PAUL K. VAN RIPER, USMC
Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper served his final tour of duty as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, and retired on 1 October 1997.
Paul K. Van Riper was born on 5 July 1938, in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and underwent recruiting training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, in the fall of 1956. After completing infantry training in April 1957, he was released from active duty and returned home to serve in the 12th Infantry Battalion, USMCR, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from California State College, California, Pennsylvania, in June 1963 and entered the 34th Officer Candidate Course. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in November 1963.
After completing The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, in June 1964, General Van Riper reported to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He served as a platoon commander, company executive officer, and an assistant operations officer. He was with the 1st Battalion when it was committed to Santo Domingo during the Dominican Republic crisis in the spring of 1965.
In late 1965, he was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam for duty as an Advisor with the Vietnamese Marine Corps. He was wounded in action on 7 February 1966, and was evacuated to the United States Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. After recovering from his wounds in April 1966, General Van Riper returned to the The Basic School as an instructor. Upon completion of his tour in February 1968, he remained at Quantico as a student in the Amphibious Warfare School.
General Van Riper returned to Vietnam in September 1968, where he served as a company commander and an assistant operations officer with the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Upon his return to the U.S. in September 1969, he was assigned as an instructor at the United States Army’s John F. Kennedy Institute for Military Assistance at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. in July 1971, where he served initially as a Special Projects Officer in the Office of the Chief of Staff, and then as a training specialist in the Training Division until August 1974.
Ordered to the 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune in September 1974, he was assigned as the Operations Officer for the 3d Battalion, 8th Marines. He became the Regimental Operations Officer in September 1975, and the Executive Officer for the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in December 1976. From August 1977 until June 1978, General Van Riper was a student in the College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Subsequently, he was assigned as a Military Observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine. During this tour he served in Egypt, Israel, and Lebanon.
Upon completion of his overseas tour in September 1979, General Van Riper was assigned as the Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, Naval Air Station, Cecil Field, Florida, until July 1981. From August 1981 until June 1982, he was a student at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Transferred to the 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California, in June 1982, he served as the Regimental Executive Officer until May 1983, when he assumed command of the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines. In August 1984, he was assigned to the Exercise, Readiness and Training Branch of the G-3 Section, I Marine Amphibious Force.
General Van Riper was transferred to the 3d Marine Division on Okinawa in June 1985, where he commanded the 4th Marines until December 1986. He served as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 3d Marine Division from December 1986 until reassigned as the Division Chief of Staff in June 1987.
During July 1988, General Van Riper returned to Quantico, where he was assigned until July 1989 as the Director of the Command and Staff College. He became the first President of the Marine Corps University in July 1989. In July 1990 he was assigned as the Deputy Commander for Training and Education and Director, Marine Air-Ground Training and Education Center, MCCDC. General Van Riper served temporarily as a member of the MARCENT/I Marine Expeditionary Force staff during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from January to March 1991.
From June 1991 to April 1993, he was the Commanding General, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Returning to Washington, D.C., General Van Riper served as Assistant Chief of Staff, Command Control, Communications, and Computer, and as Director of Intelligence from April 1993 until July 1995. He was advanced to Lieutenant General and assumed his final post on 13 July 1995.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Airborne and Ranger Schools.
General Van Riper’s personal decorations include: the Silver Star Medal with gold star; Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; and the Combat Action Ribbon with gold star.