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First Name: Leonard

Last Name: Chapman

Birthplace: Key West, FL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Fielding

Date of Birth: 03 November 1913

Date of Death: 06 January 2000

Rank: General

Years Served: 1935-1972
Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr.
General, U.S. Marine Corps

Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr. was born on 3 November 1913 in Key West, FL, and graduated from high school in DeLand, FL. In 1931, he entered the University of Florida where he became a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps unit for four years and was initiated into Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity. Upon graduation in June 1935, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Military Career

After completing The Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Chapman served with the 1st Battalion, 10th Marines at Quantico, VA, from April 1936 until August 1937. In June 1938, after completing Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, OK, he was assigned to the 10th Marines at Marine Corps Base, San Diego, CA. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in September 1938.

In June 1940, Chapman departed San Diego for Honolulu. There he completed Gunnery School aboard USS New Orleans (CA-32) before reporting to USS Astoria (CA-34) 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 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. He was promoted to Major in May 1942 and returned to the U.S. in 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 Officer of 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 served as Operations Officer, 11th Marines, and Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion, 11th Marines, during combat at Peleliu in September-October 1944 and at Okinawa, April-July 1945.

When he returned to the U.S. following the war, 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, DC, 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; and 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, CA, where he joined the 3rd 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 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, NC, serving as Commanding General, Force Troops, FMF Atlantic until August 1961. He reported to HQMC in September for duty as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 and was promoted to Major General in November 1961.

On 1 January 1964, Chapman was designated as Chief of Staff, with the rank of Lieutenant General. On 1 July 1967, Chapman became Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

On 4 December 1967, Chapman was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to be the 24th Commandant of the Marine Corps and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 13 December 1967. On 1 January 1968, he was promoted to General upon 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-Hui of the Republic of Korea presented General Chapman the Order of National Security Merit, First Class.

By the end of his four-year term, 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.

General Chapman retired from the Marine Corps on 1 January 1972.

Medals and Awards

Navy Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Stars
Legion of Merit with Valor Device and 1 Star
Bronze Star Medal with Combat Valor Device
Navy Commendation Medal with Valor Device
Navy Presidential Unit Citation with 1 Star
American Defense Service Medal with 1 Star
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 5 Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal with 1 Star
Korean Service Medal
Korean Order of National Security Merit, Tong-il Medal
National Order of Vietnam, Officer grade
United Nations Korea Medal

In Retirement

After retiring from the Marine Corps, General Chapman became Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Death and Burial

General Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr. died on 6 January 2000 at age 86 from complications resulting from cancer. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 11, Lot 215-B, Map Grid N/13.

He was eulogized by General Carl E. Mundy, Jr., former Commandant and a friend, fraternity brother, and protégé.

Honoree ID: 379   Created by: MHOH




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