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MAJOR GENERAL
WILLIAM P. UPSHUR, USMC (DECEASED) 

 

Medal of Honor Citation

Major General William P. Upshur, recipient of the nation's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor during the Haitian Campaign in 1915, was born on 28 October 1881 in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1902. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on 1 February 1904 and subsequently served on the high seas aboard vessels of the Navy, at foreign stations throughout the world, and at various posts and stations in the United States.

His foreign shore duty included service with an expeditionary force to Havana, Cuba, in October 1906, and duty at Camp Evans, Deer Point, Guantanamo, Cuba, from 9 January to 8 February 1907. He again was detailed to expeditionary duty with a force of Marines on the Isthmus of Panama from 19 June to 8 August 1908. Arriving at Olongapo, Philippine Islands, in January 1912, he joined the 1st Brigade of Marines and was again detached in February 1914, this time to the Marine Detachment, American Legation, Peking, China, where he served until 16 October 1914.

On 4 August 1915 he assumed command of the 15th Company, 2d Regiment, Port au Prince, Haiti, where he participated in engagements against hostile Cacos bandits. It was during this action that he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Other decorations for service in Haiti include the Haitian Campaign Medal and Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.

Upon this country's entry into World War I, he was again detailed for foreign shore duty, this time with the 13th Regiment in France from September 1918 to August 1919, during which time he was in command of the American Military Prison, Casino des Lilas, Bordeaux and the American Guard Camp.

He was on temporary duty at the Naval Station, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, in July and August 1921. He also served in Haiti for a period of two years with the 1st Brigade of Marines, from 1922-24. In January and March 1929, he was on temporary duty as Chief Umpire, Fleet Training Exercise No. 5, Culebra, Puerto Rico, and again in January, February, and March 1940. In September 1939 he was assigned to the Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California. In addition to his foreign shore stations he served aboard the USS Maine, USS Kearsarge, USS Rainbow, USS Buffalo, and the USS California.

Other duties consisted of Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia; Director of the Marine Corps Reserve; on duty with the War Plans Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department; and as Commanding General of the Marine Corps Base in San Diego.

He was a graduate of the Marine Corps School of Application, the Army Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and of the Army and Navy War Colleges.

His last station of duty was that of the Department of the Pacific, where he served as Commanding General with headquarters in San Francisco, California, from 1 January 1942 until the time of his death.

Major General Upshur died in an airplane crash near Sitka, Alaska, on 18 August 1943, while on an inspection tour of his command which included Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands. In September 1948, his remains were removed from his Alaskan burial plot and reinterred at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

Haitian Campaign 1915 Medal of Honor Recipient