Rupertus, William Henry.

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Rupertus, William Henry, born 14-11-1889 in Washington D.C,  began his military career immediately after graduating high school, serving in the District Columbia National Guard   from 1907 to 1910. Originally, he intended to serve as a cutter captain in the United States Revenue Cutter Service , the earlier version of the modern U.S Coast Guard . He was accepted to the U. S. Revenue Cutter School of Instruction on 28-04-1910. He graduated academically second in his class on 15-05-1913, but failed the physical examination. Because he was physically unqualified, he resigned from the U. S. Revenue Cutter Service on 18-06-1913.

However, his excellent marksmanship led to his being recruited by the Marine Corps . He accepted a commission in November 1913, then attended the Marine Corps Officers School, graduating first in his class of 1915. Rupertus served on the Marine Corps rifle team, earning the Distinguished Marksman Badge and winning a number of shooting matches.

Rupertus was serving aboard the battleship USS Florida when the United States entered World War I and was subsequently recalled up to the U.S. to command a detachment of Marines headed for Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Rupertus served in Haiti for three years until after the war, when he was sent to staff officer training and then made Inspector of Target Practice in the Operations and Training Division at Marine Corps Headquarters. In 1929 he commanded a detachment of the 4th Marines in Peking, China. Then-Lieutenant Cololonel. Rupertus (bottom left) at a party in Shanghai in 1937. In July 1937, Rupertus here with the Generals Walter Krueger and Douglas MacArthur  was a battalion commander in the 4th Marines when the Japanese attacked Shanghai in the Second Sino-Japanese war.

During World War II, as CO of the Marine Barracks at San Diego he wrote the Marine Corps Rifleman’s Creed right after Pearl Harbor  was bombed. He penned the Rifleman’s Creed with the intent of encouraging expert marksmanship and Marines’ trust in their weapons. In March 1942, he served as Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Marine Division under Major General Alexander Vandegrift in New River, North Carolina to assist in the formation and training of the First Marine Division.


Rupertus commanded the Landing Task Force Organization which captured the islands of Tulagii, Gavutu and Taranbogo in the Guadalcanal campaign. After Vandegrift left the division in 1943, Rupertus took command. He led the 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Cape Glouchester and the Battla of Pelellu. In November 1944, Major General Rupertus became the commandant of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia. 

Death and burial ground of Rupertus, William Henry.

  Rupertus, William Henry

His tenure was short, however, as he died of a heart attack on 25-03-1945, age 55, in Quantico, Virginia, just four months later. He is buried, with his wife Margueritte Corman  who died in 1950 on the Arlington National Cemetery, in Section 6.

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