Military Secretary to the Commandant of the Marine Corps

Military Secretary to the Commandant of the Marine Corps

The Military Secretary is the senior advisor and task manager for the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Personally selected by the Commandant, the Military Secretary is an active duty Colonel who reports directly to the Commandant. The exact duties of the Military Secretary have varied based on the needs and preferences of each Commandant. There are no existing manuals or orders that dictate the exact role of the Military Secretary. He runs the day to day operations of the Office of the Commandant, supervises the schedule of the Commandant, and performs other duties as the Commandant may direct. In order to perform the multi-faceted duties of the Military Secretary, the Marine must be well versed in all aspects of the Marine Corps, the Department of Defense, and the United States Government. Comparable positions in other branches of the military are:

  • Air Force – Senior Military Assistant
  • Army – Executive Officer to the Secretary of the Army
  • Navy – Military Assistant



The Military Secretary serves as a direct advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Military Secretary is primarily responsible for filtering and directing the flow of information to the Commandant, keeping the Commandant abreast of situations impacting the Marine Corps, gathering and analyzing pertinent information in order to provide sound guidance and counsel to the Commandant. His responsibilities extend to acting as a liaison between the Commandant and the Secretary of the General Staff, participating in scheduling and coordination with the Assistant Commandant, and supervising the Commandant's personal staff. Foreign dignitaries often visit the Commandant and he in turn travels overseas to visit them. Not only does the Military Secretary oversee the preparation and execution of these trips, he may be required to accompany the Commandant on these trips or engage guests on the Commandant’s behalf.


Originally, the position of Military Secretary to the Commandant of the Marine Corps (or MilSec) was called the Secretary to the Major General Commandant (MGC). The position was created by the 17th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General Thomas Holcomb, who appointed Colonel Alexander A. Vandegrift as the first Military Secretary in 1936. Until the 1950s, the Assistant Commandant worked in the same office as the Commandant. At this time the Assistant Commandant moved to his own office space and created a more defined position. Prior to this move, the Military Secretary performed duties for the Assistant Commandant as well.

List of Military Secretaries

Forty-three men have served as the Military Secretary to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The following Marines have all served as the Military Secretary and have later went on to become the Commandant:

  • General Alexander A. Vandegrift
  • General James L. Jones, Jr.

The current Military Secretary is Colonel James W Bierman, Jr.

# Photo Name Rank Start of Tenure End of Tenure Retired Rank Commandant Served Under
1 Alexander A. Vandegrift Colonel 1937 1940 Major General Thomas Holcomb
2 Wiliam C. James Colonel 1940 1942 Major General Thomas Holcomb
3 Harry Schmidt Brigadier General 1942 1942 Major General Thomas Holcomb
4 Frederick C. McConnell Colonel 1942 1944 Major General Thomas Holcomb
5 Joeseph C. Burger Colonel 1944 1946 General Alexander A. Vandegrift
6 Donald Curtis Colonel 1946 1948 General Alexander A. Vandegrift until 1947 General Clifton B. Cates until 1948
7 Edwin A Pollock Colonel 1948 1949 General Clifton B. Cates
8 Joseph H. Berry Colonel 1949 1951 General Clifton B. Cates
9 Victor H. Krulak Colonel 1952 1956 General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.
10 Ormand R. Simpson Colonel 1956 1958 General Randolph Mc. Pate
11 Roy L. Kline Brigadier General 1958 1960 General Randolph Mc. Pate
12 John P. Coursey Brigadier General 1960 1962 General David M. Shoup
13 Oscar T. Jensen, Jr. Colonel 1963 1963 General David M. Shoup
14 James O. Appleyard Colonel 1964 1966 General Wallace M. Greene, Jr.
15 Foster C. La Hue Brigadier General 1965 1967 General Wallace M. Greene, Jr.
16 Carl W. Hoffman Colonel 1967 1967 General Wallace M. Greene, Jr.
17 Fred E. Haynes, Jr. Colonel 1968 1968 General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr.
18 Emmett O. Anglin, Jr. Colonel 1968 1971 General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr.
19 Andrew E. O'Donnell Colonel 1969 1971 General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr.
20 George R. Brier Colonel 1971 1972 General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr. and General Robert E. Cushman
21 Robert E. Howard, Jr. Colonel 1972 1974 General Robert E. Cushman
22 Ross L. Mulford Colonel 1974 1976 General Robert E. Cushman until 1975 and General Louis H. Wilson, Jr. until 1976
23 Robert C. Hagerty Colonel 1976 1978 General Louis H. Wilson, Jr.
24 John B. Donovan, Jr. Colonel 1978 1979 General Louis H. Wilson, Jr.
25 Darell U. Davidson Colonel 1979 1980 General Robert H. Barrow
26 Walter R. Ledbetter, Jr. Colonel 1980 1981 General Robert H. Barrow
27 James H. R. Curd Colonel 1981 1983 General Robert H. Barrow
28 Joseph H. Alexander Colonel 1983 1985 General Paul X. Kelley
29 Edward M. Mockler Colonel 1985 1986 General Paul X. Kelley
30 Terry J. Ebbert Colonel 1986 1987 General Paul X. Kelley
31 Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. Colonel 1987 1989 General Alfred M. Gray, Jr.
32 General James L. Jones, Jr. Colonel 1989 1990 General Alfred M. Gray, Jr.
33 Richard A. Combs Colonel 1990 1991 General Alfred M. Gray, Jr.
34 Peter T. Metzger Colonel 1991 1992 General Carl E. Mundy, Jr.
35 James C. Flynn Colonel 1992 1995 General Carl E. Mundy, Jr.
36 Russell E. Appleton Colonel 1995 1998 General Charles C. Krulak
37 John R. Allen Colonel 1998 1999 General Charles C. Krulak
38 Dennis J. Hejlik Colonel 1999 2001 General James L. Jones, Jr.
39 George J. Flynn Colonel 2001 2002 General James L. Jones, Jr.
40 Robert E. Schmidle, Jr. Colonel 2002 2003 General James L. Jones, Jr. until 2003 and General Michael W. Hagee until 2003
41 James C. Walker Colonel 2003 2006 General Michael W. Hagee
42 Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr. Brigadier General 2006 2007 General Michael W. Hagee and until 2006 and General James T. Conway until 2007
43 Photo of Colonel Milburn George F. Milburn Colonel 2007 2010 Colonel General James T. Conway
44 Photo of Brigadier General Smith Jr. George W. Smith Jr. Brigadier General 2010 2011 General James F. Amos
45 James W. Bierman Jr. Colonel 2011 Present General James F. Amos

See also


Millett, Allan R.; Shulimson, Jack (2004). Commandants of the Marine Corps. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0870210129. 

External links

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