Last Known Activity|
Lieutenant General George C. Axtell, World War II ace and Navy Cross winner for heroism during the battle for Okinawa, retired from active duty on 1 September 1974. He was born in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, on 29 November 1920, and graduated from high school there in 1938. He attended the University of Alabama before enlisting in the Marine Corps in July 1940 as a Marine Aviation Cadet. He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree and a Master of Arts degree (Comptroller) from George Washington University.
He was assigned to flight school and was commissioned as a second lieutenant and designated a Naval Aviator in May 1941. From May until December 1941, he was an instructor at Pensacola, and then was transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy's Postgraduate School where he studied meteorological engineering, graduating in March 1943. He was promoted to first lieutenant in June 1942, and to captain in August 1942.
Promoted to major in May 1943, he saw duty from that July until June 1945, as Commanding Officer, Marine Fighter Squadron 323 (VMF-323), from the date of its formation at Cherry Point, North Carolina, and then throughout the Okinawa campaign. During the Okinawa campaign, VMF-323 scored 124 enemy planes. Following the Okinawa campaign he was assigned as the Commanding Officer, Marine Carrier Air Group-16, operating from the USS Badoeng Strait. Following the deactivation of MCVG-16 in March 1946, he served as Commanding Officer, VMF-452 until the following January.
Major Axtell completed the Junior Course at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, early in 1947, and began his first tour of duty at Headquarters Marine Corps as Naval Aviator Detail Officer, followed by a two-year tour with the Judge Advocate General's Office. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in January 1951.
In 1952, he was ordered to Korea where he took part in combat with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing as Tactical Officer of Marine Aircraft Group -12, and later, as Commanding Officer of Marine Attack Squadron 312. He served next with the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, North Carolina, as Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, for a year, then as Commanding Officer, Marine Air Control Group 1. In 1955, Lieutenant Colonel Axtell reported to Headquarters Marine Corps for four years' duty as Assistant Head of Aviation Training and Distribution Branch, and Head of Program Planning, Division of Aviation. He was promoted to colonel in July 1959.
From 1959 until 1960, he served in Japan as 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Legal Officer and, later, as Commanding Officer, MAG-12. Returning to MCAS, Cherry Point, for a three-year period, he was initially assigned as 2d Wing Legal Officer and then reassigned as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3.
After completing the National War College, Washington, D.C., in June 1964, Colonel Axtell was assigned as Chief of Staff, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. Ordered to the Far East in September 1965, he served as Chief of Staff, III Marine Amphibious Force, and was awarded his first Legion of Merit with Combat "V," for service in this capacity.
During March 1966, he organized and commanded the Force Logistics Command, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, located in the Republic of Vietnam. A second Legion of Merit with Combat "V" was awarded him for exceptionally meritorious conduct during this assignment.
Upon his return to the United States in December 1966, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, and assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps. For his service as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, from December 1966 until June 1970, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of his third Legion of Merit. He was promoted to major general, 7 August 1969.
From late June 1970 to March 1972, he served as Commanding General, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, Cherry Point, North Carolina.
On 10 March 1972, it was announced that President Nixon had nominated Major General Axtell for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general and assignment as the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, in Norfolk, Virginia. He was advanced to three-star rank on 1 April 1972. He received the Distinguished Service Medal upon his retirement on 1 September 1974. LtGen Axtell passed away at the age of 90 on 20 August 2011.
In addition to the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal, his awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with Combat "V," and Gold Stars in lieu of second and third awards, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star in lieu of a subsequent award, the Air Medal with one Silver Star in lieu of second through sixth awards, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Unit Commendation with one bronze star, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star, the Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal