OSCAR F. PEATROSS, USMC
Major General Oscar F. Peatross, decorated combat veteran of World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War, died 26 May 1993, and was buried at Veterans National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina. His final duty assignment was as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, where he retired from active duty, 31 May 1971.
Oscar Franklin Peatross was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on 2 March 1916. After graduating from Broughton High School there in 1934, he went on to graduate from North Carolina State College with a B.S. degree in 1939.
He joined the Marine Corps in 1940, reporting to Quantico, Virginia that November where he entered Officer’s Candidate School. Upon completion of the school in February of 1941, he was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant.
Lieutenant Peatross then reported to the 2d Marine Division in California and served as a company officer for several months before being shipped overseas with the 2d Marine Raider Battalion. As a company officer with Company B, he earned the Navy Cross for his actions during the Makin Island Raid. He also participated in the Guadalcanal, Bougainville and Iwo Jima Campaigns, earning the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”. At the close of World War II he had been promoted to major.
Major Peatross attended the Command and Staff School at Quantico in 1944 and served successively in the 28th Marine Regiment as a Regimental S-3 Officer, Battalion Executive Officer, and Battalion Commanding Officer on the West Coast and overseas, including the occupation of Japan. He returned to Quantico in 1946 as an instructor with the Tactical Section, The Basic School, for the next three years. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1951 while serving as the Amphibious Warfare Instructor at the Armored School in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
His next assignment took him overseas as a battalion commander with the 1st Marine Division. While participating with the Division in combat in Korea in 1952 and 1953, Lieutenant Colonel Peatross was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”.
Lieutenant Colonel Peatross was then transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, where he served as Assistant Head, Officer Procurement Branch, Personnel Department, for the next three years. He assumed command of the 1st Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island, South Carolina, later serving as the S-3 Officer and, then, Executive Officer of the Recruit Training Regiment. He was detached from Parris Island in July of 1959, the same month in which he was promoted to colonel.
Returning to Quantico, Colonel Peatross attended the Senior School and after graduation in June of 1960, commanded the Schools Demonstration Troops. He remained at Quantico until July of 1963, serving successively as Chief, Ground Combat Section, Landing Force Development Center, and as Chief, Publications Branch, Marine Corps Education Center.
Colonel Peatross then joined the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, serving for several months as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, and then as Chief of Staff of the XI Marine Expeditionary Force during Exercise “Winter Night.” In March of 1964, he became Commanding Officer of the 7th Marines. When the 7th Marines was redesignated as the 7th Regimental Landing Team, 3d Marine Division, Colonel Peatross sailed with his unit to South Vietnam.
Colonel Peatross was the Landing Force Commander during Operation Starlite at Chu Lai, South Vietnam and employed the Regiment on the Chu Lai Perimeter. The Regimental Landing Team was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions during the Operation. For his actions during Operation Starlite, Colonel Peatross was awarded the Silver Star Medal. He commanded eight regimental-size operations and was the Chief of Staff in Operation Utah. He then served for one month as Deputy Chief of Staff, 1st Marine Division. For service in Vietnam, he was also awarded a Gold Star in Lieu of a second Legion of Merit and four Vietnamese Medals; the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm three times and one Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star.
Upon his return to the United States, he reported to Headquarters Marine Corps where he served consecutively as Head, Training Branch, G-3 Division; as Deputy Chief of Staff (Administration); and as Director, Management Anaylsis Group. For his service in the latter capacity, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a third Legion of Merit. He was promoted to brigadier general, 3 November 1966.
While stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps, General Peatross was ordered to Harvard University to attend the Advance Management Program, Graduate School of Business Administration, during September-December 1966. Prior to his detachment, he was promoted to the rank of major general, 18 October 1968. He reported to Parris Island, South Carolina, the following month, where he earned the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, from November 1968 through May 1971.
A complete list of his medals and decorations includes: the Navy Cross; the Distinguished Service Medal; the Silver Star Medal; the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” and Gold Stars in lieu of second and third awards; the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; the Presidential Unit Citation with two bronze stars; the Navy Unit Commendation with one bronze star; the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Ribbon with Asia clasp; the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars; the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, three times; the Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.