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James Donald Hittle
BG James D. Hittle, USMC
Nickname "Don"
Born (1915-06-10)June 10, 1915
Died June 15, 2002(2002-06-15) (aged 87)
Place of birth Bear Lake, Michigan
Place of death Arlington, Virginia
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps seal United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1937–1960
Rank US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General
Service number 0-5627
Commands held Legislative Assistant to CMC
G-4, 3rd Marine Division
2d Battalion, 7th Marines

World War II

Chinese Civil War
Awards Legion of Merit
Purple Heart
Other work Government official

James Donald Hittle (June 10, 1915 - June 15, 2002) was a decorated officer in the United States Marine Corps with the rank of Brigadier General. He is most noted for his service as Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, between June 1952 - January 1960. Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, Hittle served as United States Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) from March 1969 until March 1971.[1]

Hittle was also a member of so-called "Chowder Society", special Marine Corps Board, which was tasked to conduct research and prepare material relative to postwar legislation concerning the role of the Marine Corps in national defense.[2][3]

Early career and World War II[edit | edit source]

Hittle as Major in June 1943

James D. Hittle was born on June 10, 1915 in Bear Lake, Michigan as the son of Harry F. and Margaret Jane Hittle. He attended the public schools in Lansing and East Lansing and subsequently graduated from Michigan State College in the summer of 1937, having completed a pre-law course, with Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science. During his time at the College, Hittle completed ROTC advanced course and was commissioned reserve second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Cavalry on June 14, 1937.[1]

However he resigned his reserve commission in order to accept appointment as second lieutenant in the Marine corps on July 19, 1937. Hittle was then ordered to the Basic School at Philadelphia Navy Yard for basic officer officer, which he completed one year later. He was then attached to the Marine Detachment aboard the cruiser USS Portland and took part in the patrol cruises in the Pacific Ocean.[1][3]

He then joined 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Brigade under Brigadier general Holland Smith and was promoted to first lieutenant in summer 1940. Hittle remained with the unit following its expansion to 1st Marine Division and participated in the amphibious exercise at Culebra, Puerto Rico. He assumed command of Marine Detachment aboard the battleship USS Washington in May 1941 and participated in the Arctic convoys in the Norwegian Sea in April 1942. During his service aboard that ship, he was promoted to Captain in February 1942.[1][3][4]

Hittle was promoted to the rank of Major in August 1942 and ordered to the Division Officer's course at Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He completed the course in October of that year and assumed duty as an Instructor on the staff of Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. While in this capacity, Hittle held additional duty as lecturer at Army and Navy Staff College in Washington, D.C. and received promotion to the rank of Lieutenant colonel in May 1944. During his time in Washington, Hittle wrote the The Military Staff, Its History and Development, a work which presents an American-spin on the history and evolution of what is commonly called "the General Staff" in Prussia/Germany, France, Great Britain, the United States, and Russia up to the end of the 1940s.[3]

He was ordered to the Pacific area in November 1944 and joined 3rd Marine Division under Major general Graves B. Erskine. Hittle relieved Colonel William C. Hall as Divisional logistics officer and spent three months of training at Guam. He sailed with the division to Iwo Jima in February 1945 and participated in the main landing. Hittle was responsible for the organization of supply routes and units under his command brought approximately 20,000 tons of material, ammunitions and other stuff ashore.[5][6]

Although he was slightly wounded, he remained in the combat area and keep organizing the arrival of supplies. Hittle was decorated with Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for his service on Iwo Jima and also received Purple Heart for wounds.[7]

Postwar period[edit | edit source]

Following the war, Hittle remained with the staff of 3rd Marine Division at Guam and was transferred to the 7th Marine Regiment and assumed command of 2nd Battalion on February 25, 1946. The regiment was stationed within 1st Marine Division in Tsingtao, China by that time and participated in the combats with communists guerillas. He remained in Norther China until June 25, 1946 and subsequently was ordered back to the United States.[1][8][9]

Chowder Society[edit | edit source]

As a big milestone in his career, could be considered his assignment to the staff of Marine Corps Schools, Quantico under Brigadier general Oliver P. Smith. Hittle was appointed Secretary of the Academic Board just during the uneasy time for the Marine Corps. President Harry S. Truman intended the reorganize the United States Armed Forces and due to cuts in Marine Corps budget, the threat of merging in the United States Army was more realistic. Hittle became a member of the so-called "Chowder Society", special Marine Corps Board under general Gerald C. Thomas, which was tasked by Commandant Alexander Vandegrift to conduct research and prepare material relative to postwar legislation concerning the role of the Marine Corps in national defense.[10][11]

While in this assignment, Hittle had the opportunity to cooperate with great names of modern Marine history such as: Merrill B. Twining, Victor H. Krulak, Merritt A. Edson, Robert E. Hogaboom, James E. Kerr, James C. Murray, Jonas M. Platt, DeWolf Schatzel, Samuel R. Shaw, Robert D. Heinl, Edward H. Hurst or Marine Corps Reserve officers John R. Blandford, Arthur B. Hanson, Lyford Hutchins, and William McCahill.[11]

Within this capacity, Hittle was well acquainted with Chairman of Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments, Clare Hoffman, and, as a result, was able to work closely with him until enactment of legislation. As the legislation progressed, Hittle's tasks became more detailed, requiring daily trips to Washington. His work eventually achieved official status when the commandant Vandegrift formally approved his duties with Hoffman as Special advisor on the National Security Act of 1947. Hittle's influence with committee members is credited with helping guarantee the independence of Marine Corps aviation in the face of Air Force pressure to be the sole air arm among other successes for the Navy and Marine Corps.[12][13]

1949-1960[edit | edit source]

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Hittle visited the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Leonard F. Chapman Jr. in his office in Washington, D.C.

Hittle was transferred to Salt Lake City in June 1949 and appointed Executive officer of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps unit at the University of Utah. While in this capacity, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel in November 1951 and also earned Master’s degree in Oriental History and Geography at the end of his tenure with Naval ROTC unit.[1][3]

He was transferred to the Headquarters Marine Corps in June 1952 and appointed Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Hittle served in this capacity consecutively under Commandants Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., Randolph M. Pate and David M. Shoup.[1][3]

Hittle officially retired from the active service on March 1, 1958 and was advanced to the rank of Brigadier general on the retired list for having been specially commended in combat. However he was immediately recalled to active service and served in the capacity of Legislative Assistant to the Commandant until January 1960.[1] Hittle was awarded the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement during the same year.

Later career[edit | edit source]

Shortly after his retirement from the Marine Corps, Hittle was offered the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs which he held until November 1960. He then served as Director of National Security & Foreign Affairs, Veterans of Foreign Wars until 1967, when he returned to the Pentagon as Special Counsel within the Senate Armed Services Committee. Durins this period, he also served as Military commentator for MBS TV and Syndicated columnist for Copley News Service.[3]

In March 1969, Hittle was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs and was responsible for recruiting all of the personnel of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, including military personnel (both active and reserve), government civilians, contractors, and volunteers until March 1971.[3]

He then assumed duty as Senior Vice President for Government Affairs with Pan American World Airways and remained in that capacity until 1973, when he worked as consultant to Administrator of Veterans Affairs until 1977. Hittle subsequently served as consultant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Robert H. Barrow, until 1981 and then assumed duty as counselor to the Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman.[3]

Hittle served in that capacity until Lehman's resignation in April 1987. He then settled in Arlington, Virginia and served as the President of Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. While in the club, he was a member of luncheon group where he met with the former members of the "Chowder Society".[2][8] In 1994, Hittle was given College of Arts & Letters Distinguished Alumni Award by the Michigan State University for having differentiated himself by achieving the highest level of professional and personal accomplishments. Those recipients posses the utmost integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of Michigan State University. Those recipients are engaged in improving the community, the state, the nation, and/or the world and personally engaged in helping others through various efforts.[14]

Brigadier general James D. Hittle died on June 10, 1915 in his home at Arlington, Virginia and is buried together with his wife, Edna Jane Hittle (1917-1969) at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. They had together one son, Harry M. Hittle.[8][15]

Decorations[edit | edit source]

This is the ribbon bar of Brigadier General James D. Hittle:[7]

Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Legion of Merit with Combat "V"
2nd Row Purple Heart Navy Presidential Unit Citation with one star American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp
3rd Row American Campaign Medal European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one 3/16 inch service star Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one 316" service star
4th Row China Service Medal World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "James D. Hittle Papers - USMC Military History Division". USMC Military History Division. https://www.usmcu.edu/. Retrieved 2018-10-07. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Millett, Allan R. (1993). In Many a Strife. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 192. ISBN 0-87021-034-3. https://books.google.cz/books?id=WoKwswEACAAJ&dq=In+Many+a+Strife&hl=cs&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjKhO2R5eXcAhXDCJoKHTSqC6gQ6AEIKDAA. Retrieved August 11, 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 "Brigadier general James D. Hittle - Arlington National Cemetery". Arlington National Cemetery Websites. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/jmplatt.htm. Retrieved 2018-10-07. 
  4. "A Different War - Marines in Europe and North Africa". marines.mil. Marines Websites. https://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/A%20Different%20War-Marines%20in%20Europe%20and%20North%20Africa%20PCN%2019000312500.pdf?ver=2012-10-11-163140-957. Retrieved July 1, 2017. 
  5. "US Marine Corps in World War II – HyperWar (Iwo Jima)". ibiblio.org. HyperWar Websites. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-M-IwoJima/USMC-M-IwoJima-IV.html. Retrieved 21 October 2018. 
  6. "Marine Corps Chevron, 24 March 1945 - Big Iwo Supply Problem Baffled Old Veterans". historicperiodicals.princeton.edu. Marine Corps Chevron - Princeton University Library. http://historicperiodicals.princeton.edu/historic/cgi-bin/historic?a=d&d=MarineCorpsChevron19450324-01.2.52&srpos=4&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-Hittle------. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Valor awards for James D. Hittle". valor.militarytimes.com. Militarytimes Websites. https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/44339. Retrieved 10 December 2017. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Fortitudine 29, Part 4". marines.mil. Marines Websites. https://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/Fortitudine%20Vol%2029%20No%204.pdf. Retrieved July 1, 2017. 
  9. "US Marine Corps in World War II – HyperWar (North China)". ibiblio.org. HyperWar Websites. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/V/USMC-V-L.html. Retrieved 21 October 2018. 
  10. "Semper Fidelis: Defending the Marine Corps". usni.org. U.S. Naval Institute Websites. https://www.usni.org/magazines/navalhistory/2017-06/semper-fidelis-defending-marine-corps. Retrieved 21 October 2018. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Chowder Society". bluetoad.com. Bluetoad Websites. http://www.bluetoad.com/article/The+Chowder+Society/32339/0/article.html. Retrieved 21 October 2018. 
  12. "Fortitudine 26, Part 1". marines.mil. Marines Websites. https://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/Fortitudine%20Vol%2026%20No%201.pdf. Retrieved July 1, 2017. 
  13. "The U.S. Marine Corps and Defense Unification 1944-1947 - The Politics of Survival". dtic.mil. Defense Technical Information Center Websites. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a121927.pdf. Retrieved July 1, 2017. 
  14. "BG James D. Hittle - College of Arts & Letters Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients". cal.msu.edu. Michigan State University Websites. http://www.cal.msu.edu/alumni-friends/alumni-awards. Retrieved 10 December 2017. 
  15. "BG James D. Hittle - Find a Grave Memorial". findagrave.com. Find a Grave Memorial Websites. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7606483/james-donald-hittle. Retrieved 31 December 2017. 
 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
Government offices
Preceded by
Randolph S. Driver
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
(Manpower and Reserve Affairs)

March 1969 – March 1971
Succeeded by
James E. Johnson
Preceded by
George W. Vaughan
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs
March 1960 – November 1960
Succeeded by
Norman S. Paul

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