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The Marines' Marine

Via Seamus, this message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Mike Hagee, went out to all General Officers in the US Marine Corps:

Generals,

    It is with deep regret that I announce the death last night, 21 June 2005, of General Louis H. Wilson, Jr. U.S. Marine Corps, Retired, our 26th Commandant of the Marine Corps who received the Medal of Honor for heroism during the battle of Guam on 25-26 July 1944.  He passed away peacefully at his home in Birmingham, Alabama.

    In accordance with Article 1288 of Navy Regulations, all ships and stationsof the Department of t he Navy are required to half-mast the national ensign from the time of General Wilson's death, as a former CMC, until sunset of the date of interment.  The Article also provides information for joint installations and commands, and I direct your attention to it.

Funeral plans have not yet been completed.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in the General's memory to the Marine Corps University Foundation or other Marine Corps related charity.

Per MCO 5360.10A, the Officer in Charge of the funeral staff is MajGen
Bradley M. (Mark) Lott.  He is responsible for planning, coordinating, and ensuring proper execution of the funeral and burial ceremony. Colonel Nathan Webster is assisting him and coordinating all family-related issues.

Point of Contact Information:
       Funeral Staff: Col Webster, (703) 692-5411 - [email protected]

Attached are both General Wilson's official biography and a copy of his
Medal of Honor Citation from the History and Museums Division.  I have also included an outstanding article on General Wilson's life and legacy from the April 2003 Leatherneck magazine.

Today's Marines owe a tremendous debt to General Wilson.  His heroic actions as a Captain leading "F" Company, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines in repelling 11 determined counterattacks by a superior enemy force attempting to retake the key terrain of Fonte Hill during the amphibious assault on Guam in July 1944 are part of our Corps' rich heritage that continues to inspire all Marines.

But, his professionalism, leadership, and judgment as our 26th Commandant is an equally important and perhaps more lasting legacy.  He skillfully guided this institution through the crises and numerous tests of the post-Vietnam era - lack of public confidence in the military, the fall out from the transition of DoD to an all-volunteer force, discipline and leadership challenges within our Corps, chronic budgetary shortfalls, and a vigorous public debate over the Marine Corps' mission, force structure, and operational focus.  We often cite the renewed emphasis on maneuver warfare during the 1980's for the Marine Corps' tactical successes in operations like Desert Storm in 1991 and Iraqi Freedom in 2003.  The commitment, however, to professional education and warfighting excellence during that period and into the present was built squarely on the firm foundation that General Wilson laid.  All of our later achievements would not have been possible without his strong moral leadership and his uncompromising personnel standards during the turbulent 1970s.  General Wilson's emphasis on the readiness and modernization of our Corps as a well-trained mobile, general purpose, combined arms force with amphibious expertise prepared for low and high intensity combat against a wide-spectrum of potential foes around the globe continues to define who we are.  His compelling articulation within the policy development and political processes concerning the Marine Corps' value and role in our national security was masterful, and it quickly restored faith in our institution.  The dramatic improvements to recruiting Marines and recruit training methods set a standard for quality from which the Marine Corps continues to profit with intelligent, adaptable Marines.  His vision for demanding, combined arms training resulted in the facilities and exercises at 29 Palms and elsewhere that we have inherited and from which we continue to improve our tactical and operational agility and flexibility.  He defined commitment to warfighting excellence that remains today our main effort.  I believe that Col David H. White, Jr. USMCR (Ret) - in Allan Millett and Jack Shulimson's Commandants of the Marine Corps - very accurately pinpoints that the success of General Wilson during his watch as Commandant was due to the fact that "he personified the best institutional characteristics of his Corps."  This is perhaps the most fitting and highest tribute any of us can hope for.

Thankfully, General Wilson's presence will continue to be felt throughout our Corps for many years.  I ask all on active duty to share the legacy of General Wilson with your Marines.  I also ask all to keep Jane and her family in your prayers.

Semper Fidelis,
Mike

Godspeed, General Wilson.

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