- Leonard F. Chapman, Jr.
Infobox Military Person
name= Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr.
born= birth date|1913|11|3
died= death date and age|2000|1|14|1913|11|3
Key West, Florida
Falls Church, Virginia
Arlington National Cemetery
caption= 24th Commandant of the Marine Corps (1968-1972)
allegiance= United States of America
United States Marine Corp
Commandant of the Marine Corps
World War II* Battle of Coral Sea* Battle of Midway* Battle of Peleliu* Battle of Okinawa
awards=Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit(2) Bronze Star
laterwork=Commissioner of the
Immigration and Naturalization Service
Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr. (
November 3 1913- January 6 2000) was the 24th Commandant of the Marine Corpsand served in that capacity from 1968 to 1972. He was World War IIcombat veteran — being decorated for his actions in the Battle of Peleliuand the Battle of Okinawa. He retired from the Marine Corps after 37 years of service. In retirement, he served as the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Chapman was born in
Key West, Florida, and graduated from high school in DeLand, Florida. In 1931, he entered the University of Floridawhere he became a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corpsunit for four years and was initiated into Phi Kappa TauFraternity. Upon graduation in June 1935, he was commissioned as a Marine second lieutenant.
After completing The
Basic Schoolat the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Chapman served with the 1st Battalion, 10th Marines at Quantico, Virginia, from April 1936 until August 1937. In June 1938, after completing Field ArtillerySchool at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he was assigned to the 10th Marines at Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California. He was promoted to first lieutenant in September 1938.
In June 1940, Chapman departed San Diego for
Honolulu. There he completed Gunnery School on board the USS "New Orleans" before reporting to the USS "Astoria" in July 1940 for a two-year assignment as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment. He was promoted to captain in April 1941.
On board the USS "Astoria" following the outbreak of World War II, Chapman took part in the early Pacific raids culminating in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, and earned the Navy Commendation Ribbon with Combat “V.” He was promoted to major in May 1942 and returned to the United States late that June.
Chapman was assigned to Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, in August 1942 as an instructor in the Artillery Course. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in May 1943, and that October was named
Executive Officerof the Artillery Section at Marine Corps Schools.
In June 1944, Chapman again departed for combat duty, joining the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific area. He earned the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” for meritorious service as Operations Officer, 11th Marines, and Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion, 11th Marines, during combat at Peleliu in September and October 1944; and the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” as 4th Battalion Commander at
Okinawa, April to July 1945.
Following the war when he returned to the continental United States, Chapman served as Secretary of the General Staff, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Pacific from September 1945 to July 1946. From August 1946 until May 1949, he was stationed at
Headquarters Marine Corps(HQMC), Washington, D.C., serving as Executive Officer, G-3 Section, Division of Plans and Policies.
Ordered to Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Chapman served as Coordinator, Reserve Artillery Training Unit; completed the Amphibious Warfare School, Senior Course, in June 1950; then served as Chief of the Supporting Arms Group, Marine Corps Development Center. While at Quantico, he was promoted to colonel in July 1950.
In July 1952, Chapman departed Quantico for
Camp Pendleton, California, where he joined the 3d Marine Division as Commanding Officer, 12th Marines. He sailed with the division in August 1953 for Japan, where he continued to command the 12th Marines. In August 1954, he was named Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, U.S. Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan, serving in this capacity until May 1956.
In July 1956, Chapman assumed duties in Washington, D.C., as Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, and Director of the
Marine Corps Institute. Two years later, he was promoted to brigadier general on 1 July 1958.
Following his promotion, Chapman was assigned to
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina serving as Commanding General, Force Troops, FMF, Atlantic, until August 1961. He reported to HQMC in September 1961 for duty as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 and was promoted to major general in November 1961. For exceptionally meritorious service in this capacity from September 1961 through December 1963, he was awarded his second Legion of Merit.
January 1 1964, Chapman was designated as Chief of Staff, with the rank of lieutenant general. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the Secretary of the Navy. On July 1 1967, Chapman became Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. While serving as Assistant Commandant, he was awarded the Armed Forces Management Association Merit Award for 1967.
December 4 1967, Chapman was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnsonto be the 24th Commandant of the Marine Corpsand was confirmed by the Senate on December 13 1967. On January 1 1968, he was promoted to general on assuming the office of Commandant.
During his first year in office, General Chapman traveled widely, covering nearly 100,000 miles while visiting Marines stationed around the world. The heavy commitment to Vietnam took him to that country twice in 1968. In January 1969, President
Pak Chong-Huiof the Republic of Koreapresented General Chapman the Order of National Security Merit, First Class. Later that month, General Chapman earned a Gold Star in lieu of a second award of the Distinguished Service Medal.
By the end of his tenure, General Chapman witnessed the III Marine Amphibious Force withdrawal from Vietnam and the strength of the Corps drop from a peak of 289,000 to 198,000. Anticipating an austere budget and fewer Marines, he had earlier made his move for a "hard, lean, fully combat-ready Corps," reduced in size, but not in professionalism. Before his retirement, President Nixon presented Gen Chapman a third award of the Distinguished Service Medal,
December 10 1971.
General Chapman retired
January 1 1972and became Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
General Chapman died on
January 6, 2000at age 86 from complications resulting from cancer. He was buried at Arlington National Cemeterywith full military honors on January 14 2000. He was eulogized by former Commandant Carl Mundy, a friend and protege.
A complete list of General Chapman’s medals and decorations include: three awards of the Distinguished Service Medal; two awards of the
Legion of Merit, one with Combat “V;” the Bronze Star with Combat “V;” the Navy Commendation Medalwith Combat “V”; two Presidential Unit Citations; the American Defense Service Medalwith Fleet Clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medalwith one silver star in lieu of five bronze stars; the American Campaign Medal; the National Defense Service Medalwith one bronze star; the Korean Service Medal; the Korean Order of National Security Merit, First Class; the Vietnam National Order, 2nd Class; and the United Nations Service Medal.
title=General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., USMC
work=Who's Who in Marine Corps History
publisher=History Division, United States Marine Corps
* [http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/lchapman.htm Arlington National Cemetery headstone pictures and bio.]
title=The Final Campaign: Marines in the Victory on Okinawa
author=Alexander, Colonel Joseph H., USMC (Ret)
series=Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
publisher=History and Museums Division, United States Marine Corps
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