JAMES DONALD HITTLE, USMC
Brigadier General James Donald Hittle, who served as Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, in the Office of Legislative Affairs, in the early 1960s, died on 15 June 2002 in Arlington, Virginia.
Born 10 June 1915, at Bear Lake, Michigan, he graduated from high school in East Lansing, Michigan, in 1933. In 1937 he graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree; and in 1952, while stationed with the Naval ROTC Unit at the University of Utah, he earned his Master’s degree in Oriental History and Geography. He was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant on 28 July 1937.
After completing Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Lieutenant Hittle began a year of sea duty with the Marine Detachment on board the USS Portland in June 1938. Following this he served at Quantico, Virginia, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the 1st Marine Brigade. He was promoted to first lieutenant in September 1940. In April 1941, he joined the Marine Detachment on board the USS Washington, and the following February was promoted to captain.
Captain Hittle commanded the Washington’s Marine Detachment while the ship was taking part in Arctic operations under the British Home Fleet until July 1942. He was promoted to major in August 1942, and entered the Division Officers’ Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. On completing the course in October 1942, Major Hittle returned to Quantico to serve two years as an instructor at Marine Corps Schools. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in May 1944.
In November 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Hittle was assigned to the 3d Marine Division on Guam as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, Logistics. For outstanding service in this capacity on Iwo Jima, from February to September 1945, he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”. Sailing from Guam to Tientsin in December 1945, he commanded the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, during the occupation of Northern China.
On his return to the United States in July 1946, Lieutenant Colonel Hittle was stationed at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, as Secretary of the Academic Board. In June 1949, he was transferred to Salt Lake City where he served three years as Executive Officer of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps unit at the University of Utah. While there, he was promoted to colonel in November 1951.
Assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps in June 1952, Colonel Hittle served as Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, through January 1960. He served in this capacity under General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., General Randolph McC. Pate, and General David M. Shoup, respectively. He assumed his duties in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in February 1960.
General Hittle was placed on the retired list 1 March 1958, and was immediately recalled to active duty. He was advanced to brigadier general on the retired list that same date, having been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat.
The general’s medals and decorations include: the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”; the Purple Heart; the Presidential Unit Citation, the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp’; the European-Africian-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze star; the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star, the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
The author of numerous articles on the art of war and general staff development, he also wrote the book, “The Military Staff—Its History and Development”, and edited and prepared a condensed version of Baron Henri Jomini’s text, “Jomini and His Summary of the Art of War”.