Lejeune, John A.

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Lejeune, John A. (1867–1942).Major general, commandant of the Marine Corps (1920–29), reformer, and champion of amphibious warfare. An 1890 Annapolis graduate who spent twenty‐seven years in shipboard service and expeditionary duty in the Caribbean, Lejeune, a tough‐minded Louisianan with sharp political skills, emerged from divisional command in Europe in World War I with a reputation second only to George Barnett and Smedley Butler as a Marine Corps leader. Replacing Barnett as commandant amid controversy about the Corps' future functions, Lejeune stressed a single reason for Corps' existence: wartime seizure and defense of advanced naval bases in a Pacific war against Japan. In July 1921, Lejeune endorsed a study of Pacific Ocean offensive amphibious operations by Maj. “ Pete” Ellis and announced that henceforth Marine Corps officer education, troop training, major exercises, and equipment development would focus on amphibious landings. He also stressed that Marine aviation belonged within the assault force. He sponsored expeditionary force exercises in 1924 and 1925, but the undermanned Corps lost its landing forces to interventions in China and Nicaragua until 1934. Nevertheless, Lejeune set the Corps on its most important and persistent mission. After retirement in 1929, he served as president of Virginia Military Institute until 1937.
[See also Marine Corps, U.S.: 1914–45; Marine Corps Combat Branches: Ground Forces; Marine Corps Combat Branches: Aviation Forces.]


John A. Lejeune , The Reminiscences of a Marine, 1930.
Merrill L. Bartlett , Lejeune: A Marine's Life, 1991.

Allan R. Millett