William H. Rupertus
|William H. Rupertus|
MajGen William H. Rupertus, author of the "Rifleman's Creed"
November 14, 1889|
|Died||March 25, 1945
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||District of Columbia National Guard
United States Marine Corps
|Years of service||1907–1910 (D.C. National Guard)
|Unit||4th Marine Regiment|
|Commands held||1st Marine Division|
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Army Distinguished Service Medal
|Relations||Capt. Patrick Hill Rupertus USMC(Son)|
Rupertus began his military career immediately after graduating high school, serving in the District of Columbia National Guard from 1907 to 1910. Originally, he intended to serve as a cutter captain in the United States Revenue Cutter Service, the earlier version of the modern U.S. Coast Guard. He was accepted to the U. S. Revenue Cutter School of Instruction on April 28, 1910. He graduated academically second in his class on May 15, 1913, but failed the physical examination. Because he was physically unqualified, he resigned from the U. S. Revenue Cutter Service on June 18, 1913.
However, his excellent marksmanship led to his being recruited by the Marine Corps. He accepted a commission in November 1913, then attended the Marine Corps Officers School, graduating first in his class of 1915. Rupertus served on the Marine Corps rifle team, earning the Distinguished Marksman badge and winning a number of shooting matches.
Rupertus was serving aboard the battleship USS Florida when the United States entered World War I and was subsequently recalled up to the U.S. to command a detachment of Marines headed for Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Rupertus served in Haiti until after the war, when he was sent to staff officer training and then made Inspector of Target Practice in the Operations and Training Division at Marine Corps Headquarters.
During World War II, he served as Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Marine Division under Major General Alexander Vandegrift. It was around this time that Rupertus is said to have penned the Rifleman's Creed, with the intent of encouraging expert marksmanship and Marines' trust in their weapons.
Rupertus commanded the Landing Task Force Organization which captured the islands of Tulagi, Gavutu and Tanambogo in the Guadalcanal campaign. After Vandegrift left the division in 1943, Rupertus took command. He led the 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Cape Gloucester and the Battle of Peleliu. Rupertus' leadership in this latter battle was marred by his overconfidence, arrogance, stubbornness and insensitivity to his marines' increasing casualties, especially those of the First Marine Division, which resulted in the battle of Peleliu becoming the costliest and bloodiest for the US Marines in the Pacific islands campaign. Rupertus repeatedly rejected the Army's offer of sending in the 81st Infantry Division to relieve his battered and exhausted men until he was finally overruled by his own corps commander. 
In November 1944, Major General Rupertus became the commandant of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia. His tenure was short, however, as he died of a heart attack on March 25, 1945, just four months later. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Awards and honors
Major General Rupertus' decorations included:
|Navy Distinguished Service Medal||Army Distinguished Service Medal||Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 2 service star||Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 service star|
|World War I Victory Medal w/ Grand Fleet clasp||Haitian Campaign Medal (1921)||China Service Medal||American Defense Service Medal w/ Base clasp|
|American Campaign Medal||Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 4 service stars||World War II Victory Medal||Haitian Distinguished Service Medal|
MajGen Rupertus also received the Faciat Georgius commemorative medal for service on Guadalcanal.
- Register of Officers of the U. S. Revenue Cutter Service 1790–1915, National Archives
- Military History Online–Bloody Peleliu:Unavoidable Yet Unnecessary http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/peleliu/ default.aspx
- "William Henry Rupertus", ArlingtonCemetery.net, 2006.
- "Rupertus", Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships 2005.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
- "Major General William H. Rupertus, USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
- "William Henry Rupertus, Major General, United States Marine Corps". ArlingtonCemetery.net. September 17, 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
- "Rupertus". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. October 21, 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
- Naltyin, Bernard C. (1994). "Cape Gloucester: The Green Inferno". Marines in World War II Commemorative Series. Washington, D.C.: Marine Corps Historical Center, United States Marine Corps.
|Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division
8 July 1943 – 2 November 1944
Pedro del Valle