Robert Everton Cushman, Jr. – General, United States Marine Corps

General Robert Everton Cushman, Jr., who earned the Navy Cross — the nation's second highest combat award — during World War II, became the twenty-fifth Commandant of the Marine Corps, January 1, 1972.

As a 29 year old lieutenant colonel, General Cushman was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism from July 21 to August 20, 1944, while commanding the 2d Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division during the recapture of Guam. His citation states in part:

When his battalion was ordered to seize and hold a strongly organized and defended enemy strong point which had been holding up the advance for some days, Lieutenant Colonel Cushman directed the attacks of his battalion and the repulse of numerous Japanese counterattacks, fearlessly exposing himself to heavy hostile rifle, machine gun and mortar fire in order to remain in the front lines and obtain firsthand knowledge of the enemy situation. Following three days of bitter fighting culminating in a heavy Japanese counterattack which pushed back the flank of his battalion, he personally led a platoon into the gap and, placing it for defense, repelled the hostile force. By his inspiring leadership, courage and devotion to duty, he contributed materially to the success of the mission with the annihilation of one enemy battalion and the rout of another…

Born December 24, 1914, in St. Paul, Minn., Robert E. Cushman, Jr. attended Central High School there and at sixteen, before graduating, was appointed to the U. S. Naval Academy. Graduating 10th in his class of 442, he was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant on June 6, 1935.

Lieutenant Cushman completed Marine Officer's Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, then served briefly at the Marine Corps Base, San Diego, Ca. In February 1936, he arrived in Shanghai, China and served as a platoon commander with the 4th Marines, and later the 2d Marine Brigade. On his return to the United States in March 1938, he served at naval shipyards in Brooklyn, N. Y. and Portsmouth, Va. He was promoted to first lieutenant in August 1938.

In April 1939, Lieutenant Cushman was assigned to the Marine Detachment at the New York World's Fair, and was subsequently stationed at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Va. He was promoted to captain in March 1941.

In June 1941, Captain Cushman reported aboard the USS PENNSYLVANIA at San Diego, en route to Pearl Harbor, as Commanding Officer of the ship's Marine Detachment. He was serving in this capacity when the Japanese attacked the ship and other naval installations at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Upon his transfer from the PENNSYLVANIA, he joined the 9th Marines at San Diego as a battalion executive officer in May 1942, and that same month was promoted to major.

Major Cushman hiked from San Diego to Camp Pendleton with his unit in September 1942, and embarked for the Pacific area in January 1943.

That month, Major Cushman was appointed Commanding Officer of the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, and in May 1943 was promoted to lieutenant colonel. During the two years he held that post, he led his battalion repeatedly into combat, earning the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” on Bougainville, the Navy Cross during the recapture of Guam, and the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” during the Iwo Jima campaign.

Upon his return to the United States in May 1945, Lieutenant Colonel Cushman was stationed at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Va. for three years. During that period he completed the Senior School, served as an instructor in the Command and Staff School, and during the latter two years was Supervisory Instructor, Amphibious Warfare School. In June 1948, he was named Head of the Amphibious Warfare Branch, Office of Naval Research, Navy Department, Washington, D. C. From October 1949 until May 1951, he served on the staff of the Central Intelligence Agency. While there, he was promoted to colonel in May 1950.

In June 1951, Colonel Cushman joined the staff of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Fleet, in London, serving as Amphibious Plans Officer until June 1953. Following his return to the United States, he was transferred to Norfolk, Va., where he served as a member of the faculty of the Armed Forces Staff College, and in July 1954 became Director of the Plans and Operations Division there.  In July 1956, he assumed command of the 2d Marine Regiment, at Camp Lejeune, N. C.

Assigned to Washington, D. C. in February 1957, he served four years on the staff of the Vice President Richard Nixon as Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs. While serving in this capacity he was promoted to brigadier general in July 1958. Following his departure from Washington, Brigadier General Cushman became Assistant Division Commander, 3d Marine Division, on Okinawa, in March 1961. He was promoted to major general in August 1961, and in September assumed command of the Division.

In July 1962, he reported to Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D. C. where he was assigned as both Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (Intelligence) and Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 (Plans, Operations and Training), in which capacities he served until January 1, 1964. From that date until June 1964 he served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, only.From June 1964 until March 1967, Major General Cushman served in the dual capacity of Commanding General, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, Ca. and Commanding General, 4th Marine Division Headquarters Nucleus. In June 1966 he formed the 5th Marine Division and he additionally served as its Commanding General at Camp Pendleton until November 1966.

Major General Cushman was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam in April 1967 and was assigned as the Deputy Commander, III Marine Amphibious Force. He was promoted to lieutenant general in June 1967, upon assuming duty as Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force — the largest combined combat unit ever led by a Marine.

For his service as Deputy Commander, from April to May 1967, and subsequently as Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force, from June to December 1967, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. A Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal was awarded for his service as Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force; Senior Advisor, I Corps Tactical Zone; and I Corps Coordinator for United States/Free World Military Assistance Forces, from January 1968 to March 1969.

On March 6, 1969, while serving in Vietnam, General Cushman was nominated by President Richard M. Nixon to be the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency: his nomination was confirmed by the Senate, April 21, 1969.

Upon his return to the United States, he served briefly as Director of Personnel and Deputy Chief of Staff (Manpower) at Headquarters Marine Corps. Lieutenant General Cushman subsequently served as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from April 1969 through December 1971, for which service he was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

A complete list of the general's medals and decorations include: Navy Cross; Distinguished Service Medal with two Gold Stars in lieu of a second and third award; Legion of Merit with Combat “V”; Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; Navy Commendation Medal; Presidential Unit Citation with one Bronze Star; Navy Unit Commendation with one Bronze Star; Distinguished Intelligence Medal; China Service Medal; American Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Star (Fleet Clasp); American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one Silver Star; Victory Medal, World War II; National Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Star; Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Star and two Bronze Stars; Order of May to the Naval Merit, in the Degree of Commander (Government of Argentina); National Order of Vietnam, Commander or 3d Class, Republic of Vietnam; National Order of Vietnam, Officer or 4th Class, Republic of Vietnam; Army Distinguished Service Order 1st Class, Republic of Vietnam; Navy Distinguished Service Order 1st Class, Republic of Vietnam; Cross of Gallantry with 2 Palms, Republic of Vietnam; Order of Military Merit, 2d Class (Ulchi), Republic of Korea; National Security Merit, 2d Class (Bookuk), Republic of Korea; Order of Military Merit, 3d Class (Chungmu), Republic of Korea; Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Color); Vietnam Campaign Medal; and Vietnam Campaign Medal; and Vietnamese Rural Revolutionary Development Medal, Republic of Vietnam.
(Revised April, 1973)
Biography courtesy of the United States Marine Corps


Of Charlottesville, Virginia, on March 5, 2003. Born February 3, 1916 in Portsmouth, Virginia, she was the daughter of the late Elwood and Ethel Johnson Boyce. Her husband, General Robert E. Cushman Jr., the 25th Commandant of the Marine Corps, also preceded her in death. She was a member of the Marine Corps Officers Wives Club and was Marine Corps First Lady.

Survivors include her daughter, Roberta Cauley of Charlottesville and a son, Robert Cushman III of Alexandria, Virginia; a sister, Dorothy Pesinger of Portsmouth; two grandchildren, Audrey Menard of Charlottesville and Glen Cauley of New Bern, North Carolina. A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. on March 27, 2003 at Fort Myer Chapel. Interment will follow at Arlington National Cemetery.

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