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Lore of the Corps - Lt Gen Pedro Augusto del Valle

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  • Lore of the Corps - Lt Gen Pedro Augusto del Valle

    Puerto Rican-born Marine reached three-star rank
    By Fred L. Borch and Robert F. Dorr
    Special to the Times
    Pedro Augusto del Valle obtained U.S. citizenship and spent more than 30 years in the Corps, retiring as a lieutenant general in 1948. At the time, he was the highest-ranking Latino in a Marine uniform.
    Del Valle was born in Au­gust 1893 in Spanish-ruled San Jose, Puerto Rico, where his father was the city mayor. After the U.S.
    defeated Spain in 1898 and won sovereignty over Puer­to Rico, del Valle’s father became an American citi­zen. Del Valle obtained an appointment to the Naval Academy.
    Commissioned as a Ma­rine officer upon graduation from Annapolis in 1915, then-2nd Lt. del Valle served briefly in Norfolk, Va., before deploying to Haiti, where he commanded the 3-inch naval landing gun section in the 1st Provi­sional Marine Brigade.
    As historian George B.
    Clark wrote in “U.S. Marine Corps Generals of World War II,” de Valle, who was bilingual, served as an in­terpreter and “was of great assistance to Maj. Gen.
    Joseph H. Pendleton during the capture of Santo Domin­go City” in May 1916, referring to the Marine in­tervention in the present­day Dominican Republic.
    Promoted to captain in March 1917, del Valle served on the battleship Texas off the coast of Europe during World War I. Del Valle subsequently served in East Coast as­signments before returning to sea duty as commanding officer of the Marine de­tachment on the battleship Wyoming.
    In the late 1920s and early 1930s, del Valle served in a number of stateside and overseas posi­tions, including service in Haiti and two tours in Nicaragua.
    In 1935, then-Lt. Col. del Valle became the assistant naval attache in Rome. At his own request, he joined the Italian army during its 1935 invasion of Ethiopia.
    Today, some historians be­lieve that if more attention had been paid to del Valle’s analysis, published by the Navy Department in 1937, U.S. leaders would have seen the coming of World War II in Europe.
    When the U.S. entered World War II, then-Col. del Valle was in command of 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, and he deployed with his unit to New Zea­land in 1942. He waded ashore at Guadalcanal in August 1942 and remained with 11th Marines through the entire campaign.
    The highlight of his ca­reer occurred when then­Maj. Gen. del Valle took command of the 1st Marine Division in October 1944.
    He subsequently led the di­vision in the hard fighting to take Okinawa and re­ceived the Distinguished Service Medal for his out­standing leadership be­tween April and July 1945.
    After the war, del Valle returned to Washington, D.C., where he was ap­pointed the first Marine Corps Inspector General. In 1946, he became director of personnel. He had been se­lected to take command of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, when he decided to leave active duty. Del Valle re­ceived his third star and re­tired on Jan. 1, 1948.
    Del Valle died in Mary­land in 1978 and is interred at the Naval Academy cemetery.
    Fred L. Borch, an Army veteran, is the author of “The Silver Star,” a history of America’s third-highest award for combat heroism.
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    ...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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