Roy Geiger

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Roy Stanley Geiger
Roy Geiger.jpg
Roy S. Geiger
Nickname(s) "Jiggs"[1]
Born (1885-01-25)January 25, 1885
Middleburg, Florida
Died January 23, 1947(1947-01-23) (aged 61)
Bethesda, Maryland[2]
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1907 - 1947
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
I Amphibious Corps
III Amphibious Corps
Tenth Army
Fleet Marine Force, Pacific
Battles/wars World War I
Banana Wars
Haiti
World War II
*Battle of Bougainville
*Battle of Okinawa
Awards Navy Cross (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Army Distinguished Service Medal

General Roy Stanley Geiger (January 25, 1885–January 23, 1947) was a United States Marine Corps General who, during World War II, became the first Marine to lead an army. Marine Corps base Camp Geiger in North Carolina is named in his honor.

Geiger commanded the III Amphibious Corps in the Battle of Okinawa, where he assumed command of the U.S. Tenth Army upon the combat death of Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., Commanding General of the Tenth Army. Geiger led the Tenth Army until relieved by General Joseph Stilwell.

Early life[edit]

Geiger was born in Middleburg, Florida. He attended Florida State Normal and Industrial College and received a law degree, LLB, from Stetson University. He enlisted in the Marine Corps as a Private on November 2, 1907 in St. Paul, Minnesota and was sent to Naval Station Norfolk for his initial training. Geiger spent most of his enlisted time at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. where he was also promoted to Corporal on June 2, 1908. Following a series of professional examinations and the passing of a Naval Medical Board he accepted his commission as a Second Lieutenant on February 5, 1909.[3]

Marine career[edit]

Following attendance at the Marine Officers' School at Port Royal, South Carolina, he served as a member of the Marine detachments aboard Wisconsin and Delaware. In August 1912, he was assigned to Nicaragua, where he participated in the bombardment, assault and capture of the hills called Coyotepe and Barranca. Further foreign shore duty followed in the Philippines and China with the First Brigade and with the Marine Detachment, American Legation, Peking, China, from 1913 to 1916.

In March 1916, Geiger joined Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a student naval aviator. He successfully completed the course and was designated a naval aviator in June 1917. He was designated Naval Aviator # 49 (Marine Corps Aviator # 5) on June 9, 1917.[4]

World War I[edit]

Further training followed and in July 1918, he arrived in France. He served with 5 Group, Royal Air Force at Dunkirk. He commanded a squadron of the First Marine Aviation Force and was attached to the Day Wing, Northern Bombing Group. He was detached to the United States in January 1919. For distinguished service in leading bombing raids against the enemy, he was awarded the Navy Cross.

Development of Marine Corps aviation between the wars[edit]

From December 1919 to January 1921, he was a squadron commander with the Marine Aviation Force attached to the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in Haiti. Upon return to the United States and after duty at the Marine Flying Field, Marine Barracks, MCB Quantico, Virginia, he attended Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He graduated in June 1925. Again he went to foreign shore duty, commanding Observation Squadron Two with the First Brigade in Haiti.

In August 1927, he returned to Quantico as a squadron officer and instructor at the Marine Corps Schools, and in May 1928, was assigned to duty in the Aviation Section, Division of Operations and Training, at Marine Corps Headquarters. After attending the U.S. Army War College and graduating in June 1929, he was ordered to Quantico, where he was assigned duty as Commanding Officer, Aircraft Squadrons, East Coast Expeditionary Force. He returned to Washington and served as the Officer in Charge, Marine Corps Aviation from 1931-1935, a billet currently held by a Lieutenant General that is now known as the Deputy Commandant for Aviation.[5]

In June 1935, he returned to Quantico as Commanding Officer, Aircraft One, Fleet Marine Force. From June 1939 to March 1941, he was a student at the Senior and the Advanced Courses, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. This was followed with a brief tour of duty in the Office of the Naval Attaché, London.

World War II[edit]

In April 1941, he made his way from Lisbon to Gibraltar, where he changed from civilian clothes to his military uniform. He had lunch with the Governor at Government House, this visit lifted British morale in Gibraltar. He was on his way to the Western Desert, as the first US military observer attached to the British 8th Army.

In August 1941, he became Commanding General, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force, in which capacity he was found upon the United States' entry into World War II.

On September 3, 1942, he was stationed at Guadalcanal to lead the Cactus Air Force during the early part of the Guadalcanal Campaign. Until November 4, 1942, he was commander of the combined Army, Navy and Marines Air Forces stationed here of which the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing was part. He was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross for his service on Guadalcanal. His citation reads in part, "Despite almost continuous bombardment by enemy aircraft, hostile naval gunfire and shore based artillery, the combined total of Army, Navy and Marine Corps units stationed at Guadalcanal under Major General Geiger's efficiently coordinated command succeeded in shooting down 268 Japanese planes in aerial combat and inflicting damage on a number estimated to be as great…Sank six enemy vessels, including one heavy cruiser, possibly sank three destroyers and one heavy cruiser, and damaged 18 other ships, including one heavy cruiser and five light cruisers."

MajGen Roy S. Geiger (left), Marine III Amphibious Corps Commander, En route to Guam on board the command ship USS Appalachian.

He was recalled to Marine Corps Headquarters in May 1943, to become Director of Aviation. In November 1943, he returned to the field, this time as Commanding General of the I Amphibious Corps and led the Corps from November 9, to December 15, 1943, in the Battle of Bougainville, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

Redesignated III Amphibious Corps in April 1944, he led this organization in the invasion and subsequent recapture of Guam during July and August 1944, and in the assault and capture of the southern Palau Islands in September and October of the same year. For those operations he was awarded two Gold Award stars in lieu of a second and third Distinguished Service Medal.

Geiger led this Corps into action for the fourth time as part of the Tenth Army in the invasion and capture of Okinawa. On June 18, 1945, Geiger assumed command of the Tenth Army following the death in combat of Lt. General Buckner for the final five days of the battle. He was relieved by General Joseph Stilwell. To this day, Geiger remains the only Marine officer to ever hold command of a field army.

Geiger was appointed Commanding General of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific in July 1945 and was promoted to lieutenant general.[6] Lieutenant General Geiger was the only U.S. Marine in attendance at the Surrender of Japan aboard the U.S.S. Missouri on September 2, 1945.[7] He returned to Washington, D.C. and Pensacola, Florida in September and October, 1945 before resuming his duties.[8] General Geiger was transferred to Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps in November 1946.[9][10]

Death[edit]

Following a short visit to his home in Pensacola, Geiger entered Bethesda Naval Hospital where he died of complications from lung cancer on January 23, 1947.[11] Geiger was promoted to four-star general posthumously by the 80th Congress to be effective from January 23, 1947.[12]

General Geiger is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[13][14]

Awards and decorations[edit]

His decorations and medals include:

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg
Gold star
 
Gold star
Gold star
 
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Naval Aviator Badge
Navy Cross w/ 1 award star Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 2 award stars Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal w/ 2 service stars Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1912) World War I Victory Medal w/ Ypres-Lys clasps
Haitian Campaign Medal (1921) Nicaraguan Campaign Medal (1933) American Defense Service Medal w/ Base clasp American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 5 service stars World War II Victory Medal Dominican Medal of Military Merit Nicaraguan Medal of Distinction and Diploma.

Award citation[edit]

For his part in this action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. His citation reads in part:

Going ashore with the early landing elements on April 1, 1945, he began a bitter three-month campaign ... with outstanding professional skill, forceful leadership and unswerving determination, he directed his units ... repeatedly disregarding personal safety to secure a first hand estimate of the battle situation and inspiring his men to heights of bravery and accomplishment.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  • Hubler, Richard G.; Dechant, John A (1944). Flying Leathernecks - The Complete Record of Marine Corps Aviation in Action 1941 - 1944. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc. 
  • Kaufman, Roxanne M.; Schmidt, Laurie (2011). 100 Years of Marine Corps aviation: An Illustrated History. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office. 
  • Willock, Roger (1968). Unaccustomed to Fear - A Biography of the Late General Roy S. Geiger. Marine Corps Association. ISBN 0-940328-05-4. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hubler and De Chant, 1944, p.51.
  2. ^ Willock Unaccustomed to Fear, p. 315
  3. ^ Willock Unaccustomed to Fear, p. 33-42.
  4. ^ Kaufman 100 Year of Marine Corps Aviation, p. 314.
  5. ^ Kaufman 100 Year of Marine Corps Aviation, p. 315.
  6. ^ Camp, Giants Of The Corps: "Rugged Roy" Geiger And The Northern Bombing Group, May 2006.
  7. ^ Wellons, James B., General Roy S. Geiger, USMC: Marine Aviator, Joint Force Commander, 2007.
  8. ^ Wellons, 2007, pp. 137–138.
  9. ^ Camp, 2006.
  10. ^ Camp's article states that Geiger's transfer back to headquarters was "in late 1945." This is an obvious typographical error. Other sources such as Wellons, 2007, state actions taken by Geiger while in command of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific during 1946 and make clear that his command ended in November 1946.
  11. ^ Wellons, 2007, p. 145–146.
  12. ^ Wellons, 2007, p. 146.
  13. ^ Roy Stanley Geiger at Find a Grave
  14. ^ "Roy Stanley Geiger", Arlington National Cemetery.
Military offices
Preceded by
Restored
Title last held by George McMillin
Governor of Guam
July 21 – August 10, 1944
Succeeded by
Henry Louis Larsen
Preceded by
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.
Commanding General of the Tenth United States Army
1945
Succeeded by
Joseph Stilwell