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John M. Paxton, Jr.
General John M. Paxton, Jr.
Born 1951 (age 70–71)
Place of birth Chester, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1974–present
Rank General
Commands held II Marine Expeditionary Force[1]
1st Marine Division
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)

General John M. Paxton, Jr. (born 1951) is a United States Marine Corps four-star general officer. He currently serves as the 33rd Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. Prior to current assignment, he served as the Commanding General of United States Marine Corps Forces Command (MARFORCOM); Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic (FMFlant); Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe, as well as II Marine Expeditionary Force.[1] Previously, he was Director, J3 - Operations, The Joint Staff and Chief of Staff, Multinational Forces-Iraq. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced on March 13, 2008, Paxton's nomination for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general, and for assignment as Director, Strategic Plans & Policy, J-5, The Joint Staff. On May 22, 2007, Paxton relinquished command of the 1st Marine Division to take the role of Chief of Staff for Multi-National Force-Iraq.[2]


Born in Chester, PA. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, earning both a Bachelor's degree and a Master's Degree in Civil Engineering. He was elected to the Sphinx Head Society during his senior year. Moreover, he was a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity throughout his undergraduate years at Cornell. Upon completion of Officer Candidates School, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1974.

Upon completion of The Basic School, he was ordered to Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia and then assigned as a Rifle Platoon Commander in Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, 1st Marine Brigade, Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Paxton has served twice with the 1st Marine Division (3rd Battalion, 5th Marines and 1st Marines), once with the 2nd Marine Division (1st Battalion, 8th Marines), and twice with the 3rd Marine Division (1st Battalion, 3rd Marines and 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines), commanding at the platoon, company, battalion and regimental levels. He commanded Battalion Landing Team 1/8 from April 1992 – June 1994. They deployed with 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable and USS America (CV-66) Battle Group as Landing Force 6th Fleet (LF6F 2-93) and Joint Adaptive Task Force 93-2 in support of operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and later as United Nations Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in Mogadishu, Somalia.

MajGen Paxton (left) turns over command of the 1st Marine Division, May 22, 2007.

In addition to command, General Paxton has also served in Operations, Plans and Training (G3/S3) at the battalion, regiment, division (1st and 2nd Marine Divisions) and Marine Expeditionary Force (II-MEF) levels. Non-Fleet Marine Force tours included Commanding Officer Company B, Marine Barracks, 8th & I, Washington, D.C. (1980–81); Commanding Officer Marine Corps Recruiting Station New York, New York (1985–88); Strategic Plans Branch (PLS), Plans, Policies and Operations (PP&O) Department, Headquarters United States Marine Corps; and as Executive Assistant and Marine Corps Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy (1996–97). General Paxton is a Joint Service Officer, having served at United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command in Korea from 1989-1991 as Amphibious Operations Officer and Executive Officer, Crisis Action Team.

From June 1997 to June 1998, he was the Assistant Chief of Staff G3 (Operations, Plans and Training). His next assignment, from June 1998 to June 2000, was commanding the 1st Marine Regiment. From 2000 to 2001, Paxton had a one-year tour as the United States Marine Corps Fellow (National Security Studies) at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. From July 2001 to August 2003, he was the Director, Programs Division (RP), and Assistant Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Programs and Resources (ADC,P&R), Headquarters Marine Corps. From 2003 to 2006, Paxton served as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Western Recruiting Region. On May 22, 2007, Paxton relinquished command of the 1st Marine Division to Brig. Gen. Richard P. Mills.[3] Paxton next served as the Chief of Staff to the commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq. Advanced to Lieutenant General in 2008, Paxton served initially as Director, Strategic Plans and Policy (J-8) on the Joint Staff, then was nominated and confirmed to the Operations Directorate (J-3), where he served until appointment as CG, II MEF; and CG, Marine Forces, Africa. Before departing the Pentagon, Paxton also served as interim director, The Joint Staff.

Military education

In addition to The Basic School, his professional education includes United States Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School (non resident), United States Army Infantry Officer Advanced Course, and the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College. In 1994–1995 Paxton was a Federal Executive Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. He has also been a Marine Corps Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Seminar XXI.


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Gold star
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Bronze oak leaf cluster
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Basic Parachutist Insignia Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
1st row Defense Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit w/ 1 award star Bronze Star Defense Meritorious Service Medal
2nd row Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 award star Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 1 award star Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star
3rd row Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 1 service star
4th row Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Korea Defense Service Medal Armed Forces Service Medal
5th row Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 3 service stars Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon w/ 1 service star Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon United Nations Medal

Paxton also holds several expert rifle and the sharpshooter pistol marksmanship badge.


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

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