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First Name: James

Last Name: Mattis

Birthplace: Pullman, WA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: N.

Date of Birth: 08 September 1950

Rank: General

Years Served: 1972-2013
James N. Mattis
'Chaos & Mad Dog'

•  Gulf War (1990 - 1991)
•  Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) (2001 - present)
•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


James N. Mattis
General, U.S. Marine Corps

James N. Mattis was born on 8 September 1950 in Pullman, WA. He graduated from Richland High School in 1968 and attended Central Washington University. After completing Officer Candidate School he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on 1 January 1972.

As a Lieutenant, he served as a Rifle and Weapons Platoon Commander in the 3rd Marine Division. As a Captain, he Commanded a Rifle Company and a Weapons Company in the 1st Marine Brigade. As a Major he Commanded Recruiting Station Portland. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded 1st Battalion 7th Marines; one of Task Force Ripper's Assault Battalions in the Gulf War. As a Colonel, he commanded 7th Marine Regiment. As a Brigadier General he Commanded 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Task Force 58 during Operation Enduring Freedom in southern Afghanistan. As the Commander of TF-58, he became the first Marine to command a Naval Task Force in combat. As a Major General, he commanded the 1st Marine Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent stability operations during the Iraq War. Mattis played a key role in the April 2004 battle of Fallujah, Operation Vigilant Resolve, by negotiating with the insurgent command inside of the city, as well as playing an important part in planning the subsequent Operation Phantom Fury in November.

After being promoted to Lieutenant General, Mattis took Command of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. On 1 February 2005, speaking ad libitum at a forum in San Diego, he said "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling." Mattis's remarks sparked controversy and General Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, issued a statement suggesting that Mattis should have chosen his words more carefully, but would not be disciplined. Following a Pentagon survey that showed only 55% of soldiers and 40% of Marines would report a colleague for abusing civilians, Mattis told his Marines in May 2007, "Whenever you show anger or disgust toward civilians, it's a victory for Al Qaeda and other insurgents." Reflecting an understanding of the need for restraint in war as key to defeating an insurgency, he added that, "Every time you wave at an Iraqi civilian, Al Qaeda rolls over in its grave."

General Mattis popularized the slogan "no better friend, no worse enemy," (originally coined by the Roman Sulla as his own epitaph in 78 BC) for his command. This phrase became widely publicized during the investigation into the conduct of Lieutenant Ilario Pantano, a Platoon Commander serving under General Mattis.

The Pentagon announced on 31 May 2006 that Lieutenant General Mattis was chosen to take command of I Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. On 11 September 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that President George W. Bush had nominated Mattis for appointment to the rank of General to command U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, VA. NATO agreed to appoint Mattis as Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. On 28 September 2007, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mattis's nomination, and he relinquished command of I MEF on 5 November 2007 to LtGen Samuel Helland. Mattis was promoted to four-star General and took control of JFCOM/SACT on 9 November 2007. He transferred the job of SACT to French General Stéphane Abrial on 9 September 2009, but continued in command of JFCOM.

In June 2010, Mattis was passed over for selection to replace James T. Conway as Commandant in favor of General James F. Amos. In July, he was recommended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates for nomination to replace U.S. Army General David Petraeus as Commander of U.S. Central Command instead of Deputy Commander John R. Allen, and formally nominated by President Barack Obama on 21 July. His confirmation by the Senate Armed Services Committee on 5 August marks the first time that Marines have held billets as Commander and Deputy Commander of a Unified Combatant Command. He took command at a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, FL, on 11 August 2010.

Mattis retired from the Marine Corps on 22 March 2013.

Post-Military Life

On 1 December 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he will nominate James N. Mattis to be Secretary of Defense in his administration.


He is a graduate of the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device
Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Gold Award Stars
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Navy Unit Commendation
Navy and Marine Corps Meritorious Unit Commendation
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Sea Service Ribbon with Silver and 2 Bronze Stars
Marine Corps Recruiting Service Ribbon with Bronze Star
NATO Meritorious Service Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge

Mattis was also awarded the Polish Army Medal and 4 Expert Rifle and 2 Expert Pistol Badges.

Portrayals in Media

General James Mattis is portrayed by Robert John Burke in the HBO miniseries Generation Kill.

Another Side of General Mattis: A True Story

Marine General Charles C. Krulak [Honoree Record 403], was Commandant of the Marine Corps when this story took place. Every Christmas during his tenure, Krulak delivered cookies to every Marine duty post around Washington, DC, and Quantico, VA.

On Christmas Day in 1998, he was making his final delivery to Marine Corps Combat Development Command headquarters at Quantico when he asked the Marine on duty who the Officer of the Day was. “The young Marine said, ‘Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis.'” Krulak thought the Marine had misunderstood him, so he asked again, but he got the same answer.

Krulak said, “I looked around the duty hut and in the back, there were two cots: One for the officer of the day and one for young Marine. I said, ‘OK, let me cut through all of this: Who was the officer who slept in that bed last night?’ " “ And the Marine said, ‘Sir, Brigadier General Mattis.’”

At that moment, Mattis walked around the corner. So I said to him, ‘Jim, what are you standing the duty for?’ “And he said, ‘Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family; and so I’m a bachelor, I thought why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family, and so I took the duty for him.’ ” Never before, or since, has Krulak run into a general officer standing duty on Christmas Day.

“I think it says volumes about Jim Mattis and his leadership style,” Krulak said. “He did it very unobtrusively. He just took the duty.”

[The story above came from an article titled "Did Gen. Mattis pull duty on Christmas so a Marine could be with his family? by Jeff Schogol and was published in Stars and Stripes on 16 February 2011.]

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
As a colonel in the Gulf War, Mattis' radio callsign was 'Chaos.' However, he pestered his operations officer so often with new ideas that C.H.A.O.S. came to stand for: "Colonel Has Another Outstanding Solution."

Honoree ID: 405   Created by: MHOH




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