Charles E. Wilhelm

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Charles E. Wilhelm
Charles E. Wilhelm.jpg
Charles E. Wilhelm, USMC
Born (1941-08-26) August 26, 1941 (age 77)
Edenton, North Carolina
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1964-2000
Commands held11th Marine Expeditionary Unit
1st Marine Division
Marine Corps Combat Development Command
Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic
U.S. Southern Command
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Bronze Star
Other workResearch, U.S. Army War College
Fellow, Center for Defense Information
Vice President, Battelle.

General Charles E. Wilhelm (born August 26, 1941) is a retired United States Marine Corps general who served two combat tours of duty in Vietnam. He later served as Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division; as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; and as the Commander, U.S. Southern Command (1997–2000). General Wilhelm retired from the Marine Corps in 2000, after 37 years of service.


Charles E. Wilhelm was born in 1941, a native of Edenton, North Carolina. Wilhelm graduated from Florida Southern College in 1964 with a B.S. in journalism. He earned a M.S. degree in management from Salve Regina College. He is a graduate of the Army Infantry Officer's Advance Course and the Naval War College, which in 1999 awarded him its Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award.

Military career[edit]

General Wilhelm held a variety of command positions. He commanded a rifle platoon and company during two tours in Vietnam; served as a company commander in Headquarters Battalion and 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division; was the Senior Advisor to a Vietnamese Army Battalion; Inspector-Instructor, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion; Deputy Provost Marshal, U.S. Naval Forces Philippines; and commanded the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

General Wilhelm's staff assignments include Assistant Battalion Operations Officer; Operations Officer and Executive Officer, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. He served on the staffs of III Marine Amphibious Force; Logistics, Plans, and Policy Branch, Installations and Logistics Department, HQMC, and J-3, Headquarters, U.S. European Command.

In August 1988, while assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, II Marine Expeditionary Force, he was promoted to brigadier general, and was subsequently assigned as the Director of Operations, HQMC. In July 1990, he was selected to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy and Missions, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. General Wilhelm assumed duties as Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, in July 1992. He served as Commander Marine Forces Somalia from December 1992 to March 1993 as part of the U.S. led coalition in Operation RESTORE HOPE. General Wilhelm was confirmed for promotion to lieutenant general and assumed duties as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, July 15, 1994. In August 1995, he was assigned as Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic/Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic/Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe/Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South/Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force/Commanding General, Marine Striking Force Atlantic, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was confirmed for promotion to general and assumed duties as the Commander, U.S. Southern Command on September 25, 1997; he served in this position until October 2000. General Wilhelm retired from the Marine Corps on November 1, 2000.


After retiring from the Marine Corps, General Wilhelm was a researcher with the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.[1] General Wilhelm is Distinguished Military Fellow on the staff of the Center for Defense Information.[2] In 2003, Wilhelm became Vice President at Battelle, responsible for homeland security issues.[3]

Awards and decorations[edit]

General Wilhelm's personal decorations include:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngSilver-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png 1 golden star.svg 1 golden star.svg
Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge.png
1st Row Defense Distinguished Service Medal Navy Distinguished Service Medal
2nd Row Silver Star Defense Superior Service Medal w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Bronze Star w/ valor device Defense Meritorious Service Medal
3rd Row Meritorious Service Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ valor device Army Commendation Medal w/ valor device Joint Service Achievement Medal
4th Row Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 1 oak leaf cluster
5th Row Navy Unit Commendation Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 service star
6th Row Vietnam Service Medal w/ 7 service stars Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Humanitarian Service Medal w/ 1 service star Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 1 service star
7th Row Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon w/ 2 service stars Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ 2 gold stars Vietnam Staff Service Medal Order of the Aztec Eagle, Placard (Mexico)
8th Row Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Civil Actions unit citation Vietnam Campaign Medal Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Badge Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge

See also[edit]


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


  1. ^ "Gen (Ret). Charles E. Wilhelm". U.S. Army War College. Retrieved 2006-10-07.
  2. ^ "CDI (Washington, D.C.) Staff". Center for Defense Information. Archived from the original on 2006-10-05. Retrieved 2006-10-07.
  3. ^ "Retired Marine Corps General Charles E. Wilhelm joins Battelle". Battelle (press release). March 6, 2003. Archived from the original on April 2, 2003. Retrieved 2006-10-07.
Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Wesley K. Clark
United States Southern Command
Succeeded by
Gen. Peter Pace