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Remarks on Presenting the Distinguished Service Medal to General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr.

December 10, 1971

Ladies and gentlemen:

As you know, we are all gathered here today for a ceremony which has occurred before as far as General Chapman is concerned. This is the third Distinguished Service Medal he has received.

This one has a very special significance because it marks the completion of 4 years of service in the highest post in the Marine Corps--Commandant of the Marine Corps----and, although it is very hard to realize in looking at him and his wife, 36 years in the Marine Corps.

On such occasions, it is best to let the citation speak for the record, and the citation will be read by the Secretary, but I would simply like to say that in the time I have known General Chapman, I am enormously impressed with his qualifications as a military officer and by his very great ability as an advocate of the Marine Corps and of the uniform he proudly wears, exemplified across this country by the affection and respect the men in the Marine Corps have for him.

Certainly as he leaves as Commandant, he has nothing but a record of pride to look back upon.

I would also like to say that a Marine wife has to be outstanding, and Mrs. Chapman, in the social functions, has had an opportunity of being an ideal Marine wife.

I would also like to add that General Chapman is a Marine in the truest sense. I understand he started, as a matter of fact, in the Army, and decided to take his commission as second lieutenant in the Marine Corps 36 years ago, as a matter of choice--not because he didn't like the Army, but because he did like the Marine Corps.

But in any event, he carried that tradition on, and two of his sons became Marines, and both of them served with distinction in Vietnam.

We honor today the Marine Corps, and we honor its Commandant and a splendid Marine family.

If you will read the citation, Mr. Secretary.

[At this point, Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee read the citation, the text of which follows:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED SERVICE. MEDAL (Gold Star in lieu of the Third Award) to


for service as set forth in the following Citation:

For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility as the Commandant of the Marine Corps from February 1969 through December 1971.

A splendid leader with enduring values and great patriotism, General Chapman, during four years as its Commandant, led the Marine Corps through the height of the Vietnam Conflict and the process of returning to peacetime posture. With keen foresight and conviction, General Chapman forged a renewed Corps emphasizing readiness, equality, and professionalism.

As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Chapman, through his statesmanship and superb understanding of the factors which influence the formulation of national policy, contributed substantially to the development of important policies during a period of vital and unusual significance to the United States. His wise advice, exceptional judgment, and clarity of vision have been acknowledged in the highest councils of our Government.

By his dedicated and distinguished service during more than thirty-six years of devoted duty, General Chapman has contributed greatly to the success of the United States and friendly forces engaged in the protection of citizens of free nations, thereby upholding and contributing to the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


The President then resumed speaking.]

I told you about the General's speech-making ability. Now we will give him a chance to respond.

Note: The President spoke at 12:07 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House.

General Chapman's remarks are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 7, P. 1637).

General Chapman served as Commandant of the Marine Corps from January I, 1968, until his retirement on January 1, 1972.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Presenting the Distinguished Service Medal to General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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