Donald R. Gardner

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Donald R. Gardner
GardnerDR USMCret.jpg
MajGen Donald R. Gardner, USMC (retired)
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1955-1994
Rank Major General
Commands held 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
III Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine Corps Bases, Japan
3rd Marine Division
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit (2)
Purple Heart
Other work Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
Marine Corps University Foundation
Marine Corps University
Commonwealth of Virginia Veterans Services Foundation

Major General Donald R. Gardner is a retired United States Marine Corps officer and former president of the Marine Corps University.[1]


Major General Gardner graduated from Memphis State University in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science degree in History. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in History from Memphis State University. He is a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College.

Marine Corps career[edit]

Gardner enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1955, reaching the rank of sergeant. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in Reserves in 1960 after earning his bachelor's degree.

Command assignments[edit]

Major General Gardner’s command assignments include: Platoon Commander, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines (1961); Company Commander, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion(1963); Company Commander, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion (1966–67); Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines (1977); Commanding General, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (1988); Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Commanding General, Marine Corps Bases, Japan (1992–94); Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division (Rein) (1993).

Staff assignments[edit]

Major General Gardner’s staff assignments include: Assistant S-3, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion (1963); Executive Officer, Marine Barracks, Bermuda, British West Indies (1963–66); S-4, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion (1966); Radio and Television Officer, Division of Information, HQMC, Washington, D.C. (1968); Aide-de-Camp to the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (1970–71); Senior Advisor to Tran Hung Dao 30 (1971); Marine Officer Instructor at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (1973–76); Plans Officer, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C (1978–79); Deputy Director, 1st Marine Corps District, Garden City, New York (1982); Director of the 1st Marine Corps District (1984–86); Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, III Marine Amphibious Force, Okinawa, Laan (1986); Assistant Division Commander, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C. (1987–88); Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements and Programs (1990).

Awards and decorations[edit]

Major General Gardner’s military awards and personal decorations include:

Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Silver star
Naval Aircrew Badge
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Silver Star
2nd Row Legion of Merit w/ 1 award star & valor device Purple Heart Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 award star
3rd Row Air Medal w/ Strike/Flight numeral "2" Joint Service Commendation Medal w/ valor device Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ valor device Combat Action Ribbon
4th Row Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars Army Meritorious Unit Commendation
5th Row Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal w/ 1 service star Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
6th Row Vietnam Service Medal w/ 6 service stars Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ silver star
7th Row Order of the Rising Sun, 3rd class Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Civil Actions unit citation Vietnam Campaign Medal

Foreign Awards

  • General Gardner was presented the Order of the Rising Sun, Third Class, by the Emperor of Japan for his dedicated service to the security of Japan and the mutual cooperation between Japan and the United States.

Post Marine Corps career[edit]

Major General Gardner retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1994. From 1996 to 1999, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. From 1999 to 2004, he served as Chief Executive Officer for the Marine Corps University Foundation. On May 21, 2004, he was selected to fulfill the duties of President, Marine Corps University, becoming the first civilian to hold the post[2] He retired from that position on June 25, 2009. The guest speaker at his retirement was GEN James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, who referred to him as "the last Confederate general still on active duty" due to his research on America's Civil War. Prior to assuming duties as President, MCU, Major General Gardner had served on the Commonwealth of Virginia's Veterans Services Foundation. He could not maintain a position as a member of the Veterans Services Foundation, due to federal regulations.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marine Corps University
  2. ^ National Veterans Day profile Archived November 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine..
  3. ^ Minutes, Veterans Services Foundation Meeting of May 12, 2004 Archived November 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine..


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

External links[edit]