Rathvon McClure Tompkins – Major General, United States Marine Corps

Major General Rathvon McClure Tompkins, 55, a Colorado-born veteran of Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Saipan, where he won the Navy Cross and picked up a load of Japanese shrapnel that still causes him to limp at the end of a ten-mile hike. Known as “Tommy Two-Star” behind his back, Tompkins served in the Dominican Republic during the 1965 crisis before becoming commander of the Marines’ Parris Island boot camp in June, 1966. When Marine Corps Chief of Staff Lieut. General Henry Buse called from Washington to ask Tompkins how soon he could leave for Viet Nam, the new 3rd Marine commander replied: “Tomorrow.”

Rathvon McClure Tompkins, 87, a retired Marine Corps major general who in 36 years of active duty became a highly decorated combat veteran of three wars, died September 17, 1999 in Lexington, South Carolina, after a stroke.

He served in the Pacific during World War II. He received the Navy Cross, the corps’ highest award for valor except for the Medal of Honor, for his heroism on Saipan, a Silver Star at Tarawa and a Bronze Star at Guadalcanal.

During the Korean War, he commanded the 5th Marines of the 1st Marine Division.

In 1967, he went to South Vietnam as commander of the 3rd Marine Division, Reinforced. He commanded the division during the Tet Offensive and the siege of Khe Sanh. Gen. Tompkins retired from active duty in 1971, after two years as base commander of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Major General, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Burial services for Retired Major General RATHVON McCLURE TOMPKINS, USMC, will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 5, 1999, at the Old Chapel, Arlington National Cemetery.

Tompkins, Rathvon Mcclure
Born 23 August 1912, Died. 17 September 1999
US Marine Corps, Major General
Res: Beaufort, SC,
Section 30, Grave 279 RH, buried 10/05/1999


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