Military Wiki
Edwin Howard Simmons
Nickname "Collective memory of the Marine Corps"[1]
Born (1921-08-25)August 25, 1921
Died May 5, 2007(2007-05-05) (aged 85)
Place of birth Billingsport, New Jersey
Place of death Alexandria, Virginia
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1942-1978
Rank Brigadier General
Commands held 9th Marines
Marine Corps History and Museums
Battles/wars World War II
Battle of Guam
Korean War
Battle of Inchon
Battle of Chosin Reservoir
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Other work Marine Corps History and Museums, Director Emeritus

Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons (August 25, 1921 – May 5, 2007) was a highly decorated United States Marine Corps officer who served in combat during three wars — including landing at Inchon and fighting at the Chosin Reservoir. He was renowned as the Marine Corps historian, being called "the collective memory of the Marine Corps". His 1974 book The United States Marines: A History is a seminal reference text.


Edwin Howard Simmons was born on August 25, 1921, in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and graduated from Paulsboro High School in 1938. He earned a bachelor of arts in journalism in 1942 at Lehigh University, where he had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa the previous year, and a master's degree in journalism in 1955 at Ohio State University. Prior to accepting his commission as a Marine second lieutenant on June 12, 1942, he held an Army Reserve commission.

During World War II, he trained at Marine Corps Schools, Marine Corps Base Quantico, and Camp Lejeune, N.C., prior to serving overseas with the 5th Field Depot in the South and Central Pacific. He took part in combat during the capture of Guam and later served with the 7th Service Regiment on Okinawa and in China. He was promoted to captain in January 1944 and to major in June 1949.

Following the war, he served for three and one-half years as Managing Editor of the Marine Corps Gazette, then completed the Amphibious Warfare School, Junior Course, Quantico, in 1950.

At the outbreak of the Korean War, he commanded the Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, Camp Lejeune. The half strength battalion was just back from the Mediterranean when it boarded a troop train west. It was redesignated 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.[2] They were ordered to Korea in August 1950 and participated in the Inchon Landing that September. He continued in combat as weapons company commander during the North Korean Aggression, the Communist China Aggression and the First UN Counter Offensive; and as a battalion operations officer and executive officer during the Communist China Spring Offensive.

Returning to the United States in July 1951, he served in various assignments with the Training and Replacement Command at Camp Pendleton, California; with the Naval ROTC unit at Ohio State University; and with the G-4 Division at Headquarters Marine Corps. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in December 1954. From August 1959 until October 1960, he served as Naval Attaché to the Dominican Republic. Carbine rifles from his office were used in the assassination of Trujillo, according to the Church Committee,[citation needed] but Simmons denies that he played any direct role in the assassination. Prior to returning to the Dominican Republic in September 1961 as U.S. Military Liaison Officer, U.S. Embassy, Santo Domingo, he was assigned as Senior Editor, Publications Group, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. In January 1962, he joined the Strategic Plans Section, G-3 Division at Headquarters Marine Corps, and in July 1963 was promoted to colonel.

From July 1965 until July 1966, he served in Vietnam, first as G-3 of III Marine Amphibious Force, and later, as Commanding Officer, 9th Marine Regiment.

Returning from Vietnam, he was a student at the National War College for the next year prior to reporting to Headquarters Marine Corps where he served as Deputy Fiscal Director of the Marine Corps from August 1967 until May 1970. He was advanced to the rank of brigadier general on June 1, 1968.

Brigadier General Simmons returned to Vietnam for another one year tour, and served as Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division (Rein), and subsequently as Deputy Commander, III Marine Amphibious Force. He returned to Headquarters Marine Corps on July 20, 1971, where he became Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Strategic Studies.

On December 1, 1971, he assumed duties as Director of Marine Corps History and Museums. He went on the retired list on July 1, 1972, but continued on active duty without interruption of service as Director of Marine Corps History and Museums. On July 1, 1978, he reverted to inactive status on the retired list. In late October 1978, he returned as a Civil Service employee to his previous position as Director of Marine Corps History and Museums.

Brigadier General Simmons died on May 5, 2007 at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. He is survived by his wife, the former Frances G. Bliss of Denver, Colorado, two sons, Edwin H. Jr., and Clarke V., and two daughters, Bliss and Courtney.[1][3]


He was a fellow, governor, and treasurer of the Company of Military Historians and a member of the boards of trustees of the American Military Institute, the Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation, and the United States Commission on Military History. He also served as president of the 1st Marine Division Association, president of the American Society of Military Comptrollers, and vice-president of the National War College Alumni Association. In 1970, he received a Centennial Distinguished Graduate Medallion from Ohio State University.


Simmons wrote for numerous military and general publications, including the Naval Review, Naval Institute Proceedings, Marine Corps Gazette, Sea Power, and Army. He was the author of the history, 'The United States Marines (published in London, 1974; and New York, 1976) and contributed extensively to various histories and standard works including the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Dictionary of American History.

His novel, Dog Company Six, received the W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction from the American Library Association in 2001.[4]


The complete list of Brigadier General Simmon's medals and decorations include:

Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Silver star
Silver star
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Silver Star Legion of Merit w/ 2 award stars & valor device Bronze Star w/ 1 award star & valor device
2nd Row Purple Heart Meritorious Service Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ valor device Combat Action Ribbon
3rd Row Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 3 service stars Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star China Service Medal American Campaign Medal
4th Row Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Korean Service Medal w/ 5 service stars
5th Row Vietnam Service Medal w/ 5 service stars National Order of Vietnam, Knight Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ 2 palms & 1 silver star Korean Presidential Unit Citation
6th Row Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Civil Actions unit citation United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal

Selected works by Edwin H. Simmons[]

  • Simmons, Edwin H. (1976). United States Marines: the First Two Hundred Years 1775-1975. Viking Adult. ISBN 978-0-670-74101-4. 
  • Simmons, Edwin H. (2003). The United States Marines: A History (4th ed.). Naval Institute Press. 
  • Simmons, Edwin H; Alexander, Joseph H. (2008). Through the Wheat: the U.S. Marines in World War I. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. 

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ewing, Marine Corps Times, 2007.
  2. Simmons, Edwin (March 2, 1997). "Simmons 1". Washington, DC: National Security Archive, George Washington University. Retrieved 2012-01-31.  episode 5, Korea
  3. Six, Jim (May 10, 2007). "To the core, he was of the Corps". Gloucester County Times. Retrieved 2006-05-17. 
  4. Boyd Award Recipients List


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