Lieutenant General James P. Riseley



Lieutenant General James Profit Riseley, who retired from active duty in the Marine Corps on 1 July 1959, died 2 March 1992 in Roswell, New Mexico. A veteran of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian, he earned the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal during World War II combat. Born 7 May 1898, at Shandaken, Ulster County, New York, General Riseley entered the U.S. Naval Academy during World War I and upon graduation in 1922, was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant. That summer he entered the Marine officers Basic School at Quantico.

The general began his first tour of foreign duty when he joined the 8th Regiment, 1st Marine Brigade, at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in December 1923, remaining there until October 1925. The following month he returned to Annapolis, Maryland, where he served as quartermaster of the Marine Barracks until February 1927. He then was ordered to Parris Island, South Carolina, as aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Logan Feland, whom he accompanied to Nicaragua in January, 1928.

In April 1928, General Riseley was transferred from Nicaragua to Haiti, where he served as a captain in the Garde d'Haiti, a constabulary unit set up under a treaty between the United States and that country. There, while serving for five years as commander of the District of Petionville, he received an official commendation from the President of Haiti for his command's preservation of order during the general election. He was also awarded the Haitian Distinguished Service Medal for meritorious performance of other duties.

Returning to the United States in May 1933, the general entered the Company Officers Course in the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico. The course was suspended in September 1933, and General Riseley, along with other Marines from Quantico, was assigned to a battalion which served aboard the USS Wyoming in Cuban waters during a period of crisis in that country. Completing the course in September 1935, he was assigned duty at Quantico.

In August 1936, General Riseley was ordered to the Army Cavalry School at Fort Riley Kansas. There, during the graduation events of June 1937, he won the pentathlon and the all-around equestrian championship of the school. He then returned to Quantico, where he served as an instructor in the Marine Corps Schools until June 1939. From August of that year until June 1941, he served on sea duty as Senior Marine Officer on the Staff of Battleship Division Three, Pacific Fleet. In August 1941, he took command of the 3d Battalion, 8th Marines.

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the general sailed for the Pacific with the 8th Marines, the first regiment to leave the United States after this country entered World War II. Arriving on American Samoa, 6 January 1942, he was named executive officer of the regiment, moving with it to Guadalcanal in November. He earned the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" during that campaign. In February 1943, the 8th Marines, as part of the 2d Marine Division, arrived in New Zeland to prepare for the Tarawa campaign.

In the next months, General Riseley commanded the regiment during much of its training period, was Chief of Staff to the Assistant Division Commander, and made flights to New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, and the Exploring Islands, and back to Wellington, New Zeland. He also was given a special assignment aboard the USSHarris to experiment with the landing of tanks, amphibious tractors, and rubber boats on coral reefs under various surf conditions. Information gained in these tests was applied at Tarawa and later landings.

In December, 1943, after serving as Operations Officer of the 2d Marine Division at Tarawa, General Riseley took command of the 6th Marines. While leading that regiment at Saipan and Tinian, he won the Legion of Merit with Combat "V". Returning to the United States in October, 1944, he took command of the Marine Barracks, at Camp Pendleton, California. In March, 1945, he entered the Army and Navy Staff College, and after graduating that September, was named Fleet Marine Officer of the 5th Fleet in Japanese waters.

Transferred to the United States in April, 1946, the general became Operations and Training Officer of the Troop Training Unit, Amphibious Training Command, Coronado, California. In June 1949, he was ordered to Princeton University, where he commanded the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit and was Professor of Naval Science. He was promoted to brigadier general in January 1951, and that July began an 18-month assignment as Chief of Staff of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico. In January 1953, he assumed command of the First Provisional Marine Air-Ground Task Force at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii.

General Riseley returned from Hawaii in October 1953 to become Deputy Commander of the Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton. He remained there until May 1954, when he was named Commanding General, 3d Marine Division, in Japan. He served in that capacity until June 1955, when he was ordered to Pearl Harbor, and that August became Deputy Commander, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. In July 1956, following his return to Washington, he assumed duty at Headquarters Marine Corps as Director of Personnel. Following this assignment, he commanded the Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune from August 1958 through June 1959. He was promoted to major general in September 1953, and to lieutenant general upon retirement in July 1959, by reason of having been specially commended in combat.

In addition to the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal, both with Combat "V", the general's medals and decorations include the Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star indicative of a second award; the World War I Victory Medal; the Expeditionary Medal with one bronze star; the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal; the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze stars; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia clasp; the National Defense Service Medal; and the Haitian Distinguished Service Medal with Diploma.

Marine Corps University