Oscar F. Peatross
|Oscar Franklin Peatross|
March 2, 1916|
Raleigh, North Carolina
|Died||May 26, 1993
Beaufort, South Carolina
|Place of burial||Beaufort, South Carolina|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1940–1971 (USMC)|
|Commands held||Headquarters Battalion, 5th Marines
2nd Battalion, 5th Marines
7th Marine Regiment
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
|Battles/wars||World War II
*Makin Island raid
*Battle of Guadalcanal
*Battle of Iwo Jima
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit w/ Combat "V" (3)
Bronze Star Medal
Combat Action Ribbon (3)
Oscar Franklin Peatross (March 2, 1916 – May 26, 1993) was a United States Marine Corps major general who served in World War II where he was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism on August 17-18, 1942. He also served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Peatross was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated from Needham B. Broughton High School in 1934. He later graduated from North Carolina State College with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1939.
U.S. Marine Corps
Peatross joined the Marine Corps in 1940, reporting to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. In November he entered Officer’s Candidate School. Peatross was commissioned a second lieutenant upon completion of the school in February 1941.
World War II (1941-1945)
Lieutenant Peatross was assigned to the 2d Marine Division in San Diego, California. He volunteered for the 2d Marine Raider Battalion when the Marine Raiders units were formed in February 1942. As a first lieutenant and platoon commander with Company B, he earned the Navy Cross for his actions during the Makin Island raid on August 17–18. During the raid, he led a reinforced squad of a dozen Raiders in one of 18 rubber boats off one of two U.S. submarines, but did not receive word on a change of plan in the landing area. He led his 12 men onto the original planned landing site, whilst the other 17 boats landed on a different beach. Taking the initiative, his Navy Cross citation reads:
Captain [then Lieutenant] Peatross boldly landed his men behind the enemy lines and attacked a superior enemy force. Continuing to harass the enemy's rear, thereby creating confusion in their ranks, Captain Peatross' daring tactics caused one of the enemy's aerial bombing formations to bomb its own troops. In this forceful and courageous engagement he and his group killed or wounded fifteen Japanese. His resourcefulness, leadership and personal valor were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Peatross was then promoted to Captain and served with the Marine Raiders in the Battle of Guadalcanal and Bougainville campaign where he was executive officer of the 2nd Marine Raider Regiment (Provisional).
Promoted to Major, he attended the Command and Staff School at Quantico in 1944.
In 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima, he was the Regimental R-3 Operations Officer of the 28th Marines, and then became executive officer of 3rd Battalion, 28th Marines. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Korean War (1950-1953)
He was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, where he served as Assistant Head, Officer Procurement Branch, Personnel Department, for the next three years. He assumed command of the 1st Recruit Training Battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. He later served as the S-3 Officer and Executive Officer of the Recruit Training Regiment.
Peatross was promoted to Colonel in July 1959.
Returning to Quantico, Peatross attended the Senior School, and after graduation in June 1960, he commanded the School's Demonstration Troops.
Vietnam War (1961-1975)
He remained at Quantico until July 1963, serving successively as Chief, Ground Combat Section, Landing Force Development Center, and as Chief, Publications Branch, Marine Corps Education Center. He then joined the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, serving for several months as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, and then as Chief of Staff of the III Marine Expeditionary Force during Exercise “Winter Night.”
In March 1964, he became Commanding Officer of the 7th Marine Regiment. When the 7th Marines was redesignated as the 7th Regimental Landing Team, 3d Marine Division, Colonel Peatross sailed with his unit to South Vietnam in 1965. Peatross was the Landing Force Commander during Operation Starlite (August 18 through 24) at Chu Lai, South Vietnam, where he deployed his regiment on the Chu Lai Perimeter. The 7th Regimental Landing Team was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism during Operation Starlite. Peatross was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action during the operation.
Peatross commanded eight regimental-size operations and was the Chief of Staff in Operation Utah in March 1966. He then served for one month as Deputy Chief of Staff, 1st Marine Division.
For his service in and during the Vietnam War, he was also awarded two Legions of Merit (two 5⁄16" gold stars in lieu of his 2nd and 3rd Legion of Merit) with two Combat "V"s (no "V" devices are issued after the first award of the medal with the "V" device), the Combat Action Ribbon, the Vietnam Service Medal, and five Republic of Vietnam medals; three Gallantry Crosses with Palm, one Gallantry Cross with Gold Star, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was promoted to brigadier general on November 3, 1966.
Back in the United States, Peatross reported to Headquarters Marine Corps where he served consecutively as Head, Training Branch, G-3 Division; as Deputy Chief of Staff (Administration); and as Director, Management Analysis Group, office of the Chief of Staff; for his service from December 3, 1966 though October 18, 1968, he was awarded the third Legion of Merit (one 5⁄16" gold star in lieu of a third Legion of Merit) with Combat "V" (not issued).
While stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps, General Peatross was ordered to Harvard University to attend the Advance Management Program, Graduate School of Business Administration, during September–December 1966.
Prior to his detachment, he was promoted to the rank of Major General on October 18,1968.
Peatross reported to Parris Island, South Carolina, in November 1968 as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, from November 1968 through May 1971 at which time he officially retired and was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.
Later years and death
Peatross was interred at Veterans National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina.
“We find that the Marine Corps is made up of 99 percent Marines and 1 percent bullshitters. In peacetime, the bullshitters tend to be the ones you hear from. But I waded ashore on Guadalcanal in ’42. I looked all the way down the beach to my right and all the way up the beach to my left. There wasn’t a bullshitter in sight.”
- p.87 Bufalo, Andrew Anthony Hard Corps -Legends of the Corps S&B Publishing, 10/11/2004
- p. 48 I Hammel, Eric M. Portrait of a Battle: United States Marines at War in the Pacific Zenith Imprint 15/08/2006
Peatross, Oscar F. Bless 'em All: The Raider Marines of World War II ; REVIEW PUBLISHING COMPANY (1995).
- Peatross’ valour awards http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=8084