Vandegrift, Alexander Archer, born 13-03-1887 in Charlottesville, Virginia. where his father of Dutch descent was an architect and contractor. Vandegrift was of Dutch, English and Swedish ancestry, all of which had been in North America since the 1600s. It was once facetiously remarked that he “never had a Catholic ancestor”. Young Vandegrift, known as “Archer” in his boyhood, had an interest in the military – both from reading military history novels and from stories of ancestors who fought in various wars. He graduated from Charlottesville High School. During his childhood was a big fan of G.A. Henty novels and history, in particular he read a lot about the Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Waterloo, and he described himself as “big fan” of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington and Horatio Nelson. He attended the University of Virginia for three years from 1906 to 1908; then received his commission in the U.S. Marine Corps through a week-long competitive examination in 1908, becoming a second lieutenant on 22-01-1909. In January 1909, he entered the United States Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. He saw very active service in the Caribbean and Central America between 1912 and 1923, taking part in the capture of Coyotepe, Nicaragua, in the former year, the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, in 1914 and pacification efforts in Haiti beginning in 1915. Major Vandegrift commanded a Marine battalion while stationed at Quantico, Virginia, from 1923 and in 1926 became Assistant Chief of Staff at the Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California . Service in China in 1927-28 was followed by duty in Washington, D.C., and at Quantico. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1934, returned to China in 1935 and reached the rank of Colonel in 1936. While stationed at Marine Corps Headquarters in 1937-41, Vandegrift worked closely with the Corps’ Commandant and was promoted to Brigadier General in March 1940. He became Assistant Commander of the newly-formed First Marine Division, nickname “The Old Breed” in late 1941 and the Division’s Commanding General in early 1942. Major General Vandegrift took his division to the south Pacific in May 1942 and led it in the long, harsh but successful campaign to seize and hold Guadalcanal between August and December 1942. The month of fighting against the 14th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army on Peleliu cost the 1st Marine Division 1.252 dead and 5.274 wounded.
Vandegrift was awarded the Medal of Honor for his “tenacity, courage and resourcefulness” during this operation. In November 1943, as a Lieutenant General, Vandegrift commanded the First Marine Amphibious Corps during the initial stages of the Bougainville campaign. Returning to the United States in late 1943, he became Commandant of the Marine Corps on 01-01-1944. He guided the Service’s continued expansion through the rest of World War II, oversaw its contraction following the conflict, and successfully defended its existence during the difficult post-war years. Promoted to four-star General effective in March 1945, Vandegrift was the first Marine Corps officer to hold that rank while on active duty. General Alexander Archer Vandegrift was relieved as Commandant at the beginning of 1948 and formally retired in April 1949.
Death and burial ground of Vandegrift, Alexander Archer.
He died on 08-05-1973, old age 86, after a long illness and is buried with his wives Mildred, born Strode, who died age 66, on 11-07-1952 and Kathryn, born Henson, who died age 75, on 23-10-1978, on Arlington National Cemetery, Section 2. Close by the graves of General, Commander 92nd “ Negro Division” , Edward “Ned” Almond, Major General, Commander 8th Bomber Command Europe, Frederick Anderson, Rear Admiral, Commander Destroyer Greyson, Frederic Bell, Navy Admiral, “Operation Crossroads”, William Blandy, General, Commander 32nd Infantry Division, the Red Arrow Division , Clovis Byers, Navy Admiral, Battle of the Leyte Gulf, Robert Carney, Air Force General Lieutenant, Claire Chennault
, , Lieutenant General, Commander 4th Corps, Italy Campaign, Willis Crittenberger, Brigadier General, First African-American General, Benjamin Davis, Quartermaster Lieutenant General, John De Witt, Major General and Head OSS, William “Wild Bill” Donovan, Brigadier General, Speck Easley, Marine Corps Major General, Commander 1st Raider Battalion, Merrit “Red Mike” Edson, Lieutenant General, VIII Army, Robert Eichelberger, Navy Admiral, Commander Nord Pacific Fleet, Frank Fletscher and Navy Admiral, Commander VII Forces, William Fechteler, Lieutenant General, Commander 86th Infantry Division , Ridgeley Gaither, Major General, Commander 29th Infantry Division , D-Day, Charles Gerhardt, U.S. 4* Navy Vice Admiral, Commander U.S.S. Hornet, Doolittle Raid, Marc Mitscher, Admiral, U.S. Chief of Naval Material, John Gingrich and U.S. Brigadier General, “ Merrills Marauders “ in Burma, Frank Dawn Merrill.