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George R. Christmas
Lt. Gen. George R. Christmas
Nickname Ron
Born March 11, 1940(1940-03-11) (age 82)
Place of birth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1962-1996
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held 1st Recruit Training Battalion, MCRD Parris Island
3rd Marine Regiment
9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade
3rd Force Service Support Group
I Marine Expeditionary Force
Battles/wars Vietnam War
*Battle of Huế
Awards Navy Cross
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Purple Heart
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm.
Other work Stone Energy Corporation, Director
Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, President/CEO

George Ronald Christmas (born March 11, 1940)[1] is a retired United States Marine Corps lieutenant general. Christmas was awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for his valor in 1968 during the Vietnam War. He served on active duty in the Marine Corps for 34 years, retiring in 1996.[2] He is currently President and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.


Early years and education

General Christmas was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962. He earned a Master of Science degree from Shippensburg University in 1982.

Marine Corps career

Christmas was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1962 through the NROTC program. After completion of The Basic School at MCB Quantico in Virginia, he was assigned as a platoon leader in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He later served as the Battalion Personnel Officer. While at Camp Lejeune, he was promoted to first lieutenant in December 1963. He augmented into the regular Marine Corps in 1965.

In May 1965, he was assigned to the Marine Barracks, 8th & I in Washington, D.C., where he served as the Executive Officer, and upon promotion to captain in June 1966, as Commanding Officer, Headquarters and Service Company.

He transferred to South Vietnam in July 1967, where he served successively as Commanding Officer, Service Company, Headquarters Battalion, and Commanding Officer, Company H, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, FMF. During the Battle for Hue City in 1968, Christmas was seriously wounded and evacuated to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. For his actions of "extraordinary heroism"[3] in Hue City on February 5, 1968, he was awarded the Navy Cross.[4]

After recovering from his wounds, in October 1968, he was assigned to the staff of The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia; he subsequently attended the Amphibious Warfare School, graduating with distinction. Following graduation in July 1969, he was assigned as an instructor at the U.S. Army's John F. Kennedy Institute for Military Assistance, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In July 1971, Christmas was transferred to Washington, D.C. to serve at Headquarters Marine Corps as the Special Assistant and Aide to the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. He remained in this post until April 1973. He was promoted to major in February 1972.

He returned to The Basic School where he served successively as the Company Tactics Chief; Commanding Officer, Student Company A; and the Tactics Group Chief. From The Basic School, he transferred to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College as a student.

Christmas returned overseas in July 1975, for duty as the Operations Officer and, later, Executive Officer, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, FMF, on Okinawa, Japan. He transferred back to the United States in August 1976 and was assigned as the Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, Annapolis, Maryland. While there, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in September 1978.

From August 1979 until May 1981, he was assigned as the Commanding Officer, First Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in South Carolina.

He was selected to attend the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania and participated in the Cooperative Degree Program at Shippensburg University, leading to his master's degree in Public Administration.

In July 1982, Christmas served for a year as a Naval Operations Officer, J3 Directorate, USCINCPAC, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, and upon selection to colonel assumed duties as Chief of Protocol, USCINCPAC. In September 1984, he was reassigned as Commanding Officer, 3rd Marine Regiment (Reinforced), 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade.

In July 1986, Christmas was assigned duty as Director, Amphibious Warfare School. He was advanced to brigadier general on May 13, 1988, and assigned duty as the Assistant Division Commander, 3rd Marine Division, FMF/Commanding General, 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Okinawa, Japan in June 1988. He assumed command of the 3rd Force Service Support Group on August 18, 1989. On May 18, 1990, he again took command of the 9th MEB in addition to his duties as Commanding General, 3rd FSSG.

Christmas was advanced to major general on June 27, 1991. Christmas was assigned duty as the Director for Operations (J3), U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii on July 26, 1991. He was advanced to lieutenant general on July 8, 1993, and assumed duty as Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California; serving in this capacity until July 1994.

On July 15, 1994, he assumed his final active duty Marine Corps post as Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.,[2][5] He retired in 1996 after 34 years of active duty service.[2]

Post-military career

Christmas serves as a director of Stone Energy Corporation in Louisiana.[6] He also serves on the Board of Advisors of Recruit Military.[2]

He is currently the President (since 1996) and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.[7]

Military awards and decorations

Lt. Gen. Christmas's personal decorations and medals include:

Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Cross Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal Purple Heart Meritorious Service Medal w/ 3 award stars
Joint Service Achievement Medal Combat Action Ribbon w/ 1 award star Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Vietnam Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon
Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ palm Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Civil Actions unit citation Vietnam Campaign Medal

Navy Cross citation


The Navy Cross is awarded to Captain George R. Christmas, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as the Commanding Officer of Company H, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the afternoon of 5 February 1968 during Operation Hue City, Company H was attacking a complex of buildings known to be an enemy strong point consisting of mutually supporting bunkers, fighting holes, and trench lines. During the ensuing fire fight, two platoons seized the corner building of a city block, but intense hostile small-arms, automatic weapons, and B-40 rocket fire temporarily halted the advance. Realizing the seriousness of the situation and the urgent need to sustain the momentum of the attack, Captain Christmas, undaunted by the heavy volume of enemy fire, completely disregarded his own safety as he moved across thirty-five meters of open area to join the lead element and assess the situation. Returning across the fire-swept area, he rejoined the remaining platoon, issued an attack order, and then ran seventy meters across open terrain, ignoring automatic weapons fire, and satchel charges striking around him to reach a tank he had requested. Braving enemy fire and two B-40 rockets that hit the tank, he fearlessly stood atop the vehicle to direct accurate fire against the hostile positions until the intensity of enemy fire diminished. Immediately realizing the tactical advantage, he jumped from the tank, and directed his company in an aggressive assault on the hostile positions, personally leading his men in room-to-room fighting until the building complex was secured. In a large measure due to his bold initiative and courageous actions, he provided the impetus which inspired his men to aggressive action and enabled them to successfully accomplish the mission. By his dynamic leadership, unfaltering determination and selfless devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, Captain Christmas upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.[3]


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the United States Marine Corps.
  1. Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lieutenant General George R. (Ron) Christmas, United States Marine Corps (Ret.)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Navy Cross citation for George R. Christmas". Navy Cross — Vietnam. Center House Association. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  4. "U.S. Marine Corps Recipients of the Navy Cross Medal during the Vietnam War". Vietnam Unit Memorial Display of Honor. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  5. "Official Biography: Lieutenant General George R. Christmas (retired)". Biographies: General Officers & Senior Executives. Manpower & Reserve Affairs, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  6. "George R. Christmas Profile". Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  7. "Our Leadership". Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 

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