James F. Lawrence, 88, a Marine Corps brigadier general who was a hero of the epic Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War and later a lawyer and Pentagon legislative liaison, died September 18, 2006, of pneumonia at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda,Maryland. He lived at The Fairfax, a military retirement community near Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
General Lawrence joined the Marine Corps Reserve as a student at the University of North Carolina, from which he graduated in 1941. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he was assigned to active duty.
During World War II, he commanded a rifle platoon with the 1st Marine Division and took part in the six-month Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 and 1943, the Allies' first major land victory against the Japanese. He later served in Australia before participating in the December 1943 Marine landing at Cape Gloucester during the battle of New Britain Island. He was awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
After the war, General Lawrence did advanced work in Asian studies and the Japanese language at Yale University before serving in China and Japan for three years.
In September 1950, he was with an infantry battalion in the 7th Marine Regiment as it landed at Inchon, Korea. In November of that year, he was part of a U.S. force that found itself surrounded by advancing Chinese units at the Chosin Reservoir in a mountainous region near the present-day border of North and South Korea.
Outnumbered 10 to one, the Marines fought one of the most heroic battles in U.S. military history. In temperatures of 25 degrees below zero, the Marines climbed sheer rock faces and sustained horrific casualties as they repelled the Chinese attack.
General Lawrence's commanding officer cracked under battlefield pressure and was relieved of his duties. The deputy commander was severely wounded, leaving General Lawrence, then a Major, to lead the battalion. After five days of fierce fighting, he and his unit were able to punch through enemy lines and make their way to safety. Survivors of the battle became known as the “Chosin Few.”
General Lawrence received a second Bronze Star and, at the instigation of rank-and-file Marines under his command, was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest honor for military valor. His role in the battle is described in the recently published book “Empowered by Faith,” by Richard G. Capen Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to Spain.
After his combat service in Korea, General Lawrence returned to Washington and enrolled in law school at George Washington University, graduating with honors in 1953. He was a legal adviser in the office of the Marine Corps commandant at Quantico Marine Base and participated in long-range planning.
General Lawrence later served as a senior legal officer in the Marine Corps Pacific command and was a military adviser to the assistant secretary of defense. From 1966 to 1972, as deputy assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, he was the Pentagon's primary liaison with Congress.
He retired from the Marine Corps in 1972. In addition to his other honors, he received two awards of the Distinguished Service Medal.
From 1972 to 1992, General Lawrence practiced estate law in Springfield with the firm of Clary, Lawrence, Lickstein & Moore. He also served as counsel to the Marine Corps Association for 20 years and, in 1979, was one of the founders of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. He had an important role in planning the Marine Corps Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
He was a director of the National Association for Uniformed Services and a member of the Army and Navy Club, the Mount Vernon Country Club and various veteran and Marine Corps groups.
After the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, General Lawrence nominated one of his subordinate officers, Edward “Bud” Seeburger, for the Navy Cross. Decades later, after learning that his nomination had been lost in a fire, General Lawrence resubmitted the paperwork. Seeburger was awarded the Navy Cross in 1995, 45 years after the battle.
James Fugate Lawrence was born March 17, 1918, in Rutledge, Tennessee, and grew up in Candler, North Carolina. For many years, he lived in Alexandria, where he was a vestry member and treasurer of St. Aidan's Episcopal Church. He was a founder, board member and chairman of the St. Aidan's Day School and also served as chairman and counsel of United Community Ministries in Alexandria.
After the death of a daughter-in-law, General Lawrence and his wife raised three grandchildren in their home.
Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Diana Lawrence of Fort Belvoir; three children, Darrie Lawrence of New York, James Lawrence of Chevy Chase and Richard Lawrence of Wilmington, North Carolina; a brother; and seven grandchildren.
JAMES FUGATE LAWRENCE, 88, Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), decorated veteran of World War II and the Korean War, died on September 18, 2006 at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He lived at The Fairfax, a retirement community near Fort Belvoir, Virignia.
General Lawrence was born in Grainger County, Tennessee He served with the 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal in 1942 and in Korea in 1950. For that service, he received the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest award for valor.
He completed 30 years of active Marine Corps service on the staff of the Secretary of Defense as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs and Director of the Department of Defense Office of Legislative Liaison. For service in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the nation's highest non-combat award, and a Gold Star in lieu of a second award.
Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Diana Lawrence of Ft. Belvoir; three children, Darrie Lawrence of New York, James Lawrence of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and Richard Lawrence of Wilmington, North Carolina; a brother, Robert Lawrence of Asheville, North Carolina, and seven grandchildren.
Interment will occur on a later date at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 998, Quantico, Virignia 22134-0998; or United Community Ministries, 7511 Fordson Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22306.
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