Catholic War Veterans and Auxiliary

Post 1943

Lieutenant General John N. McLaughlin

Source:  USMC Archives (

Lieutenant General John N. McLaughlin retired from the Marine Corps July l, l977.

General McLaughlin was born September 21, 1918, and grew up in Savannah, Ga. (Note Added By Billy Walker: “He graduated from Benedictine Military School in Savannah GA in 1936”.) After graduating from Emory University in June, 1941, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, upon completion of the officer Candidate's School.

His first assignment was with the First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, which embarked for the Pacific in May 1942, and he participated in operations at Guadalcanal, New Britain and the Palau Islands. He was promoted to first lieutenant in October 1942, and to captain in February 1943. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry while leading an assault company of the First Battalion ashore at Peleliu, in September 1944.

Returning to the United States in December 1944, he was assigned to the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Va. He was promoted to major in February 1945, and after completing the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Ga., in June 1948, served with the Amphibious Training command, in Coronado, Calif.

In July 1950, General McLaughlin was assigned as advisor, Fifth Cavalry Regiment, for an amphibious landing at Pohang Dong, Korea, and later Assistant G-3, X Corps Headquarters, U. S. Army, also in Korea. He was captured by the Chinese Communists at Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, and remained a prisoner for almost three years. Following his liberation in September 1953, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct while held Prisoner. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in December 1953 with date of rank from July 1951.

General McLaughlin then served in various capacities at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. In September 1956, he became Commanding Officer, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, and three years later was promoted to colonel and served as Fleet Marine Officer on the staff of the Commander, Sixth Fleet, in the Mediterranean.

In 1961, General McLaughlin was assigned as the Marine Corps Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy, and in 1963 became the Marine Corps Liaison Officer to the Chief of Naval Operations.

Following graduation from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and obtaining a Master's Degree in International Affairs at George Washington University in July 1965, he became the Commanding Officer of the Sixth Marines, Second Marine Division, and subsequently Chief of Staff of that Division.

After his promotion to brigadier general on January 10, 1967, he was assigned to the United States Strike Command, where he served as Deputy J-5, Plans, and earned a gold star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit.

General McLaughlin became Assistant Division Commander, First Marine Division, February 18, 1968, at Danang, South Vietnam, and served in that capacity until May 25, 1968. Additionally, from April 7 until May 23, he was Commanding General, Task Force "X-Ray" at Phu Bai, South Vietnam.

General McLaughlin was then transferred to the staff of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, located in Saigon, where he served as Deputy J-3, Operations. He served in this capacity until August 1969. For service in Vietnam, he earned the Distinguished Service Medal and three Vietnamese personal decorations.

He was promoted to major general, September 3, 1969, and was designated Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. He served there until March 1973, when he assumed command of the 4th Marine Division. Following his promotion to lieutenant general on September 1, 1974 he became Chief of Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps. He assumed duty as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in July 1975, serving in this capacity until his retirement July 1, 1977.

He has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star with Combat "V", the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and fifteen other campaign medals and foreign awards.