Alexander A. Vandegrift
During World War II, Alexander A. Vandegrift (1887-1973) commanded the 1st Marine Division in the Battle of Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands, 1942-1943), the Allies' first large-scale offensive, and first victory, in the Pacific Theater. His previous service in Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and China prepared him well for the challenges of jungle warfare. Vandegrift earned the Medal of Honor for his "tenacity, courage and resourcefulness" during the Guadalcanal campaign. He was the first Marine to earn both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, and the first Marine to hold a four-star rank while on active duty.
Medal of Honor citation:
"For outstanding and heroic accomplishment above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the 1st Marine Division in operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands during the period 7 August to 9 December 1942. With the adverse factors of weather, terrain, and disease making his task a difficult and hazardous undertaking, and with his command eventually including sea, land, and air forces of Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, Maj. Gen. Vandegrift achieved marked success in commanding the initial landings of the U.S. forces in the Solomon Islands and in their subsequent occupation. His tenacity, courage, and resourcefulness prevailed against a strong, determined, and experienced enemy, and the gallant fighting spirit of the men under his inspiring leadership enabled them to withstand aerial, land, and sea bombardment, to surmount all obstacles, and leave a disorganized and ravaged enemy. This dangerous but vital mission, accomplished at the constant risk of his life, resulted in securing a valuable base for further operations of our forces against the enemy, and its successful completion reflects great credit upon Maj. Gen. Vandegrift, his command, and the U.S. Naval Service."