Mitchell J. Waters – Major General, United States Marine Corps

From contemporary press reports:Past Lejeune general dies

January 30,2005

A former 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander at Camp Lejeune died last week, leaving behind a legacy in the reserve and active duty forces.

Major General Mitchell J. Waters died Thursday in Lake Barrington Shores, Illinois, after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 69.

“He is the father of the modern-day Marine Corps Reserve,” said former Marine Commandant retired General Carl E. Mundy.

Waters graduated from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, in 1957. He entered the Marine Corps after completing the officer basic school in February 1958 – the same year he married his high school sweetheart, Cindy Fish. Waters then spent a three-year tour with Camp Lejeune's 2nd Marine Division.

“Mitch and I were classmates at the basic school,” Mundy said. “He was truly a fine and exceptional man.”

As a reserve officer in the 1960s and 1970s, Waters commanded four rifle platoons, three infantry companies and an infantry battalion.

As deputy commander of the reserve 4th Marine Division, Waters also commanded the 2nd Marine Brigade from 1987 to 1990 when it was transferred to Lejeune and changed from a reserve unit to active duty.

In 1991 Waters became the Corps' deputy chief of staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, but in those days most reservists were limited to no more than 179 days on active duty.

“We needed to achieve a total force and stop talking about the separation of active duty and reserve,” Mundy said. “He sought to fix it so that there is one Marine Corps today. In six months, he restructured and put together the modern day Marine Corps Reserve.”

“I recall vividly when Mitch came over to the Armed Services Committee with his list of 30 initiatives,” said retired Major General Arnold L. Punaro.

His view of the future helped the reserve to move smoothly into the active duty forces following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and subsequent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We really don't have a reserve anymore,” Mundy said. “Most are on active duty right now.”

Since his retirement in 1993, Waters coached youth sports and ran in five marathons, in addition to an extensive civilian career. He was a sales manager and CEO for Christiana Industries, which specializes in semi-conductor chip technology.

“He took great joy in keeping up with his friends and bringing people together,” said his daughter Melissa Waters Blank. “He knew that having fun was the most important component in learning, leading and living.”

A memorial service for Waters will be held Saturday, February 5, 2005, in Illinois. He'll be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia at a later date.

Story-telling Marine general dies of cancer

By Ashok Selvam
Courtesy of the Daily Herald
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2005Retired Marine Corps General Mitchell J. Waters enjoyed a distinguished career in the military that took him to the Pentagon, Germany and officer's candidate's school in Quantico, Virginia.

But for the loyal Cubs fan, Wrigley Field may have been his favorite place.

“He loved the Cubs,” said his daughter Julie Waters Price.

General Waters, 69, of Lake Barrington Shores, died Thursday after battling brain cancer.

Waters was born April 11, 1935, in Evanston and graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1953, before earning a degree from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. While in college he joined the Marine Corps. That lead him to officer's basic school in 1958 in Quantico, Virginia.

At about the same time he finished at Quantico, he married his high school sweetheart, Cindy.

“He knew how to make people laugh,” she said.

Waters joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1960 and commanded four rifle platoons, three infantry companies and the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines. The latter took part in the NATO exercise Bold Guard in 1978 in northern Germany.

He also held various positions where he helped develop administrative policy. That culminated with a promotion to major general in 1990.

After being recalled to active duty in 1992, he served as the assistant deputy chief of staff for Manpower and Reserve affairs in Washington and testified before Congress. The job required Waters to work in the Pentagon.

Waters loved to share stories, and loved military life, Waters Price said.

“He loved to tell people about the good things, the positive things about the military,” she said. “Some of the most peace-loving people are the soldiers, he would say.”

Waters received awards including the Legion of Merit, which thanked him for his efforts in writing policy for the Marine reserves.

His successful military career translated in the business world, longtime friend and colleague Don Surber said.

“He was a born leader,” Surber said.

Waters' civilian life included starting his own business and mentoring youngsters, Surber said.

He also coached Little League baseball for Palatine Park District. Many of his players then went on to the Fremd High School baseball team. Some even made it professionally, including former Cubs catcher Todd Hundley.

Sports, including baseball, played a significant part in Waters' life. Before illness sidelined him last year, he spent the last 15 years traveling to Cubs spring training camp.

The day doctors found a brain tumor, Waters was adamant on attending the June 5, 2004, Cubs game – even though his doctors advised against it.

“He said he was going to heaven, and heaven was Wrigley Field,” Surber said.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, at the Presbyterian Church of Barrington. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

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