Military Wiki
Dion Williams
Brigadier General Dion Williams
Nickname Father of Marine amphibious reconnaissance[1]
Born (1869-12-18)December 18, 1869
Died December 11, 1952(1952-12-11) (aged 82)
Place of birth Williamsburg, Ohio
Place of death National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1893-1934
Rank US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General
Commands held 10th Marine Regiment
2nd Provisional Marine Brigade
4th Marine Regiment
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
Battles/wars Battle of Manila Bay
Spanish–American War
Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal

Brigadier General Dion Williams (December 15, 1869 – December 11, 1952) was an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He was the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from August 1, 1925—July 1, 1928. During his early career, Williams pioneered the first conceptual study of amphibious reconnaissance in the United States and becoming one of the strongest advocates in having the Marine Corps assume the amphibious, expeditionary role. During his career, he fought guerrillas in the Philippines and Dominican Republic during the Spanish–American War.

Williams is credited in the persuasion of Admiral Dewey in 1907 to assert Congress that "a force of 5,000 Marines with a Fleet" would have ensued the Philippine–American War following the Spanish defeat.[2] This 'force' was the first of the doctrinal sequence of the establishment of the Advanced Base Force, its titulage American Expeditionary Force and subsequently its modern namesake, Fleet Marine Force.

Williams retired from the Marine Corps in 1934, spending the rest of his life in Maryland.


Dion Williams was born in Williamsburg, Ohio on December 15, 1869.

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy where he received his early education until entering the Naval Academy and graduated on June 30, 1891.

After completing the required 2-year sea duty aboard the USS Atlanta as a midshipman for two years, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps on July 1, 1893, and attended the School of Application before he served at the Marine Barracks, New York and the Marine Barracks, Mare Island until 1897.

He was married to Helen Mar Ames on February 20, 1895.[3]

He participated in the Battle of Manila Bay while serving aboard the USS Baltimore' on May 1, 1898, under Admiral George Dewey. Lt. Williams landed a company of Marines at a Spanish naval arsenal yard at Cavite in the Philippine Islands, securing the naval station,[4] and hoisting the first American flag raised over Spanish soil in the Spanish–American War.

Williams served duty at Marine Barracks, Charlston before being called out for a minor revolt in Panama 1902 to command a detachment of Marines sent to disarm Colombian troops threatening the Americans.

He continued serving two more years in various engagements of the Philippine–American War after which he served as Fleet Marine Officer of the Atlantic Fleet from 1902 to 1904.

In March 1905, Major Williams reported to the Naval War College for two years. By 1906, Williams wrote a study, Naval Reconnaissance, Instructions for the Reconnaissance of Bays, Harbors, and Adjacent Country, which eventually became the first doctrine in United States' history concerning the pertinent missions of amphibious reconnaissance.[5] He focused primarily on the establishment and employment of an assault force specialized in conducting preassault reconnaissance. Many of the reconnaissance ideas advanced in his studies surpassed and were eventually incorporated in the Tentative Manual for Landing Operations developed in 1934.

The former Washington, D.C. residence (center) of Dion Williams, while assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence.

He was assigned the Fleet Marine Officer of the United States Fleet from 1907-09 until after his tour of duty with the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence from 1909 to 1912.

He commanded the American Legation Guard at Peking, China (1912–15) and then became the Marine Corps' representative to the General Board of the Navy from 1915 to 1918, before being assigned as the commanding officer of 10th Marine Regiment at MCB Quantico where he remained to prepare his regiment for combat duty in France during World War I, 1917–18.

Afterwards, Williams became the commanding officer of 2nd Provisional Marine Brigade for pacification duty in the Dominican Republic. Returning to MCB Quantico in 1921, he assumed command of the 4th Marine Brigade as part of the East Coast Expeditionary Force participating in the ongoing advanced base exercises held by the Navy's North Atlantic Fleet on Culebra.

During the 1924 Winter Maneuvers, he witnessed the first use of an experimental 'amphibious' tank being mounted a 75-mm gun, as well as the "beetle boats" uses as amphibious transports.

After his tour of duty with the 4th Brigade ended, Williams became assistant to the Marine Commandant in 1928. General Williams was in command of the Marine Occupation Force in Nicaragua from April 1929 through 1930. He became editor of the Marine Corps Gazette while he remained on duty at Headquarters Marine Corps until his retirement on January 1, 1934.

Despite his retirement, Williams remained active, authoring several articles on officer professional education and the curriculum at Marine Corps Schools, and participating in Marine Corps affairs. In January 1942, he participated in a ceremony at Annapolis, Maryland, where the same flag is now enshrined. It was just after evacuation of the Cavite Naval Base to the Japanese.

Williams died on December 11, 1952, at the age of 82, a few days before his birthday, after an illness of several months at the Naval Medical Center at nearby Bethesda, Maryland near the District of Columbia. Brigadier General Williams was buried with full military honors on December 15, 2008, in Arlington National Cemetery; and was survived by his widow, Helen.

See also


  1. Daugherty, Leo J., III (Autumn/Winter 1998–99). "Away All Boats: The Army-Navy Maneuvers of 1925" (PDF). pp. 107–113. Retrieved 2008-11-30. "Marine Brigadier General Dion Williams . . . emphasized that the most essential factor in an amphibious landing was to 'get men and matériel . . . on the beach in the shortest possible time with the least confusion and in the best condition for immediate action. . . . It is therefore vital that every effort should be made to provide beforehand suitable means. . . .'" 
  2. Krulak, Victor H. (1951). First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-73012-6. 
  3. "Williams-Ames". New York Times. February 21, 1895. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  4. Dyal, Donald H.; Brian B. Carpenter and Mark A. Thomas (1996). Historical Dictionary of the Spanish American War. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 209. ISBN 0-313-28852-6. 
  5. Davis, Major Cletis R., USMC (1993). "Marines: Blind and Deaf in Future Wars". Retrieved 2008-11-30. "The genealogy for amphibious reconnaissance dates to 1906 when Major Dion Williams, USMC authored the Naval Reconnaissance, Instructions for the Reconnaissance of Bays, Harbors and Adjacent Country." 


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.


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