Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak



Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak, who earned the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service of great responsibility for service as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, from March 1964 to May 1968, was placed on the retired list 1 June 1968.

A ceremony, which marked the first time in Marine Corps history that all major Marine Corps commands on the West Coast have joined forces for one occasion, commemorated the general's colorful 34-year Marine Corps career which spanned three wars, was held at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, 14 May 1968.


General Krulak, a "paramarine" during World War II, earned the Navy Cross and Purple Heart as a lieutenant colonel on Choiseul Island, where his battalion staged a week-long diversionary raid to cover the Bougainville invasion. His citation states in part:


"Assigned the task of diverting hostile attention from the movements of our main attack force enroute to Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville Island, Lieutenant Colonel Krulak landed at Choiseul and daringly directed the attack of his battalion against the Japanese, destroying hundreds of tons of supplies and burning camps and landing barges. Although wounded during the assault on 30 October he repeatedly refused to relinquish his command and with dauntless courage and tenacious devotion to duty, continued to lead his battalion against the numerically superior Japanese forces."


Victor Harold Krulak was born in Denver, Colorado, 7 January 1913, and was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy, 31 May 1934. His first assignment after completing Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard was with the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Arizona, followed by an assignment at the U.S. Naval Academy.


In July 1936, Lieutenant Krulak joined the 6th Marines at the Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California. The following March he sailed with his unit for Shanghai, China, where he served with the 4th Marines for two years as a company commander. While there, he was promoted to first lieutenant in July 1937.

Lieutenant Krulak departed China in May 1939. On his return to the United States, he completed the Junior Course at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, in June 1940, and was appointed Assistant to the Brigade Quartermaster, 1st Marine Brigade, Fleet Marine Force. He was promoted to captain in August 1940.


With the 1st Marine Brigade (later the 1st Marine Division), Captain Krulak embarked for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in October 1940, where he was a company commander. Returning to Quantico in April 1941, he served on the staff of General Holland M. Smith, then Commanding General of Amphibious Corps, Atlantic Fleet. He was serving in this capacity when World War II broke out. In May 1942, he was promoted to major.


Major Krulak moved with the staff of the Amphibious Corps to San Diego in September 1942 and continued as Aide to the Commanding General and as Assistant G-4 until January 1943, when he volunteered for parachute training. He completed training and was designated a parachutist on 15 February 1943. The following month he sailed for the Pacific area and at New Caledonia took command of the 2d Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Amphibious Corps. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in April 1943, and went into action that September at Vella, Lavella with the Second New Zealand Brigade.


That October, Lieutenant Colonel Krulak commanded the divesionary landing on Choiseul to cover the Bougainville invasion, during which action he earned the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism and the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. He returned to the United States in November 1943, served in the Division of Plans and Policies, Headquarters Marine Corps, until October 1944, then went overseas again.


Overseas, Lieutenant Colonel Krulak joined the newly-formed 6th Marine Division as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 (Operations). For outstanding service in the planning and execution of the Okinawa campaign, he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V." He also received the Bronze Star Medal at the war's end for his part in negotiating the surrender of Japanese forces in the Tsingtao, China area.


Returning to this country in October 1945, Lieutenant Colonel Krulak reported to Quantico as Officer in Charge of the Research Section, and subsequently became Assistant Director of the Senior School. He left Quantico in June 1949 for Camp Pendleton, where he served as Regimental Commander of the 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was promoted to colonel in August 1949.


Ordered to Pearl Harbor in June 1950, Colonel Krulak was serving as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, when the Korean conflict began. In the ensuing year, his duties took him many times to the battlefront, and during the latter half of 1951, he remained in Korea as Chief of Staff of the 1st Marine Division. He earned a second Legion of Merit with Combat "V" in that capacity, and was awarded the Air Medal for reconnaissance and other flights in Korea between August 1950 and July 1951.


Colonel Krulak remained in Korea until November 1951, then returned to Washington for duty at Headquarters Marine Corps as Secretary of the General Staff, until June 1955. In August 1955, he rejoined Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, at Pearl Harbor, serving as Chief of Staff. He was promoted to brigadier general in July 1956, and at the time assumed duties as Assistant Division Commander, 3d Marine Division, on Okinawa.


On his return to the United States in July 1957, General Krulak became Director of the Marine Corps Educational Center, Quantico. While at Quantico, he was promoted to major general in November 1959.


The following month, General Krulak assumed command of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. In February 1962, he relinguished his command in San Diego, and assumed duty as Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For exceptionally meritorious service in this capacity from February 1962 until his detachment in February 1964, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of his third Legion of Merit.


General Krulak assumed command of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, with the rank of lieutenant general, at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, 1 March 1964, and served in this capacity until he retired from active duty 31 May 1968.


General Krulak passed away at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, on 29 December 2008 at the age of 95.  He was buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.


The general's medals and decorations include: the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and two Gold Stars in lieu of second and third awards, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal, the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation with three bronze stars indicative of second through fourth awards, the China Service Medal with one bronze star, the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia clasp, the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star, the Korean Service Medal with four bronze stars, the Vietnam Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Order of Service Merit second class, the Republic of Vietnam National Order Medal third class, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, two Korean Presidential Unit Citations, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.