From a contemporary press report:
Donn J. Robertson, 83, a Lieutenant General who commanded the 1st Marine Division in the Da Nang and Phu Bai areas of Vietnam and an amphibious force in the early 1970s, died March 4, 2000 at Sleepy Hollow Nursing Home in Falls Church, Virginia. He had cancer.
General Robertson was a battalion commander on Iwo Jima during World War II and was awarded the Navy Cross.
He was an adviser to South Korean marines during the Korean War. He retired in 1972.
General Robertson was a native of Willow City, North Dakota, and a graduate of the University of North Dakota.
He was president of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and the University of North Dakota Alumni Association in Washington.
General Robertson was a director of the Marine Corps Association and a member of Sigma Chi social fraternity and Army-Navy Country Club.
His honors also included two Distinguished Service Medals, a Legion of Merit and a Navy Commendation Medal.
Survivors include his wife of nearly 60 years, Elaine S. Robertson of Falls Church; four children; six grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Donn J. Robertson, a retired Marine lieutenant general and highly decorated veteran of two wars, died of complications from cancer March 4, 2000 at the Sleepy Hollow Nursing Home in Falls Church, VA. He was 83 years old.
Genereal Robertson, who retired from active duty in 1972, served as a battalion commander during World War II and served two tours in Vietnam.
As battalion commander in the 27th Marine Regiment during the battle for Iwo Jima, he was awarded the Navy Cross medal for extraordinary heroism during an attack against heavily-fortified enemy positions. He later served as the regiment's executive officer during the occupation of Japan.
In 1954, he served with the 1st Marine Division as senior advisor to the Korean Marine Corps. He later headed the Plans Branch at Marine Corps Headquarters and served as operations officer at Marine Forces Pacific.
General Robertson served two tours in Vietnam. As commanding general of the 1st Marine Division during 1967-68, he was responsible for Marine forces operating in the Da Nang and Phu Bai areas. He returned to Vietnam in 1970 as commanding general of III Marine Amphibious Force just as American forces began their
withdrawal from Vietnam.
General Robertson was born in Willow City, ND, and graduated from high school in Minot, NC, in 1934. In 1938, he received his bachelor's degree at the University of North Dakota, where he also captained the basketball team in his senior year.
Following his retirement, the general served as president of the University of North Dakota Alumni Association in Washington, DC, and on the board of directors for the Marine Corps Association. From 1973 to 1978, he served as president of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, which provides financial support to needy Marines and sailors. From 1982 to 1985, he served as president of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. Lt.Gen Robertson was selected to Who's Who in America, presented the Significant Sig Award by the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and honored with The Sioux Award by the University of North Dakota.
His personal military decorations include the Navy Cross, two Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, and a Navy Commendation Medal.
Funeral services will be held at 9 a.m. March 22, at the Old Post Chapel, Fort Myer, VA. Interment services will follow immediately at Arlington National Cemetery. Visitation is scheduled for March 21, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home, 1500 W. Braddock Road Alexandria, VA.
The general is survived by his wife, Elaine S. Robertson, their four children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Donations in Lt. Gen Robertson's name can be made to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, and the Friends of Iwo Jima. For more information, contact Major Freddie J. Blish at (703) 695-9043 or the Marine Corps Division of Public Affairs at (703) 614-2019.
ROBERTSON, DONN JOHN, LtGen, USMC (Ret.)
On Saturday, March 4, 2000, at Sleepy Hollow Nursing Home, DONN J. ROBERTSON, husband of Elaine S. Robertson of Falls Church, VA; father of Donn J. Robertson, Jr., Thomas R. Robertson, Tamara Diamond and David L. Robertson, all of California. Also surviving are a sister, Mrs. Olin Minton of Florida, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral services will be held at Ft. Myer Chapel on Wednesday, March 22, at 9 a.m. Interment in Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions to any of the following charities: Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, 801 N. Randolph St., Arlington, VA 22203, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 420, Quantico, VA 22134, or Friends of Iwo Jima, P.O. Box 10409, Arlington, VA 22210.
Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps
Lieutenant General Donn J. Robertson, who earned the Navy Cross on Iwo Jima and two awards of the Distinguished Service Medal in South Vietnam, died March 4, 2000 in Falls Church, Virginia. He had retired from active duty, April 30, 1972, after almost 34 years of active service.
Born September 9, 1916, in Willow City, North Dakota, he graduated from high school in Minot, North Dakota, in 1934. In 1938, he received his BS degree upon graduation from the University of North Dakota where he captained the basketball squad in his senior year. He resigned an Army Reserve commission to accept appointment as a Marine second lieutenant in June, 1938.
After attending Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Lieutenant Robertson's first duty assignment was with the Marine Detachment aboard the USS West Virginia. He then served as a company officer and division adjutant with the 2d Marine Division from August, 1940 to March, 1942. He was promoted to first lieutenant in August, 1941, and to captain in February, 1942.
Following the outbreak of World War II, Captain Robertson was Adjutant of the Samoan Defense Force for nearly two years. During this assignment, he was promoted to major in March, 1943. Returning to the United States the following March, he attended the 5th Command and Staff Course at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, until June, 1944 when he joined the 5th Marine Division, prior to embarking again for the Pacific area that September. The following month, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
As commanding officer of the 3d Battalion, 27th Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Robertson participated in the Iwo Jima campaign and was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in personally inspiring his men, who had been pinned down by heavy fire, to attack and seize a heavily fortified hill. Later, he rallied his depleted units for defense of the position, then directed the action to repulse a strong counterattack, and remained throughout the night at the front lines consolidating the position.
Lieutenant Colonel Robertson was later named Regimental Executive Officer of the 27th Marines and served with the unit in the occupation of Japan until December, 1945, when he was appointed Executive Officer of the Eighth Service Regiment. Returning to the United States in May, 1946, he became Commanding Officer of the Marine Barracks, Naval Air Station, San Diego. That November he was named G-1 of the 3d Marine Brigade at Camp Pendleton, and later moved up to G-1 of the 1st Marine Division, remaining in that post until March, 1948, when he was ordered to Headquarters Marine Corps as Officer in Charge of the Enlisted Detail Branch.
In June, 1951, he was assigned as Executive Officer and, later, Commanding Officer of Marine Barracks, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Returning to the United States after two years in Cuba, he completed the Senior School at Quantico in June, 1954, and while at Quantico was promoted to colonel.
In October, 1954, Colonel Robertson joined the 1st Marine Division in Korea as Senior Advisor to the Korean Marine Corps. He was awarded the Korean Ulchi Distinguished Military Service Medal with silver star for his service in this capacity. On his return to the United States in September, 1955, he headed the Plans Branch of the G-3 Division at Headquarters Marine Corps until June, 1958. He then served as G-3 of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, for two years. In June, 1961, he graduated from the National War College, Washington, D.C.
Returning to Quantico, he served as Chief of Staff, Marine Corps Schools, from July, 1961 through August, 1963, and was promoted to brigadier general, August 30, 1963.
General Robertson served for two years as Commanding General, Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In September, 1965, he became Deputy Fiscal Director of the Marine Corps. For his service in the latter assignment, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal. Prior to his detachment from Headquarters Marine Corps, he was promoted to major general, May 5, 1967.
For his service as Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, in South Vietnam from June, 1967 until June, 1968, General Robertson earned his first Distinguished Service Medal.
Upon his return to the United States, he served for two years as Commanding General, Marine Corps Base/Commanding General, 4th Marine Division Headquarters Nucleus, with additional duty for three months, as Commanding General, 5th Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California. He earned the Legion of Merit for service during this assignment.
In September, 1970, General Robertson returned to Headquarters Marine Corps, for a fourth time, and saw duty as Director of the Marine Corps Reserve. While serving in this capacity, he was nominated for advancement to lieutenant general, and his nomination was approved by President Nixon in October and confirmed by the Senate on December 9, 1970. On December 24, 1970, he was advanced to that rank upon assuming his second tour of duty in South Vietnam and, later, on Okinawa, as Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force. General Robertson earned a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal during this assignment.
Upon his return to the United States in January, 1972, he was assigned duty at Headquarters Marine Corps.
A complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Navy Cross; the Distinguished Service Medal with one Gold Star in lieu of a second award; the Legion of Merit; the Navy Commendation Medal; the Presidential Unit Citation with two bronze stars; the Navy Unit Commendation; the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia clasp; the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; the Vietnam Service Medal with five bronze stars; the Korean Order of National Security Merit; the Gug-Seon Medal; the Korean Ulchi Distinguished Military Service Medal with silver star; the National Order of Vietnam, 3d Class; the National Order of Vietnam, 5th Class; the Vietnamese Army Distinguished Service Order, 1st Class; the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with two bronze palms; the Vietnamese Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Robertson, Donn J.
Born September 9, 1916
Died March 4, 2000
Lieutenant General, US Marine Corps
Residence: Falls Church, Virginia
Section 30, Grave 199-RH
Buried March 22, 2000
Read our general and most popular articles
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard