WENDELL CUSHING NEVILLE, USMC (DECEASED)
Medal of Honor Citation
Original General Order
Major General Wendell Cushing Neville, 14th Commandant of the Marine Corps and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on 12 May 1870. He entered the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1886 chiefly because no one else in his district desired an appointment to Annapolis that year. He received his diploma in 1890 and following a two-year cruise aboard a warship, as was the practice of the era, was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant.
At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Lt Neville was assigned to the 1st Battalion, hurriedly organized under LtCol Robert W. Huntington for service in Cuba. The battalion staged a daring attack under heavy gunfire at Guantanamo Bay, established a beachhead and routed enemy forces in that area. For outstanding valor and leadership in that action, Lt Neville was awarded the Brevet Medal, highest Marine Corps decoration at that time, and was promoted to the brevet rank of captain.
Promoted to the permanent rank of captain a few months after the war, he was assigned to a battalion of Marines ordered to China to relieve the hard-pressed garrison at Peking during the Boxer Rebellion. He took part in four battles in that area and was again commended for his gallantry.
In the Philippine Islands not long afterwards, he was appointed military governor of Basilin Province. Following that assignment he served in Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama and Hawaii. While in command of Marines landing at Vera Cruz, Mexico, on 21 April 1914, he displayed conspicuous gallantry. In that operation, LtCol Neville was awarded the Medal of Honor for his distinguished conduct.
Prior to his embarkation for France in 1917, Col Neville returned to China where he was chosen to command the combined Allied guard at Peking.
On 1 January 1918, he was placed in command of the 5th Regiment in France and in May moved his regiment into action at Belleau Wood where Germany’s big drive was decisively halted. In July, BGen Neville’s command was enlarged to include the 4th Marine Brigade, which he directed during the remaining days of the war and during its occupation service in Germany.
After service with the Army of Occupation in Germany, BGen Neville and his brigade returned to the United States in July 1919. Promoted to major general in March 1920, he served as Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and later became Commanding General, Department of the Pacific with headquarters in San Francisco. He also commanded the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia.
Major General Neville succeeded MajGen John A. Lejeune as Commandant of the Marine Corps on 5 March 1929. MajGen Neville’s sudden death on 8 July 1930 at Edgewater Beach, Maryland, while in office as Major General Commandant, closed one of the most brilliant military careers of his day. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
During the 38 years he spent as a U.S. Marine, MajGen Neville received the Medal of Honor, Brevet Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Cross of the Legion of Honor, five Croix de Guerre with three stars and two palms, five citation and eight campaign and expeditionary awards.
Vera Cruz 1914 Medal of Honor
Commandants of the Marine Corps