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First Name: Joseph

Last Name: Dunford

Birthplace: Boston, MA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Quincy, MA
Middle Name: Francis

Date of Birth: 08 December 1955

Rank: General

Years Served: 1977-2019
Joseph Francis Dunford, Jr.
'Fighting Joe'

•  Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) (2001 - present)
•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


Joseph Francis "Fighting Joe' Dunford, Jr.
General, U.S. Marine Corps

Joseph Francis Dunford, Jr. was born on 8 December 1955 in Boston, MA, and raised in Quincy, MA. He is the son of Joseph Francis and Katherine Dunford. He graduated from Boston College High School and then from St. Michael's College in June 1977, and earned his commission in the U.S. Marine Corps via Officer Candidate School that month.

Marine Corps Career

In 1978, Dunford served in the 1st Marine Division as a Platoon and Company Commander in 3rd Battalion 1st Marines and a Company Commander in 1st Battalion 9th Marines until 1981. He served as the Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force for a year, then transferred to the Officer Assignment Branch at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, DC. He reported to the 2nd Marine Division in June 1985 and Commanded L Company of 3rd Battalion 6th Marines. In 1987, he was reassigned to 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company as the Operations, Plans, and Training Officer.

From 1988-91, Dunford was assigned as the Marine Officer Instructor at the College of the Holy Cross and Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico. In 1992, he was assigned to HQMC as a member of the Commandant's staff group and subsequently as the Senior Aide-de-Camp to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In 1995, he joined the 6th Marine Regiment as the Executive Officer, then went on to Command 2nd Battalion 6th Marines from 1996-98.

In 1999, Dunford was the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (under both Generals Joseph Ralston and Richard Myers) and as Chief, Global and Multilateral Affairs Division (J-5) until 2001. He next served in the 1st Marine Division where he was assigned to Command the 5th Marine Regiment, then as the Division's Chief of Staff and Assistant Commander. During this time, he served 22 months in Iraq. During his command of RCT-5 in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" under James Mattis.

From 2005-07, Dunford returned to Headquarters Marine Corps to serve as the Director of the Operations Division of the Plans, Policies and Operations staff, and eventually became the Vice Director for Operations (J-3) at the Joint Staff in 2008. In December 2007, Dunford was nominated for promotion to the rank of Major General. In February, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that President George W. Bush had nominated Dunford for promotion to Lieutenant General and appointment as Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations, to succeed LtGen Richard F. Natonski. In April 2008, his appointment to the permanent rank of Major General was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and he was simultaneously appointed to the grade of Lieutenant General for his new assignment.

Dunford served a dual role in his assignment as Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations:

He was the Operations Deputy (OpsDep) for the Commandant on all Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) matters. Served as the focal point for the interface between the Marine Corps (as one of the four Services) and the joint and combined activities of the JCS and the unified Commanders-in-Chief, and various allied and other foreign Defense agencies. He was also responsible for coordinating the development and execution of service plans and policies related to the structure, deployment, and employment of Marine Corps forces in general.

On 1 May 2009, the Pentagon announced that President Barack Obama had appointed Dunford to serve as the Commanding General of I Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Forces Central Command. Less than a year into that assignment, Dunford was nominated by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to succeed James F. Amos as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps; Amos had been nominated to succeed James Conway as Commandant. President Obama approved his promotion to four-star rank and Dunford assumed the duties and new rank on 23 October 2010.

On 10 October 2012, General Dunford was nominated by President Barack Obama to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. After an investigation into inappropriate communications from the then-current commander in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen was opened, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requested that General Dunford's nomination be acted on promptly.

On 10 February 2013, General Dunford assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) from General Allen, who had since been cleared in the Pentagon's investigation involving his e-mails in the Petraeus scandal. During this command he personalized letters of condolence for every U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan. He attempts to do the same for fatalities from the other 48 nations that make up International Security Assistance Force.

On 5 June 2014, General Dunford was nominated by President Obama to be the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps. He became Commandant in October 2014.

On 4 May 2015, U.S. officials said that President Obama will nominate General Dunford as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Dunford has been ranked one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders by Fortune Magazine. He said his first battalion commander told him the three rules to success … though he can only remember the first one: Surround yourself with good people.


He holds a Master of Arts degree in Government from Georgetown University and a second Master of Arts in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College; Army Ranger School; and Amphibious Warfare School.

Medals, Awards & Badges

Defense Superior Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit with Valor Device
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star
Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal with 3 Gold Stars
Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Navy Unit Commendation
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation with 2 Service Stars
National Defense Service Medal with Service Star
Iraq Campaign Medal with 2 Service Stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 5 Service Stars
Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Badge
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

He holds Rifle Expert (3rd award) and Pistol Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badges.

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
He earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" while deployed to Iraq and serving under General James Mattis where he led Regimental Combat Team 5 during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Honoree ID: 386   Created by: MHOH




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