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First Name: Harry

Last Name: Schmidt

Birthplace: Holdrege, NE, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Date of Birth: 25 September 1886

Date of Death: 10 February 1968

Rank: General

Years Served: 1909-1948
Harry Schmidt

•  Banana Wars (1898 - 1934)
•  Philippine-American War (1899 - 1902)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Harry Schmidt
General, U.S. Marine Corps
(Tombstone General)

Harry Schmidt was born on 25 September 1886 in Holdrege, NE. He attended Nebraska State Normal College before entering the U.S. Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant on 17 August 1909.

After instruction at the Marine Officers' School at Port Royal, SC, in January 1911 he reported for duty at the Marine Barracks, Guam, Mariana Islands. While attached to this station, he accompanied an expeditionary force to Chefoo, China. In October 1912, he was ordered to duty in the Philippines where he remained until detached to the U.S. in April 1913.

Following an assignment with the Recruiting Service in Minnesota; a tour of duty at the Marine Barracks, New Orleans, LA; and temporary duty at Veracruz aboard USS Kearsarge (BB-5) in 1915, he was ordered to sea duty aboard USS Oklahoma (BB-37) in May 1916. In January 1917, he went aboard USS Montana (ACR-13) and from 25 February to 22 March 1917, was ashore with the ship's landing force at Guantanamo, Cuba.

Leaving USS Montana in September 1918, he spent most of the next two years at the Marine Barracks, Norfolk, VA. He again went to sea in June 1920, as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment aboard USSĀ Tennessee (BB-43).

From August 1922 to May 1926, Schmidt was a member of the Marine Corps Schools, first as a student, then as an instructor. Then followed a year in recruiting at St. Paul, Minnesota, and a six month tour of foreign service with the Sixth Regiment in China.

Schmidt was with the Second Brigade of Marines in Nicaragua as Brigade Intelligence and Operations Officer from February 1928 to June 1929.

He returned to the U.S. to attend the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, KS, and graduated on 18 June 1932. In addition to Command and General Staff School, he is a graduate of the Field Officers' Course, Marine Corps Schools, MCB Quantico, VA.

Following graduation, he was assigned to duty with the Paymaster Department and served variously at Headquarters, Marine Corps, Washington, DC; with the Department of the Pacific, San Francisco; the Fourth Marine Regiment, Shanghai, China; and again with the Department of the Pacific.

In June 1937, he was assigned to the Second Marine Brigade. He sailed for Shanghai, China, in August with the Brigade as Chief of Staff and served in that capacity until detached to the U.S. in February 1938.

Schmidt was assigned to Headquarters, Marine Corps as Executive and Personnel Officer of the Paymaster Department in July 1938; he was serving there when the U.S. entered into WW II.

World War II

In January 1942, he was appointed Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, where he served until ordered to the Fourth Marine Division as Commanding on 18 August 1943.

Schmidt commanded the Fourth Division in the seizure of Roi-Namur in the Battle of Kwajalein and in the battle for Saipan. On 12 July 1944, he assumed command of the Fifth Amphibious Corps and led that command in the assault and capture of Tinian Island. Continuing in command of the Fifth Amphibious Corps, the General led it through the Iwo Jima operation.

Following the conclusion of hostilities, the General led the Fifth Corps in the occupation of the Japanese homeland. On 15 February 1946, he was ordered back to the U.S. to assume command of the Marine Training and Replacement Command, San Diego Area, CA, where he remained until his retirement.

Schmidt concluded his 39-year career as a Marine when he retired on 1 July 1948. Upon retirement, he was promoted to the four-star rank of General and became the third "Tombstone General" in the U.S. Marine Corps. *

* 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
Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 2 Award Stars
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 Service Star
Navy Unit Commendation
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal w/ 2 Service Stars
Mexican Service Medal
Yangtze Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal w/ Convoy & Escort Clasps
Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1933)
China Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/3 Service Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Nicaraguan Medal of Distinction w/ Diploma
Nicaraguan Medal of Merit w/ Silver Star

Death and Burial

General Harry Schmidt died on 10 February 1968. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA, in Plot Q, 1533.

Honoree ID: 420   Created by: MHOH




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