 1933 01934-02-28February 28, 1934 Yes
10 x O-07Brigadier General McDougal, Douglas C. 01934-04-08April 8, 1934 01935-04-22April 22, 1935 No
11 x O-07Brigadier General Little, Louis M. 01935-04-22April 22, 1935 01937-05-06May 6, 1937 No
12

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O-06Brigadier General Smith, Holland M. 01939-04-01April 1, 1939 01939-09-25September 25, 1939 No
13

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O-07Brigadier General Vandegrift, Alexander 01940-03-01March 1, 1940 01941-11-18November 18, 1941 Yes
14

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O-07Brigadier General Barrett, Charles D. 01941-11-19November 19, 1941 01942-03-12March 12, 1942 No
15 x O-07Brigadier General Keyser, Ralph S. 01942-03-28March 28, 1942 01942-05-24May 24, 1942 No
16

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O-O8Major General Schmidt, Harry 01942-05-25May 25, 1942 01943-08-01August 1, 1943 No
17 x O-08Major General Rockey, Keller E. 01943-08-02August 2, 1943 01944-01-17January 17, 1944 No
18 x O-08Major General Peck, Dewitt 01944-01-20January 20, 1944 01945-07-30July 30, 1945 No
19

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O-08Major General Turnage, Allen H. 01945-09-01September 1, 1945 01946-10-16October 16, 1946 No

Assistant Commandants of the Marine Corps

In 1946, Congress established the position of "Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps" and since then, 31 men have held the position. Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. was the first to hold the billet and went on to become Commandant, as well as five others: Randolph M. Pate, Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., Robert H. Barrow, Paul X. Kelley and James F. Amos.

As with the Commandant, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps is appointed by the President based on advice and consent of the Senate and, once appointed, will be promoted to the grade of general. The duties of the Assistant Commandant include such authority and duties as the Commandant and, with the approval of the Secretary of the Navy, may delegate to or prescribe for him. Orders issued by the Assistant Commandant in performing such duties have the same effect as those issued by the Commandant. When there is a vacancy in the office of Commandant of the Marine Corps, or during the absence or disability of the Commandant, the Assistant Commandant shall perform the duties of the Commandant until a successor is appointed or the absence or disability ceases.

# Photo Rank Name Tenure from Tenure to Became Commandant
1

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O-08Major General Shepherd, Jr., Lemuel 01946-10-07October 7, 1946 01948-04-14April 14, 1948 Yes
2

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O-08Major General Smith, Oliver P. 01948-04-15April 15, 1948 01950-07-19July 19, 1950 No
3 x O-09Lieutenant General Silverthorn, Merwin H. 01950-07-19July 19, 1950 01952-02-01February 1, 1952 No
4

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O-09Lieutenant General Thomas, Gerald C. 01952-03-08March 8, 1952 01954-07-01July 1, 1954 No
5

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O-09Lieutenant General Pate, Randolph M. 01954-07-01July 1, 1954 01955-12-31December 31, 1955 Yes
6

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O-09Lieutenant General Megee, Vernon E. 01956-01-01January 1, 1956 01957-11-30November 30, 1957 No
7 x O-09Lieutenant General McCaul, Verne J. 01957-12-01December 1, 1957 01959-12-31December 31, 1959 No
8 x O-09Lieutenant General Munn, John C. 01960-01-01January 1, 1960 01963-03-31March 31, 1963 No
9 x O-09Lieutenant General Hayes, Charles H. 01963-04-01April 1, 1963 01965-06-30June 30, 1965 No
10

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O-09Lieutenant General Mangrum, Richard C. 01965-07-01July 1, 1965 01967-06-30June 30, 1967 No
11

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O-09Lieutenant General Chapman, Jr., Leonard F. 01967-07-01July 1, 1967 01967-12-31December 31, 1967 Yes
12

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O-10General Walt, Lewis William 01968-01-01January 1, 1968 01971-01-29January 29, 1971 No
13

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O-10General McCutcheon, Keith B. 01971-01-30January 30, 1971 01971-03-11March 11, 1971
(never assumed post due to illness)
No
14

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O-10General Davis, Raymond G. 01971-03-12March 12, 1971 01972-03-30March 30, 1972 No
15

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O-10General Anderson, Earl E. 01972-03-31March 31, 1972 01975-06-30June 30, 1975 No
16

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O-10General Jaskilka, Samuel 01975-07-01July 1, 1975 01978-06-30June 30, 1978 No
17

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O-10General Barrow, Robert H. 01978-07-01July 1, 1978 01979-07-30July 30, 1979 Yes
18

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O-10General McLennan, Kenneth 01979-07-01July 1, 1979 01981-07-30July 30, 1981 No
19

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O-10General Kelley, Paul X. 01981-07-01July 1, 1981 01983-06-30June 30, 1983 Yes
20

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O-10General Davis, John K. 01983-07-01July 1, 1983 01986-05-31May 31, 1986 No
21

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O-10General Morgan, Thomas R. 01986-06-01June 1, 1986 01988-06-30June 30, 1988 No
22

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O-10General Went, Joseph J. 01988-07-01July 1, 1988 01990-07-31July 31, 1990 No
23

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O-10General Dailey, John R. 01990-08-01August 1, 1990 01992-08-31August 31, 1992 No
24

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O-10General Boomer, Walter E. 01992-09-01September 1, 1992 01994-07-14July 14, 1994 No
25

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O-10General Hearney, Richard D. 01994-07-15July 15, 1994 01996-09-26September 26, 1996 No
26

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O-10General Neal, Richard I. 01996-09-27September 27, 1996 01998-09-04September 4, 1998 No
27

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O-10General Dake, Terrence R. 01998-09-05September 5, 1998 02000-09-07September 7, 2000 No
28

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O-10General Williams, Michael J. 02000-09-08September 8, 2000 02002-09-09September 9, 2002 No
29

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O-10General Nyland, William L. 02002-09-10September 10, 2002 02005-09-07September 7, 2005 No
30

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O-10General Magnus, Robert 02005-09-08September 8, 2005 02008-07-02July 2, 2008 No
31

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O-10General Amos, James F. 02008-07-03July 3, 2008 02010-10-22October 22, 2010 Yes
32

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O-10General Dunford, Jr., Joseph F. 02010-10-23October 23, 2010 02012-12-15December 15, 2012
33

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O-10General Paxton, Jr., John M. 02012-12-15December 15, 2012 incumbent

June 25, 1950

On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops poured across the 38th Parallel in strength and war had returned.  President Truman announced that the nation was not at war, but ships, planes and men were in motion, and in the gathering of “a fire brigade,” a token force of Marines was sent to the front to aid American Army forces.  The United Nations buzzed briefly before taking action; Puller recognized all the signs.  He immediately asked for a modification of his orders and said urgently to Headquarters:

“Attention is invited to the fact that I served as an officer in Haiti and Nicaragua, and in the Pacific Theater for eight years prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  This experience will prove of value in an assignment to combat duty in Korea.”

 

This was not enough, and he went to the cable office and at his own expense sent appeals to the Commandant, the Assistant Commandant, and the commander of the First Marine Division, begging for assignment to Korea.  The cables cost him nineteen dollars.

 

In the days of waiting he saw that the South Korean battalion commander who was an early victim of the Communist attack had been tragically prophetic; the North Koreans were still cutting their way at will through large forces of South Koreans and brushing aside with almost the same ease the first American forces to be thrown against them.  It appeared that the Communists were rolling toward complete victory.