Military Wiki
Clifford Barnes Drake
MG Clifford B. Drake, USMC
Born (1918-11-07)November 7, 1918
Died October 25, 1994(1994-10-25) (aged 75)
Place of birth New York City
Place of death Seminole, Florida
Allegiance United States
Service/branch USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1940–1972
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Service number 0-6676
Commands held Marine Corps Reserve
12th Marine Regiment
1st Battalion, 14th Marines
2nd Battalion, 14th Marines

World War II

Vietnam War

Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal

Clifford Barnes Drake (November 7, 1918 - October 25, 1994) was a highly decorated officer of the United States Marine Corps with the rank of Major General. He served as artillery officer during World War II and later took part in Vietnam War as Deputy commander of XXIV Corps.[1]

Early career and World War II

Clifford B. Drake was born on November 7, 1918 in New York City, but his family moved to Los Angeles, California, where he attended high school in 1935 and University of California, where he earned Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics in June 1940. While at University, he was a member of Reserve Officers' Training Corps unit and was commissioned Second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Reserve Corps.[1]

He resigned his reserve rank in order to accept appoitment as Second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on July 1, 1940 and was sent to Officer Candidates School at Quantico, Virginia for further officers education. After three-months course there, he was attached to the Marine Detachment aboard the battleship USS California.[1]

While aboard that ship, Drake was present at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack. He served as Officer of the deck during that day and was relieved by Ensign Herbert C. Jones around 0730. Drake went for breakfast and heard explosions and engines of the airplanes 20 minutes later. The general quarters alarm then summoned the crew to battle stations and Drake went to foretop of the ship, where directed defense. Ensign Jones was later killed by bomb explosion and received congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on California.[2]

The damaged and partially flooded California settled into the mud with only her superstructure remaining above the surface. Drake was subsequently transferred to 3rd Defense Battalion under Lieutenant colonel Robert H. Pepper and continued in the defense of Pearl Harbor. He showed great organizational skills and was promptly promoted to the rank of First lieutenant following the attack.

Drake was then attached to the Marine Detachment aboard the transport ship USS Argonne for a brief period, before he was attached to the staff of Commander South Pacific Area, Vice admiral Robert L. Ghormley. While in this capacity, Drake was promoted to the rank of Captain in May 1942 and also served in this command under famous admiral William Halsey during Solomon Islands campaign.[1]

He was ordered back to the United States in early 1943 in order to attend the Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He completed the course in June 1943 and was promoted to the rank of Major at the same time. Drake was then ordered to Camp Pendleton, California where he was attached to the newly activated 14th Marine Artillery Regiment as Executive officer of 1st Battalion. His regiment was subsequently attached to the newly created 4th Marine Division under Major general Harry Schmidt as the main artillery component. The Fourthteen Marines later relocated to Camp Dunlap for further training and Drake got a word of upcoming combat deployment to the Pacific area - Marshall Islands.[1][3]

The main target of the landing for 4th Marine Division, was Roi Namur atoll, which served as large air base and center of air activity in the Marshall Islands. With the securing of that atoll, allied forces get a new base for future offensives in the Pacific. Drake and his 1st battalion deployed his 75mm Howitzers on the island of Ennubirr in the evening of January 31, 1944. They landed on Blue Beach 4 on 1700 and provided support fire for the advancing allied units. The atoll was declared secure on February 2 and 1 Battalion was ordered to serve as Garrison unit until February 29.[3]

The First battalion then rejoined rest of the regiment, which was meanwhile ordered to Maui, Hawaii for rest and further training. In mid-May, 14th Marines were ordered back to the combat area, when they received orders for the oncoming assault on Saipan in the Marianas. Drake landed with his battalion on Yellow Beach on 1700 and participated in the combats against enemy until July 9, 1944.[3][4]

Following the capture of Saipan, Fourth Marine Division was ordered to take part in the landing on near Tinian on July 24. The 1st Battalion was first artillery unit which went ashore and began firing. During the morning of the following day, Japanese artillery hit the 1st Battalion command post and almost wiped out the unit's command structure. Battalion commander, Lieutenant colonel Harry J. Zimmer; operations officer, Major Thomas McE. Fry; intelligence officer, First lieutenant Dean W. Atwood and seven other men were killed.[3]

Drake calmly took charge and supervised the evacuation of wounded and dead. He reestablished the battalion's command post and continued in its mission, provide artillery support to 25th Marine Regiment. Drake led the battalion until the end of hostilities on August 1 and subsequently took him back to Maui, Hawaii during the first week of August. For his merits during the attack on battalion command post, Drake received Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and Navy Presidential Unit Citation.[1][3][5][6]

While in Hawaii, Drake assumed command of 2nd Battalion, 14th Marines and took part in several ship-to-shore maneuvers until January 27, 1945. The second battalion subsequently sailed for its new target, Iwo Jima.[3][7]

Drake went ashore with his battalion in the evening on February 19, 1945 and immediately began with the deployment of his cannons. His howitzers began firing the same evening during the advance of 25th Marines. Drake was later decorated with Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for his service on Iwo Jima.[3] He also received Navy Unit Commendation.

Postwar service

The 14th Marines returned to the United States in October 1945 and following the disbandment of the regiment at the end of November of that year, Drake was transferred to the Marine Corps Base San Diego, where he remained until April 1946. He was subsequently ordered to nearby Coronado Base, where he was appointed an artillery instructor within Troop Training Unit, Pacific Fleet under Major general Harry K. Pickett. He later served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel within this command.[1]

Drake was transferred to Washington, D.C. in March 1948 and appointed administrative assistant and aide to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Arthur W. Radford. He continued in this capacity under admirals John D. Price and Lynde D. McCormick and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant colonel in August 1949.

He also earned a Master of Arts degree in Education from Stanford University in June 1951 and subsequently joined 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Drake served under Major general Edwin A. Pollock as Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel and then as commander of 4th and later 3rd Battalions, 10th Marine Regiment. He finished his tenure with 10th Marines as regimental operations officer in October 1953 and subsequently served as Head of Enlisted Coordinator Section, Personnel Department at Headquarters Marine Corps.

In November 1956, Drake was ordered to England as a student in the Joint Service Staff College in Latimer, Buckinghamshire. Upon the graduation in June of the following year, he became Marine Corps Representative to the British Joint Service Amphibious Warfare Center at Poole, Dorset. Drake received promotion to the rank of Colonel in September 1957 and returned to the United States in April 1959.

One month later, Drake was appointed Executive officer of the Personnel Division at Headquarters Marine Corps and served in that capacity under Major general August Larson until July 1961, when he was ordered to Far East. He subsequently assumed duties as Commanding officer of 12th Marine Artillery Regiment, 3rd Marine Division and served in that capacity until August 1962.[1]

Upon his return stateside, Drake attended National War College in Washington, D.C. and graduated in June 1963. His next duty brought him to Quantico, where he was named Director, Marine Corps Command and Staff College.[1]

Vietnam War

Drake was promoted to the rank of Brigadier general in January 1966 and appointed Director, Marine Corps Reserve at Headquarters Marine Corps. He was responsible for the administration of all reserve marine troops, which were used as reinforcements for combat units in Vietnam and also was promoted to the rank of Major General on August 2, 1967. Drake served in that capacity until April 1968 and received his second Legion of Merit for his service there.[1]

He was subsequently ordered to Vietnam, where he assumed duties as Deputy Commanding general of Army XXIV Corps under Lieutenant general Richard G. Stilwell. He served in that capacity during Tet Offensive and was decorated with Distinguished Service Medal for his service during that period. Drake also received Air Medal for his participation in observation flights over the combat areas and several decorations by the Government of South Vietnam.[1][8][9]

In June 1969, Drake was relieved by Major general Edwin B. Wheeler and returned to the United States, where he assumed duties as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations at Headquarters Marine Corps. He served in that capacity until October 1972, when he retired from the Marine Corps after 32 years of active service. During his retirement ceremony, Drake received his third Legion of Merit.[1][10]


General Drake settled in Alexandria, Virginia where he lived together with his wife Margery Forbes Jones. They had together two children: Christopher B. (born 1950) and Carolyn F. (born 1951). Major general Clifford B. Drake died on October 25, 1994 in Seminole, Florida.[11]


Here is the ribbon of General Drake:[6]

Combat Distinguishing Device.svg Award-star-gold-3d.pngAward-star-gold-3d.png
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and two 516" Gold Stars
2nd Row Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" Air Medal Navy Presidential Unit Citation
3rd Row Navy Unit Commendation American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver 3/16 inch service star
4th Row American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal with one star
5th Row Vietnam Service Medal with three 3/16 inch service stars National Order of Vietnam, Knight Vietnam Distinguished Service Order, 1st Class
6th Row Navy Gallantry Cross Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Vietnam Campaign Medal
Military offices
Preceded by
Joseph L. Stewart
Director of Marine Corps Reserve
January 1966 - April 1968
Succeeded by
Charles F. Widdecke

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 "Clifford B. Drake Papers - USMC Military History Division". USMC Military History Division. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  2. "INFAMOUS DAY: Marines at Pearl Harbor". USMC Military History Division. Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "A Brief history of the 14th Marines - USMC Military History Division". USMC Military History Division. Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  4. "US Marine Corps in World War II - HyperWar (Saipan)". HyperWar Websites. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  5. "US Marine Corps in World War II - HyperWar (Tinian)". HyperWar Websites. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Valor awards for Clifford B. Drake". Militarytimes Websites. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  7. "US Marine Corps in World War II - HyperWar (Iwo Jima)". HyperWar Websites. Retrieved 10 March 2018. 
  8. "U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Defining year 1968". USMC Military History Division. Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  9. Millie, David (2013). Team 19 in Vietnam: An Australian Soldier at War. Jefferson, North Carolina: The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 192. ISBN 978-0-8131-4326-2. Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  10. "Senior US Navy and Marine Corps Leaders, December 31, 1970". Fleet organization websites. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  11. "Florida Death Index". Ancestry websites. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
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