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Austin Roger Brunelli
Austin R. Brunelli.jpg
Brigadier general Brunelli, USMC
Nickname "Bunny"
Born (1907-08-20)August 20, 1907
Died September 23, 1989(1989-09-23) (aged 82)
Place of birth Blossburg, New Mexico
Place of death Virginia Beach,Virginia
Allegiance United States
Service/branch USMC logo United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1931-1962
Rank US-O7 insignia Brigadier General
Service number 0-4640
Commands held Camp Lejeune
ADC of 2nd Marine Division
24th Marine Regiment
CoS of 1st Marine Division
1st Battalion, 24th Marines
3rd Battalion, 24th Marines

World War II

Korean War
Awards Navy Cross
Silver Star
Legion of Merit (2)
Purple Heart (2)

Austin Roger Brunelli (August 20, 1907 - September 23, 1989) was a highly decorated combat veteran of World War II and Korea War who is most noted as Commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 24th Marines during Battle of Iwo Jima, where he won Navy Cross, the United States military's second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat. He later served as Chief of staff of 1st Marine Division in Korea and Commanding general of Camp Lejeune.[1]

Early careerEdit

Austin R. Brunelli was born on August 20, 1907 in small mining town, Blossburg, New Mexico as the oldest child of Ernest and Minnie Brunelli. His family later moved to Raton, New Mexico, where he attended local high school, where he graduated in 1924. Brunelli subsequently attended Colorado College for two years, before he received appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. After four years of studies, he graduated successfully with the rank of Second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on June 4, 1931.[1][2]

As new any other new marine officer, Brunelli was sent for further officer training to the Basic School at Philadelphia Navy Yard. He spent one year there, before he was attached to the Naval Prison Detachment at Marine Barracks Parris Island, South Carolina in July 1932. Brunelli was transferred to the Marine Detachment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in March 1934 and spent next sixteen months with patrol duties along the West Coast.[1][2]

In June 1934, Brunelli has been promoted to the rank of First lieutenant and one year later, he was transferred to San Diego, California, where he was attached to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment stationed there. Apparently influenced by his service on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, Brunelli asked for Naval aviator training and was transferred to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida in January 1936.[1]

However he dropped the training in December 1936 and was transferred back to the infantry and appointed Adjutant and Assistant Operations officer on the staff 1st Marine Brigade under Brigadier general James J. Meade. He served in this capacity until May 1937, when he was ordered to the Marine Corps Base Quantico, where he was appointed Aide-de-camp to Commanding General, James C. Breckinridge. Brunelli exchanged this administrative assignment with Sea duties aboard the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans, where he served with the rank of Captain as Commanding officer of the Marine Detachment from June 1938.[1][2][3]

World War IIEdit

Brunelli returned to the United States at the end of May 1940 and following the one-month leave, he was transferred for new assignment at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. He was subsequently appointed to the prestigious capacity of Aide to Commandant of the Marine Corps, Thomas Holcomb in July 1940. Brunelli remained at Headquarters Marine Corps until June 1943, when he was sent for instruction to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico. He graduated from the course in September 1943 and was promoted to the rank of Major.[1]

He was subsequently transferred to Camp Pendleton, California, where he succeeded Lieutenant colonel Homer Litzenberg as Commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines. His unit was later attached to the 4th Marine Division under Major general Harry Schmidt and finally sailed to the Pacific theater in January 1944. Brunelli was meantime promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.[1]

During the upcoming Battle of Kwajalein at the beginning of February 1944, Brunelli was appointed Commander of an Assault Landing Team (btw. consisting of his battalion) in the capture of Namur Island. He landed on the beach on the morning of February 1 and after he found out, that only about sixty percent had landed because of the missing LVTs, Brunelli reorganized the available units and attacked the enemy's positions. He then led another attack, overrunning fortified and entrenched positions and subsequently repulsed fanatical Japanese counterattack. Even if he was slightly wounded, Brunelli remained in command of the battalion and took part in the final assault to wipe out the last enemy resistance.[1][4][5][6]

For his inspiring leadership and gallantry in action, Brunelli was decorated with Legion of Merit with Combat "V".[4] He also received Purple Heart for his wounds.

Brunelli was transferred to the staff of the 24th Marine Regiment, when he was appointed Regiment's Executive officer in March 1944. He served in that capacity during the crucial Battle of Saipan during June and July 1944. When commanding officer of 1st Battalion, Lieutenant colonel Maynard C. Schultz, was killed in action on June 16, Brunelli temporarily assumed his command. After he found out, that two companies of his battalion were reduced in strength by heavy Marine casualties and were forced to withdraw, Brunelli did not hesitate to made a personal reconnaissance under heavy enemy fire. He reestablished the lines, resumed contact with the adjacent units and launched successful attack, which eliminated Japanese positions in the area.[1][4][6]

He remained in command of the 1st Battalion until July 4, when he was relieved by Lieutenant colonel Otto Lessing. Brunelli subsequently returned to the staff of the 24th Marine Regiment as XO. Following the battle, he was decorated with Silver Star for his repeated heroism in combat.[4][7]

Lieutenant colonel Brunelli took part in the Battle of Tinian one month later and following the promotion of regiment's commanding officer, Franklin A. Hart at the end of August 1944, Brunelli assumed temporary command of the 24th Marine Regiment. All Fourth Marine Division's units were weakened by combat and were ordered back to Hawaii for rest and refit. He led the 24th Marines to Maui and subsequently passed the command to new regiment's commanding officer, Colonel Walter I. Jordan on September 7, 1944.[1][6][8]

He spent following four months with intesive training and preparation for the upcoming Battle of Iwo Jima, before he left Hawaii at the beginning of January 1945. The 24th Marines landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945 and after two weaks of fighting, fierce enemy resistance has significantly reduced the 1st Battalion. Brunelli was wounded for his second time during the battle, but returned to the front lines and assumed command of 1st Battalion. He personally made reconnaissance of his entire front lines and then reorganized his badly depleted units into two rifle companies and resumed the attack until all enemy resistance was defeated.[1][4][9]

Brunelli was originally decorated with another Silver Star medal, but this decoration was later upgraded to Navy Cross, the United States military's second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat.[4][10]

Korea and later careerEdit

Hardly depleted 4th Marine Division was subsequently ordered again back to Hawaii in April 1945, where stayed until the end of War. During August 1945, Brunelli was appointed commanding general of 4th Division Service Troops. In this capacity he was responsible for the supply, salvage, evacuation, construction, personnel management, quartering and sanitation needs of all 4th Marine Division units. Brunelli sailed with 4th Marine Division to the United States in November 1945 and subsequently supervised its deactivation at Camp Pendleton, California on November 28, 1945.[1]

After one month Christmas leave, his new assignment was with Marine Barracks at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from January 1946. In August of the same year, Brunelli was assigned to Senior Course at Amphibious Warfare School at Marine Corps Base Quantico. He completed the course in May 1947 and susbequently was appointed Assistant Director of the Basic School there. Brunelli remained in Quantico until June 1950, when he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and transferred to the staff of Commander, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet at Coronado, California.[1]

Within this command, he served in Japan and Korea since March 1952. While in Korea, Brunelli was transferred to 1st Marine Division under the command of Major general John T. Selden and succeeded Colonel Custin Burton Jr. as Division Chief of Staff. He took part in the actions on the western front and participated in the defense of Outpost Bunker Hill. Brunelli served with 1st Marine Division until October 1952, when he was succeeded by Colonel Henry W. Buse Jr. and ordered back to the United States.[1]

For his service in Korea, Colonel Brunelli received his second Legion of Merit with Combat "V".[4]

He returned to the United States at the beginning of November 1952 and was assigned back to the staff of Commander, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet. Brunelli remained in this capacity until the end of July 1955, when he was transferred to Washington, D.C. and appointed to the office of Joint Chiefs of Staff under General Omar Bradley. While in this capacity, Brunelli was promoted to the rank of Brigadier general in August 1956.

General Brunelli was subsequently transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in November 1956 and appointed Assistant Division Commander of 2nd Marine Division under Major general Reginald H. Ridgely. Brunelli received new orders in April 1958, but stayed at Camp Lejeune as new base commander.

He was transferred to the Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia and assumed command of Landing Force Training Unit, Amphibious Training Command, Atlantic Fleet. In this capacity, he was responsible for the amphibious training of all forces assigned to joint amphibious operations in accordance with doctrines established by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Brigadier general Brunelli retired from the Marine Corps on July 1, 1962 after 31 years of active service. He settled in Virginia Beach, Virginia and died there on September 23, 1989.


Here is the ribbon bar of Brigadier General Austin R. Brunelli:[4]

Navy Cross ribbon.svg Silver Star ribbon.svg
Gold star
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
Gold star
Purple Heart ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg
Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg
Bronze star
American Defense Service ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
Silver star
Korean Service Medal ribbon.svg
United Nations Service Medal Korea ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg
1st Row Navy Cross Silver Star
2nd Row Legion of Merit with one 516" gold star and Combat "V" Purple Heart with one 516" gold star Navy Presidential Unit Citation with two stars Navy Unit Commendation
3rd Row American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four 3/16 inch service stars American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal
4th Row National Defense Service Medal with one star Korean Service Medal with one 3/16 inch silver service star United Nations Korea Medal Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster
Military offices
Preceded by
Franklin A. Hart
Commanding Officer of 24th Marine Regiment
August 31, 1944 - September 6, 1944
Succeeded by
Walter I. Jordan


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 "Austin R. Brunelli Papers - USMC Military History Division". USMC Military History Division. Retrieved 2017-10-01. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Marine Corps Gazette, Volume 82, Issue 9". Marine Corps Association & Foundation Websites. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  3. "Fortitudine 19, Part 1". Marines Websites. Retrieved October 1, 2017. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "Valor awards for Austin R. Brunelli". Militarytimes Websites. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  5. "US Marine Corps in World War II - HyperWar (Kwajalein)". HyperWar Websites. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Austin R. Brunelli - 1st Battalion, 24th Marines websites". 1st Battalion, 24th Marines websites. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  7. "US Marine Corps in World War II - HyperWar (Saipan)". HyperWar Websites. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  8. "US Marine Corps in World War II - HyperWar (Tinian)". HyperWar Websites. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  9. "US Marine Corps in World War II - HyperWar (Iwo Jima)". HyperWar Websites. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  10. "Marine Corps Chevron, Volume 4, Number 11, 24 March 1945". Marine Corps Chevron. 24 March 1945. p. 11. Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
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