Turnage, Allen Hal, born 31-01-1891 in Farmville, Pitt County, North Carolina, to William Jason Turnage (1869–1935) and his wife Ora, born Smith Turnage (1871–1961). He had one sister and four brothers, Robert M. Turnage, H. Ray Turnage (1892–1893), Harvey William Turnage (1894–1941), Cathline Turnage (1896–1897) and William Jason Turnage (1901–1964).
Allen attended the Horner Military Academy at Oxford, North Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina before entering the US Marine Corps as a 2nd lieutenant in November 1913. Following instruction for 17 months at the Marine Officers’ School in Norfolk, Virginia, he joined the 1st Marine Brigade in Haiti in 1915 and participated in expeditions against hostile Cacos in Northern Haiti, then was assigned to duty with the Haitian Constabulary until August 1918. He was then sent to France where he served as Commanding Officer, Machine Gun Battalion, 5th Marine Brigade. Following World War I, he was an instructor at the Marine Officers’ School at Quantico, Virginia, served with the Gendarmerie d’Haiti again from 1922 to 1925, and completed the Field Officers’ Course at Quantico. Later, between two tours of duty at Headquarters Marine Corps, he was assigned sea duty on the staff of Battleship Divisions 3 and 4. In 1935 he became Director of the Marine Officers’ Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, following which he served with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, as Battalion Commander and Regimental Executive Officer, respectively.
In 1939 he was assigned Commanding Officer of Marine Forces in North China, and Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment, American Embassy, Peking (now Beijing). In April 1941 he returned to the US and was serving as Director of the Division of Plans and Policies at Headquarters US Marine Corps, Washington DC, when the US entered World War II in December 1941. In June 1942 he was assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to take command of the installation and its Training Center, which included organization and training of two Regimental Combat Teams for the 3rd Marine Division. The following October, he joined the newly formed 3rd Marine Division, nickname(s) “Fighting Third” “Caltrap” as Assistant Division Commander of Major General Charles Dodson Barrett, and in September 1943 he became the Commanding General in the Guadalcanal Campaign, codenamed Operation Watchtower. He then led the Division in the landing at Empress Augusta Bay at Bougainville, New Guinea in November 1943, and in the recapture of Guam in July and August 1944. The following month he returned to the US and was assigned to Headquarters US Marine Corps as Director of Personnel, and, later, as Assistant Commandant of the US Marine Corps. In May 1946 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of North Carolina. His final assignment was as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, and retired in that position as a Lieutenant General in January 1948, with 34 years of continuous military service. In addition to the Navy Cross and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, his military and foreign awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Navy Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal with 2 service stars, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal with 1 service star, the Haitian Campaign Medal (1917), the World War I Victory Medal with France clasp & Maltese cross, the Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1933), the China Service Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 3 service stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Haitian Distinguished Service Medal, the Dominican Order of Military Merit, 2nd Class with White Insignia, and the Nicaraguan Medal of Distinction with Diploma. He was then promoted to the rank of General on the retired list for having been especially commended in combat in accordance with an Act of Congress passed on 23-02-1942 (colloquially known as a “tombstone promotion”).
Death and burial ground of Turnage, Allen Hal.
Allen Hal Turnage, died at the age of 80, 22-10-1971 in Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA and is buried, with his wife Hannah, born Pyke Turnage, who died age 86 on 20-03-1982, at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, VS Section 5, Site 7010-B.
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