Rathvon McClure Tompkins
Major General, United States Marine Corps
General Rathvon McClure Tompkins, 55, a Colorado-born veteran of Guadalcanal,
Tarawa and Saipan, where he won the Navy Cross and picked up a load of
Japanese shrapnel that still causes him to limp at the end of a ten-mile
hike. Known as "Tommy Two-Star" behind his back, Tompkins served in the
Dominican Republic during the 1965 crisis before becoming commander of
the Marines' Parris Island boot camp in June, 1966. When Marine Corps Chief
of Staff Lieut. General Henry Buse called from Washington to ask Tompkins
how soon he could leave for Viet Nam, the new 3rd Marine commander replied:
Rathvon McClure Tompkins, 87, a retired Marine Corps major general who in 36 years of active duty became a highly decorated combat veteran of three wars, died September 17, 1999 in Lexington, South Carolina, after a stroke.
He served in the Pacific during World War II. He received the Navy Cross, the corps' highest award for valor except for the Medal of Honor, for his heroism on Saipan, a Silver Star at Tarawa and a Bronze Star at Guadalcanal.
During the Korean War, he commanded the 5th Marines of the 1st Marine Division.
In 1967, he went to South Vietnam as commander
of the 3rd Marine Division, Reinforced. He commanded the division during
the Tet Offensive and the siege of Khe Sanh. Gen. Tompkins retired from
active duty in 1971, after two years as base commander of Camp Lejeune,
Burial services for Retired Major General RATHVON
McCLURE TOMPKINS, USMC, will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 5, 1999,
at the Old Chapel, Arlington National Cemetery.
Posted: 15 October 1999 Updated: 1 December 2004 Updated: 14 May 2006 Updated: 6 January 2007