Herbert J. Sweet

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Herbert Joseph Sweet
Sweet HJ.jpg
4th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (1965–1969)
Born(1919-10-08)October 8, 1919
Hartford, Connecticut
DiedJune 18, 1998(1998-06-18) (aged 78)
Arlington, Virginia
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1937-1969
RankSergeant Major
Unit21st Marine Regiment
2nd Marine Regiment
5th Marine Regiment
6th Reserve & Recruitment District
3rd Marine Division
Commands heldSergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Battles/warsWorld War II Korean War
AwardsBronze Star
Navy Commendation Medal
Purple Heart (4)

Sergeant Major Herbert Joseph Sweet (October 8, 1919 – June 18, 1998) was the fourth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. He fought and was wounded in World War II and the Korean War.


Herbert Sweet was born on October 8, 1919 in Hartford, Connecticut, and the following year moved to Troy, New York, where he grew up and received his schooling. As a child, Sweet made his home with his uncle, Harold J. Nash.

Sweet enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on February 26, 1937. Following recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, he saw duty with Marine detachments at Quantico, Virginia, the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, and in Trinidad.

Throughout World War II, he served with the 21st Marine Regiment and the 3rd Marine Division, moving with the unit to New Zealand and Guadalcanal for training. He saw combat at the Battle of Bougainville, where he served as a platoon sergeant and was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant. He was wounded in action during the landing on Guam in July 1944 and, following hospitalization, rejoined the 21st Marines for the Battle of Iwo Jima. There, he earned the Bronze Star with valor device for exposing himself to enemy fire in order to rescue his wounded company commander, two other Marines and a corpsman. He was wounded and evacuated twice.

On his return to active duty, he served as First Sergeant of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island; on the Marine Detachment at the Naval Ordnance Plant, Macon, Georgia; and on the Marine Detachment of the USS Missouri (BB-63). He also served two separate tours at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, first as an infantry chief, and following the Korean War, as Regimental Sergeant Major of the 2nd Marine Regiment and Field Sergeant Major of the 2nd Marine Division, respectively. He requested duty in Korea on the outbreak of hostilities there, and in 1951 saw combat as rifle company First Sergeant with the 5th Marine Regiment. He was wounded in action that October and earned the Navy Commendation Medal with valor device.

He returned from Korea in July 1952, and served thereafter as Assistant to the Professor of Naval Science, NROTC Unit at Columbia University in New York City for two years. Following his second tour of duty at Camp Lejeune, he was stationed in the Philippine Islands as Barracks Sergeant Major, Subic Bay from 1958 to 1960. Then he served as Sergeant Major of the 6th Marine Corps Reserve and Recruitment District at Atlanta, Georgia. In July 1964 he was named Sergeant Major for 3rd Marine Division (Fleet Marine Force in the Far East). While serving in this capacity, he was selected as the 4th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps by a board convened in Washington and assumed his new post on July 16, 1965.

Sergeant Major Sweet died June 18, 1998 of respiratory failure at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Awards and decorations[edit]

His military decorations include:[1]

Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Legion of Merit Bronze Star w/ valor device
Purple Heart w/ 3 award stars Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ valor device Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Combat Action Ribbon
Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 3 service stars Navy Unit Commendation Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal w/ 8 service stars American Defense Service Medal w/ 1 clasp
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 3 service stars World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star
Korean Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Korean Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Korea Medal Korean War Service Medal

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chapin, John (1993). Uncommen Men - The Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps (1 ed.). Shippensburg, Pennsylvania 17257-0152 USA: Burd Street Press. p. 336. ISBN 0-942597-45-1.
Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas J. McHugh
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Joseph W. Dailey