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James Phillips Berkeley
James P. Berkeley.jpg
LTG James P. Berkeley, USMC
Nickname "Phil"
Born (1907-07-01)July 1, 1907
Died February 13, 1995(1995-02-13) (aged 87)
Place of birth Portsmouth, Virginia
Place of death Virginia Beach, Virginia
Allegiance United States
Service/branch USMC logo United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1927–1965
Rank US-O9 insignia Lieutenant General
Service number 0–4488
Commands held Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic
Camp Lejeune
2nd Marine Division
Department of the Pacific

Nicaraguan Campaign
Yangtze Patrol
World War II

Korean War
Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Relations MG Randolph C. Berkeley (father)

James Phillips Berkeley (July 1, 1907 – February 13, 1985) was an officer of the United States Marine Corps with the rank of Lieutenant General. He is most noted as Signal Officer of 5th Marine Division during the Battle of Iwo Jima and later as Commanding General of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. He is the son of Medal of Honor recipient, Major General Randolph C. Berkeley.[1][2]

Early careerEdit

James P. Berkeley was born on July 1, 1907 at Quarters M-7, Marine Barracks within Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Virginia, where his father, Captain Randolph C. Berkeley, was stationed as Commander of Marine Detachment aboard the battleship USS Kentucky. His father later received Congressional Medal of Honor during Veracruz Expedition and retired with the rank of Marine Major general in the Marine Corps in 1939.[2] Mother of little James, Carrie Anna Phillips, died during his birth and because of his fathers occupation, James was entrusted to the care of his grandfather, who served with Navy Pay Corps. James rejoined his father in 1923 and after the attending of public school in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, he was sent to the Severn Preparatory school, a preparatory school for the Naval Academy.[1][2]

Young James failed the entrace examination to the Naval Academy and his father gave him two choices: go to the work or join the Marine Corps as Enlisted Man. He decided for Marine Corps and enlisted as Private on March 1, 1927. Private Berkeley was subsequently sent for the recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. He completed the training and subsquently was attached to the 2nd Marine Brigade under Brigadier general Logan Feland and sailed for Nicaragua in January 1928.[2]

He took part in skirmishes with the Sandino rebels at the north of country and quickly received promotion to the rank of Corporal. Berkeley was subsequently recommended for the promotion to Sergeant due to his leadership skills, but his father, who served as 2nd Brigade's Chief of Staff, blocked the promotion. Berkeley's father claimed his son is too young for the promotion. James Berkeley later used this story to prove, that his father's influence did not helped him in his military career. At least, he was decorated for bravery with Presidential Medal of Merit by the Government of Nicaragua.[1][2]

Upon his return to the States in December 1928, he continued his enlisted service and later received the rank of Sergeant anyway. Berkeley was also Distinguished Marskman and received Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal for his exemplary enlisted service.[2]

After three years as a Non-commissioned officer, he was selected for the Officers' rank and commissioned Second lieutenant on January 31, 1930. Berkeley was subsequently appointed Company officer and ordered to the Basic School at Philadelphia Navy Yard for the Officers' training during the summer of that year. He graduated in June 1931 and served for brief period with the Marine Barracks at Norfolk Navy Yard.[1][2]

Second lieutenant Berkeley was subsequently attached to 4th Marines and left with for China in April 1932. He was subsequently stationed in Peiping with Marine Detachment at American Embassy and then served with 38th Company under Captain John W. Thomason. While in this capacity, he served as acting communications officer, the branch which significantly influenced him in his later career.[1][2]

Berkeley returned stateside in December 1934 just for Christmas. After brief leave, Berkeley was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines under Lieutenant colonel Thomas E. Watson at San Diego, California. He was appointed Battalion Communications Officer and for this new duty, he was promoted to the rank of First lieutenant in February 1935.

He was subsequently transferred to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia in May 1935 and attached to the staff of 1st Marine Brigade under Brigadier general James J. Meade. Within this assignment, Berkeley commanded Brigade's communications platoon until August 1936, when was sent for an instruction at Army Signal School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Following his graduation in June 1937, Berkeley rejoined 1st Marine Brigade and was promoted to the rank of Captain in September of that year. He subsequently served as Commander of Communications Platoon and from April 1938 as Brigade Communications Officer. He left 1st Brigade in March 1939 and assumed command of the Marine Detachment aboard the heavy cruiser USS Wichita. Berkeley spent next two years with sea duties and took part in her shakedown cruise, during which she visited the Virgin Islands, Cuba, and the Bahamas before she returned to Philadelphia for post-shakedown repairs. Berkeley participated in the Neutrality Patrol and later also in goodwill cruise to South America.[1][2]

World War IIEdit

At the beginning of June 1941, Berkeley traveled to the Marine Corps Base Quantico, where he was appointed Communications Officer under Major general Louis M. Little. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Berkeley was promoted to the rank of Major in January 1942 and subsequently transferred to the Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. in March of that year. He served as Assistant Officer in Charge of the Communications Section within Division of Plans and Policies under Brigadier General Keller E. Rockey. He later received the promotion to Lieutenant Colonel in August 1942.[1][2]

In this capacity he had the opportunity to accompanied the Commandant, Thomas Holcomb on the inspection tour at Guadalcanal during October and November 1942. Later, another inspection tour occurred in August 1943, when he accompanied Lieutenant Colonel Harold O. Deakin and John W. Scott Jr. on a secret mission to London, England and then to the North African theater.[1][3]

Berkeley later also took part in Salerno Landing in September 1943 as an Observer with 46th British Infantry Division under Major General John Hawkesworth. During the landing, his LVT came under German artillery fire and he was forced to withdraw for repairs. Berkeley later had the opportunity to discuss the efficiency of Naval gunfire support with Lieutenant General George S. Patton, 7th U.S. Army Commanding general. He later recalled general Patton's distaste and distrust for Naval gunfire support, primary element for successful Amphibious Operation.[1]

Berkeley returned stateside at the beginning of November 1943 and assumed command of the Field Signal Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California. His unit was later incorporated into the newly activated 5th Marine Division and he was appointed Divisional Signal Officer in February 1944. In this capacity, Berkeley served under his old superior from Washington, D.C., Major General Keller E. Rockey, and was tasked with the organization of 5th Division Signal operation. Thanks to Berkeley's knowledge and experiences in the field of communications, Signal Troops of 5th Marine Division were transformed to becpme an effective combat force. This fact was later confirmed during the Iwo Jima campaign.[2]

After few months of Division training and preparation, Berkeley finally sailed to the Pacific area in August 1944. Berkeley spent several months of another training at Hawaii, before his division took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima in Febraury 1945. Finally his previous training proved to be justified, when all signal troops worked well. Berkeley also went directly to the frontlines, when he was assigned to the 27th Marine Regiment under Colonel Thomas A. Wornham. The regiment was located in the area of fierce fighting and its Executive officer, Colonel Louis C. Plain, was evacuated due to his wounds. Berkeley assumed temporarily his duties on March 15, 1945 and "coordinated the functioning of a staff badly displaced by casualties, he, without regard for his own personal safety, immediately visited the front line to familiarize himself thoroughly with the situation. Thereafter his clear thinking, sound vision, and tactical judgment based on information collected in numerous visits to the front line observation posts greatly aided the successful accomplishments of the missions assigned the regiment."[4][5]

Following the battle, he returned to command the 5th Division Signal Troops and subsequently was decorated with Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for bravery in action and received the Navy Presidential Unit Citation.[1][4]

Later careerEdit

Berkeley was transferred as Corps Signal Officer to the staff of the V Amphibious Corps under Lieutenant general Harry Schmidt in July 1945 and within this capacity, took part in the Occupation of Japan. He also received promotion to the rank of Colonel in August 1945. While in Japan, Berkeley was appointed Officer in Charge of the disposition of enemy material in October 1945, but remained in this capacity only until the end of January 1946, when he relieved Colonel Jack P. Juhan as Commanding officer of 6th Marine Regiment.[1]

Upon his return to the United States at the beginning of April 1946, Berkeley was appointed Assistant to the Navy Secretary of the Joint Army-Navy Secretariat within Office of Secretary of the Navy in Washington, D.C. under James Forrestal. Within this assignment, he was tasked with the review any paper requiring joint action sent to the Secretary of the Navy. He left this clerk job at the end of January 1947, when he was transferred to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Berkeley was appointed an Advisor to the Argentina Marine Corps and an advisor to the Argentina Naval War College. He also helped with the reorganization of the Argentina Marine Corps.[1][2]

Colonel Berkeley spent next two years in South America and finally returned stateside in May 1949. He was briefly attached to the Troop Training Unit, Atlantic at Little Creek, Virginia, before he was sent for the senior course at Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia.[2][2]

He graduated from the course in January 1950 and subsequently assumed duties at Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Berkeley served initially as regular staff member of the Department of Strategy and Tactics, but later was promoted to the capacity of Assistant Head of Department and then even to Head of the Department. He was also co-responsible for the preparing of the first ever Command and Staff course at the junior level for Lieutenant commanders and Majors.[1][2]

His next assignment came in May 1953, when he assumed duties as Commanding officer of the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. and concurrently of the Marine Corps Institute. Within this command, his marines also served as Guard unit for Camp David, the country retreat of the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Berkeley left for Korea during June 1954 and subsequently assumed duties as Chief of Staff, 1st Marine Division under Major general Robert E. Hogaboom. It was too late to see combat, because truce was already in effect. He spent next several months with the defense of the Korean Demilitarized Zone until his division was ordered stateside in March 1955. Following the Division's return to the United States, Berkeley was stationed at Camp Pendleton, when he received promotion to the rank of Brigadier General on July 1, 1955.[1][2]

For his new assignment, Berkeley was transferred to the Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. and appointed Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel. Within this capacity, Berkeley solved many personnel problems and for example the billet of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps was created under his command. He received his second star, when he was promoted to the rank of Major general in July 1958.[2]

Afterwards Major General Berkeley succeeded George F. Good Jr. as Commanding General of Department of the Pacific at San Francisco. Under his command, the Department of the Pacific was ordered to deactivate and Berkeley was transferred to Camp Lejeune at the beginning of November 1959 to assume command of 2nd Marine Division. He also commanded Camp Lejeune from November 1961 to July 1963.[1]

Th pinnacle of his career came at the beginning of August 1963, when he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and appointed Commanding General Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic with headquarters at Norfolk, Virginia. In October 1963, Berkeley traveled to Spain in order to arrange joint U.S./Spanish amphibious landing exercise. He got the agreement from the Spanish Navy Marines Commandant and began with the planning together with Vice Admiral John S. McCain Jr., Commander Amphibious Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.[2]

The landing exercise got the name, Operation Steel Pike and finally occurred during October and November 1964. It was the largest peacetime amphibious landing exercise in history, conducted by the United States Navy and Marine Corps and Berkeley commanded the ground units. As one of his last tasks, he oversaw deployment of the Marine Forces during Dominican Civil War.[1]

Lieutenant General James P. Berkeley retired from the Marine Corps on July 1, 1965 after more than 38 years of active service. For his service during the Operation Steel Pike, he was decorated with the Navy Distinguished Service Medal at his retirement ceremony.[1][4]


Here is the ribbon bar of Lieutenant General James P. Berkeley:[4]

Navy Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg U.S. Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal ribbon.svg Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal ribbon.svg
Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal ribbon.png Yangtze Service Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
American Defense Service ribbon.svg
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg Army of Occupation ribbon.svg
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
Korean Service Medal ribbon.svg Nicaraguan Presidential Medal of Merit.svg United Nations Service Medal Korea ribbon.svg
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal
2nd Row Legion of Merit with Combat "V" Navy Presidential Unit Citation Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
3rd Row Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal Yangtze Service Medal American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp American Campaign Medal
4th Row European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one 3/16 inch service star Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one 3/16 inch service star World War II Victory Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal
5th Row National Defense Service Medal with one star Korean Service Medal Nicaraguan Presidential Medal of Merit with star United Nations Korea Medal
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert B. Luckey
Commanding General of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic
July 30, 1963 – July 1, 1965
Succeeded by
Alpha L. Bowser
Preceded by
Odell M. Conoley
Commanding General of 2nd Marine Division
November 6, 1959 – November 3, 1961
Succeeded by
Frederick L. Wieseman
Preceded by
George F. Good Jr.
Commanding General of Department of the Pacific
July 1958 – November 1959
Succeeded by
Francis M. McAlister


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