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First Name: Alfred

Last Name: Noble

Birthplace: Federalsburg, MD, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Houston

Date of Birth: 26 October 1894

Date of Death: 27 September 1983

Rank: General

Years Served: 1917 - 1956
Alfred Houston Noble

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Alfred Houston Noble
General, U.S. Marine Corps
(Tombstone General)

Alfred Houston Noble was born on 26 October 1894, at Federalsburg, MD. After graduation from St. John's College at Annapolis, he reported for active duty as a U.S. Marine Second Lieutenant on 24 May 1917, and embarked for France that October.

World War I

During World War I, Noble fought as Commander of the 83rd Company, 6th Marine Regiment, in the Aisne-Marne Defensive (Chateau Thierry); the Aisne-Marne Offensive (Soissons); the St. Mihiel Offensive; and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (Champagne and Argonne Forest). He was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Croix de Guerre with silver star and diploma. In addition he was cited twice in General Orders of the War Department and once by the Commanding General, AEF. He was also entitled to wear the French Fourragère which was awarded the 6th Marines.

Noble's Navy Cross was for gallantry in action from 6-June 8, 1918, during the battle of Belleau Wood. The citation states in part:

"…He was conspicuous for his judgment and personal courage in handling his company in attacks against superior numbers in strongly fortified machine-gun positions. His fortitude and initiative enabled his command each time to achieve success."

By the end of World War I, he had risen to the rank of Captain.

Inter-War Years

After the war, he served in the Army of Occupation in Germany until returning to the U.S. in July 1919.

In September 1919, Noble went overseas again to serve at the Marine Barracks, St. Thomas, Virgin, Islands, until June 1922. After that, he completed the Company Officers Course in the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, VA, then served there as Adjutant and Secretary of the Schools and as Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Schools Detachment. He left Quantico in June 1927, and the following month, began a two-year command of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS California (BB-44) serving with that detachment on expeditionary duty in Nicaragua. He returned to Quantico in July 1929 and, during the next three years, he completed the Field Officers Course and served as an Instructor in that course.

From July 1932 until August 1934, Noble served with the 1st Brigade Marines in Haiti. He was stationed in the Adjutant and Inspectors' Department at Marine Corps Headquarters, Washington, DC, from September 1934 to May 1937, then was again ordered to Quantico. After serving as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools and as a battalion commander with the 5th Marines, he took command of that regiment. He served in that capacity at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere in the Caribbean during training and maneuvers before he was again ordered to Marine Corps Headquarters in May 1941. This time he served with the Division of Plans and Policies as Officer in Charge of the Material Section, and later, as Director, Division of Plans and Policies. He was a Colonel when the U.S. entered World War II.

World War II

Nobel was twice awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" in World War II. The first was for outstanding service from September to December 1943, as Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of I Marine Amphibious Corps during the Treasury Islands occupation, the diversionary landing on Choiseul Island and the establishment of the beachhead at Empress Augusta's Bay, Bougainville. The second was for outstanding service from May to August 1944, as Assistant Commander of the 3rd Marine Division during the planning and execution of the recapture of Guam.

In September 1942, Noble was named Chief of Staff of the newly-activated 3rd Marine Division. He served in that capacity for a year, sailing with the division for the Pacific theater in February 1943. He remained overseas as Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of I Marine Amphibious Corps from September to December 1943, and as Assistant Commander of the 3rd Division from January to October 1944. Returning to the U.S. in November 1944, he served as Commanding General of the Marine Training Command at Camp Lejeune, NC until January 1946.

Post-World War II

In February 1946, Noble reported to Pearl Harbor as Commanding General of the Marine Garrison Forces, 14th Naval District. He was ordered from Pearl Harbor to Tientsin, China, in August 1946, and after serving there for several months as Assistant Commander of the 1st Marine Division, he returned to the U.S. to take command of the Troop Training Unit, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, at Coronado, CA.

From there, he reported to Parris Island, SC, in February, 1948, as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot. He served in that capacity until August 1950; for the next year as Commanding General of the Marine Barracks at Camp Pendleton, CA; and for the following year as Commanding General of the Department of the Pacific at San Francisco.

Ordered to the Netherlands in August 1952, Noble served in that country for two years prior to assuming command of the Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune in September 1954. He was transferred to Norfolk, VA, as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, on 1 September 1955, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General on the same date. He served in that capacity until 1 November 1956.

Lieutenant General Noble retired after 39 years of service on 1 November 1956.

He retired at the rank of four-star general, being advanced in rank for having been specially commended for heroism in combat. He thus became the 12th Marine to become a "Tombstone General." *

* The Act of Congress of 4 March 1925, allowed officers in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard to be promoted one grade upon retirement if they had been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat. Combat citation promotions were colloquially known as "tombstone promotions" because they conferred the prestige of the higher rank, but not the additional retirement pay, so their only practical benefit was to allow recipients to engrave a loftier title on their business cards and tombstones. The Act of Congress of 23 February 1942, enabled tombstone promotions to three- and four-star grades. Tombstone promotions were subsequently restricted to citations issued before 1 January 1947, and finally eliminated altogether effective 1 November 1959.

Any general who actually served in a grade while on active duty receives precedence on the retirement list over any tombstone general holding the same retired grade. "Tombstone generals" rank among each other according to the dates of their highest active duty grade.

Medals and Awards

Navy Cross
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star Medal w/ 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit w/ Valor Device & 1 Award Star
Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 Service Star
Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 Service Star
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
World War I Victory Medal w/ Aisne, Aisne-Marne, Meuse-Argonne, & Defensive Sector Clasps
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
China Service Medal
Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1933)
American Defense Service Medal w/ Base Clasp
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 3 Service Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Croix de guerre (WWI) w/ Silver Star
Haitian Diploma of Honor and Merit, Officer
Order of Orange-Nassau, Commander, w/ Crossed Swords
French Fourragère


General Alfred Houston Noble died on 27 September 1983.

Honoree ID: 412   Created by: MHOH




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