Henry Louis Larsen – Lieutenant General, United States Marine Corps

Henry Louis Larsen retired from the US Marine Corps November 1, 1946, after 33 years of service spanning two World Wars. A highly decorated combat veteran and graduate of the US Naval Academy, he died at Denver, Colorado, October 2, 1962.

His medals include two Navy Crosses, two Distinguished Service Medals, three Silver Star Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and the French Legion of Honor, Croix de Guerre and Fourragere.

His major mission of WWII was as Island Commander of 215,000 men on Guam. Here he directed the largest single construction project in the history of the US Navy, the transformation of an undeveloped island into a major base for fleet and air operations during the war.

Born Dec 10, 1890, at Chicago, Illinois, and grew up there and in Denver. He entered the Marine Corps as a Second Lieuteantn in November 1913 and performed service at various posts in US as well as France, Germany, Nicaragua, Haiti, Santo Domingo, Panama, Mexico, Culebra, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Samoa and Cuba. He also served at sea aboard USS San Diego, USS Mexico, USS Buffalo, and USS PA. During WWI, he served with the first convoy to land in France in June 1917, and took part in every USMC engagement on French soil, from Belleau Wood to Meuse-Argonne. He later served in Nicaragua as Inspector of 2nd Marine Brigade, and as member of 1930 US Electoral Mission.

In the next years served at HQ USMC as Asst Adjutant and Inspector. From 1938 to 1940, served as Director of Plans and Policies, and was responsible for wartime expansion of the Corps. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was ordered to Samoa as commanderr of a reinforced Brigade made up of the first combat troops to leave continental US. President Roosevelt appt him first Military Governor of American Samoa on January 15, 1942. In June 1943, he became Commander of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

He began his assignment as Island Commander of Guam July 21, 1944, when the Marines landed to begin their drive to recapture the island. In May 1946, assumed his final assignment as Commanding General, Department of the Pacific. Having been specially commended for heroism in combat, he was advanced to Lieutenant General on his retirement, November 1, 1946.

For ten years, ending in 1959, he served as Colorado’s Director of Civil Defense. His wife, former Elizabeth Ammons, is the daughter of one former governor of Colorado, the late Elias M. Emmons, and sister of another, Teller Ammons. Home: 836 17th Ave, Denver. Died: Oct 2, 1962. Buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Elizabeth Ammons Larsen

July 27, 1990: Elizabeth Ammons Larsen, the daughter and sister of former Colorado governors and the widow of the state’s highest ranking military officer during World War II, died Monday, July 23, 1990, in her Denver residence. She was 96. Graveside services and burial will be at 9 am today in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. No local services will be held.

Born December 6, 1893, in Denver, Mrs. Larsen was the daughter of Elias M. Ammons, who served as governor from 1913 to 1915. Her late brother, Teller Ammons, was one of the youngest men ever to become governor of Colorado. He was elected in 1937, shortly before his 40th birthday, and served until 1939, when he was defeated by Ralph Carr in a bid for a second term. Mrs. Larsen married Henry L. Larsen in Denver on Nov. 25, 1913. He served 33 years in the Marine Corps, retiring in 1946 as a highly decorated lieutenant general. Gen. Larsen accompanied the first US troops to land in France during World War I, commanded the first combat troops to leave the United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was the first military governor of Samoa and was the first commander and military governor of Guam, where he led 215,000 troops in the defense and occupation of the island during World War II. The author of several military textbooks books and one of the pioneers of amphibious warfare, Gen. Larsen was Colorado’s highest ranking officer during the war. After his military career, he was appointed by Gov. Dan Thornton as Colorado Civil Defense director, a position he held until his retirement in 1959. Gen Larsen died in October 1962.

Very active socially, Mrs. Larsen was a member of the Denver Country Club and the Junior League. “She grew up in Denver and was very socially prominent,” said Margaret McLellan, a longtime friend. “If there was an important social event, she would be there.”


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