HARRY BLUETT LIVERSEDGE, USMC
Brigadier General Harry Bluett Liversedge, whose regiment figured in the historic Iwo Jima flag raising, died in 1951 after almost 25 years of Marine Corps service. His last assignment was as Director of the Marine Corps Reserve.
The former Olympic track star was awarded his second Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as commander of the 28th Marines at Iwo Jima. He had won his first while leading the crack 1st Marine Raider Regiment in the tough jungle fighting on New Georgia. The citation for the second Navy Cross states in part:
"Landing on the fire-swept beaches 22 minutes after H-Hour, (the then) Colonel Liversedge gallantly led his men in the advance inland, executing a difficult turning maneuver to the south, preparatory to launching the assault on Mount Suribachi.."
Two decades ago, the name of Liversedge was familiar one in sports page headlines, when as a member of the Navy track squads, he participated in the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games. He also figured prominently in football as a member of the championship Marine football teams of the early '20's.
Born in Volcano, California, on 21 September 1894, he attended the University of California at Berkeley. While a student at that school from 1914-17, he set an inter-collegiate mark with the 16-pound shot. It was in that event that he participated in the 1920 Olympics at Antwerp, winning third place in the international competition.
General Liversedge began his career in May 1917, when he enlisted as a private, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in September 1918. He was promoted to first lieutenant in July 1919 while serving with the Fifth Brigade in France.
Following his return to the United States in August 1919, he was ordered to the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, but shortly thereafter was assigned to the Second Provisional Marine Brigade at Santo Domingo, arriving in October of that year. In April of the following year he was returned to the United States and played football in the Army-Marine Corps game at Baltimore, Maryland.
Upon return from the Olympic Games in 1920 and after a tour at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, he was ordered to Marine Barracks, Quantico in March 1922. As aide to Brigadier General John H. Russell, he later sailed to Port au Prince, Haiti, but was ordered back to Quantico in August of the same year. He returned to Haiti in December of that year for duty as aide to the American High Commissioner.
In July 1923, he reported for duty again at Quantico, and in the early part of the following year was transferred to the Naval Academy for participation in the 1924 Olympics. He returned to Quantico in August of that year, this time to attend the Company Officers' Course at the Marine Corps Schools. Upon completion of his course he was transferred to Mare Island, California.
He served at Quantico from September 1926 to February 1927 when he was detached for duty in China. Following his arrival in the Orient he was temporarily detached to the Third Brigade at Tientsin to act as boxing coach, and while in Shanghai, participated in the International Track and Field Meets.
In August 1929, he was transferred to Quantico and in November of the same year was ordered to the Marine Corps Base at San Diego, California. Following his promotion to the rank of captain in January 1930, he was ordered to Headquarters, Department of the Pacific, San Francisco, in May 1932. There he served as Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General.
He served aboard the USS California, from June 1933 to June 1935, when he returned to Quantico. He completed the Senior Course at the Marine Corps Schools and in June 1936, was transferred to serve on the Staff of the Basic School, Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Philadelphia. He was appointed a major in July of that year.
Early in 1938 he was again ordered to Quantico, this time to serve with the First Marine Brigade. In May 1940 another transfer saw the General on the West Coast. There he was assigned duty as the Inspector-Instructor, Fourteenth Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve at Spokane, Washington.
Following his promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel in August 1940, he was ordered to the Marine Corps Base, San Diego, and was subsequently assigned to the Eighth Marines, Second Marine Division.
In January 1942, General Liversedge departed from the United States for American Samoa, in command of the Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. He was promoted to colonel in May of that same year and in August he assumed command of the Third Marine Raider Battalion. He led this unit ashore at Pavuvu in the unopposed occupation of the Russell Island. He commanded the battalion until March 1943 when he was given command of the newly-organized First Marine Raider Regiment.
In January 1944, he was transferred to the Fifth Marine Division and assumed command of the Twenty-eighth Marines. He gallantly led the "twenty-eighth" ashore in the Iwo Jima campaign, for which he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of his Second Navy Cross. Following a brief tour of duty with the occupation forces in Japan, he was ordered to the Marine Corps Base in San Diego in March 1946. In July, 1946 he was assigned duties as Director of the Twelfth Marine Reserve District and District Marine Officer, Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco.
He served in that capacity until he was named assistant commander of the 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California, in February 1948. In May of that year, he was promoted to brigadier general, and the following May, he took command of Fleet Marine Force, Guam, where he remained until April 1950. He then served briefly as Deputy Commander, Marine Barracks, Camp Pendleton, before becoming Director of the Marine Corps Reserve in June 1950. He died at the Navy Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, on 25 November 1951.
In addition to the Navy Cross with Gold Star in lieu of a Second Navy Cross, his decorations and medals included: Bronze Star Medal (Army); Presidential Unit Citation; Victory Medal with France clasp and Maltese Cross; Expeditionary Medal with Bronze star; Yangtze Service Medal; American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.