By Michael Baadke
John Archer Lejeune, an American military leader during World War I, was born 150 years ago in Pointe Coupee, La., on Jan. 10, 1867. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
Lejeune led the Marine Guard aboard the USS Cincinnati during the Spanish-American War. After serving in Panama, Cuba, and Mexico, Lejeune returned to the United States prior to shipping overseas to France in 1918 during World War I, where he commanded multiple Marine brigades, and soon after, led the Army’s famed Second Infantry Division.
After the war, Lejeune was appointed Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps. He retired in 1929 to serve as superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, a position he held until October 1937.
He was promoted to lieutenant general on the Marine Corps retired list in 1942, and died a few months later at age 75 on Nov. 20, 1942.
The honors he received during his career include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Army Distinguished Service Medal, as well as the French Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre. He came to be known as the “greatest of all Leathernecks.”
Lt. Gen. Lejeune was honored on a 37¢ stamp issued Nov. 10, 2005 (Scott 3961), as part of the Distinguished Marines set of four stamps.