General George B. Crist, the first Marine appointed to head a unified command, the U.S. Central Command, retired from the Marine Corps on 1 December 1988. The son of a career Navy Officer, he was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on 23 January 1931. He attended Villanova University as an NROTC student, graduating cum laude in 1952, and was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant that same year.

As a lieutenant, he served in all three active Marine divisions, including the 1st Marine Division in Korea. Upon his return to the United States in 1955, he was promoted to captain and ordered to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., where, among other duties, he was detailed as a White House aide under President Eisenhower.

In 1959, he graduated from the Advanced Infantry Officers' School, Fort Benning, Georgia, and joined the newly formed U.S. Naval Mission to the Republic of Haiti.

By 1963, General Crist had returned to the 2d Marine Division where he deployed with an infantry battalion to the Caribbean during the Cuban missile crisis. Later, as Assistant Division G-3, he completed airborne training at Fort Benning.

His first tour in Vietnam came in 1965. As an advisor to the Vietnamese Joint General Staff, he participated in combat operations throughout the Republic.

In 1966, he became aide-de-camp to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While in that assignment he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.

Following his graduation from the Armed Forces Staff College in 1968, he commanded the 2d Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 1971, he completed the Air War College as a distinguished graduate, concurrently receiving a master's degree in Political Science from Auburn University. The next year he returned to the Far East, serving first as a battalion commander in the 3d Marine Division and then with the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, assisting in the defense of South Vietnam during the 1972 North Vietnamese offensive.

Returning from overseas, he spent three years at Headquarters Marine Corps in plans and programs. While in Washington, he was promoted to colonel.

In the summer of 1975, the general was ordered to Headquarters, FMF, Atlantic, Norfolk, Virginia, where he served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, Chief of Staff, and following his promotion to brigadier general, as Deputy Commander.

In 1978, he was transferred to Europe as the Deputy Director of Operations (J-3), U.S. European Command, where he was actively involved in a series of crisis actions ranging from Iran to Africa.

Upon promotion to major general in 1980, General Crist returned to the United States as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reserve Affairs. This was followed two years later by a tour with the JCS as the Vice Director, Joint Staff.

Moving back to the Marine Corps in the fall of 1984, he was appointed to lieutenant general serving first as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Installations and Logistics and Quartermaster General and then as Chief of Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps. He was promoted to the grade of general in November 1985, and 27 November 1985 assumed command of the U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, where he served until his retiring in 1988.

In addition to two Defense Distinguished Service Medals his personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V", the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", Meritorious Service Medal, two individual awards of the Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with silver and bronze stars, and the Vietnamese Honor Medal.

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