CHARLES F. B. PRICE, USMC
Retired Marine Lieutenant General Charles F.B. Price, who was awarded the Legion of Merit by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, in recognition of his "outstanding work in successfully coordinating and supervising the defense of the Samoan Islands," died in 1954 at the age of 72 in the Naval Hospital in San Diego.
"The expeditious manner in which he carried out his assignment was a material contribution toward the success of the South and later Central Pacific offensives."
Specifically, General Price developed the Samoan group into a staging point and training area for Marine jungle troops. His activities were tied closely with the occupation of the Ellice Islands, which made possible the support necessary for the seizure of the Gilbert Islands from the Japanese and thereby opened the Central Pacific to the United States.
General Price was born 18 September 1881, in Hamburg, Germany, of American parents temporarily residing abroad. He graduated from the Pennsylvania Military College in 1902 with a degree in Civil Engineering, prior to being employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in Philadelphia. He joined the Pennsylvania National Guard and served an enlistment as a member of the Second Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry.
Appointed a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in February 1906, General Price was ordered to the School of Application at Annapolis, Maryland for instruction at that time.
The forces which were to carry him to many foreign shores began to move rapidly for General Price. He hadn't been at Annapolis six months when the revolt that was brewing in Cuba boiled over. President Theodore Roosevelt, acting to protect American lives and property, gave the orders which sent Marines to Cuba in September 1906. General Price was with them-off on his first expeditionary duty.
He remained in Cuba with the Army of Pacification until 31 December 1908, when he was transferred to duty in the United States. He was promoted to first lieutenant two months before sailing home.
Returning to the United States in January 1909, General Price served at the Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., for a brief period and then was again ordered to expeditionary duty. This time it was Central America. After a few months in Nicaragua, the expedition settled in Panama during the construction of the Canal in 1910.
Returning to the United States in April 1910, General Price was ordered to duty at the Rifle Range, Winthrop, Maryland, assuming command of that post a few months after his arrival.
It was six years before he received his promotion to captain on 25 September 1916, and by then he had had three years service at Winthrop, Maryland, as Adjutant of the Basic School for Marine Officers at Portsmouth, Virginia, and temporary foreign shore duty in Mexico, where he took part in the landing of Marines at Vera Cruz during the Mexican Intervention of 1914. Two months after his promotion he became Commanding Officer, Marine Detachment, USS Arkansas.
During World War I, General Price saw service in France. He was appointed a major in May 1917 and in October 1918, he sailed for France, landing at Brest. Following the Armistice, General Price remained in France in command of the 15th Separate Battalion, organized for expeditionary duty in Europe.
He returned to the United States and immediately began studies in the Field Officers' Course, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, graduating in June 1922. Continuing to study, General Price was awarded diplomas from the Line and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for the years 1922 and 1923, and for several months was an instructor in the Department of Tactics at the Marine Corps Schools.
When the United States Asiatic Fleet began maneuvers in the Hawaiian Islands in 1925, General Price was temporarily detached from Quantico in order to participate. Following the exercises he was assigned to duty as Post Intelligence Officer and Officer in Charge of Operations and Training with the Marine Detachment at the American Legation in Peking, China. He returned to Quantico in September 1927.
Following the signing of peace in Nicaragua, General Price was to play a role in supervising the elections in the face of widespread banditry. He joined the Second Brigade Marines in Nicaragua in July, 1938 as a member of the American Electoral Mission. For his outstanding work in this capacity he received words of praise from President Calvin Coolidge, the Secretary of State and from the Nicaraguan Government. This type of work also took the General back to Nicaragua in 1930, 1931, and 1932.
He was advanced to lieutenant colonel in October 1931.
In the meantime, he had been on duty as Commanding Officer, Rifle Range, Quantico from December 1932 to August 1934, and he had participated in fleet maneuvers aboard the USS Wyoming at Culebra, Puerto Rico.
General Price joined the Fourth Marines at the American Legation in Shanghai, China on 25 April 1935 and served in there through the Sino-Japanese fighting until November, 1938. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his excellent tact, judgment, initiative, and administrative ability of a high order, in handling the situation at Shangahi, where the major Chinese forces defending Shanghai made their last stand.
He was appointed a brigadier general on 1 August 1940 while serving as a member of the Naval Examining Board at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
On 15 February 1941 he assumed command of the Department of the Pacific with headquarters in San Francisco. On 1 November 1941, he was placed in command of the Second Marine Division in addition to his duties in San Francisco. He was appointed a major general on 1 February 1942 following his assignment as Commanding General, Second Marine Division.
He assumed command of the Defense Force, Samoan Group in April 1942, and in May 1944 assumed command of the San Diego Area, later becoming the Marine Training and Replacement Command, his station of duty when ordered home to await retirement on 1 October 1945. He was placed on the retired list that day, and on 25 October 1948 he was advanced on the retired list to his final rank for having been specially commended in the performance of duty in actual combat.
In addition to the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Service Medal, Lieutenant General Price lists among his decorations and medals, the American Defense Service Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; American Area Campaign Medal; China Service Medal; Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, Victory Medal; Expeditionary Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Mexican Campaign Medal; Cuban Pacification Medal and the Nicaraguan Presidential Medal of Merit.