Major General Ben Hebard Fuller, 15th Commandant of the Marine Corps, was born in Big Rapids, Michigan, on 27 February 1870. He was appointed to the Naval Academy from that state 23 May 1885, and upon graduation, was transferred to the Marine Corps and appointed a second lieutenant 1 July 1891. He, with six other members of his class, attended the first course for new Marine officers at the School of Application, which was the prototype for today's Basic School. He was promoted first lieutenant, 16 March 1893; captain, 3 March 1899; major, 27 December 1903; lieutenant colonel, 3 February 1911; colonel, 29 August 1916; brigadier general (temporary), 1 July 1918; and brigadier general 8 February 1924. He was appointed the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps on 7 August 1930.


Captain Fuller participated in the battle of Novaleta, Philippine Islands, 8 October 1899, and was commended for gallant, meritorious, and courageous conduct in the battle of Tientsin, China, 13 July 1900.


From 1904 to 1906 he served at the Naval Station, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii. In June and July 1908, he was on detached duty with an expeditionary force organized for service in Panama, and from August of that year until January 1910, commanded a Marine Battalion at Camp Elliott, Canal Zone. From March to June 1911, he commanded the 3d Regiment of Marines at Camp Meyer, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


From 1911 to 1915, he commanded various posts and stations in the United States, and during this period also, he completed the Field Officers’ Course at the Army Service Schools, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and the course at the Army War College, Washington, D.C. Following a tour of duty as Fleet Marine Officer of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, from January 1915 to June 1916, LtCol Fuller was assigned to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, where he successfully completed the course.


In August 1918, he was assigned to command the 2d Brigade of Marines in the Dominican Republic, remaining there until October 1920. He also served on the Staff of the Military Governor of Santo Domingo as Secretary of State, Interior, Police, War and Navy, from December 1919, until his detachment departed from Santo Domingo.


From November 1920 to July 1922, he served on the staff of the Naval War College, Newport, and from July 1922 to January 1923, commanded the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia. In January 1924, he assumed command of the 1st Brigade of Marines in the Republic of Haiti, with Headquarters at Port au Prince, and served in this capacity until 8 December 1925.


Following his return to the United States from Haiti, BGen Fuller was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps as President of the Marine Examining and Retiring Board, serving in that capacity until July 1928, when he was appointed Assistant to the Major General Commandant. Following the death of Major General Commandant Wendell C. Neville on 9 July 1930, BGen Fuller was promoted to major general and appointed Commandant of the Marine Corps. He served in that capacity until 1 March 1934 when he was retired from active service, having attained the statutory retirement age of sixty-four years.


Major General Fuller’s tenure was a period of general retrenchment and withdrawal of Marines from foreign countries. Beginning in 1933, these Marines composed the newly designated Fleet Marine Force, the principal operating force of the Marine Corps.


Major General Fuller died 8 June 1937, at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Washington D.C., and was buried 11 June 1937 in the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery at Annapolis, beside the grave of his son, Captain Edward C. Fuller, of the 6th Marines, who was killed in World War I action at Belleau Wood.


He held the following medals and decorations: Medal of Military Merit of Santo Domingo; Presidential Medal of Merit of Nicaragua; Spanish Campaign Medal; Philippines Campaign Medal; China Campaign Medal; Victory Medal; Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal; Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal for service in Panama; Santo Domingo, and Haiti. 


Commandants of the Marine Corps

Marine Corps University