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Lore of the Corps - Keller E. Rockey...

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  • Lore of the Corps - Keller E. Rockey...

    Marine earned Army, Nav y gallantr y awards
    By Fred L. Borch and Robert F. Dorr
    Special to the Times
    Keller E. Rockey served in the Corps from 1913 to 1950. He was that unusual Marine who received gal­lantry decorations from both the Army and the Navy for battlefield heroism.
    Born in Indiana in 1888, Rockey graduated from Gettysburg College, Pa., in 1909 and was commis­sioned a Marine second lieutenant in 1913.
    After graduating from the Marine Officer ’s School at Norfolk, Va., Navy Yard, Rockey served briefly aboard the battleships Ne­braska and Nevada before deploying to France during World War I.
    In “United States Marine Corps Generals of World War II,” author George B.
    Clark wrote that on June 6, 1918, then-Capt. Rockey, the adjutant of 1st Battal­ion, 5th Marines, “brought up support troops and placed them in the front­lines at great personal ex­posure.” He received the Army Distinguished Ser­vice Cross.
    The Navy later awarded Rockey with the Navy Cross and a Silver Star for his performance in this battle.
    After the war, then-Maj.
    Rockey remained with 5th Marines in the occupation of Germany, before return­ing to the U.S. in 1919. He next deployed to Haiti, where he served in the Haitian “Gendarmerie” from 1919 to 1922.
    After schooling at Quanti­co, Va., Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and an assignment as an instructor at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Rockey was sent to Nicara­gua, where he took com­mand of 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. For his extraordi­nary conduct in the fighting against Augusto Sandino’s guerrillas from January to November 1928, Rockey was awarded a second Navy Cross.
    In the 1930s, Rockey served at Marine Barracks San Diego, and at Head­quarters Marine Corps and in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Wash­ington, D.C.
    Shortly after the U.S. en­tered World War II, Rockey was promoted to brigadier general and appointed as di­rector of the Plans and Policy Division at Marine Corps headquarters and, in August 1943, he received his second star and was made assistant to the commandant.
    In February 1944, Rockey took command of 5th Ma­rine Division. Within weeks, he and his Marines took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima, where the divi­sion had more than 1,000 killed and nearly 3,000 wounded. These were the highest casualty rates suf­fered by a Marine division in the invasion.
    In June 1945, Rockey as­sumed command of III Ma­rine Amphibious Corps.
    After the war against Japan ended in August, Rockey be­came commanding general of Marine Forces China.
    He later commanded Fleet Marine Force Atlantic from 1947 to 1949 and finished his career as commanding general of the Department of the Pacific. Rockey retired as a lieutenant general in 1950 and died in June 1970.
    He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
    “For 30 years, ... Rockey proved his leadership and courage at every level from company to division com­mand,” historian and re­tired Marine Lt. Col. Gary D. Solis said. “In a day of heroic figures, Rockey was a Marine’s Marine.” Ë
    Fred L. Borch, an Army veteran, can be reached at [email protected].

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

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